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Contents:

Introduction

In an ever-evolving digital landscape, the rules of retail and consumer expectations are changing all the time. This makes the role of Head of Ecommerce a pivotal and challenging position for businesses. Retail brands can no longer view commerce in simple terms, such as online and offline, but instead they need look to deliver an effective omnichannel experience for consumers to compete with innovators and not get left behind.

At Space 48, we are in the business of helping retail brands to improve their performance and create cutting-edge customer experience. That’s why we have compiled a treasure trove of expert advice for Heads of Ecommerce to help you conquer commerce – delve in!

Leadership and communication in ecommerce

Strong leadership is crucial in ecommerce. Retail is a fast-moving and ever-evolving landscape and, as Head of Ecommerce, your team will look to you for inspiration. Not only do you need to deliver clear and consistent communication, but you should be approachable, agile and open to new ideas. Fully understanding your team is vital for effective communication. 

Here we outline the key components of good leadership and communication:

How to become a better leader and inspire your team

An effective team needs a strong leader, who leads by example. If your brand has a clear vision and culture, you need to embody this vision and promote the culture amongst your team.

ecommerce leadership strategies Jon Woodall

A good way to inspire your team is to encourage development and continuous improvement. Seek inspiration from other leaders and inspirational figures, and strive to improve and develop your skills and knowledge. Encourage development from within your team and help individuals team to move out of their comfort zone and expand their capabilities.

Space 48 Founder and MD Jon Woodall offers his insights on how to be a better ecommerce leader and inspire your team to success.

Recruiting the right people

Although good leaders improve and develop their teams, it’s important to bring in the right people to enhance your team’s capabilities and create the right balance. Outlining the required skills and responsibilities for certain roles you want to fill is only part of an effective ecommerce recruitment process.

It’s vital that you establish the right criteria from your current and future staff, so you can build a team with the right attitude and character.

We recommend you look to incorporate your brand’s ethos into your recruitment strategy, meaning your prospective staff and your future team know what to expect from your business and what is expected of them.

Check out our handy blog on how to hire the right people for your ecommerce business.

Creating a strong team dynamic

Beyond technical skills and industry experience, psychometric tests are a good way to understand the personality types within your business. Assessing the different personality types within your ecommerce team will help you to understand individual strengths, weaknesses and gaps your team has.

Our DNA Profiler Tool categorises people into four colour personality types; red, blue, green and yellow. Different personality types complement each other, which can help create a strong team dynamic. Take the test and try it for yourself!

ecommerce strategies guide

The results will enable you to adapt and have better conversations. Not just in one-to-one situations, but in ecommerce planning and strategy sessions. Every team member should have a voice and opportunity to make difference to business. We use “group flow decision making”, which allows managers and department heads to get different perspectives on projects and key decisions, from a range of individuals and voices. 

Why not take a look at Space 48’s DNA, which incorporates our culture, values, beliefs and actions: The Space 48 DNA.

Hitting the ground running

Are you new to your role as Head of Ecommerce? Want to get off to a quick start and make a big impact? To prevent yourself becoming overwhelmed by the scope of your role, it’s important to prioritise your tasks and set yourself key objectives to accomplish, before diving in and making decisions based on assumptions.

ecommerce strategies checklist

We’ve created an essential checklist to help you hit the ground running in your role, including expert recommendations, ecommerce strategy planning tips and leadership advice. Grab our Checklist for Your First 30 Days as a Head of Ecommerce and get set to improve your team's productivity and your brand’s ecommerce performance

Get Ecommerce Roadmap Guide

Ecommerce projects and planning

Are you embarking on any new ecommerce projects this year, such as new technology partnerships or a platform migration? Big or small, development projects impacting your ecommerce store require extensive research, benchmarking and planning, to ensure they are viable, cost-effective and ultimately successful.

In this section, we’ve outlined our expert planning tips and recommendations for ecommerce project planning:

Pitching your ecommerce project plan

As Head of Ecommerce, getting your new ecommerce strategies and plans off the ground will inevitably hinge on the strength of your project pitch. When pitching your idea to your CEO, you need to make sure the project plan is clear and compelling, especially as many business owners and CEOs are short on time.

This handy little blog outlines a step-by-step project pitch approach – take a look: How to successfully pitch an ecommerce project to your CEO .

Goal setting

If your project plan gets the green light from your CEO, you need to start considering your goals and targets for the project. Effective ecommerce project and campaigns, require strategic goals and realistic targets, based on a number of different factors.

