Sorting Through A Multitude Of Digital Strategies To Enhance Profitability Has Become More … [+]
With the retail landscape radically morphing and becoming increasingly competitive, companies and entrepreneurs are re-calibrating and searching for new ways to increase profitability versus pursuing hyper-focused growth at any cost strategies.
Most of us are constantly bombarded and perplexed by the current massive proliferation of software platforms and options. No matter your company role or area of expertise, especially if you are in a newbie founder role with a limited team and resources, it’s not easy to sort through all the the disruptive content and technology to find the best path to maximize profits.
Tamara Gaffney,VP of Decision Insights at Quantum Metric, advises business executives on technology and trends through her analysis of a multitude of sources. Passionate about cultivating actionable insights that deliver significant business impact, Gaffney has the experience behind her with previous positions including leading Adobe’s Digital Insights team where she was frequently quoted on retail, travel, finance and health industries. As a 15-year startup veteran, Gaffney also holds two patents in data collection methods and has been recognized as a Top 100 Big Data Influencer by DataIQ Magazine.
Our paths recently crossed at Etail West where some of the best eCommerce retailers annually gather to exchange cutting edge solutions. This year, with stock markets and supply chains facing increasing volatility, there was a greater urgency to explore creative ways to enhance the bottom line. Gaffney shared five actionable insights that are worth exploring as we all try to decipher which tech stack strategies are worth undertaking in 2020 and beyond.
1. Adjust To Microburst Shopping: The practice of offering BOPIS (which is an acronym for Buy Online, Pick Up in Store) has grown as shoppers become too busy to browse items in-store and are more comfortable buying online. As consumers shift to mobile and BOPIS, Gaffney’s big data analysis suggests “they are becoming more focused on specific items either because they need them right now or because they just thought of something and want to order before they forget.” There is a caveat. Cart values (source: Quantum Metric) for mobile BOPIS orders are 39% lower than desktop, shipped orders.
Recommendation: If your brand has its own storefronts and offers BPOIS, make sure to utilize the same product recommendation suggestions when shoppers pick up as you do when they order online. The objective is to cross-sell as effectively and cohesively in-store as the brand does online to boost revenues.
2. Partake In Crowd-Sourced Workforce Initiatives: Gaffny highlighted a trending strategy, “with 68% of companies increasing their use of open source deployment, for more and more brands to turn to loyal followers to build content and engagement. “ Gaffney cited Uncommon Goods “as a brand which adds to product merchandising through submitted product design ideas” and noted “Williams-Sonoma offers Outward to its community as a vehicle to share technology on product imagery while other brands integrate this type of content into everything from their digital advertising to social media channels.”
Recommendation: Create a product design ideas page or similar format by taking advantage of open source technology. This technique is a highly successful way to diversify how products are displayed and engage your target consumers. It can even boost brand awareness and organic sales growth. Secondly, explore critical ways to enlist and track social media engagement and results. This can positively effect how resources are deployed online and for events.
3. Flip The Switch On Big Data: As we all know, data is everywhere with companies collecting staggering amounts of (saleable) information and privacy concerns mounting. With this massive proliferation, eTailers need to increasingly focus on tools that offer a single, accurate version from the customer’s point-of-view of their digital journey with the brand.
Recommendation: When reviewing and selecting tech stack additions, mandate that any new data tools support building greater customer insights with in-depth analytics which result in decisions that support and enhance a deeper relationship between the consumer and the brand.
4. Focus on Employee Experience: This is actually an important way to improve productivity. Gaffney has observed that “eTailers have spent most of their efforts trying to improve the customer experience but have utterly failed to improve the experience for employees and sales associates.” 70% of workers report having to enter the same data in multiple systems to get their job done. Ultimately the best customer experience comes from the entire organization, from shipping to returns to fitting rooms, acting in unison to pivot quickly to satisfy the customer’s informational needs. In fact, Narvar, the customer service experience platform, shared with me that most customers inquire or track their shipment almost five times once an order has been placed in a quest for constant, relative information related to their purchase.
Recommendation: Spend at least as much time working to improve employee-facing technology as customer-facing technology. This initiative is especially applicable in the areas of customer service and operations. There are a handful of new integrated helpdesk and software offerings, such as Gorgias, that encourage seamless communication between the diverse platforms and respective groups while dispersing information the consumer is demanding. This is one of many solutions that enhances both the employee and consumer experience by reducing communication stress points.
5. Downsize Teams, Not People: According to Gaffney, “Re-organization of roles, departments and the addition of new leaders is at an all-time high. Massive layoffs and constant shuffling can make it too difficult to focus on work.” With direct to consumer rapidly growing, improving the customer experience has been translated into dozens of people needing to be involved in each project or meeting. As Gaffney explained, “A business with just 50 people has 1,225 links to manage.” StackOverflow even diagrammed it. Apparently for every person you add to a team, that adds many more lines of communication, making everything harder for your team to communicate as effectively.
Recommendation: Michael Lopp, author of Rands in Repose, uses the formula of 7+/-3 to build cross-functional teams and often recommends considering doing away with reporting hierarchies entirely. This approach according to Robb “crucially takes into account how much managerial time could or should be committed to in 1 on 1s with everyone on your team. Robb even recommends the optimum number of direct reports is 10 (as apparently that is the communication breaking point) as the best way to insure strong organizational communication. While we are still int the first quarter of 2020,now is the perfect time to review how teams are structured, drive employee growth experiences, and use technology to increase the ability for teams to work together.
The major takeaway for 2020 is to evaluate and move toward technology solutions which enable collaboration instead of building up huge teams. This increases positive communication, lowers overhead by building relevant teams and communication, and ultimately leads to better bottom line results.