BIC, the pen brand, is focusing on issues like customer journeys, product assortment and packaging as it adapts to the demands of an increasingly complex e-commerce ecosystem.

Jennifer Elmashni, BIC’s vp/global e-commerce and digital marketing, discussed the company’s online retail strategy during a webinar held by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the trade body.

For the assortment component of its digital strategy, there is a need for “an interesting balance between optimising what exists in the everyday portfolio and optimising that [product mix] for an online ecosystem,” she said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: BIC’s five-point “SPARC” formula offers a roadmap for e-commerce success.)

And there are “three principles that are foundational to the spirit of keeping it super simple” for the brand in this area, she continued.

The first involves understanding the different means of product acquisition, as there is a growing number of ways that consumers can purchase a BIC pen and ultimately receive the physical product.

“They can order online and pick up in store. Or they can order online for a curbside pickup. Or they can order online and have the product delivered directly to your home,” Elmashni said by way of example.

In examining “the last true mile of distribution”, BIC is exploring not just what customers expect, but how it can create economies of scale to keep those shoppers happy.

Another issue for brands is “making the math work”, Elmashni said – not least for legacy players that have to square an established profit-and-loss (P&L) equation with new financial realities for e-commerce.

“For many manufacturers, the P&L gets challenged,” she added, as new kinds of costs are associated with product preparation and shipping for online retail.

“Every time you have to touch and curate something to get it in the hands of the consumer adds cost into the system,” said Elmashni.

The crux of the problem “is making sure that we have the right assortment featured online to offset some of the costs of just doing business online”, for instance by balancing average selling prices and using bundling strategies.

Packaging, added Elmashni, can be one of the most influential aspects of BIC’s assortment considerations, as it is a touchpoint with new challenges in the e-commerce world.

“I don’t know if you've ever experienced getting a package where something explodes or where the boxes were damaged or looked really crumpled. It’s a horrible experience,” she said.

To minimise that sort of adverse outcome, the brand is “proactively … making sure that we’re manufacturing our products in a way” that stands up to “the rough and tumble of reaching the end consumer in its original form.”

Sourced from WARC