Effective ecommerce project goal setting

Consider the following:

  • What are the key benefits of the project for the business?
  • What are you looking to achieve?
  • How will your project help your customers?
  • Consider “the why” behind the project and try to tell the story.

Make sure your goals are SMART (specific, measureable, attainable, relevant and timely), but keep an agile approach. There will be mitigating factors that you need to counter into your thinking and you may need to adjust goals and targets during projects and campaigns.

Learn more with these 5 effective goal setting tactics for ecommerce projects.

Benchmarking

Before setting your goals, you should have carried out extensive benchmarking to make sure targets are realistic. Here are some top recommendations for ecommerce benchmarking:

  • Benchmark your brand’s website performance
  • Utilise your data and customer insights
  • Incorporating offline and online retail activities
  • Carry out competitor analysis and industry benchmarking

What are the key metrics to benchmark for ecommerce projects? Take a look at our rundown of the top 5 ecommerce metrics to benchmark against competitors

Effective delegation

Delegation, delegation, delegation! This rhetoric is used by many business leaders to emphasise the importance of delegating to your staff to increase efficiency and improve productivity. Effective delegation also frees up more time to spend on strategy, to explore new digital innovation and to empower your team and help make more informed decisions.

Consider setting your team challenges rather than tasks. Whilst teams will complete tasks, you want them to find solutions to challenges. This helps your team grow together and improve its collective intelligence.

However, you need to strike the right balance in delegating, and supporting and challenging your team. Check out this handy “Support vs Challenge Matrix”:

Support vs challenge matrix ecommerce delegation

Learn more about how and when to delegate to your ecommerce team.

Efficiency and productivity

The ecommerce world is becoming increasingly data-driven and successful retailers are utilising the new technology and tools at their disposal to deliver more relevant customer experiences, automate processes and improve performance.

ecommerce effeciency and productivity

There are lots of great platforms, tools and third-party solutions that can help increase efficiency and deliver better experiences to customers, across different channels and key areas of ecommerce.

For analytics, New Relic and Blackfire are great monitoring and testing tools, and are good integrations for Magento websites.

For personalisation, we recommend Nosto and Episerver as top third-party personalisation solutions. Whilst, Channel Grabber is a good option for implementing omnichannel personalisation.

There are a number of third-party solutions to help you be more data-driven and strategic with your paid search campaigns, such as Optmyzer and Marin, whilst there are tools within AdWords that enable brands to create scripts and rules to track and optimise their campaigns.

To learn more about using AdWords for ecommerce, get our extensive guide to AdWords success.

If you want to create more impact with paid social, again there are tools to help you optimise campaigns. We highly recommend the Facebook Pixel, which increases the level of tracking you can do, giving you more granular options to retarget people according to their behaviours.

Facebook Pixel guide

Take a look at our easy-read guide on the Facebook Pixel: How to install and use the Facebook Pixel: a guide for ecommerce marketers.

There are plenty of ESPs and tools offering automation capabilities and workflows, but we recommend dotmailer, as it’s easy to use for businesses of all sizes and levels of expertise.

Explore more great automation tools in our blog: The very best ecommerce tools for automating processes.

Tendering for projects

Are you tendering for a new ecommerce development project? If so, getting your RFP (request for proposal) document right is crucial. Your RFP should read like a project journey, from the “why” behind the project to the “where” you want to get to. In between the proposal should give as much detail about the vision of your business and the ins and outs of your set-up as possible

For big ecommerce projects, such as replatforming or migrating your ecommerce store, you should be as transparent as you can with your prospective developers and agencies. Be clear about your requirements and expectations, whilst making revealing any restrictions or mitigation factors involved.

Check out our handy blog to find out more about how to approach your prospective development agencies: Key questions to ask of your ecommerce development agency

If you need help putting together an effective RFP, our Step-by-Step Guide to Creating an RFP for Ecommerce Projects will give you all the information you need.

Creating an ecommerce roadmap

It’s important for retailers to have a clear roadmap in place for their ecommerce activity for the year ahead. This roadmap enables you to see where your brand is looking to get to, in terms of performance, growth and development. It is also a key way to assess your team’s resources, capabilities and your timeline for rolling up new project and activating campaigns.

Ecommerce roadmap

Creating a roadmap for your ecommerce strategy is no easy task though and it requires a lot of analysis, research and planning. The Space 48 experts have put together a handyguide to creating an ecommerce roadmap. Here’s some of the areas it covers:

  • Goal and target setting
  • Creating a content and campaign calendar
  • Mapping out the customer lifecycle
  • Evaluating the key successes and failures
  • Performance and competitor benchmarking
  • Top ecommerce trends and innovations to be aware of
  • Ecommerce strategy planning

Get your free roadmap guide!

