Extending the E-Commerce Experience: Lessons learned and the questions that remain.

Scott Sayre, Corning Museum of Glass, USA, Laura Mann, Frankly, Green + Webb USA, USA, Robin Dowden, independent, USA

Published paper: Extending the E-Commerce experience: Lessons learned and the questions that remain

Outside the cultural sector, e-commerce and e-services have become key components of daily life. While our audience’s expectations are increasingly shaped by the online world, museums largely still operate according to a “brick and mortar” model, with revenue generation and transactional workflows managed independently in departmental silos. Like many museums, The Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG) manages a wide number of transactions with its patrons, from admission and glassmaking experience ticketing to class registration, retail sales, and memberships. These functions are supported by several different systems and managed by diverse internal stakeholder groups. As a starting point in developing a more strategic approach to e-commerce, CMoG hosted a summit in October 2016 that brought together seven leaders in the museum e-commerce space (representing six diverse museums) with CMoG’s e-commerce team with staff from IT, digital media, retail, finance, and senior leadership. Our paper synthesizes summit presentations and discussions the key themes and insights that emerged over the two–day event. How might we think about e-commerce less as a series of transactions and more strategically? How do we maximize the opportunities for revenue generation without compromising the collections that we hold in the public trust? What’s really important to our audiences? When and why do you choose to build versus buy software? How can we support a more strategic approach through data-driven decision-making? What staff resources are required to support these new internal processes? What’s the role of mobile in e-commerce? How might e-commerce help fulfill the museum’s mission or expand our brand? The summit provided an unusual opportunity for a sustained conversation with a diversity of perspectives that is relevant for all museums considering the future of e-commerce.

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