May 29, 2008, 12:00 AM

Cross-channel technology drives a seamless customer experience, AMR says

Multi-channel retailers must adopt technology that fulfills consumers’ increasingly high expectation for a seamless cross-channel shopping experience, according to a new report from AMR Research.

Multi-channel retailers must adopt technology that fulfills consumers’ increasingly high expectation for a seamless cross-channel shopping experience, according to a new report from research and advisory firm AMR Research Inc.

To create a unified experience for consumers, retailers need to develop a core IT team dedicated to deploy and maintain the requisite technology. Key positions include web and application developer, technical and database administrator and site designer, AMR says in “A Roadmap for Mature Cross-Channel Operations.”

Establishing a technical architecture also is key to creating a seamless experience for consumers, AMR says. In a recent survey, AMR found that 69% of retailers will replace their current e-commerce platforms for order capture, catalog and content management, pricing and promotion management and order inquiry by the end of this year.

An additional 14% already are using a next-generation system, representing early adopters in the replacement cycle. An integral part of this investment is developing a cross-channel technology architecture strategy that includes application integration, data flow and a software portfolio.

AMR also found that 12% of retailers have a first- or second-generation system and plan to invest in incremental add-on functionality but not to upgrade, and 5% had first- or second-generation systems and no plans to upgrade or invest in incremental or add-on functionality.

In addition, retailers need to select a deployment technology model. AMR found that 84% of retailers plan to purchase an application via the traditional licensed approach, hosting it behind the firewall or through a third-party data center. 12% plan to use an on-demand software-as-a-service e-commerce provider, with business process management conducted internally, and 4% anticipate outsourcing both technology and business process to a third party.

Retailers should finalize their technological requirements and select a vendor only after selecting a technology deployment model, AMR says.

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