Thursday, May 31, 2018

How a Commerce Accelerator Meets Your Digital Commerce Needs

Innovation / Mobile / Platforms / Technology

The term “accelerator” has been used in the commerce world for some time. Generally, accelerators are developed by platform vendors who realize their technology is more of a framework than a robust solution and who want to help customers and partners reduce the cost of implementation. 

For digital agencies like us, developing an accelerator is a big investment. It requires pulling together all our intellectual property and best practices for a wide range of clients. Most agencies do not make this type of investment which leaves their commerce clients with a blank canvas and a powerful platform that costs a lot of money to implement. 

Rightpoint recently announced Spark Commerce: a Rightpoint Accelerator, powered by Sitecore Experience Commerce 9. We leveraged all we learned in commerce projects over many years to create Spark Commerce and provide our clients with the tools they need. Spark decreases your overall initial investment in digital commerce and helps you to launch a reliable, scalable, and thoughtfully designed online store faster. All of which results in higher ROI and other economic and competitive advantages.

How a Commerce Accelerator Solves Your Digital Commerce Needs 

Commerce platforms from Sitecore, Episerver, Elastic Path, and others do not have storefronts, or pre-defined user experience templates, widgets or components. They are a blank canvas, with each commerce project starting from scratch. That’s great if you want to create a complete design of your user experience, visual design, and commerce features from the ground up because you have a unique path to purchase or business requirements. It’s also very costly and has a long project timeline that carries a fair amount of risk. All commerce platforms offer some type of platform as a service (PaaS) or on-premise licensing that allows customers to manage their own upgrades and environments, adding more control within their domains. SAP hybris is a leading commerce platform that invested in B2B and B2C accelerators with great success. Surprisingly, most other platforms have not followed suit.

Software as a Service (SaaS) commerce solutions like Shopify, Netsuite, Big Commerce, Cloudcraze, and Insite go to market with a variety of templates, themes, and widgets that leverage best practices to support a “generic” customer journey. The good news is that the commerce path to purchase is fairly well defined today, so those solutions meet the needs of a large part of the market. But, because they are SaaS solutions with regular upgrades and updates that are not optional, all of them have to put constraints around the types of extensions and customizations that are feasible to make. This limits the user experience that can be implemented by customers and their partners. 

If your customer expectations and business requirements demand a rich user experience that is highly personalized and designed to meet your specific customer journeys, you are likely to find SaaS solutions too limiting. But, the platform vendors have no standard UX features and require designing and building all UX and commerce components from scratch which drives up the cost and increases the timeline. 

Since Rightpoint delivers full digital commerce solutions to our customers, we realize how challenging it is to deploy a commerce project starting with a blank canvas on any of the commerce platforms including Sitecore. Implementations involve customer research, developing and testing design concepts, designing wireframes, and developing business and functional specifications to support each part of the customer journey. Only at that point do you actually perform the detailed technical design work and build your site, and that may be 2-4 months into a project. 

About Spark Commerce

Spark Commerce allows you to dramatically reduce that level of effort. Using best practices for modern digital commerce design, our award-winning design team created pre-built templates and components that support the entire path to purchase from searching and browsing all the way through to checkout, order confirmations, and account management.

Commerce features include sorting and paging product lists, supporting product variants, integration with payment gateways, commerce personalization, single page checkout, and account management, with many others already built. Each of these features and the user experience can easily be extended using the standard Sitecore Experience Commerce content and commerce capabilities. 

Specific customer branding and product catalogs can also easily be implemented with Spark Commerce. New page templates and Sitecore components can be developed and integrated to meet specific user and business requirements. There are no restrictions on user experience or visual design. 

Accelerators like Spark also serve as a solid baseline from which to estimate projects that do require more capabilities and customization. By having well documented functional specification and annotated wireframes, our implementation experts can more quickly and accurately determine the gap between the baseline accelerator and the desired capabilities and what it will take to build. This reduces risk and provides our clients with a more informed project timeline and estimate. 

Spark Commerce: a Rightpoint Accelerator will ignite your commerce project and allow you to realize revenue more quickly and at a lower cost than starting from scratch. Want more info? Watch the demo video and schedule a consultation today. 

Dale Traxler is VP, Commerce at Rightpoint. Connect with Dale on Twitter and LinkedIn