Big-box retailers have dramatically shifted the fundamentals of ecommerce. Major online retailers are letting brands sell on their sites, but the brands have to take on all the logistics of getting goods to consumers and deal with the risk of manufacturing without advance orders.
So how does a brand adapt and thrive in this new ecommerce world? Jan-Christopher Nugent, the CEO of Branded Online, says brands have to adopt a customer-focused, data-driven perspective that employs cutting-edge technology.
“It’s not just about the retailers, it’s about the consumer and delivering a great experience wherever the consumer wants to buy the product, whether it’s the brand’s online store, retailers such as Amazon or Nordstrom, or a physical store,” he says. “Brands really have to understand technology, but most medium-sized brands don’t have IT organizations or developers, which is why Branded Online has created an e-commerce operating system for all aspects of this shift, both the technology and the people. Forty percent of physical retail stores have gone away, and most of these brands have only made up twenty percent of that online—their organizations still haven’t shifted to be high-tech, internet organizations.”
Branded Online helps brands make that shift seamless. Nugent advises that companies start by looking at their marketing strategy and making sure it’s focused online. That means looking at traffic to see where customers are coming from, whether it’s the brand’s online store, social media, online retailers or even a physical store, so brands aren’t just driving traffic to their online store but to every channel the brand offers.
It’s also important to have a phenomenal customer experience, with products easily accessible across all channels. What defines a phenomenal experience has changed substantially from the past—such as the advent of same-day delivery, easy returns and an experience tailored to individual consumers—and brands have to keep up so customers will keep coming back.
“The level of sophistication of a lot of these entry-level technologies is fine when brands sell to a small audience, but when brands make it a serious part of their businesses, they need to be plugged into more advanced capabilities,” Nugent says. “Ninety percent of these brands don’t have an IT department, developers or internet experts, but if you look at the pure online retailers, 80 percent of their organization possess those skills.”
It’s crucial to use forward-thinking technology. That’s where partnering with Branded Online provides significant added value. The company can develop customized solutions for brands that have limited technological resources, as well as those that have people in place who can run the technology. “We invest so much more heavily in research and development because everything is happening so fast,” Nugent says. “Most brands are focused on considering the tech capabilities that are popular today, because they’ve been contacted by a salesperson or an advertisement, whereas big retail and folks like us are developing for what’s going to be significant four to five years from now.”
Using innovative solutions from Branded Online gives brands the data they need to enhance the customer experience and strengthen their ecommerce businesses. It used to be that the internet treated consumers as if they were all the same. But today, data focuses on organizing consumers into groups where brands can deliver experiences, products and content that are unique to them. Nugent gives the example of a company selling rain boots online. Three years ago, the brand would have advertised a 20% off sale on the boots during the summer off-season. Today, data can tell a brand that people in the Northeast are in a rainstorm, and the brand could offer free same-day shipping on boots to people in that area.
Data can also have surprising, and valuable, results—Nugent recalls working with a fashion brand that thought its primary customer was a man interested in luxury watches and vacations, but it turns out the main customers were families who wanted matching outfits. The brand was able to tailor its content specifically towards both those groups. Because Branded Online has a deep knowledge base when it comes to data-based buying patterns, it can help brands compete with big-box retailers that have large data pools built up over many years with millions of dollars.
Nugent says Branded Online can help bridge the great divide between big-box retailers with sophisticated, billion-dollar technology and the brands with $1,000 to $2,000 technologies being used in the mid-market.
“The difference is not unlike a Nissan Sentra, which is an incredible car if you want an inexpensive car that doesn’t go very fast and doesn’t break down. But if that same car is now expected to race in the Indianapolis 500, even if you put a giant motor in the car, the transmission can’t handle the power,” he says. “It’s wonderful that people are getting into the game and that there are providers that have made it so inexpensive, but there are so many of these brands that are going into a gunfight with a butter knife. We have tried to figure out a way to make it very cost-effective to plug that butter knife into something that allows it to be a gun, and if they’re not trained to use that gun, we’ll help them.”
If you’re ready to shift your online strategies and beat your biggest ecommerce competitors, contact Branded Online today.