Partner Marketing & Commerce
“There are no excuses anymore – Digital Commerce is essential for any and every business.”
What impact does COVID-19 have on commerce in general?
"We’re seeing a big push towards commerce as a result of COVID-19. This is quite obvious for B2C when you are in a lockdown or social-distancing situation and your clients can’t visit your point of sale. But what is more important is the mind-shift we see in our clients and end customers – and this is valid for both B2C and B2B. It is like the bursting of a dam; even companies and end customers which were originally resistant to Digital Commerce are now thinking about jumping on the train."
What are opportunities and challenges that arise from COVID-19 for companies in eCommerce?
"Before answering, I would like to say that there are way more opportunities than challenges. The opportunities are clearly that there is a dramatic increase in the acceptance of Digital Commerce in society. This will foster both small businesses – like your mom-and-pop store around the corner to big production companies going direct-to-consumer.
The major challenge is rushing into Digital Commerce within weeks. This is more than building a (software) shop, it is also logistics, warehousing, picking, call centers, social media presence, SEO/SEA and a ton of backend processes. And – most importantly – it’s answering the question 'Why should a customer buy in my online shop?'"
Are there any new commerce business models, partnerships and channels that gained importance due to COVID-19?
"We are seeing and are part of some COVID-19 related speed-up campaigns, which we launched together with e.g. SAP or Salesforce, to cure the immediate pain of our clients caused by the closing of local stores. However, in this post-lockdown phase we have to get back to basics and convert these pop-up online shops into sustainable business models for the future."
How do you respond to the changes in commerce regarding the market offering?
"To be very honest, I do not see a dramatic change in the market offering.
Yes, more clients are asking us for support, and also yes, the digital maturity of these clients is a bit lower than before – since they never thought about going online before. But this is essentially our job as consultants, to especially support these clients in speeding up and gaining maturity quickly. This was our job before, and it has not changed."
How do you approach the challenges arising from COVID-19?
"Our challenges are mostly the challenges everyone has. We are limited on travel, so we cannot see our clients as often as we would like. Our employees are facing private issues if schools or kindergartens are temporarily closed. But since March, we have developed a very good routine in doing our job with these limitations in place.
We are heavily using video conferencing with very limited personal contact with clients – only if they are open for it, if the project needs it, and if it is safe to do so. Our software development was already organized remotely before, so we did not have changes there, it just goes on. For our offices, we offer team-based shift models on a voluntary basis (so everybody can stay at home, if they prefer). In a nutshell, we learned to live with it."
How do you support clients in reinventing their commerce business models?
"This really depends on the client’s situation. Do they already have an online shop? Is it B2B or B2C? What do they want to achieve in terms of clients, revenue, margin or customer experience? Did they already do the upfront work, such as creating a business model, persona definition, end-customer interviews – just to name a few. So in general, we ask the question – as mentioned above – 'Why should someone buy in your shop?' and if the answer isn’t clear, we know that we have to dig a bit deeper together."
Who is more affected by COVID-19: B2B or B2C, and why?
"B2C is affected more, since these customers were directly affected by the lockdowns and are now preparing for a second wave or local outbreaks. B2B is affected by two drivers: companies relying on a travelling sales force feel the same pain as the B2C clients since this force was locked down as well. The other B2B clients are more driven by the overall social enablement that digital commerce is now the way forward."
Can you tell us about a project where you helped the client develop an eCommerce strategy with purpose?
"A year ago we were contacted by a firm that wanted to re-implement their existing online shop to roll it out worldwide. It is B2B which sells to local dealers, and we were invited to a typical software implementation RfP. During the RfP phase we learned that the major questions (the why) had not been answered. This is a big danger for these projects, especially when you are already in the project delivery phase and suddenly have to tackle groundbreaking business questions, you lose a lot of time and money.
So we asked the client to do a very lean Digital Commerce Strategy phase upfront – just a small series of workshops. With this, we were able to start the right discussion about the goals they want to achieve and why these goals are important for the company. After this we could really start the delivery phase, which is now running very smoothly."