Get Ecommerce Roadmap Guide

Innovating and improving in ecommerce

A successful Head of Ecommerce should have a passion for new technology and a thirst of innovation. In such a fast-moving digital landscape, retail is ever-changing and you must embrace this change and look to continuously improve and keep your brand at the cutting edge. Take a look at our tips and tactics for innovation in ecommerce.

Evaluating performance

When considering new innovations or large-scale changes, you need to evaluate your brand’s performance, benchmark and build a value business case for new projects. It’s vital to analyse your performance across key channels and using your most important metrics, such as customer lifetime value (CLV) and year-over-year revenue and growth.

Ecommerce KPIs

We’ve outlined the key performance metrics in the following blog: 5 essential key performance indicators (KPIs) for ecommerce.

Top tech trends and tools

As Head of Ecommerce you should be ready to react to evolving consumer trends and digital innovations, not only in your industry by in other sectors that demonstrate cutting-edge ideas and uses of new tech and strategies. Take an agile approach and stay abreast of the latest tools and third-party solutions to enhance your ecommerce activity.

Tech trends in ecommerce

Automation helps businesses to deliver more data-driven interactions with customers, whilst helping brands to be more efficient. We’ve outlined some of the best ecommerce tools for automating process, plus our blog on the latest tech trends shaping the industry will help you keep your finger on the pulse!

In ecommerce these days, there's a tool or tech solution to enhance any part of your strategy. Our ecommerce experts and website development specialists have selected the best ecommerce tools in the market, for the likes of personalisation, UX, user generated content and measurement. Get our Guide to the Best Ecommerce Tools and Integrations for Retailers

Omnichannel retail

Buzzword or not, “omnichannel” commerce needs to be taken seriously by modern retailers. Consumers expect consistently good brand experiences, no matter what channel or device they’re using to engage or browse on.

Integrating your key channels not only helps to improve continuity and accuracy, but it harmonises the customer journey. You should look to unify the offline and online commerce experience for customers, in order to encourage brand loyalty and repeat purchases.

Omnichannel retail strategy ecommerce

If there are any barriers in the way of your establishing omnichannel retail, you may need to consider moving your ecommerce store to a new platform. At Space 48, we have many Magento developers and specialists and we know the great abilities Magento 2 has for delivering a unified commerce experience, with its range of integrations, scalability and single customer view, enabling merchants better control and understanding of their customers.

How to create an omnichannel customer experience with Magento 2

The fashion industry had led the way with customer-led omnichannel strategies. Online clothing retailer ASOS and cosmetics brand Charlotte Tilbury are both demonstrating great brand innovation. Check out our report into the top omnichannel retailers.

Improvement and growth

How agile is your current approach? As your business grows, are you able to maintain momentum in the long-term to kick onto the next level?

Space 48 Founder and MD Jon Woodall recently developed an ecommerce lifecycle model, which demonstrates the three stages of growth for most ecommerce businesses. See below:

  • Stage 1 – Start-up and fast growth
  • Stage 2 – Plateauing growth or performance consolidation
  • Stage 3 – Renewed growth by implementing change (i.e. new platforms, features, resources or strategies)

Implementing changes at the right times and being agile enough to foresee the key moments to plan new development projects and strategies is vital in ecommerce. As Head of Ecommerce, you’re in a key role to trigger this renewed business growth.

Learn more with Jon’s overview of the ecommerce lifecycle and three stages of growth.

Platform suitability and migration

Platform migration can be a daunting prospect, as it takes a long time to plan and implement. With such as pivotal decision, you must build a robust business case for a replatforming project.

There are a lot of things to consider, not least the cost of replatforming versus the cost of staying put, plus the time and resources involved.

The cost of replatforming is a common deterrent for business owners, so it’s good practice to consider the signs that your business may need to migrate to a new platform.

Golden rules of ecommerce replatforming

Here are some key indicators of a need to replatform your ecommerce store:

  • Has an increase in traffic caused site performance issues, impacting your customer experience?
  • Does your catalogue database struggle to handle the number of SKUs?
  • Can your in-house IT develop and integrate new ecommerce store features and innovations or do you need a platform with, more compatible integrations?
  • As your product lines expand, does your current ecommerce platform have enough customisation capabilities?
  • Can you effectively combine your databases and reporting on your existing platform?

