Digital Commerce Strategy: Your Guide to Success

Adnan Umar
3 min readNov 24, 2023

The world of online business is booming, and more companies are looking to make the most out of digital commerce. Research shows that 90% of marketing chiefs are planning to spend more on digital commerce tools and strategies in the next year and a half. These investments are key to growing your business and making more money online.

A Roadmap to Capability

While many organizations focus on technology investments, they often overlook the broader gaps in processes and people that can hinder their digital commerce growth.

To address this holistic approach, digital marketing leaders should develop a roadmap that identifies and prioritizes the most critical investments across people, processes, and technology.

Step 1: Assess Your Digital Commerce Capabilities

The operational capabilities required for successful digital commerce vary depending on the route-to-market (RTM) model employed by the organization.

Whether it’s a direct RTM (selling through owned channels), an indirect RTM (leveraging third-party partners), or a hybrid approach, each model demands unique capabilities.

Integrating Digital Commerce into Operations

Digital commerce often operates in isolation within organizations, but this siloed approach must be replaced with a more holistic strategy.

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Digital commerce integration into the governance and operations of each function, regardless of the RTM, is paramount for achieving seamless customer experiences and driving growth.

Tailoring Capabilities to Your RTM Model

Consider advertising as an example. For organizations with an indirect RTM, capabilities should focus on supporting advertising through channel partners’ retail media networks.

In contrast, direct RTM models require investments in performance marketing capabilities, such as media buying and SEO optimization.

Assessing Your Current Capabilities: A Three-Color Approach

Marketing leaders should evaluate their current capabilities across various disciplines, including selling, experience, data and analytics, logistics, and customer service.

This assessment should categorize each capability as either green (no gap), amber (partial gap), or red (complete gap) for the specific RTM approach.

Step 2: Building, Borrowing, or Buying Your Way to Success

Developing digital commerce operational capabilities takes time, but the rapid pace of change in this domain demands a strategic approach. Marketing leaders should create a roadmap that outlines the path from short-term to long-term capability development.

Prioritizing Gaps for Maximum Impact

Start by identifying “must-address” capability gaps that have a high impact on customer experience and growth, followed by “should-address” gaps with significant impact on either customer experience or growth.

Finally, consider “could-address” gaps with a lower impact.

Choosing the Right Approach for Each Gap

Once gaps are prioritized, determine the most appropriate method to address them. Consider three options:

  • Build in-house: This approach takes time but ensures long-term ownership and knowledge. It’s suitable for core, always-on capabilities.
  • Borrow from an outsourced partner: This option provides rapid gap closure but may be more expensive. It’s suitable for emerging capabilities or areas requiring more expertise.
  • Buy as a service: This approach offers speed and flexibility but comes at the cost of control and knowledge. It’s suitable for non-core or emerging capabilities where external expertise is needed.

Step 3: Implementation and Continuous Improvement

Mobilize projects to address the identified gaps, each with one to three target objectives that will serve as success metrics. Continuously monitor and assess digital commerce changes to implement necessary improvements and maintain a competitive edge.

Conclusion: Embracing Digital Commerce for Growth

By adopting a holistic approach to digital commerce strategy, organizations can effectively address capability gaps across people, processes, and technology.

This comprehensive strategy will enable businesses to navigate the dynamic digital commerce landscape, drive growth, and achieve long-term success.

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