Capturing the power of digital commerce
How leading retailers are transforming the industry with advanced cloud-based technologies and services
The rise of digital commerce
Although digital commerce has been around for almost 3 decades, its growth has recently accelerated, boosted by access to new cloud technologies, better mobile apps, and a raft of new fulfillment options. Consumers are spending more time browsing and buying online than ever before. Ecommerce sales soared to $870 billion in the United States in 2021 and are expected to top $1 trillion for the first time in 2025.
Retailers have been scrambling to capture a piece of this valuable pie and avoid falling behind in a market that could decide the fate of their business in the years ahead. Many large-scale retailers have made significant investments in digital commerce, but it’s still hard for many to take full advantage of its potential for transforming the consumer experience. Even today, somewhat surprisingly, 80 percent of sales still involve physical stores.
As a leader in digital commerce technology, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been helping retailers succeed with a fresh approach to ecommerce that uses a next-gen digital architecture powered by a system of modern cloud-based solutions and services. To help guide you, we’ve created an easy-to-follow ebook that explores key trends in this space and focuses on four critical steps that forward-thinking retailers can take to put together a smart and competitive digital commerce platform.
Four steps to digital commerce success
1. Establish an agile and cost-effective digital commerce platform.
This should be the first step in your digital commerce journey, because it will form the foundation for providing the best possible shopping experience for your customer. Jump-start your journey by migrating most or all of your legacy apps to the cloud. You’ll start saving on operating costs from day one, and you can maximize your existing IT investments on your way to adopting a retail architecture that is built for the future.
Next, modernize your applications by using microservices technologies to “decompose” your ecommerce infrastructure, making your apps more flexible and faster to build. Adopting composable apps—powered by microservices—helps retailers unify and personalize the shopper experience, reduce maintenance costs, and gain greater business agility and innovation at scale.
“By 2023, organizations that have adopted a composable approach will outpace competition by 80 percent in the speed of new feature implementation.” –Gartner Research report, June 2020
2. Enhance customer experiences to increase conversions.
With any ecommerce site, the goal is to increase conversions through compelling and delightful customer experiences. And one of the best ways to make this happen is by reducing friction in every step of the buying journey. That could be as simple as reducing slow page loads, trimming log-on requirements, making searches faster and easier, and limiting multipage checkouts. Personalization is another way to drive sales. For example, using Amazon Personalize, which developers can use to quickly build and deploy curated recommendations and intelligent user segmentation at scale using machine learning (ML), retailers can use ML technology to deliver specific product recommendations, personalized product reranking, and direct marketing.
AWS and its Partners can help retailers deploy an array of other online customer experiences. AWS Partner Obsess, for example, is a leader in helping retailers design and deploy virtual stores that offer a 3D walk-through of an actual store so that shoppers can browse items as if they were physically in the store. Plus, there are new immersive retail experiences—supported by AWS and its Partners—that use augmented reality (AR) so that customers can virtually “try before they buy.” These try-before-they-buy options range from placing furniture in your home to previewing how makeup or a pair of eyeglasses would look.
AWS Partner Hexa offers retailers solutions for 3D product visualization and virtual try-on though mobile devices. Hexa’s AR features provide consumers with a virtual and immersive try-before-you-buy interactions designed to enhance the online shopping experience. Immersive online shopping experiences can boost consumer confidence and increase retailer conversion rate, thereby increasing revenue.
3. Reach more customers with tools and techniques to expand digital communications and channels.
As retailers modernize with the latest cloud-based digital commerce platforms, the next challenge is how to pull in even more customers. To reach more people, digital marketers in retail will need to pursue a diversity of approaches. Depending on your target audience, strategies might include digital ads, email marketing, text messaging, and curated social media content. With the help of technologies like personalization, ML, and advanced analytics, retail marketers can reach the right customers at the right time with the right message.
Another largely untapped source of new customers is the social commerce space, where the value potential is enormous. Today, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok reach over three billion active users per month. And if you’re a retailer seeking to broaden your partner and vendor systems, now is the time to explore setting up a cost-effective digital marketplace, where vendors can sell products for a fee, much like Amazon. It’s a great way to extend the reach of your brand to a broad swath of potential customers.
“In 2020 in the United States, 57 percent of business-to-consumer ecommerce sales flowed through marketplaces.“
–Forrester Forecast Report, March 2021
4. Deliver on customer expectations with flawless fulfillment and easy returns.
You’ve built a robust digital storefront, and it’s attracting new customers with modern and compelling shopping experiences. But will your customers stay with you over the long run? Much of that depends on how well you support all the ways that your customers want to shop and how efficiently you fulfill orders. That means routinely covering the basics: delivering the right product to the right place at the right time for the customer.
Reinventing your contact center is a good place to make an immediate impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty. Retailers can set up a cloud contact center in minutes, personalize the interactions with artificial intelligence and ML, and lift agent productivity from day one. For consistently great order fulfillment, retailers can assemble new cloud-based systems that provide accurate, near-real-time visibility into inventory levels and more agile logistics capabilities across channels. Using AWS and its Partners, retailers can build a unified cloud platform that powers on-demand and scheduled delivery; buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS); curbside pickups; and more.
Download the ebook Navigating the new world of digital commerce in retail to learn more about how top retail brands, like Sainsbury’s, Zappos, and Morrisons, use AWS to modernize operations and deliver unprecedented customer experiences.