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Digital Commerce: Trends & Tips

Everything you need to know about how digital commerce works and how to do it right

Digital commerce is a ubiquitous form of shopping. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t purchased a product or service online in the last week. In fact, most customer interactions now take place online. To win the hearts and wallets of customers, businesses need to have increasingly impressive digital commerce experiences.

Digital commerce is more than just establishing a presence online. It’s about exceeding customer expectations through personalisation, convenience, and differentiated user experiences. Here’s everything you need to know about how to make it happen.

What is digital commerce?

Digital commerce is the entire ecosystem that makes it possible to sell your products online. It facilitates convenient, efficient transactions, and gives businesses and customers the freedom to sell and shop without physical proximity.

Digital commerce vs. ecommerce: What’s the difference?

Digital commerce and ecommerce are often used synonymously. They both involve buying and selling goods online.

Digital commerce refers to the entire customer journey — from the moment a shopper first discovers your products online to their first purchase and beyond. This includes all your digital channels, from your website to social media and other online communities. It also involves all the tactics and technologies your business uses to sell through these channels. Think: digital marketing, customer relationship management, data intelligenceopens in a new window, order management software, and more.

Ecommerce, on the other hand, refers to the parts of the shopping journey that occur directly on a business’s website.

Statistics you should know about digital commerce

New trends emerge. Technology advances. Customer behaviours evolve. Digital commerce is always changing and it’s critical that business leaders know where the market is headed. Here are some quick stats that offer a snapshot of the state of digital commerce in 2024:opens in a new window

  • 64% of commerce leaders say meeting customer expectations is harder than ever.
  • Nearly half (48%) of commerce organisations are experimenting with AI and 29% have fully implemented it.
  • Commerce professionals estimate that 54% of revenue will come from digital channels in just two years.
State of Commerce report cover

Explore data and get insights from 2,700 commerce leaders

AI. Productivity. New priorities and solutions. See what leaders are prioritising.

How does digital commerce work?

Digital commerce technology and tactics permeate the entire online shopping journey — from product discovery to delivery. Here’s a step-by-step look at how digital commerce makes it possible to interact with customers wherever, whenever, and however they shop.

1. Build an online presence: First, digital commerce helps you establish an online presence through websitesopens in a new window, mobile appsopens in a new window, social mediaopens in a new window, and other touchpoints. By showing up on the digital channels that your target audience prefers, you build credibility and trust — and you stay top-of-mind. Ultimately, when you interact with customers on their terms, you increase awareness and customer loyalty.

2. Present your inventory online: The right platform will allow your merchandising, marketing, and commerce teams to display products beautifully online. Items should be easy to find through site navigation and search functionalities, and inventory levelsopens in a new window should be automatically updated across all channels.

3. Transact and accept payments: One of the most critical parts of the shopping journey? Payment. Digital commerce technology and payment processing solutions give you the ability to accept multiple forms of payment and meet the needs of a wide range of customers. Payment preferences are constantly changing: crypto, digital wallets, payment installments, and more have cropped up just within the last few years. Most importantly, no matter where or how your customers transact, safety and security should be top of mind for your payment strategy.

4. Fulfill and deliver orders: Once an order is placed, the order management process kicks in. This involves everything from inventory managementopens in a new window to picking, packing, and shipping the products to the customer's designated address. With the right digital commerce technology, you can provide real-time order tracking updates so customers can see where their orders are at any time. Automating this process also frees up time for your customer service agents and allows them to focus on more strategic tasks.

5. Provide customer support: Digital commerce platforms allow businesses to provide customer support, ‌live chat, and email at scale, thanks to‌ automation made possible by artificial intelligence (AI). AI-powered chatbots allow you to address customer inquiries beyond what your customer service team can handle on their own, which helps you resolve issues quickly and provide assistance throughout the buying process. It’s an ideal solution for scaling that lets you do more with less.

6. Engage with customers post-purchase: After a purchase is completed, businesses still need to engage with customers to foster the relationship and build loyalty. This can include personalised outreach messages and retargeting, tailored loyalty programsopens in a new window, and post-purchase surveys to gather customer feedback.

7. Analyse data and optimise experiences: Digital commerce relies on data to gain insights into customer behaviour, preferences, and trends. Your business can use this information to optimise digital strategies, personalise customer experiences, and continuously improve the digital experiences you offer.

Digital commerce is more than just retail — examples in every industry

When people think of digital commerce, retail sales are often the first that come to mind: Buying a pair of shoes online or placing a quick order on Amazon. However, digital commerce spans every industry, from automotive to financial services. Here are a few examples:

- Manufacturing: Manufacturers often sell to other businesses (think: a business that manufactures auto parts selling to a car dealership). This is what’s known as B2B commerce — and it’s a market that’s becoming increasingly digital. In fact, B2B leaders expect that 53% of their revenue will come from digital channels within the next two years.

