The Gist

  • Digital commerce growth continues. Evolve with customer shifts to stay competitive.
  • Strengthen operations. Integrate commerce into marketing for evolving customer needs.
  • Overcome challenges. Rethink your approach, ensure holistic execution and define ownership.

In recent years, there’s been a digital commerce revolution. While there have been huge changes across the board, digital commerce will only continue to grow and evolve in line with customer generation shifts. Customer expectations will continue to increase, and organizations must continue to evolve in order to remain competitive. Now is not the time for organizations to take their foot off the gas.

Digital commerce operations are vital to successfully executing a digital commerce strategy: According to Gartner research, 45% of CMOs will strengthen digital commerce operations in the next 18 months. CMOs must integrate commerce operations into the marketing machines to ensure their organizations can meet the rapidly evolving needs of their customers.

The majority of organizations face the same three challenges when it comes to digital commerce operations:

  • Turning strategy into execution.
  • Siloed execution.
  • Cross-functional ownership.

Organizations need to fundamentally rethink their approach to digital commerce in order to grow. There are three elements of integrated commerce operations that marketing leaders must establish in order to get ahead of the competition.

Ensure Holistic End-to-End Execution

In many organizations, digital commerce strategy and execution happens in isolation. A recent Gartner survey of digital marketing leaders revealed that a holistic approach outperforms a siloed approach to strategy and execution, with organizations taking a holistic approach achieving stronger commercial performance. By focusing on holistic end-to-end execution, organizations can more effectively integrate their digital commerce operations.

Implementing a holistic approach doesn’t happen overnight. Digital marketing leaders should focus on making incremental progress, rather than getting the complete solution in place. Start by identifying where the silos are in your digital commerce execution — this will highlight the pain points and opportunities. Over the next 90 days, focus on moving through the following components to develop a MVHO, or minimal viable holistic operations, to start small and scale over time:

  • Define End-to-End Objectives & KPIs: Define holistic key performance indicators (KPIs) contributed to by all functions, such as the total digital commerce revenue target. Definite additional KPIs for individual functions, such as customer acquisition (marketing), customer lifetime value (sales), delivery on time (supply chain) and website performance (IT).
  • Establish Cross-Functional Governance: Ensure that digital commerce is integrated into existing governance, processes, decision making from strategy to execution.
  • Integrate Into Execution Workflows: Embed digital commerce into the pre-existing execution workflows (e.g., multichannel marketing plans). Ensure clear purpose and goals where a channel is being used for multiple purposes (e.g., social being used for brand awareness but also driving the path to purchase).
  • Orchestrate Route to Market Execution: Orchestrate and prioritize execution and investment based on routes to market objectives and defined KPIs.

Related Article: Grow Third-Party Digital Commerce Using These 3 Steps

Learning Opportunities

Define Functional Ownership

Often, there’s a lack of clarity around who is involved and is responsible for digital commerce. Digital commerce is a team sport, every business function has a role to play. However, the resources of many organizations, and their internal functions, are already stretched, so it's critical to rightsize involvement and ownership of digital commerce. Cross-functional ownership of digital commerce is vital for integrated digital commerce operations, but many CMOs don’t know where to start.

First, map out the involvement level of each function across the organization. This will depend on your organization’s route to market. For example, a third-party commerce model will require high sales ownership, with marketing support, whereas a direct to customer/business buyer model will require more involvement from marketing. Establish which functions will have responsibility for key areas such as commerce experience, data and analytics and back office, before identifying which functions need to be kept informed, consulted and accountable. Over time, embed ownership of digital commerce into key roles within these functions.

Related Article: Why Ecommerce Needs to Evolve for Gen Z

Expand Digital Operational Capabilities

Expanding digital commerce capability investments remains a top priority for marketing leaders in the year ahead. While many organizations have already made significant technology investments to support this priority, leaders also need to think about the people and process part of the equation, in addition to technology.

Much like functional ownership, the operational capabilities required will depend largely on the organization’s route to market. For example, a business with a third-party commerce model will require capabilities for sales platforms, mass fulfillment and retail media networks, whereas a business with a direct to customer model should focus on building performance marketing, last mile fulfillment and DTC platform capabilities. Many of these capabilities are connected, which means it’s critical to take a holistic approach to capability development that involves people, processes and technology. Digital marketing leaders should conduct operational capability gap analysis before implementing a plan to address existing gaps.

By focusing on building a more integrated digital commerce operations model, reducing silos and building digital commerce capabilities, marketing leaders can future proof their digital commerce function and maintain their competitive edge.

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