Companies must be digital.
That is the plain and simple lesson learned from how the year 2020 unravelled – tormenting companies with mandatory shuttings of shops and applying pressure on logistical supply lines and forcing workforces to collaborate in new and virtual ways.
Change is always the constant but 2020 truly enforced and quickened this truism.
For company development – which is equally applicable to personal development – the best form of change and adaptation comes from understanding the past. And so in that spirit, let’s take a look at the developments of 2020 and where they’re leading us into 2021.
Of course the year of 2020 was all about digital transformation, virtual communication, and ecommerce emphasis. Platforms that host ecommerce operations have done particularly well during 2020. Shopify reached 1 million merchants and reported profits of $133 million in the last quarter of 2020.
Elsewhere, Salesforce – with its host of cloud platforms that include Salesforce Commerce Cloud – had a particularly strong year, reporting $5.42 billion third-quarter sales. Revenue for both Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Salesforce Commerce Cloud grew 21% in the second quarter.
“I think when I looked at our Commerce Cloud and our differentiated value position, it’s two things, said Salesforce chief revenue office, Gavin Patterson, at the time. “One is we do both B2C Commerce and B2B Commerce. And I think that when I talk to customers, it’s really about all of their channels.”
In fact, years of ecommerce development have been compressed in a matter of months. The pandemic has meant that ecommerce has accelerated by half a decade. For those that banked on their online stores and invested healthily over the year leading up to the pandemic fared much better than those that had neglected to develop their online presence, or were slow to adapt.
But this heavy and sustained shift to ecommerce has led to a weighing strain on the logistics and supply chains of brands and retailers.
And also, because we’ve all been shopping online, there’s greater demand for a more personalized shopping experience. Two-thirds of consumers expect brands and retailers to understand their own wants and needs; half expect that they would always be given personalized offers. Yet just 15% of consumers are currently happy with the personal online shopping experiences that they’re given.
Companies have had to adopt lightning fast. “The business challenges that we needed to address for our clients,” said the deliciously-sounding Tony Pizza, senior director of product management for Salesforce, “included direct access to end customers; accelerated adoption of digital commerce; modernization of legacy platforms; enable curbside delivery; reduction of return rates; adoption of omnichannel orchestration; and adoption of social network engagement platforms.”
Tony went on to say that “So much of what our existing and new customers had the highest level of urgency and familiarity. Most of these customers had these requirements on the 2019 roadmap, with implementation targets that extended to 2025.”
With such an intense year along behind us, 2021 will bring more changes, intensify focus, and spring fresh challenges that always accompany change and development.
Here are some of the key trends that are expected to shape the areas in which brands and retailers react and develop within the next 12 months.
Brands and retailers will go deeper with automating processes to reach greater operational efficiency, quicken workloads, and so teams can focus on more of the creative process. Key to automation and scaling productivity are APIs and ensuring that digital journeys are simple yet powerful.
With heavier traffic fills digital shops, companies are desperately trying to shorten online customer experiences to manage with the numbers.
Creating highly-specialized experiences means producing more and more applications, which in turn means that companies need to become more agile if they’ve yet to venture down that road. Instead of building everything from scratch, teams will look to extend their digital capabilities from already existing apps via APIs.
Brands are beginning to look at microservies in greater detail to build these fresh and fast online customer experiences, requiring a certain level of service mesh capability in order to scale.
Safe and secure
Did you know that the average enterprise has 900 applications. This explosion of endpoints has made it easier for consumers to connect but has also led to fresh avenues for bad actors to enter and cause chaos.
Digitize and digitize
Fast digital services are becoming increasingly expected and demanded of brands and retailers. Consumer demand has quickened their processes to digitize everything at scale and widen their avenues to bring in more revenue.
This final point is particularly poignant. Because with the continuing advancement of tech brands will become more heavily invested in social platforms and pushing outwards their touchpoints to reach the edges of where users are hanging out – whether that be Facebook or on games consoles – or even when you’re driving, as vehicle commerce begins to accelerate.
eCommerce will also take the form of fresher forms, such as livestream ecommerce as social media influencers and brand ambassadors reach out to consumers in real time.
In 2020 companies had to digitize. In 2021 companies have to digitize deeper.