The Constant Evolution of Commerce

commerce is constantly evolving. But some things just don’t change. Early in my career, I led software development teams that worked on the first commerce platforms for Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club. This was right around the time of the dotcom bubble burst. Behind the scenes, as the executives were deciding whether this new “online shopping” thing was going to turn into something, we were trying to figure out what commerce should look like for our company. Our job was to design an commerce platform that could serve the unique needs of the largest retailer in the world. And there were a lot of unique needs!

Much has changed since those early days of commerce. I still program from time to time to keep my saw sharp. But I tend to focus most of my time on helping clients design, build and successfully launch (or re-launch) their commerce businesses. Whether a company is selling to consumers (B2C) or transacting with their supply chain (B2B), commerce has become a way of life. And it’s exciting to see how far we’ve come, as well as the opportunities that lie ahead.

Some things, however, have not changed. It’s easy to imagine that because we do so much more with commerce today that nothing could remain from the early days. It’s true, much has changed over the years, both in what technology can do and how companies use it to drive innovation. In many ways, the underlying mechanics of commerce are significantly different from what they once were. But even after all these years, there are some core perspectives we should all keep in mind when deciding how best to build and operate an commerce business.

Whether we’re talking about commerce that enables companies to sell direct to consumers (B2C) or commerce that empowers businesses in a supply chain to transact with each other (B2B), all companies rely heavily on commerce systems to remain competitive in today’s digital economy. The capabilities of these commerce platforms have come a long way since the “build-from-scratch” days at Wal-Mart. A constant stream of new user features, backend functionality and pre-built integrations fuels the growth of a dynamic and thriving digital ecosystem. And as more trusted “in-the-cloud” platform providers emerge and drive down the cost of doing commerce business, even more companies -- large and small -- will discover that now may be exactly the right time to pursue their digital ambitions. If that’s you, I hope you’ll remember that you’re building a business, not technology; the platform and partner you choose is a big deal; and, innovative commerce doesn’t end after you launch. That’s just the beginning.

About the Author
As Echidna's CTO, Mike Pierce brings a wealth of knowledge on technology and its practical application for retailers. His background includes commerce leadership roles for organizations such as Wal-Mart and Teleflora.

Questions? Comments? Join the conversation with Mike on Twitter.

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