What is eCommerce 3.0?
eCommerce 3.0 is defined as a fully connected and integrated solution for eCommerce, website, support, marketing, analytics and point of sale that also acts as a single store of all related data for the business.
But what do I mean by that, how did we get here and why does it matter?
Let’s look at that last one first.
There can be no question that the last 2 years has seen a tectonic shift in businesses figuring out how to engage with their customers online and rapidly moving their operations online to be able to sell with a newly locked down consumer base.
In fact, in 2021, annual retail eCommerce sales passed $4.9 trillion worldwide, and online sales are predicted to grow to more than $5.5 trillion by the end of 2022.1 In 2021, there were anywhere between 12 to 24 million online shops, with more than 2.1 million online retail stores in the US alone.2
Consumers are moving online en masse and businesses have to be there to greet them.
The challenge has been HOW to be there to greet them and this is where eCommerce 3.0 comes into play. But before we go any further, let’s talk about how we got here.
eCommerce 1.0 was simply the idea that it is possible to make a purchase online with a company without any need for personal interaction. This was the birth of eCommerce as we know it today.
Then eCommerce 2.0 could be considered as the explosion of businesses of all shapes and sizes getting onto the bandwagon and setting up their own online purchasing experience.
This resulted in companies launching a website and then a connected eCommerce store. Perhaps then connecting this to some sort of CRM or support system via an API, and attempting to integrate Point of Sale. In addition, doing regular exports of data to their marketing platform of choice, all while funneling all their purchase and acquisition data into Google or Facebook’s “free” tools.
The challenge with eCommerce 2.0 is the mass of interconnected tools and multiple sources of truth. Each system wants to “own” its data with conflicts developing, requiring manual (and costly) intervention.
Additionally, different tools have limits on how often they accept external updates, sometimes due to the cost of doing so, and sometimes just platform restrictions. These limitations then create issues with customers who are forced to wait for their order or request to filter through all the layers. This causes additional frustrations with the business customer support team who have to “wait for the system” to be able to show the data that the increasingly frustrated customer on the phone is asking for.
To show how out of hand this can become, I spoke to one business owner about their eCommerce 2.0 system and found that they were spending upwards of $10,000 per month on a data integration tool, just trying to keep all their various platforms talking to each other and keeping their data in sync.
Another one business owner told me about their system which involved running more than 70 separate eCommerce 2.0 stores in 4 countries worldwide. Imagine the constant challenges they had maintaining data consistency between all of these stores costing countless hours of work and effort.
Then there was the business owner who literally had a $20,000 delivery receipt get lost after falling between the crack of two desks, resulting in no invoice being raised for the customer that had just received the goods. Happily the customer called to get the invoice and the lost receipt was found, but this sort of story is far too common, in fact, every single business we talk to has a similar story to tell.
So it became evident to us that the problem for any business was not getting their eCommerce system up and running, it was the volume of work required to keep all of the various tools working together and the almost impossible challenge of scaling that system as their business grew.
After all, the business we spoke to often referred to their eCommerce 2.0 platforms as functional, but rube-goldberg-esq, systems that would come crashing down around them should they start to scale.
This is what led us to create StoreConnect and help our customers achieve a true eCommerce 3.0 system.
eCommerce 3.0 is not about the latest crypto craze, nor is it about fundamentally redefining the user experience of the end customer.
Rather, it is about creating a platform that provides a SINGLE source of truth across eCommerce, websites, support systems, marketing platforms, point of sale and customer data. It is about keeping your valuable customer data within your business and accessible to your team, instantly. It is increasing efficiency in your company by removing data silos and integrating your customer experience with your back end systems.
eCommerce 3.0 is fundamentally two ideas:
The first is that an eCommerce 3.0 system integrates all of the above systems into one solution. Instead of having five, six, or seven, or more systems attempting to keep in synchronization, you have one e-commerce 3.0 system that provides all of the above solutions via the one application. Your e-commerce website, your corporate website, your point of sale, your marketing solutions, price, product, inventory, shipping management, digital asset management and customer service solutions all being run from a single platform that does not require constant monitoring and support in order to keep its data in sync.
The second is to create, for each business, their own private store of customer data, which, in essence, breaks up the customer-data monopolies. The information a customer shares with each merchant should be private to that merchant and not shared with others. eCommerce 3.0 allows each individual merchant their own analytics system and customer-knowledge system without needing to rely on global enterprise companies who provide “free” analytics solutions in exchange for all of your customer data.
For a system to be eCommerce 3.0, it needs to bring together all of the above into a single, unified platform and while it may still have integrations to other systems (such as ERP or financial or account platforms) these integrations are to systems that the customers of the business need to interact with directly or they are integrations that then feed data directly back into the eCommerce 3.0 system.
This is why we created StoreConnect. To be the eCommerce 3.0 platform for Small to Medium businesses, both in the for profit and not for profit spaces. StoreConnect helps our customers save time and money by providing a complete eCommerce 3.0 solution, and so is Time. Well Spent.