Striving for Strategic Excellence: Why Retail Brands Struggle in the Digital Age

By Buy Box Experts on January 12, 2019

With the digital age still in its infancy, the landscape is ever-changing, leaving many retail brands lost in the chaos. As these brands strive for digital excellence, they face growing challenges keeping up with consumers’ mounting demands and expectations.

The result? Linear thinking. Tunnel vision that doesn’t easily allow for new ideas or changes in direction.

Or worse, a total lack of digital strategy. Every year, business terminology is changing with new buzzwords that are invented to describe an advancement in technology, or new business theory that demands new strategies. Soon, like a bug drawn to a bug light, brands give up on last year’s trend and start all over again.

Digitally Savvy /= Digitally Mature

Too often, retail brands believe they have the capabilities and talent in place to perform in the new digital landscape, while at the core, they suffer from a lack of maturity, one that often stems from a digital workforce that looks down on traditional business practices as “old-school” thinking.

I’m sure your teams mean well, but good digital strategists are still few and far between. Remember that the internet as a business opportunity is less than 30 years old. Seasoned ecommerce vets are rare, and the good ones are not easy to come by.

So how can you tell if your brand has a digital strategy problem? Ask your teams what the strategy is. If their response mentions a buzzword, social platform, or software app, you’ve got a problem. Those are all examples of tactical elements of a campaign—not sustainable, long-term strategies.

Ecommerce and the Digital Ripple Effect

Here’s where most retail brands are missing the mark. While many brands have been very successful in brick & mortar, they’ve failed to recognize that ecommerce is no longer just a category or pillar of the business; ecommerce is business. Today’s digital age has blurred the lines to the point that complete integration between brick & mortar and electronic commerce is possible, and not recognizing this new reality is a common mistake among retail brands.

Unfortunately, the ripple effect of not understanding the digital environment—of a lack of digital maturity—can be a death sentence to a retail brand.

Digital maturity requires a breadth of knowledge that is rare. In today’s digital age, specialists with disciplines in specific ecommerce pillars, such as SEO, SEM, social, marketplace, and site, often lack the ability to set strategies that leverage and maximize the opportunity of each pillar. What brands end up getting is 1+1=2 quality of work, instead of 1+1=3. Potential brand equity is squandered by the mismanagement and chaos of not having a holistic strategy that ties all the pillars of digital into the traditional sales and operations of the brand.

Want an example? Every day, retail websites are redesigned—without an SEO strategy. The result? A pretty website that no one can find, making it effectively worthless. Meanwhile, an okay website with an okay SEO strategy becomes one with serious potential. This is the result of linear thinking in digitally immature companies. The ripple potential is wasted.

What’s the alternative? Effectively strategizing for the ripple effect of each digital strategy, thereby allowing your brand to maximize and leverage technology to grow brand equity.

Amazon’s Ripple Effect on Branding

Which brings us to the ripple effect of Unfortunately, most brands don’t know how to maximize the opportunity Amazon offers. A simple product listing can impact the entire brand, and is a critical element in the valuation of a brand’s equity in a digital age. The sign of a digitally mature brand is one that understands the role an Amazon product listing plays beyond being simply a location for customers to purchase their product.

Here are a few key ways this is true.

First, Amazon is now the primary source for product validation. Consumers use the Amazon platform to compare your products to others at the most critical moment of opportunity. The quality of your listing content and reviews therefore have a direct impact on consumer decision-making.

In addition, beyond being an opportunity to drive potential customers, there is the opportunity to leverage Amazon’s affiliate network, by crafting product listing content that can sell the product effectively.

Search engines and shopping engines also collect product information from Amazon, so a brand that does not properly consider the keywords and attributes that will maximize visibility is limiting potential traffic and conversions.

Poor listing content can also hurt potential sales, as resellers typically go to Amazon first to collect critical information about the product.

Finally, positioning and content also play a role in retail buyers’ decision-making. Why? Because Amazon can even create demand for your product at the brick & mortar level. Customers who want products they find online the same day will often go to a retail store and seek out that specific product. Digitally savvy retail stores have figured this out, and started to stock products that appear on top search results on Amazon. By investing in your Amazon listings and improving organic rank, your your brand will begin receiving calls from retailers, ready to showcase your brand in their store.

The quality of your Amazon listings influences so many variables that your brand cannot ignore their impact. Brands should be seeking to take control of Amazon, and begin leveraging the platform to grow brand equity.

It’s a Marathon—Not a Sprint

This is the most common mistake made by retail brands on the journey to digital excellence. It’s important to put in place the structure and strategies that will ensure your brand thinks holistically when approaching any kind of digital improvement.

Linear thinking is what leads brands to update their Amazon listings in a hurry, then set them aside as though the opportunity has been fully captured and optimized—even when it clearly hasn’t. Optimizing the potential of digital technology, especially in the new ecommerce reality represented by Amazon, requires a process of continuous improvement—a term that often gets lumped in with mundane internal operations, but which is in fact a critical element for success in the digital age.

Demand More Maturity

Retail brands need to demand more from their digital talent and agencies if digital maturity is what they’re after. Ignorance is bliss, and many brands are paying for services that are defined as “optimization,” when in reality, they’re getting little in the way of recurring improvements. Be diligent with monitoring the effectiveness of the work your teams and agencies are doing for your brand, and ensure your digital branding decisions are agile enough to allow for a changing of the guard when needed. After all, it’s your brand’s very equity and future that’s on the line here.

Buy Box Experts
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