“If you don’t know where you are going, every road will get you nowhere.” — Henry Kissinger
Without a fundamental understanding that ecommerce is a sales channel — and that sales and profits are the core metrics — a company might be better off not participating in ecommerce at all. However once a company has understood this, there is a basis for online success.
When this basic sales foundation is there, I have found that the decisive nature of success is not technical, but comes from the alignment of people within the organisation.
Alignment of interests is critical for success
Technology does play a major part but will only ever work if the alignment of the team’s interests are set up correctly. Because of this, much of the time spent in the development of IRP technology is to use reporting and software to create better team alignment.
Team alignment is critical because ecommerce has a particular trait that is different to other sales channels: it is very difficult to know who or what is adding value.
If you walk into your sales team room, you can quickly sense who is working hard and who your assets are and you will have reporting to back up your assessment. If you open the door of the ecommerce room, you will have a much harder job knowing who or what is working and adding value. Some people in areas of online marketing such as PPC, SEO or Social Media seem to be talking from a higher intellectual plain altogether …
The key challenge in ecommerce is knowing what to prioritise next out of the options available. There are so many options, from technical tactics, features, key hires, sales channels and so forth — and with so many factors in play, executives are in the dark as to the decisive next steps to take.
However if the ecommerce team come up with the steps to move things forward, it makes life easy. But they are more likely to do this if they are motivated to do so.
How to tackle alignment of interests as a fundamental challenge
There are some fundamental steps you can take that will significantly increase the chances of success in ecommerce sales. It is key to align the interests of the people in the ecommerce team to your success:
- If owners of the business accept that the ecommerce team is a sales team then it needs to be set up like a sales team and have a sales mentality.
- An Ecommerce Manager should be viewed as a Sales Manager with digital knowledge, who co-ordinates strategy and who is accountable for sales.
- Every significant ecommerce team member needs to benefit personally if sales increase.
- The ecommerce team needs to experience consequences if the sales target is not met.
Some core alignment questions you should ask are:
- Is the team alignment set up correctly?
- Who benefits directly if sales go up?
- Is the reporting set up correctly?
- Is reporting aligned to your interests?
- How are things actioned and aligned when reporting comes in each month?
It is due to the complex nature of the environment that fundamental alignment is critical in mid-market ecommerce teams.
If you have determined your ecommerce team’s motives, have good monthly reporting and follow ups, and have aligned their interests to yours, you have a much greater chance of success.
In ecommerce teams, like most areas of business, people will play a decisive role. So time spent studying and understanding people’s motives and aligning them to your interests will have huge benefits for the bottom line.