In some of my past work, I’ve help lead product teams or design sites for various types of direct selling of products. And a few past posts discuss some aspects of ecommerce. But you know what? Ecommerce in some ways just isn’t that hard. Yes, it has its many complexities and there’s all kinds of technology coming out all the time to help from the top of the funnel through the bottom and ongoing support, etc. Still, what you’re left with – when you get done with multi-channel attribution, multivariate testings of every element on a detail page, etc. – is a fairly simple binary thing: A prospective customer bought from you or not. And you should have the data to know that. Also, ideally, some direct and inferential knowledge as to where in the sales funnel you’ve lost shoppers along the way.
Now if you’re a manufacturer, you have it a little harder. Marketing for upstream producers has always been more fuzzy then for direct merchants. Brand advertising has perhaps always been the fuzziest of all in terms of assessing value. There are ROI models and when you cut spending, you can see sales drops in markets, but it’s a very hard thing to keep track of. Deciding what to spend and in which channels to push through your market is deeply challenging. In many areas within physical retail there are syndicated data tools to help.
For the digital channel, many of the traditional tools are missing. At the same time, there are other possibly more powerful tools. In any case, Brand & Manufacturing increasingly find themselves needing to either sell direct, or at least get more significantly involved in digital channel support. This could be as simple as making sure your brand assets are in a Digital Asset Management system that partners can access. Or it may be more complex if you have deeper interactions with your channel. It could also be the case that a large retailer has specific requirements with which you must comply in terms of that retailers use of certain systems or partners. For example, we’re seeing more paid advertising sponsorships within major shopping sites. That is, Amazon and Walmart are in some ways become Shopping Search Engines as much as they are retailers. And they, (along with many others), are allowing various types of advertising within their sites. This is typically on traversal pages. That is, category level or search result pages. Though often sponsored ads will also be on product detail pages. These might be cross-sells or upsells. (And one day, someone will maybe tell me why cross-sell is mostly hyphenated, but upsell is one word.)
In any case, if you’re the brand/manufacturer, you’re probably finding you’re much deeper into Channel and direct customer concerns than ever before, all thanks to digital. As part of an online course in Digital Product Management, I’ve got a segment that may be of interest to you that I’ve provided as part of a preview. You can take a look in either presentation format via SlideShare or video on YouTube.