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Guest Blogger

By James Barlow, Country Manager UK and Ireland, Akeneo

As global ecommerce retail sales will hit $4.9 trillion by 2021, we’ll increasingly witness change and innovation across the sector. In an industry where the customer is king, brands need to constantly innovate to keep up with changing customer demands. For instance, they need to ensure omnichannel and cross-border commerce initiatives are tailored to customers’ individual needs.

The rise of modern technologies such as open source, give those companies an advantage that are ‘open’ to embrace change. Those who fail to leverage alternative online strategies will find themselves falling short. As ecommerce penetration reaches an all time high, we’re expecting the following trends across the industry to take off.

B2B marketplaces on the rise 

With companies such as Honeywell or Rexel addressing the needs of highly specialised buyers and sellers in vertical markets, we’ve seen a rise of specialised B2B marketplaces. B2B services usually require workflow and collaboration tools to drive significant efficiencies for buyers and suppliers, as well as build trust between buyers and sellers.

Honeywell, which launched its specialised in-house GoDirect Trade marketplace in 2018, came up with its own solution after recognising a gap in the market – disrupting the $14 billion aerospace parts market.

Another example is Rexel, a leading European B2B distributor of electrical supplier. The company is using a flexible Product Information Management (PIM) solution to ace its product experience, which unifies all touchpoints of the customer experience across all channels. This has led to an increase in website traffic, customer conversion, reduced time-to-market, and increased the number of products managed.

Brands gaining back control of customer experience from marketplaces 

With Quiz, Nike, Birkenstock and Vibram removing their stock from third-party marketplaces, we’re witnessing a new trend emerge across e-commerce: brands are taking control of their customer experiences.

Companies have become selective to which marketplaces they sell their products on, becoming aware that boutique marketplaces like Mytheresa will help them sell more. It’s less about margin, and more about volume.

Further, with the passing of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May 2018, companies are realising the ‘one size fits all’ approach is no longer fit for purpose. Customers are increasingly becoming protective of their data, demanding control, as well as consistent, streamlined experiences across all channels.

A move away from holiday sales 

With the rise of online sales, ecommerce retailers need to be smart about creating initiatives to earn customer loyalty. For instance, brands such as Patagonia and REI have stopped participating in Black Friday, and brands like Zara are offering app-only offers. Further, companies are expressing ethical concerns over the commercialisation of public holidays (e.g. Thanksgiving, Christmas). They’ve begun to find new avenues of creating customer loyalty along the way, tailoring the customer experience to become more authentic as a brand.

Open-source revolutionising the retail sector 

In order to keep up with growing customer demand and accelerate innovation, brands need to leverage new technologies to stay relevant. Adopting an open-source software development approach, empowers the collaboration of the community, and can have endless benefits for eCommerce retailers.

From faster development to increased security, and improved services, open-source has many advantages over a traditional proprietary software approach.

For instance, if a company wanted to scale internationally at a fast pace, with open source technology language localisation could be programmed much faster than if it was localised in-house. Overall, open-source helps streamlining internal processes, allowing for continuous integration and deployment by providing seamless updates for end-users.

In fact, the open-source software approach has been implemented across the sector. For example, in 2015, 70-year-old German sporting goods brand Adidas jumped onto the open-source bandwagon by crowdsourcing ideas within its community. By welcoming athletes, consumers and partners to become part of the brand, Adidas revamped its heritage reputation. Similarly, UK-based cosmetics retailer Lush announced it was developing open source software for its point-of-sale system to boost growth.

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