What does eCommerce cover?
When we talk about eCommerce, we sometimes do not realize how many functions it covers at the same time. As I wrote prior, eCommerce is an expertise and requires a lot of skills in many different areas from the executive who is leading the charge.
- Product management: will roll under this expertise both functionality, user experience, design and technology. It is about understanding what the best usability practices are and how to create a delightful and swift experience for the customers. More than that, today it is about creating a seamless experience across the different devices and channels whether it is stores, mobile, social, online, email, TV…This implies understanding the technology, making the best technology choices and being able to execute. Some technology choices might not enable you to achieve the goals you have because the platform is too rigid and therefore there is no room for improvements or scalability for a quick go to market and to keep up with competition and innovation. Technology is evolving very fast so the executive needs to know where to bring the platform next in order to stay competitive. One of the challenges I have seen with some executive is that they believe that their experience is representative of how customer are using the tools. The difficulty is about being able to remove yourself from the experience and create tools that will be useful using focus group, usability testing and A/B test and getting back to A/B testing and customer feedbacks. We are not the typical customer and we have therefore to put our ego and experience on the side to be open to understand what they need. In some cases, you want to push the customer with innovation, but it does not prevent to test with him, even if sometimes he will not know exactly what he wants. Design is also much more important than a lot believe. Having the right imagery, the modern look and the right colors has a lot of influence on the customer perception and therefore purchase. As the end it is all about experience. If the experience is right, the customer is taken through an easy path that will make him more likely to buy.
- Merchandising: this is about merchandising and promotions. We do not merchandise digitally as we do offline. The demand is different. Because customers have access to pricing and competition at their fingertips, we need to take this into account and understand how to react quickly. Up-sell and cross-sells are also very important. Recommendation can represent up to 30% of the revenues made in ecommerce. How to do it smartly, taking into account all the customers touch points, is where the difficulty is coming. How to use location base promotions, how to move promotions quickly? With online, you can push promotions at the minute. As you can see that you are not making your number for the day, the week or the month, you can push a promotion that is going to turn things around or prevent a very bad result. This implies some planning and some strategy. I always have the B and the C plan in my pocket to be able to react at each instant.
- Marketing: this covers SEO, SEM, display ads, social. It is not necessary to pour more and more money and SEO but it is important to understand what is best working on SEO and what is best working with SEM so that you define the right balance between the 2. We believe that because we pay, it should work and this is a wrong expectation. It is about how subtle you are distributing your strategy among all the tools. You do not advertise the same thing on social as you would do on display ads. How I talk to the customers depending on the channel is very different and the results may also vary. It is all about constantly fine tuning the results and the approach.
- Content: a lot has to do with your content. The photos you use, the descriptions you write, the editorial you publish. Customers want authenticity and details but only those that matters. Sometimes they will complain that you put too much description and sometimes they are asking for details that are missing. What is important to convey? Do we need to write pages of blurb or shall we limit the content? In general content is key and is critical for customers to make decisions but also for SEO purpose. Social content is really important. Not the corporate messages because customers do not care about this but the real content. I am always asking myself, do I bring value to our customers if I publish this?
- Analytics: as an ecommerce executive, I always look at the revenues and how we are doing every single day. However my performance is not only measured on revenues and my metrics can be very unique compared to the offline world. I will measure conversion, time spent on site, Average order value, number of links we have, return frequency…a lot of metrics that enable to have a very fine tuning of the business. Each metric can tell me where my merchandising performs better, what merchandising works better, what is a customer pain point. I keep telling my teams that this is my compass and it should be theirs to make the right decision. Without analytics, I am blind. I can only use my instinct and my experience but all know that this is not enough. Then it is an opinion and it is not tangible and I am fighting against opinion. The decisions should meet the purpose in a tangible way. We analyzed a trend thanks to analytics, we fix it and we measure it and we keep measuring it.