Relationships between brands and consumers are going through one of the most fundamental shifts we’ve ever seen. The number of channels for interacting and transacting with brands is exploding, creating massive disruption.
What’s more, consumers expect to be able to move across these channels easily and seamlessly, even within a single buying journey. As a result, the traditionally siloed offline-online paradigm that brands have clung to for years is becoming very quickly outdated.
In fact, that paradigm is gone for good. And brands have recognized that digital commerce and physical commerce are merging into one -- becoming, simply, commerce.
Successful marketers will be those who focus on engaging consumers through digital channels to “earn their love” through experiences that offer connection with the brand, as well as valuable and relevant services. They understand that the whole business needs to be data-driven and digitally enabled and that they must invest not only in technology, but also in talent and skills. This includes prioritizing using test-and-learn mindsets to continually iterate and improve digital performance.
However, many brands have been so busy reacting to the unprecedented events of the past few years, they haven’t had time for the hard discussions needed about the role of digital commerce in areas like brand building and category planning.
To correct this problem, here are key steps to consider.
Technology and data. First, look at the underlying technology. Creating a modular and flexible platform is a critical step in delivering seamless experiences as digital channels continue to proliferate.
Second, use data to reduce the amount of guesswork. Use the cloud to build a secure data and analytics foundation for delivering data-driven operations and dynamic personalized experiences at scale.
Think talent. Third, identify where digital skills gaps exist, and instigate upskilling and/or alternative resourcing strategies to close them. But also look at the way digital commerce teams are integrated into the rest of the organization.
To avoid this critical talent pool ending up isolated in a siloed part of the business, look to educate the whole workforce in how digital commerce plays into the overall strategy.
Pinpoint where to play. Fourth, understand that not every channel has the same value potential as every category, brand, or geography. Develop a pragmatic channel strategy that recognizes this, focusing investment on the channels that will maximize the value in each case.
This is key to delivering seamless experiences for consumers. Spreading efforts too thinly across too many channels is simply a recipe for disjointedness and fragmentation.
Supercharge planning and execution. Fifth, look to stabilize the operating model by developing scalable ways of working that cross different business functions seamlessly and enable more joined-up planning and execution.
There is no one-size-fits-all organizational structure for doing this—everything depends on the unique situation and ambition of the business. But one common success factor is to make sure the whole organization is grounded in a shared ambition to deliver compelling brand experiences across the channels the business is targeting.