If you want to learn more, read our blog: The golden rules of ecommerce replatforming. If you’ve already decided on your new platform and need help getting started with the process of migration, get our Guide to Replatforming Your Ecommerce Store.

Get Guide to Ecommerce Replatforming

Optimising ecommerce campaigns

Retail brands must not stand still in today’s (and tomorrow’s) ever-evolving digital landscape. Brand loyalty in ecommerce has been diluted, due to the increased competition online and changing consumer behaviours and social trends. If you want people to keep coming back to your ecommerce website and brand channels, you need to be agile, continually monitor your performance and better understand your customer needs. 

This section focuses on using your data to optimise your ecommerce activity:

Mobile optimisation

Why is mobile optimisation so important? Nowadays, consumers have high expectations for their mobile shopping experience and browsing journey. These heightened consumer expectations mean that retailers must ensure their ecommerce websites are mobile-friendly.

Mobile optimisation for retail

Another reason for optimising your website for mobile is due to Google penalising sites that have bad mobile experiences. 

We’ve outlined some mobile-specific tips and tactics for retailers:

  • Reduce the number of distractions in the route to purchase
  • Focus as much on upsells as mobile browsers make short-term decisions
  • Take a mobile-first approach to AdWords (mobile conversions are much lower than on desktop due browse-now-buy-later trends)
  • Consider your capacity on mobile for personalisation (Nosto can help you create mobile-responsive personalisation 

Mobile browsing behaviours vary depending on industry and product type, so make sure your approach accounts for your particular audience.

Check out our helpful blog on optimising your ecommerce website for mobile:  Ask the expert: the importance of mobile optimisation in ecommerce

Choosing the right channels

Selecting the right channels to drive your ecommerce strategy is a difficult task. It involves considering a number of different factors. Here some common questions that brands ask:

  • Is there a limit to how many paid channels I should use?
  • How can I avoid spreading my budget too thinly across different paid channels?
  • Which are the most effective paid channels?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to these questions, but assessing channel sutibality involves a lot of evaluation.

Our expert Guide to Choosing the Optimum Paid Channels for Your Ecommerce Strategy will help you in your selection process.

Conversion rate optimisation

CRO (or conversion rate optimisation) is a key focus for Heads of Ecommerce, as it’s a key strategy for increasing the performance of one for crucial metrics in ecommerce. Optimising your pages and channels to improve your conversion rate is all about using customer data and behavioural testing to make the changes that trigger customers make a purchase.

Here are some of the key areas to employ CRO tactics 

  • UX design on website pages
  • Personalisation and product recommendation positioning
  • CTA copy, colour and positioning
  • Product descriptions, visuals and user generated content
  • Pop-ups during the route to purchase
  • Customer checkout
  • Social channels
  • Email marketing

If you want some top CRO tactics from our ecommerce experts, we’ve got a handy guide to the must-have strategies to increase ecommerce conversions.

Personalisation and the customer journey

As digital channels and devices become more closely interconnected, consumers now expect more relevant and tailored shopping experiences, both during search on onsite browsing. Retailers are responding with more advanced personalisation strategies, to enhance the customer journey.

ecommerce personalisation tactics

Consider utilising the following criteria for your personalisation: 

  • Customer name and other customer profile details/demographics
  • Previous purchase history
  • Recent browsing history
  • Favourite brands and categories

What about the positioning of your product recommendations? Here are some of the key positions to place your personalised content:

  • Homepage
  • Cart – customers may want to add additional related products to their shopping carts
  • Product page
  • Category page
  • 404 error page
  • Customer account pages
  • Post-purchase order conformation (onsite and emails)

Optimising the positioning of your product recommendations is important, as you don’t want to create distractions from the route to purchase. Read our handy blog on streamlining the checkout process to learn more.

We recently teamed up with one of personalisation partners, Nosto, for an #EcommerceClinic webinar to help brands understand the latest personalisation tactics and trends.

If you want extensive expert advice on rolling out effective personalisation strategy, our Ultimate Guide to Nurturing Customers with Personalisation, should put you on the right path!

Success during seasonal sales periods

In ecommerce, seasonal sales periods and marketing opportunities are a key focus for retailers. These peak seasons offer a chance to capture more customers and ramp up campaigns, to catch consumers when they’re in buying mode and are when they’re more receptive to brand messages.

