When has a week gone by for you when you haven’t shopped on line for a brand? For most of us in our team at least, shopping online or using mobile during the shopping experience has become a habit.

From Showrooming (looking at products in store and buying on line), to Webrooming (looking at products on line and then buying in store) to Boomerooming (researching on line, seeing and touching the product in store and then buying on line) we are changing our shopping habits and the implications for retailers and brands is profound.

eCommerce: how to represent your brand well in online stores

Addressing these challenges is  strategic: do you have a clear eCommerce strategy for your business? Do your teams have the capabilities to deliver it? It is also executional: just getting the fundamentals right.  I reflected on a recent personal experience of buying vitamins online.  As I was doing my research I wanted to know some specific dose and concentration information. I found myself immediately eliminating all products during my search where I could not see this detail on the pack and selected from those where I could.  So all the products that had single, front-on images missed out on being considered - a simple fix for those manufacturers but one that so many brands miss.eCommerce: how to represent your brand well in online stores

Many businesses are only just starting to understand and address eCommerce and it certainly warrants a specific, cross-functional effort to establish an overall approach to driving eCommerce sales. There are many things to consider but front and centre is to decide where to play: are you going to set up a direct to consumer business? Which online pure play retailers are most  important to you, and at what cost? How will you work with Bricks & Mortar retailers and their online sites?  For example, P&G have set up eStore, a site where you can purchase their brands directly from them. Some manufacturers have put large teams in place to work with Amazon and others are setting up SWAT teams to rapidly develop on-line category management capabilities.

At the other end of the spectrum you need quickly to assess and fix the fundamentals. A simple audit of how your brand is represented on others’ websites will reveal a lot about your internal, cross-functional processes and how well your sales team are working with etailers. A few practical things you can look at for your brands and your competition are:

  • Where do you rank on different product searches on different websites?
  • How good are the product images on sites and how consistent are they across sites? Do you have multiple view images?
  • What content is there about your products? Does it align with what you want to say about the brand? Is there a shopper as well as consumer message?
  • What do the consumer reviews about your products say? How are you using this feedback cross-functionally in your organisation?

Driving sales in the online environment requires a different take on category management, customer marketing and sales skills and the area has its own language that needs to be understood. How to achieve online visibility and sales means understanding how to build relevance (searches, purchases, reviews) for your brand within the etailer, which of the etailer’s digital assets provide the best returns and how to leverage the increasing role mobile is playing for the “always on” consumers. Equally, the pricing transparency that the internet brings means that any discrepancies in trade investment shows up quickly to customers, so thinking through how to structure your trading terms becomes even more critical.

Organisations that are ahead of the game in this space have clearly defined eCommerce strategies and have addressed the core capability drivers of organisation, processes, people and skills:

  • Organisation roles and responsibilities need to be clearly defined – for example who is responsible for digital asset management covering areas such as data, images and content.
  • Processes need adjusting to include eCommerce considerations and in some cases new processes need to be created.  For example, how are the online image requirements built in at the packaging design stage? How well do your Trading Terms deal with the differing eCommerce business models?
  • Have you got the right people in the business who understand eCommerce and can act as champions within the organisation? Does everyone’s role profile and targets reflect the eCommerce responsibilities?
  • How skilled is your team in driving business in the online environment? Do they understand the language? Do they know what levers to pull and where to invest in the shopper experience?

eCommerce is a total business challenge and requires cross-functional focus to drive success. Brand teams can’t expect Sales teams to be experts in developing brand digital assets (images, content etc) and Sales teams can’t expect Brand teams to understand the complexities of driving sales with etailers. But working together to shape strategies and execute plans will reap rewards and ready teams for the further business model disruption that eCommerce will inevitably bring.

Read more about how leading companies approach joining teams together to create customer-centred growth, and take our quiz to share how well sales and marketing collaborate in your organisation.

Let us know what you think; join the conversation @brandlearning.

This post is by Martin Adkins, Sales Capability Director at Brand Learning