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Challenges of integrating e-commerce and content management

E-commerce and CMS systems have different purposes, so integration can bring challenges. Organizations must plan for implementation and bridge sales and marketing activities.

To do business in the digital age, organizations should blend selling with marketing. However, these activities rely on separate technologies.

E-commerce platforms let customers find products and check out in a few clicks. A content management system (CMS), on the other hand, creates websites where customers can learn about specific products, understand a brand's value and meaningfully engage with the brand. E-commerce and CMS integrations can boost revenue, but they can also bring challenges, such as choosing the right software and bridging sales and marketing activities.

1. They serve different purposes

Although e-commerce and content management systems both manage content, they have different purposes, which can make integration tricky.

Many organizations rely on content services platforms -- CMSes that run in the cloud -- to manage and produce various content types, such as marketing images and videos. They use e-commerce platforms to handle product merchandising, order processing and fulfillment. Marketing and merchandising connect through a company's sales processes and often require access to similar kinds of content.

Although tech buyers can find many content services platforms on the market, their capabilities vary widely. For instance, some use templates to offer predefined front ends -- the part of a system that users see and directly interact with. Others offer headless architecture, which lets users custom design their own front ends. Also, these platforms often differ in content granularity, or how explicitly they define information snippets or snackable content. Some platforms also let users index videos for easier navigation.

E-commerce platforms, on the other hand, help organizations sell products. They can deliver digital goods and ship physical items, enable content services to connect to back-end payment processors, maintain metadata and support search engine optimization and social media engagement. Some platforms can support multichannel selling and can directly manage storefronts on Amazon, Facebook, eBay and Pinterest from a cloud-based content repository.

2. Planning integration

Well-designed integrations between e-commerce platforms and CMSes can create shoppable content. For example, positive shopping experiences prompt customers to engage with marketing content, which can include links to other related products and services.

An organization's business model should drive shoppable content, regardless of which technologies it uses. However, to gain executive support for content and e-commerce integration, business leaders should show how integration can reduce costs, increase sales and optimize customer engagement.

Additionally, organizations must recognize the growing number of services accessible through cloud connections. To select the right products, tech buyers should identify how their shopping experiences should run, then determine the content and e-commerce services needed to achieve that goal.

Buyers should also consider the branded stories they want to tell and consider how shopping can become part of the conversations. Additionally, organizations should plan for the ways digital experiences and technologies may continue to evolve over time.

3. Bridging sales and marketing activities

Beyond the technology, organizations must understand how employees use content. For example, salespeople use content -- like detailed product information, specifications and schematics, answers to frequently asked questions, etc. -- to close sales. Marketers, on the other hand, develop promotional or campaign content that emphasizes benefits and unique product capabilities.

Organizations need sales and marketing teams to collaborate on content. Marketing teams should help create shoppable content, which can put potential customers in contact with sales agents or redirect them to an e-commerce listing page. Sales agents should also have access to marketing content to promote relevant products to repeat customers.

Additionally, sales and marketing teams must focus on content categories that customers expect, like FAQs and promotional videos. These categories can help both teams use content to create digital experiences. To maintain a consistent experience across sales and marketing platforms, organizations should ensure both platforms access and use the same metadata sets for their assets.

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