How Agile Are You Feeling?

 

Here at Forrester we’ve spend a lot of time this year evangelizing a new approach to multichannel commerce – one that we call agile commerce. The fundamentals are outlined here in Brian Walker’s excellent doc, “Welcome to the Era of Agile Commerce.” But in short, and to quote Brian . . .

“Traditional ways of describing multichannel commerce no longer work because customers don't interact with companies from a 'channel' perspective. Customers now use a rapidly evolving set of devices as a means of engaging across touchpoints, which they don't distinguish from the brand or business.”

What this means to most eBusiness execs across Europe is an explosion in the number of touchpoints they now have to consider in their customer interactions. It’s no longer just about managing a store chain and a website as two separate entities. Increasingly shoppers are turning to social networks, mobile price comparison applications, tablets, and more and they are demanding an increasing level of cross touchpoint flexibility as they browse, choose, shop, and even return products.

Alongside our latest eBusiness Maturity Model, I’ve been speaking to eBusiness executives across Europe to gauge where their organizations are in the evolution toward agile commerce.

The conclusion – no one business is doing everything right now, but the leaders have a firm Agile vision (even if they don’t use those words) and have C-suite backing to make that vision a reality. But these businesses are rare. The majority of eBusiness executives in Europe nod sagely when we talk to them about agile commerce, but haven’t yet got the traction in their businesses to take any significant steps toward that goal. They are building business cases and making plans, but all too often the pressures of working in a very annually driven business with short-term planning horizons makes it difficult to make that first strategic move. And some have yet to act. A number of European retailers are only just waking up to the potential of the Internet. What’s interesting about these new kids on the block is that they have the potential to learn la ot of painful lessons from those that have been in the game for the last 10 years, and they have a chance to leap straight to an Agile end game.

But one consistent theme came out across all the interviews, and that was the potential power that eBusiness execs see in data. Cross touchpoint customer insight is something that few businesses have a firm handle on right now, but everyone agrees that it will be the key to future success in the era of agile commerce.

The results of the interviews are here in more detail in Agile Commerce Is Coming Of Age For European Retailers.