As we look forward into 2017, I see it as a year of huge opportunity for companies that get the basics of their ecommerce alignment right.
However the market is maturing and I see it as a year that will punish companies that fail to grasp the basics of ecommerce strategy.
I have never believed that ecommerce and retail share a great deal in common, except that both have a customer and are often selling the same product. The differences between the channels are huge. By the time you take into account the complexity of online marketing channels such as PPC and Facebook, languages and currencies, the technologies required, the cultural requirements of international selling and so on … it is not that the ecommerce channel is a little more complex — it can be 100x more complex to execute correctly.
Companies fail to realise that a sale often starts with a customer’s one-second decision not to click back from some keyword that they clicked on. It is a very fast and fickle channel - the customer has one thing in mind: themselves - and unlike in a shop they have made no effort to be there and can disappear in a second.
However one great thing is that the ecommerce channel is 100% consistent in terms of how it should be approached in the same proven way in almost every market.
The fundamental challenge for companies at the core of ecommerce is that it is an all-out sales environment. Mid-market company leadership has almost always succeeded based on instincts and they try to use these again for ecommerce. These instincts unfortunately do not work in the shadowy data driven ecommerce channel — it is simply too complex and abstract to go on a gut feel.
Companies then rely on technical people for implementation. Technical people and sales, as we all know, simply do not mix. Who would put the geeks in charge of their sales team? What a disaster…
The only real ‘transformation steps’ that the senior leadership of mid-market companies need to make this year in order to do well in ecommerce are:
- To completely understand that the website is a sales channel;
- To create the basic CPA% reporting structure;
- To learn who in the room to listen to — listening to people with proven results;
- To align and structure their team accordingly.
The IRP World will then show the data regarding who should provide the various services needed to succeed.
Companies should simply follow the formula that works, trust the data and the success will come with it. It is as simple as that.
For those companies that cannot take the leap, unfortunately they risk going round in circles. But in 2017 companies can expect their competition to make progress. And that is the worrying thing — sitting still now is not an option for a business.
To sum it all up, my advice is to trust the data and follow the formula that works. Then go make yourself a lot of sales and new customers right now while they are there to be had.