The city of Chicago will once again host the iconic annual event on June 6, 2017 – the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition (IRCE). It is the world’s largest Ecommerce show and the flagship event of the ecommerce industry in North America. In 2017, IRCE will bring together over 6,000 qualified online retailers and professionals, 600 solutions technology, services partners and vendors, as well as 200+ speakers. During one of the 100+ sessions throughout the week, people will engage in idea sharing and will discuss state-of-the art commerce technology and marketing solutions. This event is a can’t-miss for professionals who are serious about their online strategy, and searching for the latest trends and changes in the commerce industry.
The Valtech team is headed to IRCE 2017 and we will be exhibiting at Booth #116. Our team is looking forward to meeting with people who are driving the commerce industry, and to share our insights on some of the hot topics and trends of ecommerce in 2017. To name a few:
- Unified Commerce: over the past several years, many retailers have changed from the disconnected world of traditional offline commerce to move their ecommerce stores towards omni-channel. In the omni-channel scenarios, the various sales channels of merchants and their multiple systems are interconnected. This connectivity provides for somewhat higher visibility of inventory, orders, customers and their behavior across channels. However, we see more and more merchants taking advantage of the unified commerce, or as some call it, the “single version of truth.” Under a unified commerce concept, all of a retailer’s system is connected in real time, including web store, mobile store, physical store POS systems, mobile terminals, Order Management and Inventory Management systems. The coordinated traditional channel in marketing, selling, and fulfilment and supporting systems generate amazing opportunities for intelligent and consistent experiences of both merchants and their customers.
- Intelligent Experience: anyone serious about building a sustainable digital commerce channel has heard of predictive analytics and artificial intelligence (AI). These topics have been at the forefront of most innovative retailers’ agendas for quite some time. However, 2017 is truly the first year where these concepts have been put to practical application by several technology platforms apart from Google, Amazon and Facebook, who rule in their respective domains. The most impressive moves in this direction is by Salesforce Commerce Cloud (former Demandware), with its full integration with the Salesforce Einstein artificial intelligence platform. The Commerce Cloud already supports intelligent product recommendations and commerce insights. Some intelligent features like predictive sorting, search dictionaries and search recommendations are to be released in 2017. While retailers in B2C space are pushing forth the innovation in ecommerce, there is also massive shift in the way people sell and shop in B2B space.
- The rising wave of B2B digital commerce: manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers and service companies in the B2B space have historically lacked the direct-to-consumer retailers in terms of ecommerce technology and innovation. But the tide is turning. According to Forrester research, by 2020, even if only 10% of all B2B purchasing will be done online (a very conservative assumption), it will represent more than double of what will be bought and sold online in B2C (approx. 14% of all B2C purchases are projected to be made online in 2020). There are massive shifts in B2B. These changes are driven by the desire of merchants to get the same UX-driven seamless mobile-first experience they get as B2C customers. This outcome can happen through the “Amazon effect,” which is how Amazon gets into their traditional domains, like that of automotive parts and services. Another way the massive shift in B2B is changing is through modifications in the B2B channel impacting distribution and consumption as distributors move to a marketplace, direct, pure plays, or mixed models in ecommerce. Ecommerce technology is quickly catching up with complex involved requirements of B2B merchants and their economics. As commerce platforms evolve, more and more retailers are turning to microservices and a combination of technologies and tools to serve their needs, rather than expect one technology vendor to cover their needs in full.
- Microservices: Speed is arguably the leading competitive differentiator in retail today. Facing changing customer demands and shifting preferences, retailers must build both an organizational as well as technical structure that provides for agility. While speed is of utmost importance, some of monolithic ecommerce platforms and applications that drive the biggest retailers’ web stores worldwide are beginning to feel a lot like bottlenecks for innovation. Companies like Amazon, eBay, Uber, Netflix and Google have long relied on an architectural principle in building their commerce solutions called Microservices. Microservices are small amenities which are individually developed, deployed and managed that communicate via standardized API’s. Instead of having one monolithic application that contains all business logic, a flexible network of Microservices handles all complexity; developers can work on small functional chunks rather than having to understand millions of code lines, resulting in better quality, easier adoption and… speed! Combined with the Progressive Web Applications approach (coined by Google engineers) in building engaging shopping experiences, utilizing Microservices in ecommerce, in our opinion, has a promising future.
- Progressive Web Applications: You have probably heard of them already as being the next big thing on the web, beyond responsive, mobile-first, UX-driven web apps. Put in simple terms, a Progressive Web App is such that uses a modern web browser’s capabilities to deliver an application-like experience. Native applications push notifications, work on and offline, load on a home screen, etc. However, a mobile web browser experience has not given the user the same level of fast, reliable and engaging experience as native applications. In ecommerce, the difference between native apps and web browsing (mobile-optimized web store experience) has been even more visible. Traditionally, online merchants had to solve a binary problem: What to build? A mobile-optimized web store or several native apps for most popular OS platforms – each of these approaches had its limitations. But as more complicated shopping scenarios and tools will be deployed, in our opinion, the Progressive Web Apps will take over the world of digital commerce. Will you be ready?
We look forward to meeting you, learning of your commerce strategies and seeing how Valtech can assist you in implementing your digital commerce roadmap. Please, visit us at Booth #116 at the IRCE Exhibit Hall and email us at to schedule an appointment in advance.