April 6, 2020
Blockers and failures of digital transformations in eCommerce – Martin Himmel | eCommerce Talks #3

Blockers and failures of digital transformations in eCommerce – Martin Himmel | eCommerce Talks #3

Divante presents eCommerce Talks for
industry experts share their insights about the ever-changing world of
e-commerce, today we’ll be talking with veteran ecommerce consultant Martin Himmel Okay thank you for joining us one more time you guys we have a special
episode today and a special guest we’re going to talk about something we don’t
usually talk which is about little more of failures we’ll be talking about a lot
of successful companies and successful experiences and for that today we have
Martin Himmel which is the founder and the managing director of ECOM Consulting
Thank You Martin for joining us today Thank you for having me Martin you are
easily an expert on e-commerce and retail online offline you know what’s
going on in the world and we wanna focus this time on why companies are not
making it why companies that they’re investing a lot of money into trying to
transform themself and transform their e-commerce platforms and it’s not
working what could be the main reasons You know
there are a lot of reasons to be honest and one of the biggest reasons and
something that is often left behind is the culture as Peter Drucker said
culture eats strategy for breakfast which is absolutely true especially in
the digital world which is very very fast-moving so often it’s the marketing
department launching I don’t know some kind of e-commerce focused approach or
strategy or whatsoever completely leaving out the rest of the company and
this has some some really severe issues often like yeah say it’s people asking
hey what about my sales commission if you’re talking about b2b for example or
people that have the feeling to be really left behind because communication
is not happening and all this information internally is not going
around that people are not knowing what is going on at the moment how is the
company really transforming so that’s really one of the biggest blocks why
such things fail it’s really the culture and on the other
hand it’s often also regarding the processes because often systems are
implemented but the processes are completely left behind when marketing
for example introduces some kind of PIM-system product information management
system but nobody is talking about where does all these information come from who
is responsible for creating or updating product information so you don’t have
the current information in for example a shop or app or CRM or whatsoever so it’s
often also about getting the processes right and really having a more process
orientated form of working and not department by department because if
you’re talking about digital sides it’s about product life cycle it’s about
customers life cycle it’s about order life cycles it’s not one department that
is handling for example all the product information of course it’s the
researchers it’s the product managers it’s the purchase department it’s a
sales department it’s a marketing department It’s like copmlete transformation Yeah absolutely I mean we talked with a lot of people that always think of this is just a tech
transformation Yeah it’s not It’s much more It’s not yeah it’s absolutely it’s like
the iceberg metaphor it’s what happens above the surface so to say is the
system’s but what is below the surface is much much more it’s about information
it’s about processes it’s about getting people really on board and explained and
that ecommerce digital business will not harm them
but support them in the daily business if you think about a salesperson for
example who has a far far easier job if it’s supported by the proper CRM
software or sales automation software or giving the customer the possibility to
order for example late at night if you talk about self-employeds instead of
having to call a salesperson but really combining those things that’s the key
and getting people on board and getting people to understand yes
it’s a support it’s not a threat but it’s really support in my daily
business this is when when it’s really successful and often this is
forgotten and left behind and this is when you have various inside the
company when technically everything is okay everything is fine everything’s
perfect the system is right the agency has done a good job for example but if
you leave behind the culture and approach processes it will be really
really hard on daily business For sure failure – Yeah absolutely – Now when people
comes to ECOM Consulting and when obviously you guys have a range of
different ways to help Yeah it’s true But when it’s the time that companies
come is it usual the companies are desperate because something went wrong
or they’re smart enough to come in a very very early stage Yeah it depends
it really really depends often a digital transformation also starts for
companies that are looking for a specific system or seem to have made up
their mind what they really need but often they don’t so um it’s also our
part and our task to really yeah make them rethink their decision or make them
think for whatever reason they need a system and often it’s not the system
that they need but the strategy or thought about culture and process as
explained so in an ideal world they come to us when they’ve realized that they
cannot make this decision alone and they don’t realize how deep and profound this
transformation is but on the other hand there are a lot of companies really
coming when it’s already gone wrong they’ve introduced Try to fix it yeah Yeah absolutely absolutely come and fix it and make some magic happen so to say Do you think are there certain step or the you’ve ever faced a company that
was so like you made so many bad decisions that you guys just couldn’t
help or there is always something they can do I’m thinking companies that they
feel oh my God we’re so screwed Yeah often they don’t realize that there are
services available like our company is providing that’s really
can help on those ways and those decisions but if they do
there’s always a possibility to help and often it’s about talking to people
and really also asking what could go better from your perspective from
your opinion right and this is always the first step to really approach a
profound change and make people understand why things are done make
people understand the reason behind introducing a system not to have
additional work but we have a better customer experience work more efficient
and so on and so on so yes there’s always the possibility to really help or
provide help That’s cool that’s cool Now I mean we live and I want to go a little
