Two Countries, One Customer: Navigating the Content and Commerce Divide
When I travel to countries that share a border, I love seeing how those countries may have little in common – speak different languages, eat different foods, and have different customs – and yet manage to communicate and co-operate so that people can cross back and forth easily between the two. From a traveler’s perspective, it is usually easier to cross borders between countries that have strong relationships and understand each other’s languages; for example, between Schengen countries in Europe, or between Canada and United States.
In conducting research on content and commerce integration, and speaking to software vendors, service providers, and enterprise buyers on this topic, I was regularly reminded of that feeling being a traveler crossing borders between countries that don’t know each other well. Indeed, even as an industry analyst and speaking largely with native or bilingual English speakers, it was not always easy to piece together the complete picture from those who came from the content perspective versus those from the commerce perspective. I realized just how independently the disciplines of content and commerce have developed much like separate countries do, with knowledge of each other’s existence but little direct interaction. If that was my experience as someone employed full-time to research and wrap my head around this stuff, think how confusing that must be for buyers.
These buyers come from environments where technologies, employee expertise, and business goals have been distinct within the content and commerce parts of a company. Within companies, it is common that marketing departments create and manage content, while IT departments and merchandising and sourcing specialists manage commerce. Commerce servers and web content management systems are typically separate technologies sold by different vendors and implemented by service provider partners with either content or commerce expertise. As with countries, these two divisions – within buyers themselves, and among vendors and service providers – know of each other’s existence, but speak different technology languages.
This is an untenable situation in this current era of customer experience management, which I’m looking forward to speaking about in more detail in a few weeks at DX Summit that CMSwire is hosting in Chicago November 2-4. Ultimately, these separate entities share the common goal of providing great customer experiences that result in sales. In addition to being a purchaser, a customer is a collection of emotions, activities, and attitudes that come into play around purchasing decisions. The shopping cart, be it physical or an icon on an online site, is merely the vehicle for the purchase transaction. The challenge for companies now is to understand the optimal content that prompts a transaction, and not just once, but over time. As a senior managing director at Accenture said recently,
Investing in content is key for retailers who want to beat Amazon…when consumers search for products.
Content and commerce integration has thus become an essential component of a company’s customer experience management strategy. In order to succeed at this integration, companies need to understand the languages and heritages of the content and commerce worlds. This knowledge will help companies make well-informed decisions around content- and commerce-related technology strategy and purchasing.
To learn more, download our new free report Bridging the Content and Commerce Divide (registration required).