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The World is Changing.

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Commerce has always revolved around the customer. The shopping experience is what matters, and vendors must cater to every need and expectation. This has always been a challenge, of course, but never more so than in the current era of digital transformation. The Internet provides customers with a wealth of information and thus greater transparency into products and pricing. At the same time, the digital world offers customers a growing number of touchpoints. In addition to traditional analogue touchpoints, such as retail stores, customer service hotlines, and field sales representatives, today’s e-commerce channels include web shops, mobile apps, and customer portals with self-service options.

 

Customers expect the shopping experience to be seamless throughout. Whichever channel they use, they want to see identical information on products, services, prices, and payment terms, plus their own purchase history. And that’s not all. As innovation accelerates, vendors need the ability to integrate new touchpoints into existing system landscapes. Be it Microsoft’s Cortana, Microsoft HoloLens, or the Smart Shelf from Intershop—whatever the customer wants to use, the vendor must support it.

 

A growing number of increasingly complex IT system landscapes lie behind the external touchpoints seen and used by customers. These structures have to integrate ever more components in order to create the experience customers expect. A typical system landscape includes systems or applications, such as product data management, web content management, order data management, enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, user management, payment services, personalization services, address verification, image management, reporting and business intelligence, fulfillment back-end, and marketplace integration, to name just a few.

 

In order to describe these highly complex system landscapes, we created the concept of Synaptic Commerce®—reflecting the many similarities with the human brain. For a start, these systems connect via interfaces and plugins in the same way that neurons connect via synapses. In addition, no two brains are alike: each is adapted to its specific environment, just as the capabilities of a company are adapted to its area of specialization. And just as the brain learns, so companies need to adapt, try out new ideas quickly, and draw the right conclusions from the results. Only then can they compete and survive in volatile markets characterized by disruptive technologies and new business models.