Cracking Commerce, by Mindshare’s Robin Phillips

Asking for a strategy is one thing, but there are a lot of moving parts involved, writes Mindshare’s regional director, head of outcomes, Robin Phillips. So how should brands plan their strategy?

We need a commerce strategy.”

“Excellent, what objectives do you have, and what are going to be the KPIs?”

“Sell 200 per cent more stock, build a D2C website and collect more data.”

“No worries, we’re on it.”

Well, OK, not all briefings are like this, but you can maybe resonate with it and agree that the ‘c’ word is included in at least 50 per cent of your daily conversations today. It’s no real surprise, as brands are keen to ensure that they are across any opportunities and have a plan in place. What was already a rapidly growing sector has only been accelerated due to the pandemic, as users are looking for the convenience factor in lockdown, feel conscious about going to public areas or quite simply have realised you can get lunch delivered to your door to avoid missing another important Teams call, or receive some more bread flour to make that perfectly baked sourdough we see so often through someone else’s Instagram.

With all this continued development and user engagement, brands are now keen to ensure they are on top of it. That’s great, but how should we approach it?

What becomes essential is making sure the brands are set up to deliver a seamless experience that results in quality products, that fit the description, that are delivered in an agreed time, preferably yesterday, and following this that they continue to support the user in their journey to buy again or buy more.

There are many key factors that need to be included in this. If they are hell-bent on building a direct-to-consumer (D2C) website, which we know in this cookie-less future will become key to gathering consumer data, we need to understand that the logistics behind just putting the product images up are in place. Do they have the infrastructure to store, possibly refrigerate, monitor and deliver the goods? One slip resulting in a bad customer experience usually means the consumer will look for their goods elsewhere the next time they shop. Brands have realised that there is far greater competition on the digital shelf and smaller brands can easily jump into a category through smarter marketing, more compelling creative or quite simply having the product in stock.

If everything above is in place and the brand is ready to launch its own D2C website, great. If not, should it make use of the many retailers and market places in the region where it can use the infrastructure that already exists, be able to engage with an already active user base and build a strategy around the paid and organic opportunities available? You would think this is a definite possibility. With a huge change in social commerce, and DSPs being built around existing marketplaces, there has never been an easier time for a brand, no matter how big or small, to sell its products in a relevant, compelling way. We have seen the continued development of local retailers focusing on the user experience of their platforms.

The development in this space really opens up the door for brands to explore and develop their commerce offerings. We have always known personalisation is a key driver in a seamless user experience. Now we see this across commerce sites, be they D2C or retailer market place. The relevance of the offers and products are so close to the buyers’ need, or their supposed need, that conversion to upsell is far greater. The emergence of m-commerce and ensuring that the consumer is given the same – if not better – experience across the mobile platform is vital, as we see the propensity of users buying across mobile platforms rise up to the 70 per cent mark.

The developments will only continue as we watch the increased usage of AR and the ability for consumers to visualise their potential purchases, more focus on easier ways for consumers to pay, the development of commerce through video and the growth of marketplaces and retailers in our region.

So where does this leave us, and where am I going with it? Yes, we definitely need to have a commerce strategy; that goes without saying. But we need to do it with a clear understanding of what is available to the brands and how best they can engage with the consumer. Has there been a well-prepared audit of the commerce landscape in their category to really understand where their competitors sit and how the consumers engage with the products? Ultimately, are they able to provide a personalised, efficient, seamless process where the consumer gets what they want, yesterday?