The latest ecommerce platforms enable high-octane digital retail that is a world removed from the way things used to be. In the year that we’ve marked the 20th anniversary of the first ecommerce transaction, we’ve been reminded of how online retail once happened on ecommerce sites that now appear dated and unprepossessing. There’s no doubting the fact that internet retailing has come a very long way in the intervening decades.

Yet there’s still a way to go. Ecommerce has been supplanted by cross-channel retail and consumers now expect to shop in the way that was once the stuff of fantasy. Perhaps there always will be room for improvement.

In part, that’s because all retailers’ needs differ. Several of the experts we’ve spoken to during the course of this research were at pains to emphasise that there’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution when it comes to ecommerce platforms. Rather, retailers’ technology decisions are influenced both by company strategy and the infrastructure that strategy demands. Indeed, it’s entirely possible that no trader will find a ready-built platform that meets its needs completely. Rather they’ll add on specialist solutions, or develop in-house customisation.

Arguably, that’s inevitable. In a market that is now evolving at speed, the pace at which nimble developers create new solutions to meet emerging customer demand will probably always outpace the response of an enterprise platform provider.

Retailers, nonetheless, are doing well. Companies are using the technology on offer to create effective and efficient digital experiences that encompass the website, the store, mobile and beyond. And retailers are winning customers. The latest BRC-KPMG Online Retail Sales Monitor [IRDX VKPM], for August 2014, shows British ecommerce sales growing at 19.8 per cent a year – the fastest growth the survey has yet recorded. UK merchants are setting the pace, and they’re doing it using some of most advanced retail technology around.

Necessarily, retailers will continue to work with what’s on offer, but equally we have no doubt that they will continue to adapt and tweak technologies to produce bespoke solutions. This will drive innovation. More than this, with customer service and personalisation moving up the agenda, it will drive innovation that will better serve consumers. We hope that the advice and expertise we’ve brought together in this special report helps here.

This report is part of a regular series of special reports, each exploring questions facing ecommerce and cross-channel retailers with today’s key challenges. We welcome your input and suggestions for future themes at

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