- More than 30 years experience – including 20 years in digital – helping brands and businesses develop in both the analog and digital worlds.
- Senior market executive instrumental in e-commerce strategies at London-based ghd, Converse (a Nike company), Delivery Agent and QVC.
- Member of Nike’s Global Digital Commerce Leadership Team
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Leveraging Digital to Increase Brand Reach and Direct-to-Consumer Revenue
- Companies that "go digital" experience channel conflict where e-commerce growth can become more cannibalistic than accretive.
- E-commerce is a large investment. Many companies are wondering if they're going to make a large investment in an e-commerce business only to have it steal sales from its current businesses. In which case, why bother?
The question you should be asking is: Do you have an interest in creating a direct relationship with your end customer?
Do you always want to broker your relationships through a middle man such as a retailer or a distributor? If you believe that revenue is good no matter where it comes from, then don’t you need to do the best job possible of reaching the customer? If customers are commencing a channel shift then you need to be there with them. Or do you want to them to shift to your competitor simply because they have covered the digital channel while your company has lagged behind? You need to ensure your success by doing a great job in every channel. The opportunity is to establish a deeper relationship with your customer and make customers into brand advocates.
- When companies have a strong digital presence, the organizational structure and the roles and responsibilities among the technology, marketing and digital groups are often unclear.
Most larger companies and even many smaller ones have an IT department. Sometimes IT itself can become a blocker as regards to opening and managing digital channels. They’re not necessarily skilled in the way the business needs them to be. Suppose marketing needs access to a master database in order to integrate it into the CRM system that your company is using to track sales. In many cases that project needs to integrate into IT's busy schedule where, for example, it's competing with the upgrade of the general accounting system.
The trick is to acknowledge that there are integrative points that are potentially more intuitive or natural opportunities for collaboration within most major projects. If there is a warehousing or inventory management upgrade planned, there may an opportunity to better integrate with an e-commerce system. Again, the opportunity is to almost over-communicate among the existing teams; to look for ways to enhance all respective technology projects. These points usually become gating factors in a digital channel build project. This requires cross-functional collaboration and often the roles and responsibilities become unclear, which leads to churn, delay and lost opportunity costs. Proper road-mapping can contribute to improved resource allocation.
- The website has a "look and feel" that differs from other brand touch points, which is often indicative of a larger brand communication problem.
When you walk into an Apple store. its latest campaign is evident. It is in the windows. It will follow you through the store, on the back walls, and on the side walls. You go to Apple's website and it will display the same campaign that’s in their stores. It feels like one brand, like a single hand has created it. Many other companies lack this level of brand integration. The website looks and feels completely different from their stores, or from the identity projected by a retailer.
What are the three or four most important messages for your company's marketing and sales this quarter? Are you communicating them across every place the consumer will see them? If your messages are communicated in the stores but not on the web then you have missed an opportunity. You need clear communication across business units and functions; you need to have a calendar and a roadmap. Every marketing utterance of your company, in person, at retail and online, needs to tell a focused story.
- Pricing differences between channels or geographies can create headaches in a digital world where customers have pricing information at the tips of their fingers.
- The good news and bad news about digital ubiquity is that everyone can cross-check on price, which tends to commoditize your product.
Make sure that if you’re going to have a one-day sale or channel specific promotion, that the national sales manager know the event is happening. Better yet, define and agree to at least a seasonal promotion and campaign calendar between channels. If an event creeps up at the eleventh hour, make sure that all channel leadership is aware. In the digital space, price pressure becomes a serious issue that squeezes margins, simply because it is so easy for both competitors and customers to compare prices.
Develop a process between your teams and get agreement around pricing across business units and outlets. With the advent of transparency triggered by the digital world, it is more important than ever to understand that actions definitely have consequences – especially related to pricing.
- There's a lot of talk about leveraging data but real relationships with customers remain weak or missing.
Big data and smart analytic tools are great ideas, but the aim is to create meaningful connections with customers to generate incremental revenue.
The question is not how to leverage big data but to use the technologies and approaches that further your sales and marketing aims. Is it email newsletters? Is it giving customers a special event? Is it connecting with them in a new and unique way? There are many ways to nurture customer relationships, but there is a dearth of nimble products that truly engage them.
Most companies are looking to leverage big data effectively to drive their business aims but have not found the right technologies or approaches. In lieu of finding the "silver bullet," perhaps steps in the right direction is a preferred approach. The key questions are:
- What is it that you really want to understand?
- Is there a specific opportunity you'd like to create in terms of your customer?
- What can you do to create or further nurture a relationship with your customer?
- What can you do to create some kind of affinity, using data or patterns, to drive your goals?
- What can you do today without an enormous investment?
- Are there opportunities to better collaborate with your retail partners to better understand your customer?
- What is it that you really want to understand?