The 7 Questions Interview Series: eCommerce and Supply Chain Data Integration
The 7 Questions Interview Series: eCommerce and Supply Chain Data Integration “The 7 Question Series” is an investigative content series where we seek out key leaders in a specific industry and/or subject matter expertise area and ask them 7 key questions that “enquiring minds want to know”. There is a twist however to these questions. We provide the person being interviewed with a hypothesis for each question. This helps to frame and set context for their answer.
eCommerce and Supply Chain Data Integration Series Objectives:
eCommerce and Supply Chain Data Integration Series Objectives: The objective of the e-commerce series is to establish direct connections with eCommerce experts across the globe and ask them the same set of 7 questions regarding e-commerce data integration in the supply chain. We want to derive insights from their direct experiences and expertise that will help e-commerce companies, both B2B and B2C at all stages of their evolution. We are also curious to see if their answers are similar or different. These interviews will be featured on this website as a series.
Interview with Jayne Reddyhoff, Founder and Managing Director of ‘The Ecommerce Adviser’
About Jayne Reddyhoff
Jayne is a business consultant specialising in digital marketing. Prior to setting up The Ecommerce Adviser in June 2005, Jayne worked for a number of blue chip Technology Consultancy organisations where she gained her business knowledge. Jayne provides strategic digital marketing advice and support to The Ecommerce Adviser’s clients, as well as making sure that the business delivers a quality service to all our clients. Outside of work, Jayne enjoys reading crime novels and walking with her dog Tina who she adopted from a rescue centre.
Robin Smith: Recent statistics tell us that close to 50% of consumers do not buy online? Why do you think that’s the case?
Jayne: I am sure that there are those who will never adopt the habit – probably the very elderly, so that will change over time. Some people will always fear identity theft, but again this is probably more prevalent in the older generation. The number of shoppers, and the percentage of shoppers, buying online is growing all the time. The number who research online and then purchase in store is even higher and still growing. I have no doubt the numbers buying online will keep on growing. But I wonder if we should be thinking more about an integrated, multichannel shopping experience, and worrying less about increasing just online shopping volumes. Nearly 70% of UK consumers visit a retailer’s website as part of their purchase journey, even though they don’t all complete the purchase online. A website can be used as the shop window, a place to represent the brand and to drive visitors to stores – delivering a more integrated shopping experience which could drive significant increases in sales for those retailers who do this well. I believe that this integrated commerce approach is the right one – both for the consumers’ benefit and the retailer’s.
Robin Smith: Only 10% of Canadians plan to do their holiday shopping online in 2014 compared to 44% in Britain. Why do you think there is such a large margin?
Jayne: This question initially confused me; I couldn’t understand why Canadians wouldn’t buy holidays online compared to other countries. Then I realised that you were talking about shopping for Christmas gifts online! I don’t know enough about Canada to say for sure, but I’d be surprised if all Canadian E-commerce websites were poorly designed. Website development is such an international business, and E-commerce websites such a mainstream standard now, that it seems highly unlikely they would all be designed worse than, say, UK Ecommerce websites. In the UK we don’t generally experience cross-border problems with delivery or taxes, even when we buy from US or Hong Kong retailers. If those retailers can deliver to the UK without a problem, then I am sure they can work out how to sell to Canada as well. So I guess you are left with the impact on retailer operating costs of such a large and thinly populated country – delivery costs are probably higher. Plus the slower take-up of online purchasing in Canada. The rise of online shopping has been faster and more extensive in the UK than any other country in the world. In the UK 9 out of 10 people will buy some Christmas gifts online and half of us will do all our Christmas shopping online. I’ve just had another thought – it is probably much less frantic on your average Canadian high street (do you have them or just large malls like in the US?) than in our very crowded UK high streets, and avoiding the crowds is often quoted as a reason to shop online in the UK.
Robin Smith: In our experience very few e-commerce sites integrate their systems and data making it impossible to scale and putting customer service and relationships at risk. Why is that?
Jayne: Thousands of online retailers in the UK are small businesses, many with little or no experience of systems integration. Those who go on to be really successful do eventually start looking at some degree of integration, starting with stock control, email marketing, supplier ordering and customer communications. However, not all of those who integrate systems take full advantage of that integration. It is quite common to see E-commerce retailers who successfully achieve operational efficiencies through systems integration, but who do not go on to use their integrated data to improve customer or marketing communications. The increased awareness of marketing automation, along with increasingly sophisticated systems to support automation, is making it easier for us to have conversations about the benefits of integration with our Ecommerce customers.
Robin Smith: In your view are online retailers and sites leveraging their transactional data strategically? Are they making good use of their data to make strategic decisions and generate more revenue?
Jayne: No, I don’t think they are. Many online retailers do not take advantage of the data they have available to them – neither their eCommerce transactional data nor their website analytics data. Sometimes this is because business intelligence is not a high priority, but often they simply don’t know what is possible. As I said previously, thousands of online retailers in the UK are small businesses and they have no previous experience of data analytics or business intelligence systems. The very large organisations who run E-commerce businesses are much better at this – as you would expect. However we are finding that SME online retailers are becoming more aware and more responsive to conversations about this.
Robin Smith: What are the key differences and similarities when it comes to B2B and B2C e-commerce?
Jayne: Interestingly, I think in the UK the B2C retailers are more imaginative, more willing to look at technology that will support and enhance their business. There has been a proliferation of SaaS Ecommerce systems, offering very sophisticated functionality, becoming available to the smaller online retailer serving the B2C market. And these businesses – once they achieve a certain level of success – are keen to use technology to grow even more. While it is true that larger B2B organisations have been using integrated transaction systems across their supply chains for many years, I get the feeling that a lot of them don’t see that as E-commerce and don’t think about it as imaginatively! However, you can clearly see some large B2C retailers, particularly in the fashion clothing industry, moving ahead with Ecommerce and multi-channel purchasing capabilities.
Robin Smith: What’s next for e-commerce? Where do you see things headed?
Jayne: I believe we will see more Ecommerce retailers, both B2B and B2C, recognising the value of marketing automation and content marketing as key parts of their overall marketing strategies. It is not enough to compete on price, or delivery any more – whatever one can do in that area, another can copy. The successful Ecommerce business of the future will be providing a more engaging, possibly immersive experience for their customers. They will build communities of interest, they will provide a valuable source of information beyond the immediate scope of the product sale. This may sound fanciful, but I hope not! We are beginning to hear much more understanding, and enthusiastic interest in this when we talk to our eCommerce clients, so I believe this is the future for the successful Ecommerce business.
Robin Smith: How involved and active is the C-suite in developing an e-commerce strategy and monitoring the success of e-commerce sales?
Jayne: We target SME E-commerce businesses, and in that market, the C-suite probably consists of only 1 or 2 people. They are usually actively involved in their E-commerce venture – for many of our customers E-commerce is the business. In larger, and particularly more traditional, businesses where E-commerce is just one of several channels, it varies. However, there is no doubt in my mind that the most successful Ecommerce ventures do have full support and involvement of a senior member of the management team.
About The Ecommerce Adviser The Ecommerce Adviser is a business focused Digital Marketing Consultancy. We enjoy working with ambitious, B2C and B2B E-commerce SMEs, who want to significantly grow their revenue and profit. We help them to achieve that by providing a range of digital inbound marketing services including Strategic Planning, Usability & Conversion Rate Optimisation, Content Marketing & Social Media, Pay Per Click Advertising and Email Marketing.
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