Article

Simon Hall
Simon Hall 16 April 2019
Categories B2C, Ecommerce, Technology

Key Steps to Unlocking High Performance Ecommerce

In this time of extraordinarily rapid change and innovation, it is perhaps harder than ever before for brands to stand out and stay ahead of the curve. An almost perfect storm of disruptive technology, demanding customers, agile competitors and shifting markets is bombarding organisations from all sides.

Agile competitors are also harnessing emerging technology to turn traditional business models on their heads. New businesses can bring ideas and products to market incredibly quickly, effortlessly disrupting long standing organisations.

This is especially true in the eCommerce space, where a rapidly growing market and new channels such as buying directly through social media, offer an attractive proposition. For the first time, in 2018, purchases via mobile phones overtook sales from physical shopping centres. Analysts Forrester predict that by 2022 eCommerce will account for 36% of global fashion retail sales.

The importance of a comprehensive eCommerce strategy

Developing a true understanding of eCommerce and the role it plays in driving value for an organisation is vital to ongoing business success. A good eCommerce strategy can enable true personalisation, streamline operations and drive efficiencies. By taking an overarching, ongoing and measured approach, as opposed to a series of tactical campaigns, businesses should be able to identify gaps and weaknesses, highlight strengths and future opportunities and successfully measure and benchmark performance.

Importantly, having such a strategy in place will enable organisations to take a holistic view that covers everything from technology and delivery to user experience and social. We’re often asked which one thing organisations should be doing to drive high performance eCommerce, but in reality there is no one magic bullet, but instead a collection of aligned initiatives, all working along the same path towards the same goals.

Key steps to unlocking high performance eCommerce

Although there is no one way to successfully harness eCommerce, there are a series of key steps that organisations can take to developing and executing an eCommerce strategy that will deliver real value.

1. Reviewing current business models

The first step in developing an eCommerce strategy needs to focus on where an organisation is now. This should include a thorough overview of all relevant business processes, from operating models and website performance, to delivery and fulfilment and customer service.

2. Assessing growth potential

Following on from a review of current business performance should be a look into the future. By recognising where they are performing well as well as any current gaps in performance are, organisations can plan ahead appropriately.

This is also a chance for businesses to delve into how they currently acquire, convert and retain customers, as well as identify the opportunities for them to do so in the future.

3. Developing a strategy with impact

The results of the audit and growth assessment can be fed into an overarching eCommerce strategy, which joins up elements from across technology, digital marketing, customer experience, delivery and operations. Indeed, it should include a reshaping of the fundamental organisational architecture to ensure that the business model is centred around enabling growth and driving value through eCommerce.

Key to this strategy is the development of a hands on roadmap. This should include a series of relatively ‘quick wins’ to help demonstrate the value of the strategy to the leadership team right from the start.

4. Ensuring access to the right skill set

Once a comprehensive, overarching strategy is in place, it is vital to ensure the right talent is there to deliver it. Digital marketing evangelist Avinash Kaushik was right when he urged businesses to invest 90% of their effort in their people.

An organisation can have the best strategy in the world, but if it doesn’t have the right skills in place then its true value cannot be unlocked.

5. Continuously optimise

In the same way, organisations should not make the mistake of simply developing a strategy and then thinking that the job is done. A good strategy, including a well thought out roadmap, which incorporates measurable milestones, should factor in continuous optimisation.

The market, technology, customers and competitors do not stand still. Change happens so fast, that unless organisations are on the ball in terms of optimisation, they will soon be way behind the curve.

Handled correctly, an eCommerce strategy has the potential to streamline processes, drive efficiencies and accelerate business growth. Getting it right can be a challenge, with often seemingly daunting elements to consider. However, with the right approach, advice and strategy, all organisations can harness eCommerce to really add value and stay one step ahead of the competition.

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