It was a rendezvous of retailers and ecommerce participants from across Europe at the 2017 Paris Retail Week event last week. For three days, we were immersed in networking and idea exchanges centered on omnichannel challenges facing this sector across local and global markets. Retail Week Paris is the biggest event of its kind in France, and EnterWorks was proud to join our strategic partner Intershop to share our respective solution advancements.
Paris Retail Week Recap
The third annual Paris Retail Week brought together over 30,000 participants to focus on reinforcing the synergies between offline and online retailing. The event provided a comprehensive overview of future challenges for the retail sector, as well as an informed perspective on the expectations that mature and connected customers have for retail chains, brands, and e-merchants. Focus was placed on the latest innovations, plus emerging activity in mixed reality (Microsoft’s HoloLens was available for trial in our shared booth) and artificial intelligence.
A Global Vision for the Next Level of Ecommerce Emerges
Paris Retail Week is always a special event, but this year was extra special for EnterWorks with the formalization of our partnership with Intershop. Below, I share my top observations from Paris Retail Week 2017.
#1: Companies are advancing to the next level of ecommerce engagement.
The challenges of omnichannel are finally being recognized, and companies are exploring alternatives to solving them. Among the key areas: bringing CRM and loyalty together, executing personalized logistics (such as “Click and Drive” in France, who comes in second for grocery ecommerce just behind the UK), converging POS and ecommerce, and finally, bringing content and commerce together.
#2: A new replacement cycle for ecommerce is underway.
Some of the key platform players who drove the ecommerce push during the first decade of the twenty-first century have faded. Their platforms are becoming obsolete as the teams that created them move on to more exciting companies, leaving the huge, global, ERP-based portfolios in favor of aggressive, nimbler companies (such as Intershop and EnterWorks!).
#3: Marketplaces are a hot topic.
Companies realize they must extend their reach to maintain share, given the “only a click away” nature of competition. In the past, it may have worked to be a local presence with a dedicated customer base, but brands now have to work incredibly hard to maintain relevance. It is difficult for manufacturing brands to do so exclusively from their brand website or by relying on retailers to push their brand message. Instead, brands need to be everywhere customers are researching or buying.
#4: Companies must rethink the right assortment and marketing strategies.
The demand for differentiated customer experiences, along with the convergence of in-store with online, is pushing companies to rethink how to execute a cohesive assortment and marketing strategy. Companies are recognizing that silo applications need centralized data and content that is available for distribution across all channels and in the context of the customers’ presence in a channel. This is something that best-of-breed CRM or marketing engines alone cannot deliver without a central Master Data Management (MDM) and Product Information Management (PIM) platform.
#5: The emphasis on B2B is accelerating.
While Paris Retail Week focuses on retailers, many of the most engaged participants were actually consumer brands and other manufacturers. These companies are keenly aware that they are playing catch-up and need to embrace a bit of channel conflict. This means going directly to the consumer for the improved insights that such dynamic customer engagement can produce.
#6: The little guys are getting in the game.
Small retailers and brands are realizing that the time has come to get in the game. While many of the platforms are not capable of serving small companies very well, it is clear that this is a major source of future growth for those that can. While smaller in size, such SMB companies recognize that they need the robust functionality of large, global enterprises.
The Future is Bright for Multi-domain MDM
As the CEO of EnterWorks, I had the honor of holding many one-on-one discussions with retailers and brands that reflected the trends above. CPG/FMCG brands, small and large companies, B2B and B2C, local and pan-European companies alike, all implicitly raise a question on how to best converge diverse content sources to address diverse audiences for robust ecommerce.
The takeaway is clear: multidomain Master Data Management (MDM) has a bright future. Companies that are advancing the market’s evolution need an MDM solution that:
- Addresses data and content regarding products, customers, location, channel, and devices from a central site
- Brings B2B and B2C together for collaborative content and commerce
- Embodies agile technology that adapts to new opportunities such as artificial intelligence and augmented reality in the shopping experience
Our partnership announcement with Intershop, a leader in Forrester’s B2B ecommerce wave and a strong performer in B2C, supports the EnterWorks strategy of Business-to-Business-to-Consumer (B2B2C). A B2B2C approach makes for seamless content and commerce to enable differentiated customer experiences across all channels from a single repository. And Intershop plus EnterWorks makes for a logical choice for those who recognize the changes occurring in the market and want to profit from them.