Is eCommerce fast becoming a subset of Digital Marketing?
What happens when you try to explain the difference between an email campaign and an eCommerce application to a marketing manager who just woke up after a 15 year coma – let's say the dot com bubble was the last IT disruption he experienced! (Best wishes to the person trying to provide enlightenment!)
Let's look at this purely from what the customer sees – yes, "sees" as in visual engagement and not from a holistic consumer experience. The working components of a marketing message in no particular order of priority goes this way, give or take a few.
Looking at this infographic, it is almost impossible to say if this kind of engagement or solicitation to buy is happening over a website, a mobile or a plain old email –maybe this framework works for a "Physical flyer" too. The only difference is that the tools for rendering each of these facets are radically altered if you consider this happening in an eCommerce system or a simple promotional campaign. eCommerce systems of course, come with capabilities of live engagement like chat and support services that are possible since the whole experience is at real time.
From our experience in implementing and building engagement platforms across Digital Commerce, Marketing, Personalization Engines and DMPs, we have the seen four critical changes over the years that make the subject line of this blog closer to the truth maybe even inevitable in the near future. All the features listed below are "hand crafted" sophisticated add–ons that needed a crack technology team to build and manage even as early as 5 - 6 years ago.
Product Design: Over the years, eCommerce products have moved on tremendously in terms of features – they are no more a collection of dynamic product pages backed by a simplistic inventory system. They are bundled in with capabilities aka "Business Usable" capabilities to manage
→ Content – Dynamic and Personalized
→ Look & Feel
→ Promotions – Product, Customer, Category Levels
External Functionality - E-commerce Integrations: Though the caption sounds technical, today's eCommerce ecosystem does come with add on subscription products to achieve the following and much more. Some of which are typical on-demand features.
→ Payment & Tax Management
→ Logistics and SCM
→ Product Recommendations & Ad Management
→ Anonymous User Identification & Tracking
→ Advanced Search capabilities & Transactional Messaging
Cloud - The Great Leveller: Well, all the features listed above do need a strong IT team to keep the engine chugging but the combination of an eCommerce Application in collusion with a hosted infrastructure – is probably the biggest technology disrupter ever. An e-Tailer or a retailer with aspirations to sell online can get onto the online band wagon with subscriptions as low as $30 a month and walk out a month later if things don't work out - sans a dent in his pocket.
New Kid on the block - The CMTO: A new breed of techno-marketing professionals are taking over – some of them coming through with a deep IT back ground with an added stint in product or retail marketing and the others still from the old school but quickly catching up on the best in class technology concepts. In a Nutshell, they understand both worlds and come with the right balance of creative, customer engagement, marketing, selling and technology skills – and they are ready to take on the numbers as well!!
Reorganization: Today the fourth factor maybe recondite, but some organizations especially the ones that look ahead are internally reorganizing to suit the changing ecosystem. We do see new leadership roles in Digital Business – the portfolio mandated to managing Global Digital Footprint for the brand – be it Digital, Multichannel or Omni channel engagement, Customer centricity, Online selling via first party or resellers and in a nutshell manage P & L for online sales –B2B or B2C.