more technical we’re living in the world that PWA’s and microservices I mean that we
the offer for e-commerce is just massive what are the tools that you really
see thriving like the tools that they’re really gonna stick
around because they’re good and other buzzwords Yeah what you often experience
when it comes to companies wanting to realize ecommerce strategies is that
they have some kind of ERP which is good and which also the IT department is
used to to live in and think in and to centralize information which is
basically good but often it’s not possible for an ERP for example to
realize a retail or b2c strategy if you’ve ever done b2b before right
because the customer journey is different people ask other questions
people need other information people I don’t know sent goods back want to
refund use different payment methods and so on and so on so often ERP systems
come to an end and often ERP systems are not built for a fast-moving digital
world so it’s very very important to have something that is helping you to
get along with this rapid transformation because marketplaces are
involving marketplaces are closing down you want to achieve
yeah or want to reach out for different custom groups for example on different
channels and so on and so on and often you have this fast-moving world and this
this brick which is called an SAP or is called Microsoft Dynamics or whatsoever
so this is really what companies are struggling with and this
is something you can solve not by inventing an online shop because an
online shop is or a shop system is representing your goods or making
turnover making sales possible as easily as possible for the customer so
this is only a sales window but all this process logic that is needed for
e-commerce is quite different from this traditional work that a lot of
manufacturers or retailers are still living in this is why this step online
is from a technical perspective so massively hard for a lot of companies
that we work and there are tools like automanagement systems process
automation systems for example that can really help be it I don’t know tools
like commerce tools where you can build front-ends upon or have tools like I
don’t know Frontastic for example the Vue Storefront or PWA approaches that
really make it possible to have on the one hand very very flexible front and
customizable front and easily adjustable front-ends without having to plan with
the agency for 20 to 30 days but simply building up let’s say a landing page
yeah for a specific campaign right and to connect this with the ERP on
the other hand which can work in the way it’s used to and it has been working for
10 to 20 years with the default processes so it doesn’t matter where a
sale is coming from if it’s from offline or from online the processes are
basically the same but this connection thing let’s call it like that
is one of the key success factors I would say Now if you’re in the consulting side you know that some people listen
some people don’t That’s true From of the examples of if
you have to choose two examples of companies that listen to not just you
guys but to the ecosystem and the companies that didn’t end lost like what would be
good examples of the companies that they’re doing great companies that they’re not Yeah
companies that are doing great is like if you think about Auto for example in
Germany they have yeah sub companies like ABOUT YOU for example but also
other companies online pure players and so on and so on in the
universe and simply let them do their business and let them make it
whatever is good or whatever is helping to master this digital
journey right what they’ve realized okay this there’s a big growing traditional
culture on the one hand in the mother so to say but this digital world is so
rapidly changing and we need to have bridges built between one another and
this is not realizable in and let’s say the big traditional company right so
that’s one way of listening or a good example that you have in
Germany for companies that are really listening on the other hand
there’s one of our customers he’s in the in the fashion business
a traditional manufacturer are always selling to stores selling to
wholesale for example where you have both the stores and the wholesale
declining right and that’s a company who really try to understand the
customer by doing direct business direct sales and the result is that they’re
growing online by ninety percent year near that’s one thing and the other
thing is that offline is really profiting from the online activities
because the retail business is rising again the wholesale business is rising
again because the demand is higher because the brand awareness because of
those online activities out of understanding the customers
and learning the right lessons is increasing and that’s really really an amazing
example That sound an optimistic view too they’re some positive that companies
actually may be finally listening to the customers before they make decisions
which is probably one of the more the wisest thing to do I mean retail is always about listening to the customer and getting
along with trends or in the demand in general and there are so many
examples of big companies also in Germany like for example Neckerman who
didn’t listen or Corelli big big retailers in Germany who finally went
bankrupt who also discovered at a later stage that their ERP is too old and
too inflexible to get along with the digital world if it’s yeah importing
product data listing product data calculating prices getting
along with the automanagement or whatsoever so yeah Martin to close
our failure set and actually more than failure it was more an optimistic
chat if you need to if you have to recommend to a podcast and the book that
they could help people to get to where they want to be what it would be
and it’s hard question Absolutely it’s really really a
hard question in Germany we have two really good podcasts it’s “Exciting
commerce” on the one hand and on the other hand cousin Tony it is called by
Alexander Gough which are always a source of also critical views on what is
happening in the retail it’s Roman Zonner’s shop tech blog which is always
worth listening or reading because you get a lot of views and interviews also
on trends in commerce We had him at the show So I don’t have to tell you so that’s
that’s really yeah One of the people that you need to get to The source of inspiration absolutely
yeah I’m glad you had him in here No it was yeah it was a pleasure for us and thank you for
everybody for watching and I hope we’ll see you again next time thank you Martin thank you for having me

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