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4 Valuable Learnings from the Online & Digital Grocery Summit UK 2019 por Łukasz Stebelski

4 Valuable Learnings from the Online & Digital Grocery Summit UK 2019

Translating data into action, integration, content and getting started emerge as themes at the UK Digital Grocery Summit


It was a pleasure to participate in the Online & Digital Grocery Summit London last week. A big thanks to Sarah, Richard, and the whole MyDigitalShelf team for organizing the event and hosting eStoreMedia. Over 200 delegates from brands and online retailers attended this year, and it seems to be the ‘must-attend’ event for e-commerce leaders in the UK grocery e‑commerce community.

The event included 15 different presentations, and for me, four key themes emerged to dominate discussions over the course of the day – both from the podium and contributions from the floor. They were:

  • How to translate data into actions.
  • How to integrate the e-commerce ecosystem.
  • Content is still King, & it’s getting richer.
  • Where do we begin?

How to translate data into actions

One of the great things about working in the digital sphere is the availability of lots and lots of data. But, the challenge for Fortune 500 Brands is how to translate all the available data into action, and advantage. Or more fundamentally, how can their organizations adopt and easily use it to drive sales.

As data proliferates, adoption gets even harder. In their sessions, Simon Miles from Coca Cola quoted an estimate that as little as 0.05% of data in the world is used productively, and Google admitted that its still looking for ways to fully leverage voice search data in a way that’s equivalent to how they use desktop or mobile search data..

The financial industry is ahead of the game in this respect, and worth learning from. It is an industry that is ahead in terms of easy to use analytics systems and dashboard views that support decisions that need to be made in fractions of a second.

The approach is an inspiration and role model that we use at eStoreMedia as we strive to make relevant data easily accessible, and instantaneously actionable. For example, our e-commerce analytics platform, eStoreCheck has been simplified from over 200 analytics views three years ago, to focus on a dozen gap-closing views today. Data adoption and system usage have skyrocketed since we made the changes, translating into more immediate actions and faster sales growth for the Brands that we work with.

How to integrate the e-commerce ecosystem

As with the proliferation of data in the e-commerce arena, there is also an abundance of, often isolated, tools and solutions available to brands and product manufacturers. The lack of integration between tools means that e-commerce leaders and brand managers spend too much time acting as ‘interfaces’ between the disparate systems, rather than focusing on building the business.

This is not a new problem. Three years ago, Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer at Procter & Gamble, highlighted the situation, which he said was unsustainable. In a stage interview at the Ad Age Digital Conference in 2016, he encouraged agencies to deliver solutions that removed complexity, to the point of invisibility, for brand builders.

At last week’s conference, Mars Foods’ Denis Murphy pointed out that the limited availability of e‑commerce talent further accentuates the need for automation and integrated solutions. We simply cannot afford to waste such limited resources on manual and repetitive tasks.

eStoreMedia mapped the e-commerce ecosystem and identified 53 processes that are new to brand builders when compared with traditional, offline business. All are needed to deliver e‑Commerce Perfect Store execution. They include Search performance, Content Management, Review tracking, Deals, e-Coupons, and more.

Last week we talked about the first integration of e-commerce analytics and rich content syndication that is already live with our combined eStoreCheck and eStoreContent platform. This is just the beginning for eStoreMedia, and our vision is to enable integrated processes across the e-commerce ecosystem.

Content is still King, & it’s getting richer

Content has always been central to success in the online channel, and it has grown further in importance to the extent that the vision of “e-commerce is a medium” is truly coming to life.

In the offline world, content is important, but it has limited and often siloed functions. Online, content has a much wider, interconnected role to play. It is central to product discovery (driving online store search results), shopper reassurance & conversion (in place of physical product), and brand awareness (web search results, first moment of truth, and digital advertising). The theme was taken up by Amazon’s Paul Hackwell, who talked about how Amazon is transforming brands and the advertising market.  

In many ways, e-commerce is as much about e-marketing as it is about online sales. Rich product page content can go beyond levels of sophistication that in the 1980s could only be achieved by investing in TV advertising.

A question we often ask ourselves at eStoreMedia is where should I put my new online ad first - on my brand website, on my brand YouTube channel or on the Amazon, Tesco or Ocado product page? For the grocery category, the answer to this question is not so obvious anymore.

We’ve seen the sea change already, having worked with more e-commerce-advanced categories, such as consumer electronics and DIY, where deeper, richer content including secondary images, 360 videos, regulated technical specifications,  is commonplace. As the grocery channel accelerates in the online world, all of the above will become more prevalent.

Where do we begin?

Even though the UK is one of the most advanced markets in the world when it comes to grocery e-commerce, many brands are still only getting started. The most common question we were asked at our booth during last week’s event was – ‘where do we begin?’

It’s not surprising – as we have worked with consumer electronics, DIY, fashion and toy brands, as well as FMCG manufacturers over the past five years, we are very aware of the different degrees of e-commerce maturity across categories. The great thing for grocery brands is that they can learn from those that have gone before them.

There is lots of help about, whether it’s the e-Commerce Perfect Store, a blog our CEO recently published on becoming an outstanding e-commerce leader, or events like the Online & Digital Grocery Summit. Don’t hesitate to ask. I know I won’t hesitate to go to the summit when it comes round again next year.


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