Do you think that most E-Commerce teams are focused on the right things? I'm not too sure. As E-Commerce has been maturing over the past few years, there's a big shift afoot. The conversation has slowed about technology, platforms, integrations and multichannel. More is being said about focusing on the customer, testing, convenience via delivery innovation and so on.

The right conversation shouldn't really be so focused on this large suite of tactics. While they're important, they're not the first conversation that needs to be had.

The right conversation is about going back to basics.

Retail is fundamentally the same as all sales - an exchange of value. Generally:

Money for Goods

The funny thing is, it's never been that simple, and that's why this conversation is so important. So let's try again:

Money for Goods + Experience

That's better. The experience is the key. Now, that experience can be any number of things, here's a few examples:

So, let's get to the point. We've all spent too long not starting with the right questions. These are a set of questions, that once answered, enable you to make decisions and become a great retailer.

A great retailer is where all your efforts are focused on making the value exchange the very best it can be. One where good margins are made for the retailer, and the consumer associates way more value than the cost. There are reasons why people will buy something they can get cheaper elsewhere from other retailers - the answer lies in the experience.

To the questions!

  1. Why are we here? This is the first and hardest to answer. It's not really for the E-Commerce team to answer. In the absence of no higher up direction though, eCommerce teams need to make up their own answer.
  2. What makes up the XXX experience? Where XXX is your company. What are the component parts? Are you the cheap and slow, or the quality players? Is your reputation driven by your after sales service or your product design? Find out the parts that drive your experience and your goods and have them front of mind.
  3. What makes your experience special? A follow on from 2) is finding out what is the combination of things that makes you special. I don't believe in USPs as a rule - singular unique selling points are truly rare, especially in retail. Is your instore experience the most amazing thing since sliced bread? Is it your unbeatable delivery speed or is it the feeling of exclusivity you give your customers? Zero in on the very small number of 'special points'
  4. Translate this into strategies and tactics. This is the key to making the first 3 admittedly slightly fluffy questions drive revenue. Here's some examples: Our buyers put together really great looks and trends: then the tactic here is that you should be using that fact to merchandise your categories to put the looks together, collate outfits for 'buy the look' functionality. It still amazes me how certain retailers make so much effort with their instore merchandising and windows, only to just chuck it willy nilly into their eCommerce site. We bring lifestyle to sport: I'm thinking people like Rapha here - they sell kit for cyclists. Yet really, they know they're a lifestyle brand. Hence why they pour so much money into the sublime production values on their features content.

So now, are you an E-Commerce Manager, Director, Executive, Multichannel, Omnichannel, EveryChannel manager, director or anything like that? Have you ever sat down for an hour or two and asked yourself these questions? I would encourage you to do so. It's rare to find nothing comes of such an exercise in driving some of your strategies and tactics for the next year. Or maybe do this after the next few weeks, as right now, you're busy enough.

Make sure you do it though.

Be a great retailer first.

Be an E-Commerce professional second.