Welcome To The Era Of Agile Commerce

Multichannel commerce no longer makes sense. As consumers are increasingly connected through a wide array of Internet-connected devices, the traditional multichannel commerce experience is becoming obsolete. Customers no longer interact with companies from a “channel” perspective; instead, they interact through touchpoints. These touchpoints include channels such as stores, branches, call centers, and websites, but also emerging interactions such as apps, social media, mobile sites, SMS messages, and interactive advertising -- across a wide range of devices such as smartphones, tablets, Internet TVs, cars, and even appliances. 

As a result, it is time for organizations to leave their channel-oriented ways behind and enter the era of agile commerce —optimizing their people, processes, and technology to serve today’s empowered, ever-connected customers across this rapidly evolving set of customer touchpoints. This is agile commerce.

Agile commerce is not just an incremental change; it’s a metamorphosis to a new form of operations and technology orientation. While the pieces and capabilities of an agile commerce operation may look similar to those focused for years on multichannel commerce, it’s how they come together and how the organization responds to the customer that represents the significant change. With the advent of agile commerce, organizations need to reconfigure resources and capabilities to stay ahead of the rate of change as consumer technology adoption and behaviors change. The customer is now at the center, and delivering relevant content, commerce, and service is the key to delivering on the new reality.

For months now we have been interviewing industry leading executives from a wide range of verticals, including retail, travel, financial services, insurance, healthcare, manufacturing, media, and technology across North America and Europe. We have also spent time with many of the best from the vendor community who support those businesses with services and technology. What we found is contained in this report: Welcome To The Era Of Agile Commerce.

We hope you enjoy the report, and we look forward to sharing much more research on the transition to agile commerce throughout the year, including a great report from my colleague Alex Hesse: “Next-Generation Digital Financial Services.”  Lastly, I would like to acknowledge the valuable contributions from many of my colleagues at Forrester Research who made this report what it is, including Carrie Johnson, Patti Freeman Evans, Benjamin Ensor, Zia Daniell Wigder, Beth Hoffman, Lily Varon, Drew Benson, Peter Sheldon, Henry Harteveldt, Sucharita Mulpuru, Diane Clarkson, Ellen Carney, Steven Noble, Alex Hesse, Bill Doyle, Brad Strothkamp, Emmitt Higdon, Charles Golvin, George Lawrie, and Andrew Stockwell.

Thanks, and please share your thoughts and comments, Brian


Agile + Multi

We have significant experience in this area, and whole heartedly agree with your commentary. Our online software allows enterprise-level companies to take control of their multiple channels (offline + online + mobile + telesales + mobile + CRM) as one converged channel. This provides a platform for Agile Commerce to take control of customer touching points and significantly reduce channel conflict - as well as costs. Its this type of customer centric approach to IT that CIO's and CMO's love to hear about, and a focus for us.

Thanks for sharing the post, and the well constructed diagram.

Great perspective on

Great perspective on differentiating channels and touchpoints, I was curious though by when you thought this concept would reach mainstream adoption? I have blogged at http://nitivaish.wordpress.com/ on the need for brands to create an ‘Interactive Multi-Channel Marketing Strategy’ which will allow them to deliver a consistent message through mobile, social and digital channels and enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty. Unfortunately it seems that while most brands “get” the need to look at the big picture, constrained with limited budgets, brands continue to build one-off iphone / ipad applications, start a Facebook page or Twitter account without have strategies and trained personnel to manage these new communication channels.

Looks familiar

Wondered if I'd ever see that graphic again after trying to snap a photo during your presentation at the Magento Imagine 2011 conference. It's a great example of how embedded digital interactions are for retail even if the company hasn't engaged.

I disagree, it is good analysis but shows lack of understanding.

Actually the way it works is different. The market-places or channels are not going anywhere, it is the social venues who are entering into the price-comparison engine game. Consolidation of marketing efforts is the reason why so many etailers were able to start selling online and focus only on the product and leaving marketing to internal visibility optimization within the channel/market place. The graph described above is just a desperate attempt of the big retail stores to come out of their sites into multi-channel. Where all the small sellers who give the big guys headaches, already live.

Jose Ignacio
Software rules!!

Broken link??

I clicked on the green box above that says "Click here to download the report" and it takes me to the next page, which says this report is not available for individual purchase! By Design or accident? :-)


We are looking into this, not by design

Thanks for the comment, we have people looking into the issue now. - Brian

The issue around individual purchase is now fixed.

Thanks for bringing that to my attention. - Brian

Really interesting, although

Really interesting, although I'm left wondering what is the difference between 'Agile Commerce' and 'Service Design'?


Agile Commerce and Service Design

I think they are one in the same. Unfortunately those of us in the US, suffer from the lack of understanding about Service Design in corporate America. Because of this, we need to use the languauge companies are using. Agile Commerce addresses the problems a lot of companies are facing. It is language that resonates rather then confuses.

I am huge advocate of growing the understading of Service Design in the US, but we need use vernacular that our clients will understand. Once they see the benefit of this, we can explain that it's Service Design.


Great piece. Great graphic. Unfortunately, I don't have a copy of the report so I am wondering if you can explain why the company's website doesn't have a role with trust. For me, the website is a strong influence on deciding whether to buy on the site. Am I missing the point? Enlighten me. Thanks, Tracy

in response

Tracy, I have someone following up with you. I am not clear on your question. Thanks, Brian

Hi Brian Not sure if you saw

Hi Brian

Not sure if you saw my comment, I'm keen to understand what the difference is between 'Agile Commerce' and 'Service Design'?

Thanks Steve

Agile commerce and service design


Thanks for the question. Service design is one of many techniques I see as valuable tools to address the multi-touchpoint nature of the customer relationship as they research, transact, get service, and engage with brands and retailers. Other tools will be persona design, and scenario-based design which our Customer Experience role analysts research and advise on regularly. Agile commerce is not a design methodology, but a way of doing business. Service design is a way to help companies become agile commerce firms as they must become more customer centric, but agile commerce also necessitates change across many dimensions and capabilities beyond customer experience design.

Thanks for the great question, Brian

Multi channel, multi-touch point & multi-party

Brian - No need to separate channel from touch points as per your chart I could be on company website on my mobile phone while standing in line in store when I'm alerted by social of an "online only" discount so, I click and call call center... Better to associate touch points with there role in customer life cycle and link touch points to supporting channel (where they are managed) in order to manage aligned with customer expectations.

This is the concept behind the CxC Matrix covered in Customer Worthy (book at Amazon) to visualize and monetize each interaction in a meaningful way -

I'm catching up on my reading - so you may have already covered this - but Customer Worthy is worth a read or walk through - call me if you are interested 908.542.1134 or speak to Dave F.

Agile commerce

Hi Brian- Does the report address measurement? For a marketer looking to prioritize resources and evaluate ROI, this paradigm shift creates new challenges.


search and research

Hello Brian,
I love this approach, since French companies still have difficulties even to embrace a multichannelled customer relationship management...
for a French native speaker, it is difficult to distinguish between the customer'"search" and "research" behaviours.
Would you be kind enough to elaborate a little bit here ?
thanks for this great insight !
Julien Ricard
Learning CRM

See our French language blog post on Agile Commerce

Did you happen to see the French language blog post we did on Agile Commerce? It may help. I can appreciate that some of the terms we are using may be challenging to translate easily.


If you are a Forrester client, we have some French native speakers who could do a joint inquiry with me to discuss as well.

Thanks, Brian

SMS or Text Message Marketing

I'm a big believer in Text Message Marketing.
Go check it out. I think you will too.