ECommerce: a threat not an opportunity?

I’ve encountered various companies where having an ecommerce website was seen as a threat to other channels in the business – either conflicting with other retail channels (“you’re stealing my customers!”) or conflicting with wholesale channels (“why should I buy from you when you’re selling direct?”).

Perhaps people who are used to meetings and sales rep visits are suspicious of a world where you don’t need to have ever met your developers and agencies, where you can supply a product data feed to a customer rather than send a sales rep with a suitcase full of samples, where customers can receive an instant quote using bulk prices and customer-specific pricing…

Here are some tips, learnt the hard way.

Make retail channels work together, not against each other:

  • Tempt in-store shoppers to visit the website with voucher codes and web-exclusive offers
  • Tempt online shoppers into stores to view the product, buy there and then, or order online with free delivery, and consider allowing online purchases to be returned to stores.

Maximise incremental online sales by having a ecommerce strategy that encompasses your own website(s) and online marketing, and other websites selling your products:

  • If retailers can offer incremental sales (e.g. if they have large email databases, a wide offering of brands, or invest in offline marketing) assist with product images, suggested online retail prices and product information
  • If an online retailer is merely competing with you in SEO and PPC, limit the range of products available to them and consider an affiliates scheme instead
  • Have a AdWords trademark use strategy (you can no longer stop other ads appearing in searches for a trademarked term, but you can stop other ads using your brand name in the ad copy).

Involve other departments in online development & merchandising:

  • Try and build shared ownership of online sales
  • Educate colleagues in the basics of online (where traffic & sales are coming from, key trends).

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