Brands and retailers across the world are feeling the pressure of a changing marketplace. Technology explosion triggered an avalanche of market condition changes. Changing consumer behaviour, rise of new business models and competitors, regulatory changes and widening talent and skill gaps made obsolete everything from strategy to company culture in a single blow. Brands have reacted in a 'fight or flight' type of reflex reactions. Bankruptcies, acquisitions, reorganisations and frenetic digital & DTC channel capabilities developments are ripple effects of the same earthquake.
eCommerce / eRetail ventures as Strategic Choices with Strategic Consequences
Consumers are changing how they discover, search, consume and dispose of services and products. This impacted everything from marketing budgets to sales channels and required internal capacities in both talent and technology. Falling foot traffic numbers in physical stores on one side and sparkling growth promises of online sales combined with FOM (fear of missing out) made Brands jump-on the fastest eCommerce trains available to them. While fast changes do require fast responses and fast decision making, eCommerce environment ventures are strategic choices that require strategic thinking. Strategic decision(s) is any decision(s) which involves resource commitments that can't easily be undone and moves the company into a direction that is not easily reversible. Effects of Strategic decisions cannot be easily undone.
eCommerce & eRetail environment ventures are strategic choices that require strategic thinking due to consequences that can't be easily undone
Here are some of the questions and challenges that might be worthwhile to discuss and consider.
Looking for fastest online/eRetail/eCommerce growth Brands will tend to leverage the capacities of their retail partners. While this is a sound approach, as you could never sell with one (owned) eCommerce store as much as with a network eCommerce stores (of wholesale.com retail partners) , this (strategic) choice brings many other questions such as :
1) Brand Commoditisation in eCommerce / eRetail environment
Sales growth opportunities are there but what is the impact of eRetailers and their (lack) capacities / commitment to uphold your unique brand identity? Will you allow all of your previous years of investments into UNIQUE differentiators in presentation, distribution, and point of sale that set your brand apart from others go down the drain with eCommerce / eRetail partner/technology standards? eCommerce / eRetail environments are in practice just big catalogs (most pretty ugly ones) that enable consumers to browse / search / compare offerings on standardised set of criteria.
This is especially true for large engines and players like Google and Amazon which can seriously harm brands as they reduce them to comparison based on features, functionalities and price, instead of your brand. Most often placing competitor offering right next to yours in form of suggestions based on search algorithms that are optimised for conversion / revenue growth (disregarding of which brand).
Growth promise created by technology is the promise of scalability. Scalability is built through technological standardisation. When it comes to presenting your brand on POS (eCommerce / Category Page / PDP) what happens to your unique differentiators? If these need to be forgone for the sake of sales growth, do you need to think how to offset this particular adverse effect on your brand presentation with other (digital) brand amplification points?
2) eCommerce/eRetail Customer Brand Experience Management
Presenting and making your brand available on eCommerce / eRetail environment is just one piece of the puzzle. How do your products come packaged? Do they come on time to customers that order it through eCommerce / eRetail platforms and networks? If something goes wrong with his order (of your brand) how is that part of the experience managed? Do you manage it at all? Packaging and boxes are the new storefronts - who manages and takes care of them? Customer and Brand Experience doesn't end with a Shop Now button, it begins there.
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