How to build a digital storefront for the modern consumer

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The shift to digital storefronts switched into the highest gear during COVID, forcing retailers to move from talk to action overnight. Instead of thinking about simply adding an app to their arsenal, companies had to take a look at what channels their customers use, how they begin their shopping journeys, and how they can continue serving them with new ones.

In early 2020, retailers that made all or most of their sales in-store had to create or improve their online shops and supply chains to be able to stay in business. This illuminated the fact that e-commerce has to work out of the box. No retailer has the ability to wait six or more months to spin up an digital storefront.

Instead, an e-commerce shop that can be launched within days offers multiple benefits, including:

  1. Enabling retailers to try out a new concept
  2. Making quick business decisions based on preliminary data
  3. Liquidating old inventory in a novel way

Digital storefront: Fast innovation, best CX 

With just about every brand discussing what they will do or already have done to meet the digital demands of their customers, there must be a way to stand out from the crowd. The differentiator that’s emerged and will continue to be an important factor in a post-pandemic world is the ability to be nimble.

During the pandemic, retailers learned to open and close their doors at a moment’s notice. But shoppers still want access to their favorite products, even if they can’t step foot in the door. That’s where a fast e-commerce launch comes in, as demonstrated by the Upscale Commerce Hackathon.

Bruce Petillo, VP and General Manager of ECENTA Digital, one of the Hackathon participants, put it succinctly: “If history over the last 18 months is a teacher to us, our ability to be agile, think fast, and be able to think outside the box is vitally important to any organization moving forward.”

For example, there were use cases of buy-online-pickup in-store in the past; it almost became a necessity during COVID, he said.

During COVID, these swift transitions were required to stay in business. Moving forward, the ability to be nimble and keep up with changing customer needs is the only way to consistently exceed customer expectations. Each day, retailers must ask themselves, “How can we create a more meaningful customer experience?”

The answer invariably leads back to digital: retailers must meet their customers on the mobile, desktop, social channels where they like to spend time. Any instance of friction or delays will lead to lost sales.

Spinning up digital storefronts, seizing opportunities

The need for trying new retail concepts quickly is linked to opportunity costs. When a brand can experiment and validate an idea quickly, they can save on costs and move forward with the most effective ideas.

For example, when ECENTA Digital was tasked with setting up an inventory liquidation platform in just 24 hours during the hackathon, they were able to repackage older inventory and sell it in a new online shop by hyper-targeting the best suited personas.

It’s much easier to create a fresh retail experience with older inventory within days like ECENTA Digital did with the help of an out-of-the-box solution that enables team members of varying technical abilities to set up an digital storefront. With this level of speed, retailers can repackage old inventory to present it to new customer segments and clear out warehouse space faster.

Petillo noted how fast his team was able to get their liquidation site up. They started at 9 a.m., and by 3 p.m., had a website with the look and feel of a legitimate online retailer.

“One of the biggest takeaways for me was that you were able to build something quickly,” he said. “It was functional, it looked great, had a good user experience, and I could go transact at that moment.”

Investing in the future of retail with headless commerce

This speed has largely been missing in the retail world, but in a time of fast fashion and delivery within mere hours, no brand can risk the long timelines that were previously associated with e-commerce website development.

The future of e-commerce is already here and it is headless commerce, empowering multiple teams within a retail organization to get new digital storefronts and offerings live in record time.  

Commerce is already global and fast paced. Headless commerce solutions are the final piece of the puzzle to enable new retail experiences whenever the need arises.

In retail, speed is everything. Get tips for innovating e-commerce at lighting speed HERE.

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Shayonie Mila Kundu

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