Posted by Lisa Schwarz, Senior Director, Ecommerce Marketing, NetSuite

NetSuite had another great experience at this year’s Digital Summit in Philadelphia. We exhibited our latest commerce solutions at the expo, met with industry analysts and press and learned from leading retailers speaking at the summit. It was clear that providing a customer experience that delivers value and drives loyalty is a serious challenge, but one that comes with a significant reward.

"Kudos to you, to put your careers in ecommerce because you did not take the easy path,” Doug Flack, CEO of Fanatics, Inc., the market leader for officially licensed sports merchandise, said in his opening keynote speech. “It’s a hard business when you think about everything that has to be in sync every day – websites and mobile sites that have to be up 24/7 and customer expectations that are going through the roof.”

Flack, who runs a business that counts 250 million visitors and ships 31 million items a year, summed up what he and other retail experts detailed at this year’s summit. A great ecommerce and in-store experience must deliver more than the sum of its parts. It has to mirror, predict and now lead the journeys people want to take as consumers. Shoppers who get a branded experience that engages their lives will reward retailers with their loyalty and their business.

Retailers have begun to align their priorities in support of this ultimate goal. Forrester Research, which also presented at the summit, presented results of a recent survey of retailers who ranked mobile commerce and an omnichannel strategy as their top “to-do’s,” Delivering an experience across all channels, with mobile at the forefront, has become an imperative to serve customers as their shopping and purchase behaviors span multiple channels.

Mike George, CEO of QVC, the $8.8 billion-a-year televised and online retailer, furthered that discussion in his keynote. Forty percent of QVC’s business comes from ecommerce and nearly half of that comes from mobile. QVC constantly transforms itself, he said, focusing on rich storytelling and organic engagement to deliver great content at every stage of the consumer journey and for every device.

The summit didn’t stop there. Disruptors, large and small, detailed how technology is key to delivering those relevant, engaging and seamless shopping experiences. Billy May, SVP of Digital and Ecommerce at Abercrombie and Fitch, stressed that retailers must provide a single view of the customer, their purchases and their browsing and social media behavior. Without this, your customers and staff will feel the pain of trying to access information spread across disparate point solutions.

Deepika Pandey, Global VP of Digital at Walgreen’s, revealed that mobile customers spend up to six times more than in-store customers. Therefore, don’t let a company problem, such as technology, become a customer problem. Neil Capel, Chairman at Sailthru, summed up with this advice: The only way to engage a customer is to engage their life, and that requires a single technology platform.

These experts span the industry but their advice points to a crucial starting point that will make or break delivering what customers now demand from a retailer. A true omnichannel experience requires a cloud-based, unified commerce platform that is agile and scalable to adapt to support the ever changing landscape of customer expectations. Without that, how will you engage your customers from their perspective instead of yours?