I recently took part in a quick five minute interview of just four questions, and in there I probably gave the most sound advice I could ever give for anyone in ecommerce and strategy. Warning, this may offend some people as some of you might be in marketing or IT, sorry in advance.
The question was quite simple: “What advice would you give to someone developing their ecommerce strategy for the next five years?”
The answer came right off my tongue, this wasn’t a question I knew was coming but the answer is ingrained in my head, so much that I share it as often as possible.
Number one, hire a VP of Ecommerce or an ecommerce leader that is specifically tasked with driving ecommerce. Two, don’t let marketing run ecommerce. Ecommerce is not marketing, marketing drives visitors to the site but then it is the site’s experience that somebody else needs to be responsible for. Then invest in it…..and don’t let IT run ecommerce.
The main purpose of this statement is that you truly need to have one central ownership and it isn’t marketing or IT, which oftentimes is where it lands. Especially in small companies where lines are blurred, which makes sense when you are small, but as you grow it is where you need to draw the line.
The reason that this delineation is most important is that you need to create a site experience and have a strategy in order to have raving fans. That requires someone who owns the experience on the site and relies on marketing to get the traffic and IT to support the infrastructure and needs. The argument to put it under marketing is that retailers view the website as purely marketing. Sure, there is some marketing, but on the whole it is a sales channel. It ends up with IT because it is thought of as technical. The implementation of technology is technical, but you don’t have the construction team owning your physical stores, as such IT shouldn’t own the virtual.
Having one owner responsible for the site experience allows them to involve marketing and IT to build the best online experience that drives raving fans, which equates to repeat purchasers.