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How to make digital commerce a company-wide strategy

Cara Wood | May 23, 2018

Brands and manufacturers can no longer innovate and evolve by having a few core digital experts. Starting today, everyone within your company should be on the digital commerce team. After all, in 2017, 51% of all U.S. retail sales included at least one digital touchpoint along the shopper’s journey.

As Forrester points out in a recent report, if brands don’t have a strong and clear digital commerce strategy, they “ultimately empower 'gray market' sellers at the expense of their own sales and the sales of their retail partners.”

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Your brand must have a strategy. So, start there, then systematically, and efficiently move onward using the suggestions below.

1. Clearly outline company, brand, and team objectives to build and manage the experience that’s best for digital shoppers

This step should include pinpointing the product distribution strategy and brand partners. Understanding your products’ ecosystem is a must.

2. Identify and assign clear roles and workflow for each team member to follow.

Educate every employee on the data feed road map, ownership and editing touch points, technology to be used, and how each team aligns. Be careful to not let this step be so grandiose and detail-strained that progress stops. Sketch out a workflow, or have one created from a third-party partner like Salsify. As Forrester advises, “Put in place the right governance structure to execute digital commerce sales and to provide shoppers with consistent product information and pricing” and “decide if [the brand] will determine its digital commerce approach at the regional level or at headquarters.”

3. Implement the right technology

Perhaps this is a complete Product Experience Management overhaul, or placing a PIM on top of existing systems, or even using a combo of a PIM and DAM. Either way, solutions today are simple and easily established.

4. Roll out the new process

Empower teams to align their expertise with the company goals. Regroup when mistakes or obstacles are encountered. Ask for feedback and suggestions. Address hiccups. Encourage quick rebounds from failures. The digital landscape moves fast and errors are typically quickly repaired and often lead to innovation.

5. Educate your teams on how to define and determine digital success

Naturally, metrics as outlined by the company objectives are important, but so are small amendments to product content and improvements to the shopper’s journey. Sometimes success is not just in numbers but also in positive reviews, stars, and happy consumers.

6. Aggregate data and performance across channels frequently and put the insights to use

Collecting data should be weekly, if not more often. Application of findings should be just as speedy. Also, be sure to “merge syndicated data about sales in stores with data from online partners [regarding] search, click-through, and sales,” says Forrester. “…Use this data to help brand and product decision makers balance investments between online and offline campaigns, and to provide the best possible customer experience for consumers across channels.”

7. Nimbly test new channels and repeat

The shopping journey is not just digital and in-store. Consider voice shopping or social media commerce, and be ready for when the next wave of consumer habits evolves.

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