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The Red Queen in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass lives in a very curious world where, as she explains to Alice, "It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place." That sentence sums up the world of e-commerce with uncanny accuracy: No matter how hard we work to knock items off the priority list, there are always new ones popping right up to take their place.
In the first generation of e-commerce, back in the mid-'90s when most of us were running on Perl scripts and a prayer, the priorities were at least easy to define: Build a site in which most customers can actually make purchases without things crashing more than once or twice a week.
The second generation, built out on commercially developed e-commerce platforms, evolved to meet this basic challenge, and their success at enabling solid dependable e-commerce operations has indeed fueled the tremendous growth over the past several years. Now, however, as we enter the third generation of e-commerce, we find that when it comes to meeting the expectations of our shoppers, we're really no further ahead than when we started.
The fact that we have to run as fast as we can just to keep up only begs the question of which direction we should go. Now that our online stores stay up pretty much all the time and all the standard shopping functions, i.e. search, browse, product detail pages, cart and checkout, function reasonably well, what should be at the top of today's list?
Source: CRM Buyer, http://crmbuyer.com
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