- Travel and transportation: Booking a hotel online? Yep, that’s digital commerce. Redeeming points to pay for your next flight? You guessed it: digital commerce. Businesses in travel, transportation, and hospitality often sell services rather than products, but these transactions are still powered by the same tools and technology used in other industries.

- Healthcare: There are many different kinds of businesses in the healthcare industry: healthcare providers, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and more. Each of these businesses requires stringent data privacy and security measures, along with other unique considerations that make digital commerce more complex in the healthcare sector. However, these digital experiences — like purchasing an insurance plan online or ordering a prescription from your mobile device — are all powered by digital commerce.

Digital commerce challenges (and how to overcome them)

No matter who your target customers may be, the ultimate goal of digital commerce is always to grow your business through increased sales and loyalty. However, success can often feel like a moving target because commerce moves fast and markets shift regularly. As new challenges emerge, things can get bumpy — but here’s how to ensure smooth sailing.

Rising customer expectations: As technology evolves, so do customer expectations. Almost two thirds (64%) of commerce leadersopens in a new window say meeting customer expectations is harder than ever. Shoppers want personalisation, convenience, and experiences that match their unique preferences. This means your business needs to be flexible and fast. To stay agile, consider implementing an ecommerce platform that enables quick front-end changes and tools that help you make the most of customer data. This will be key to winning the hearts and wallets of potential customers.

Emerging technology: It can be difficult to know where to start (or sometimes, whether you should start) implementing new technology to move your business forward. Many businesses invest in new technologies that turn out to be flash-in-the-pan fads. Conversely, some new forms of technology may seem gimmicky at first but become table stakes within a few short years. The best way to know whether to implement new commerce technology? Keep a customer-first mindset. Adopt new technologies only after you analyse customer data to evaluate the potential impact on your shoppers and your business.

Increasing costs: Commerce professionals listed inflation as their number one challenge last year. So how do you increase margins and revenue while delivering experiences that keep customers coming back? This often comes down to choosing the right technology partners, automating tedious manual processes, and having clear definitions of success for each new digital commerce initiative.

The loss of human touch: Automation is critical to scale and grow your business, especially as 65% of commerce professionalsopens in a new window say they’re being asked to do more with less. However, it’s critical to ensure that you’re automating the right tasks, and that your customer experience still feels human. To do this, ensure that your teams validate and review automated tasks for accuracy and brand cohesion. This is crucial as you grow your business with AI and automation. In fact, 80% of customers say it's important for humans to validate AI’s outputs.

Digital commerce success stories

YETIopens in a new window, the beloved manufacturer of outdoor gear, built a fully customised, guided online experience. The brand wanted to create a new guided experience that would allow customers to easily navigate its large drinkware portfolio. Composable commerce enabled a fast implementation cycle. An AI-powered recommendation engine helped YETI personalise content, campaigns, offers, and product suggestions for each customer. The resultopens in a new window? YETI was up and running with its new digital commerce experience in just 4.5 weeks, and the business saw a 63% year-over-year increase in its mobile commerce conversion rate.

YETI increased mobile conversions by 63% year-over-year.

See how the right tools enabled impressive results.

Premium beverage leader ReserveBar opens in a new windowsells millions of product variants to over 3,500 retail partners. That’s a lot to keep track of. The business needed a way to scale its business — complete with real-time inventory management, speedy fulfillment and shipping, and the right merchandising tools to help launch and categorise products, fast. With the right platform, approach, and capabilities, ReserveBar built its site in 30 daysopens in a new window and partners now add 80 to 100 new products every week.

Cover of ReserveBar customer story

ReserveBar scaled its digital commerce operations.

See how the beverage company sells over 150,000 products.

Key takeaways

  • Digital commerce is more than just selling from an online store. It includes all the tactics, tools, and strategies that allow businesses to interact and transact with customers anytime, anywhere. -
  • Customer expectations continue to rise, and businesses must evolve and adapt to meet the ever-moving target of customer satisfaction. This means staying on top of ecommerce trends, providing personalisation at every shopping moment, and delivering truly differentiated experiences. -
  • With the right technology, businesses in every industry can create stellar digital commerce experiences and grow loyalty with customers.

Digital commerce FAQ

In the next two years, more than half (52%) of revenue is expected to come from digital channels. Customers expect to be able to interact and transact with businesses wherever, whenever, and however they want. To win customers and loyalty, businesses need to create digital commerce experiences across channels like websites, social media, retail apps, and more. Digital commerce is no longer a nice-to-have, it’s critical for business success.

Only time will tell what’s in store for the future of commerce, but one thing is certain: Customer satisfaction will always be the north star of successful digital commerce. No matter what comes next or how new technologies (ahem, generative AI) evolve, a customer-first approach will be critical.

As you venture into digital commerce, it’s important to choose the right partners — especially when it comes to your ecommerce platform. To do this, consider your business needs both now and in the future. Choose a platform with trusted scalability and uptime, and a partner that offers support and resources as your business grows.