Back in the late 1990s, companies wanted to create their own websites with their own ideas about how the site would be structured, the user experience, and the branding. When we introduced our API to our clients in 1999, we would typically provide some training and documentation to their web team and they would go away happily integrating their website with Advantage using the API. Time marched on and the API became bigger and more comprehensive.
Then in the last couple of years we noticed a trend among our prospects and clients. Companies were no longer content to take on an API with over 5,000 methods, which ours has. They wanted a platform which was already integrated with Advantage through the API. The platform would have built-in eCommerce functions, self-service capabilities, and would be integrated with Advantage through the API.
I think this coincided with a sort of settling down of website approaches. As users have demanded the most intuitive of designs, websites have succumbed, and if you spend some time looking at websites you'll find many similarities. I'm not saying that innovation is dead! I'm saying that there are certain unwritten rules or expectations now which the user has and which are generally met.
In fact, we were faced with many of these as we re-designed our own AdvantageCS website last year. Much of the discussion with our creative team began with the words "Users expect..." There is enough data to help designers both innovate and satisfy user cravings for intuitiveness. There is also data that shows that users don't like clicking to go to the next page of content, for example. They prefer to keep scrolling.
So in late 2013, we began a large R&D project to create an eCommerce platform. This platform, built on an open-source CMS, is tightly coupled with Advantage, which means it already knows about subscriptions, continuity, packages/bundles, memberships, products, entitlements, and all of the other deep areas of functionality in the Advantage product suite. This is a HUGE leg up on other popular platforms on the market today. Most of those platforms are designed for product purchases, not subscriptions.
Like some of the popular platforms out there, the Advantage eCommerce platform will also include a marketing portal, allowing marketers to create promotions and offers and landing pages without ever going into the application itself. These will be done entirely on the eCommerce platform with an intuitive workflow that will step the marketer through the process.
Of course, the platform will be integrated with Google Analytics right out of the box so that marketers can satisfy their thirst for information about how people are interacting with their website and specific promotions and offers. And it's being built using REST services.
This is generating a LOT of excitement here at ACS and among our clients. Our intention is that it generate even more excitement in the big wide world of companies who need it.
More to come as we get closer to launch date.