Xmas marketing ecommerce

We’ve created some great resources to help retailers crush their seasonal ecommerce campaigns. Check them out below: 

The importance of split testing

Split testing is becoming ever more important in ecommerce. Basic A/B testing, such as testing calls to action and email subject line, just scratches the surface. There are so many areas of ecommerce and different variants you can test to make strategic improvements.

Split testing ecommerce strategies

Here are some of the key elements of your ecommerce website to split test:

  • Homepage
  • Category pages
  • Product pages
  • High-volume pages
  • Menu and navigation
  • The positioning of your search feature
  • Shopping cart
  • Checkout process
  • Personalisation and product recommendation positioning

Understand your data and use the split test results to make strategic changes. There are some great tools to support your testing strategy. We recommend Full Story.

Get our split testing best practices to get started or download our Guide to Ecommerce Split Testing and start optimising your ecommerce processes to boost conversions!

Get Guide to Ecommerce Split Testing

Collaboration and compliance

Are you looking to work with a development agency or ecommerce consultancy to help you drive the success of your business this year? Retailers are working with third-party solutions and ecommerce agencies to enhance their strategies, create more innovative experiences for their customers and ensure they are complying with data regulations.

This section covers the importance of collaboration and transparency in ecommerce partnerships and compliance.

Understanding GDPR compliance

GDPR is an EU regulation to unify existing data protection rules and provide more transparency for brands and consumers, to improve the usage of customer data. Retail brands must evaluate their current processes which control the use of personal data, held by their ecommerce platform and by third-parties, and make the required changes by the GDPR compliance deadline (25th May 2018).

So, why is GDPR coming into play? Here are some of the concerns that triggered the rollout of new data protection rules

  • Personal data falling into the wrong hands
  • Current regulations too ambiguous and not fit for purpose
  • Too much misuse of customer data
  • A need to give customers better control of their personal data

We think that whilst brands are aligning their processes with the new regulations, they should approach GDPR compliance as an opportunity to create a better customer experience and a more transparent relationship between brand and customer.

Our handy GDPR blog outlines the key considerations and recommendations for retailers: GDPR in ecommerce: opportunity or pain in the £$$?

Collaboration and transparency

When you’re in embarking on a new ecommerce project with a development agency, the “Discovery” process is where you will scope out the project’s aims, vision and parameters. It’s so important to have a transparent working relationship and collaborative partnership. This enables both brand and agency to be fully aligned with the project’s vision, to ensure the most efficient and effective resolution.

Collaboration ecommerce projects discovery

Work with your partners to outline key milestones and success criteria, assign roles and responsibilities and schedule workshops to get everyone on board with the project.

To learn more, check out our blog: Why a collaborative discovery process is key to ecommerce project success.

If you’re still at the consideration stage around which areas of your business you need to improve and develop, you would benefit from an ecommerce assessment, which will pinpoint the key opportunities for growth and performance improvements: https://www.space48.com/arrange-ecommerce-assessment

Arrange an Ecommerce Assessment

How we can help

Space 48 is in the business of helping retail brands improve and succeed with effective ominchannel commerce strategies. As a leading ecommerce consultancy and website development agency, our experienced retail experts and strategists have enabled countless retailers to supercharge their performance and drive better customer experience across channels.

If you want to learn more about how we help businesses to improve their performance, check out our approach page or take a look at our case studies of the great retailers worked with!

Do you want to see how your current ecommerce performance matches up against the competition? Need to discover where your brand’s current strengths, weaknesses and opportunities are? We offer free ecommerce audits and assessments to retailers – sign up for an ecommerce assessment from our experts now!

Or if you just want to discuss new project or get some 1-2-1 advice, book a free consulting session with our experienced ecommerce experts.

Get a Free Consultation

Our free consultation entitles you to a 30-minute phone call with one of our experienced ecommerce experts. The call will give you a chance to ask questions and discuss current and future projects. Our consultants will assess your brand's current strengths, weaknesses and opportunities, outlining the best approaches to help you improve your ecommerce strategy and increase your retail store performance.

Fill out the form and book a free consulting session with Space 48 now!

We approached Space 48 as we were looking for Magento experts who could create a responsive site.
The team worked closely with us throughout the process and made our vision a reality. The site looks and works just as we hoped – excellent job!
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Rachel Jones Charlotte Tilbury

Having already employed the services of Space 48 to build a site for our Taps brand, there was no question in my mind that they could develop a new site for our main brand.
The site build progressed as planned and was released just prior to our key season and in line with a significant TV campaign. I have been very pleased with the professional approach to the project and would have no hesitation in recommending Space 48!
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