Data should be at the center of designing and evolving your e‑commerce channel strategy.
The well-worn Benjamin Franklin adage about failing to plan being equivalent to ‘planning to fail’ may be overused, but that doesn’t make it any less true. In the past two decades, e‑commerce has seen more than its fair share of failures. While many of the most spectacular flops were about being in the wrong place at the wrong time, many more could be blamed on poor or rigid planning and subsequent flawed execution.
Brand-leaders know how to plan and execute for success in traditional retail channels – that’s how they became leaders – but e-commerce is a new ballgame requiring different strategies and novel implementation tactics. The differences are evident on both sides of the retail landscape. Pure-play retailers such as Amazon and Alibaba have grown to dominate, starting from scratch rather than having to evolve existing business practice. At the same time digital native brands have emerged, enticing consumers and challenging established product manufacturers.
These new retailers and competitors are driven by better access to, and improved use of data to inform strategy and tactics. The challenge for Fortune 500 Brands is how best to use the available data to plan and drive sales. As data proliferates, adoption gets harder. An MIT Technology Review article from some years back stated that as little as 0.5% of business data is ever analyzed or used productively. Despite advances in big data technology the proportion of data used has actually decreased significantly in the years since the MIT article written, as the amount of data collected has exploded.
To succeed online Brands need more than raw data. They also need a Framework within which to define KPIs, manage metrics and apply results to drive sales. To this end, eStoreMedia developed the e-Commerce Perfect Store Framework to help brand manufacturers navigate the online retail landscape. The Framework provides a model for planning, managing and executing effective e-commerce channel strategies to deliver sustainable online sales growth.
The methodology includes five stages; Strategy, Design, Deliver, Measure and Close Gaps, and originates from pre-existing business planning and strategy models such as lean start-up, and OGSM (objectives, goals, strategies, & measures). The eStoreMedia Framework enables brands to develop effective e-commerce channel strategies, and identify, implement, monitor and improve effective tactics to ensure their products are easy to find, easy to understand, and easy to buy in key online retailers.
The e-Commerce Perfect Store Framework hinges on the identification, measurement, and optimization of the online channel KPIs. These KPIs should be adapted to suit your brands’ specific needs, the capabilities of your team, availability of data, and your product, brand or organization’s level of e-commerce maturity. The actual implementation and weighting of underlying metrics and success criteria will also depend on your product category, competition, expectations, and online retailer capabilities.
The KPIs, and therefore the data needed are defined in the Strategy and Design stages of the process. As a first step, creating an e-commerce Strategy can seem like a daunting prospect. The desire to get everything complete from the start can lead to procrastination and paralysis by analysis. However, because the Framework allows for ongoing refinement, it is not necessary to perfect your strategy from the beginning. No step in the process is ever a once-off activity – including strategy planning. Like any Lean model, achieving optimum results is a journey that will involve constant fine-tuning.
e-Commerce Strategy Basics
The guidelines for creating an e-commerce strategy are covered in full in the e-Commerce Perfect Store Strategy eBook. Some considerations for Strategic expectations might include go-to-market factors such as:
The list of must-stock products that should be available in specific retailers.
- Expected price/price range per product, per retailer.
- Content expectations, including benefits, icons, images, videos or rich HTML layouts that will describe the product-promise.
- Keywords expected to deliver high-ranking in-store Search results.
- Consumer review expectations, minimum number of reviews and minimum star rating score.
- iMedia investment plans to build brand awareness.
Monitoring these or similar factors daily delivers two-fold for Brand owners. Firstly, it will identify issues with respect to the implementation of listings, content, and reviews, etc., for immediate attention. Secondly, it also provides data that can be analyzed periodically (perhaps quarterly, half-yearly or annually) to gain insights for enhancing the overarching strategy.
For more information, you can download the eBook on how to develop your e-commerce Perfect Store Strategy here.