In his Forbes Council article, Nisum EVP of Growth and Delivery, Sajid Mohamedy, highlights companies that took Agile digital commerce as a business imperative and won during the COVID-19 pandemic vs. others that were caught flatfooted.
Read the text below or see the full article on Forbes here.
COVID-19 has provided a wake-up call for businesses on many levels. Even the most tech-savvy companies are finding themselves flatfooted in the current situation, despite e-commerce has been around for the better part of two decades.
Shira Ovide, the New York Times writer responsible for the publication's "On Tech" newsletter, hit the nail on the head in her recent piece, "Reliable Amazon Isn't Anymore." As even the behemoths of e-commerce struggle right now, Ovide asks some very valid questions around how this experience will irrevocably change consumers' shopping habits.
Across industries, almost every company is rethinking the way they do business as a result of the pandemic. In the face of such an unprecedented, unpredictable, global external event, something that has become abundantly clear in the midst of so much uncertainty is that digital commerce is not just a buzzword; it's critical to business continuity.
While organizational change can be difficult and requires certain investments, we are all seeing firsthand right now just how important the right technology is in helping businesses to weather the unpredictable.
Unexpected Spikes In Demand
As a result of COVID-19, demand for certain products has soared, and at the same time, consumers are relying more heavily on e-commerce than ever.
We see this with cleaning products, masks, and toilet paper. It's nearly impossible to find these items online with a timely delivery because of scarcity. Consumer panic-buying has largely depleted supply.
However, we are also seeing a surge in demand for some more niche industries and segments, such as arts and crafts, puzzles, and home exercise equipment. What's holding these businesses back is not that they don't have stock. It's that many don't have the digital infrastructure in place to service the current demand.
Businesses Pivoting From Their Core Product Or Service Offering
Many businesses have also found themselves having to pivot from their traditional business models very quickly. From auto manufacturers making ventilators to restaurants and grocers having to implement delivery systems overnight, many are realizing how important it is to be agile.
For example, some Target brick-and-mortar stores are replenishing stock only for essential goods. This makes sense, as they are focusing on the items consumers need most right now. Though straightforward and logical, this type of pivot is not an easy one to make. In order to do this quickly, Target needed to have a number of moving pieces in place from a backend technology perspective — POS systems, supplier collaboration, inventory management by geography, etc.
This is a case study for retailers adopting a unified commerce approach. With one backend system of record, it's much easier to pivot quickly.
Supply Chain Breakdowns
Right now, we are seeing supply chain breakdowns across industries. This is playing out in a dire way for food supply across the U.S., as the majority of farms typically send food to places that are now closed for business as usual (restaurants, schools, theme parks, stadiums, large venues, etc.). According to one article, "Farmers are having to rearrange their supply chains to get more food to grocery stores and food banks." This can take months to coordinate, but food doesn't last that long, leading to tremendous losses.
Other industries are facing a similar challenge of how to reconfigure their supply chains quickly to adapt to the current environment, something that's increasingly difficult to do when relying on older technology stacks and multiple systems of record.
Unreliable Software Systems
Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) is a concept that has been around for some time now but has not generally been implemented holistically within organizations. The idea is to apply a software engineering mindset to operations and system administration topics, such as on-call monitoring, performance and capacity planning, and disaster response, with the ultimate goal of creating a comprehensive view of both business and technology KPIs. With this approach, executive leaders and engineers have a comprehensive and crystal clear view of business and technology KPIs at their fingertips.
Right now, digital commerce is absolutely necessary for organizations to exist in a post-COVID-19 world. The current situation has made clear just how important it is to be agile. Adopting new technology and modernizing old systems are certainly top of mind for business leaders today, and a more proactive approach to digital commerce can potentially help to mitigate the economic fallout of these kinds of events in the future.