Build a Solid Business Case
Despite eCommerce being the primary driver of growth in many consumer goods categories, it is not always easy to immediately prove a return on investment-based business case for the level of effort and outlay required to succeed in the channel. In the early stages at least, it is unlikely that online channel revenue alone will be significant enough to add up to much in terms of direct ROI. In any case it may not even be possible to get reliable online sales figures.
In the absence of reliable or convincing eCommerce point of sales data, the argument for investment focuses on three key areas:
1. Protecting valuable brand equity. If left unattended poor quality information, images and errors in the online channel can quickly lead to shopper confusion and damaged brands. Getting the content basics right – and keeping them up-to-date – for the channel is the essential first step for any brand.
2. Impact of online on other channels. In the majority of categories today the online channel is more important for the influence it exerts on other channels than it is for sales in its own right. Industry watchers, including Deloitte, Forrester, Kantar and PWC, all point to the significant impact of online browsing on all other channels. Anything from 50 to 75 per cent of in-store sales initially start with an internet browser or mobile app. In the US for example Amazon.com has become the go-to site for pre-purchase product research, with 44 percent of US consumers starting their product searches on Amazon, more than all search engines combined. Of those 44 percent, 87 per cent ultimately buy elsewhere. Winning off-line is truly dependent on first winning online.
3. Future proofing the organization. For eCommerce, it’s no longer a case of “if” or “when,” but “how much.” Innovation and technology shifts are driving shopper behavior online. If your products are not available and winning in the online channel today, your organization will miss out on the eCommerce tipping point when it comes for your key categories. Any one of the points above should easily justify the investment required to make a success of an eCommerce program.
Create a Relevant and Realistic eCommerce Strategy
The eCommerce strategy you adopt will depend heavily on where your organization and categories are in terms of eCommerce maturity. For some organizations, the eCommerce strategy might focus on protecting brand equity, educating consumers, ensuring compliance with brand guidelines and building brand presence. For others, the strategy could be more about impacting omni-channel and offline sales, brick-and mortar shoppers, and brick-and-mortar retailers that have an online presence. A third approach would concentrate more on actual eCommerce revenue via pure plays and online retailers.
In each case it’s going to require a slightly different approach to strategy, planning, execution and how you develop your resources and eCommerce programs.