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Digital transformation for e-commerce

Businesses need to build capabilities to transform and support their e-commerce initiatives

Fact 1 - Over the long term, the worldwide e-commerce market has plenty of room to grow and could increase from $3.3 trillion today to $5.4 trillion in 2026. [Morgan Stanley]

Fact 2 - Many large and mid-sized companies are not prepared to make the transition to new digital tools to support their e-commerce initiatives. [McKinsey]

Growth in e-commerce will continue, primarily due to the continuation of several trends, such as the pervasiveness of digital technologies, the growing power of e-commerce giants, and the shift in consumer preferences. Further, the pandemic acted as an accelerant for these trends, pushing a dramatic shift to e-commerce and evolving consumer behaviors and preferences.

Other factors are driving global e-commerce, including logistics, mobile device ownership and marketplace expansion. The e-commerce boom will offer opportunities for gains across multiple businesses, regions and industries.

Why are companies still unprepared?

Given these obvious and powerful trends, why are companies still unprepared? It is because the organizational changes and technologies that are required, such as improving productivity and efficiency, optimizing operations, providing collaboration and workflow tools, and centralizing content, are often complex and difficult to implement. Companies must have the leadership in place to make the correct decisions on technology investments. A clear roadmap for the deployment of new technologies to help them survive and prosper is necessary. And most importantly, sustained engagement within the entire organization and sufficient investment in building capabilities across the organization are required.

What are the key elements companies need to build capabilities to transform and support their e-commerce initiatives from a management and technology perspective? 

Management: Plan. Collaborate. Empower. Execute.

  • Before you start taking action, define the end goal. Which problems are you trying to solve? How can you serve your customers better? How can you improve internal processes in your teams? 
  • Create a clear roadmap for the deployment of new technologies to help them survive and prosper
  • Companies must also have the leadership in place to make the correct decisions on technology investments
  • Technology investments and digital transformations in general must take a holistic perspective (across functions, geographies, and levers) 
  • Build new capabilities and adjust operating models by rethinking ways of working by adopting more agile and cross-functional approaches, with fewer touch points, stronger empowerment of managers, and much faster decision making
  • Remember that any digital transformation and change starts with people
  • Keep in mind that organizations with successful digital transformations employ more technologies than others do
  • Senior managers must foster a sense of urgency for making transformation changes
  • People engaged in key roles must ensure collaboration between departments regarding the stated transformation initiatives
  • Standard operating procedures may need to be modified to include new digital technologies
  • Senior leaders should encourage employees to experiment with new ideas
  • People engaged in key roles should encourage employees to challenge old ways of working
  • Consider outside help in mapping a digital transformation strategy. Working with consultants, partners, and tech vendors can be very helpful because they have the depth of experience and knowledge to help you figure out the best paths to success.

Technology: Connect. Centralize. Integrate. Streamline.

  • Connect your global teams. Teams around the world design products, shoot photos, write articles, develop and deploy marketing campaigns, and sell products.
  • Use technology to connect and collaborate teams to leverage their unique ideas, insights, and experiences
  • As a result of many teams working remotely from home, re-evaluate current processes and technology to make sure everyone on each team is supported, no matter where or when they’re working
  • Centralize content. Any type of digital transformation revolves around content. In most organizations, content is spread across in-house systems, managed by different applications, and stored in different databases. Provide one consistent foundation behind every channel, and every touchpoint. 
  • Centralizing and managing product information is critical to developing an omnichannel approach to sales and marketing. Consumers today are often channel agnostic. 
  • With regards to data, emphasize clean, connected, accurate and accessible product metadata and specifications
  • Implement technologies that synchronize both data and digital assets 
  • Deploy both a DAM – Digital Asset Management – and PIM – Product Information Management – to centralize the storage and management of product data and digital assets in one 
  • Make product visuals a priority as they are a key component of marketing content and have a direct impact on your brand’s image 
  • Invest in new content types such as 360° product visuals, 3D images, interactive videos, stories, etc.
  • Personalize product content for each audience segment based on geographical location, and its local regulations, language, and also culturally specific factors.
  • Apply a consistent product taxonomy to tag, index, retrieve and share content using clearly defined naming conventions that make searching and filtering easy
  • Implement digital self-serve technology for staff and/or business partners
  • With increasing supply chain volatility and rapidly evolving product trends, e-commerce companies must provide consumers with quality, up-to-the-minute information to deliver the best experience.
  • Implement workflows to reduce errors, eliminate redundant manual tasks, and streamline approval processes
  • Provide and institute API integration as a powerful technology to connect two or more systems through APIs to allow seamless data exchange between them
  • Improve the efficiency of the ecommerce supply chain using automation including order status tracking, monitoring counts throughout your warehouse, and source real-time data on inventory
  • Implement advanced software solutions such as an ERP or an OMS to reduce costs and improve productivity