With rapid advances in digital marketing, data and technology, the journey from awareness to sale can now be very short thanks to eCommerce solutions. You can learn about a product, consider a brand and buy all in one go from a shoppable Instagram post. eCommerce is driving the majority of retail growth and presents a significant opportunity for brands. However, as customer behaviour changes, brands need to ensure they don’t get left behind with legacy sales and marketing models.
Traditionally, many brands have had separate marketing and sales teams, and often each of these have very different objectives. Marketing teams need to reach the right customer at the right moment and are measured by brand awareness and reach metrics. Sales teams need to meet sell-through targets and are assessed on percentage of added value acquired in a deal or incremental sales driven in a short time period.
Commercial agreements within the sales teams are often held to aggregate sales targets which drive efficient short-term sales. This is not always the case for marketing activity as the data available for sales driven on a granular level across retailers is not available. Brands really shouldn’t be allocating digital budget without visibility of the impact on total sales (both direct and from eRetail sites).
Unless a brand is managing eCommerce directly, there will be a gap of transactional data when trying to understand the true commercial return on marketing investment and there is a major disconnect from the sales being driven through retailers.
On the other side, you have sales teams agreeing to digital media plans with retailers when they are rarely experts in digital media. While the concept of the formats being offered by retailers is not unfamiliar (i.e. priority shelf positioning), most brands have digital specialists within their organisation or at their media agency that can support in scrutinising these media plans or ensure that commercial agreements are inclusive of marketing requirements.
Brands that can close this gap between sales and marketing are able to maximise the revenue opportunities from eCommerce. There are some clear steps that brands – and their retail partners – can take to capitalise on the eCommerce opportunities.
Brands can upskill their sales teams to ensure they are asking the right questions when agreeing digital media plans with a retailer, or they can involve digital specialists.
When a sales team receives a programmatic plan or an on-site placement, for example, as part of their commercial agreement they should consider viewability, industry benchmarks and creative refreshes. These are all standard questions for someone with a digital marketing background.
As retailers struggle to catch up with marketplaces like Amazon in terms of sharing data in real time, they should work with third party technology providers or research companies to identify proxies for retail sales.
In 2017, Amazon’s revenue from advertising grew close to 60%. As Amazon develops their self-serve platform to report back on media investments, retailers need to provide similar data and services for brands. Brands need to challenge retailers to evolve even more quickly in this rapidly changing landscape.
Marketers should have a better understanding of how their awareness activity is driving sales in the short term and influence on purchases in the long term.
Brands can do this through commercial agreements to receive more frequent granular data, by using attribution models inclusive of retailer’s sales on an aggregate level or working with research companies who can provide proxies for conversions on retailer sites.
We have seen an increase in brands developing eBusiness teams, which is a great first step in bridging this gap. It is more important than ever to understand how all media activity collectively impacts brand sales and the true value of digital marketing included in commercial agreements.