One of the most overwhelming challenges facing CMOs today—one that impacts the quality of the product and the speed of its delivery—is the silo effect: the lack of coordination and integration within a company to move prospective customers through the complete marketing and sales process.

Business turns into busy work, and smart, strategic minds end up blindsided.

The Silo Effect

To avoid silos, companies must integrate marketing, business, and IT objectives into a singular vision.

When business departments fail to communicate holistically or efficiently with other business units, or even with customers, these dysfunctions impact business processes. When key perspectives are missing from the final product, your business will suffer delays and have issues of credibility and inferior products.

Those silos become even more prevalent as our customers increasingly demand commerce on their terms.

Consumers don't see channels; they only see brands.

Because of that, customers are driving a retail revolution. This tipping point is the result of personal technology. Smartphones have become our lifelines. This mobility trend requires businesses to take a holistic approach to marketing. The question is no longer, "What do I do for advertising?" but "How do I better connect with my customer and provide a relevant experience throughout the entire engagement process?"

The Connected Consumer Is the Informed Consumer

According to Forrester Research, consumers now engage with brands from multiple devices and platforms, with 40% of mobile phone users now expected to become mobile phone shoppers by 2017.

Companies must meet consumers on their turf and terms. Businesses can no longer afford to waste valuable time and resources in their own tumult of siloed confusion.

The Opportunity: Omnichannel Commerce

While businesses struggle with silos, consumers are defying them. Customers intrinsically reject the notion of a business-directed channel and demand visibility and interactivity at all touchpoints during their commerce experience. They expect to be identified when purchasing—regardless if they're online or using a smartphone. They demand real-time access to product inventory and data to help them in their purchase and delivery decision, regardless of how retails manage their supply chain. 

Unfortunately, while commerce moves at lightning speed, most commerce platforms do not. As e-commerce moves more into the marketing function, the benefits of a perfected omnichannel experience will provide…

  • Consumers with a consistent, seamless brand experience across all platforms
  • Businesses with a better understanding of customers needs and behaviors
  • A quick ramp-up to test new markets, benefiting both consumers and businesses

Businesses must be prepared to respond quickly to the consumer-driven marketplace. As distribution and purchasing channels continue to consolidate, the possibilities become limitless.

To develop long-term relationships with customers, marketers must provide added value to the individual and remove the silos within the business and between the business and the consumer.

The Benefits of SaaS Commerce

SaaS commerce enables businesses to remove obstacles and streamline processes by empowering the business user, while increasing accountability and responsibility. 

Gartner predicts that 40% of businesses will begin implementing SaaS solutions. The inherent superiority of SaaS over on-premise and legacy commerce platforms benefits Marketing departments with:

  • Enhanced ease of use and efficiency
  • Increased flexibility and responsiveness to business opportunities and competition
  • Inherent "developer-friendly" construction
  • Increased usability, and easier customization and integration with existing systems
  • Better ways to connect with the consumer

Life Before and After SaaS Commerce

When a marketer has a new idea for a product, they need to be able to quickly act upon that idea or the opportunity is lost. The silos and the back-and-forth between IT and Marketing hinder the ability to respond to an increasingly competitive market and limit the creative ideas you bring to the market.

The issues facing today's CMOs are...

  • How do you take action, how do you move both quickly and accurately to take advantage of those opportunities? It depends if you want to update your commerce platform or integrate mobile and Web. Companies using on-premise commerce platforms will face the challenge of an 18-month timeline.
  • Need to test a new product or market? CMOs will find that it's probably easier to pick a new vendor and custom build a completely new site than to wait for IT to finesse the legacy commerce engine in the back room.
  • On-premise platforms require Marketing and IT to carefully build budgets, hire personnel, and quantify into a yearly budget, creating a host of delays that turn the "new market" into one saturated by their competitors. SaaS commerce provides much greater flexibility; companies can test new markets, develop new products, and launch microsites in just weeks.

True, Multi-Tenant SaaS

As you consider re-platforming, you need to understand that not all commerce platforms are true SaaS.

The best way to ensure you're choosing a versatile, modern technology is to select one running multi-tenant SaaS, meaning every customer is running on the same software instance. Many SaaS commerce platforms on the market are actually running individual (redundant but unique) instances of their product. That means that any change made to their platform must be implemented separately for every customer, often costing the retailer time and money.

However, with multi-tenant SaaS:

  • A single version of the software is running for all customers, with major updates released all at once.
  • The product has been built from the ground up.
  • Customizations are backward-compatible without needing to re-apply existing changes.

As long as businesses remain tethered to on-premise and legacy platform technologies, problems will continue to occur and accelerate.

As enterprises acquire and layer commerce solutions over time with various platforms and code bases, future complexities and additional expense will remain at risk. Choosing an e-commerce platform created in sync with omnichannel commerce allows the retail experience to align with the consumer experience.

For more information on the digital commerce challenges enterprises are facing and how SaaS is the solution, download this free benchmark report [email required] from Mozu.

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Using the Cloud to Tear Down the Walls of Customer Channels

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image of John Hessinger

John Hessinger is vice president of marketing for Volusion, an e-commerce solution provider.

LinkedIn: John Hessinger