Improving IT & online marketing integration

Improving IT & online marketing integration

Original posted by  Robert Koornneef on Wed, Mar 21, 2012

After visiting several clients to discuss further optimization of their business I noticed that managing an e-store is not always as easy as expected. When analyzing e-store launches, we noticed that a lot of attention was given to topics like:

  • Web design, web functionality, (international) payments solutions, legislations and tax and customer support.
  • The (IT) project management for development until the close of the hypercare period was going smoothly.
  • Outlining roles and responsibilities for maintaining the e-Store.

However, when the monthly results of the online sales figures were reported, it was noticed that the goods sold were not in line with the forecast. But why does this happen?

Process integration
As mentioned in one of my earlier blogs the interaction between sales, online marketing and IT is critical to become successful in the online world. It is essential that the processes between these functions are linked and where possible are integrated. Several international consultancy/analysts firms have been reporting on the importance of integration of e.g. online marketing in relationship with successful management of an online store.

Most organizational structures do not encourage communications between departments, as the reporting lines are often not in line with the process structure. Therefore it is preferred to implement functional processes that enforce the communication between the different organizational teams. This could be done with a matrix organization or a temporary project structure with sufficient mandate to implement change. When those procedures, communication and reporting are clearly defined and managed it will help to achieve the objectives and provide the mechanism to steer and align activities.

Organizational implementation
If we examine existing e-store implementations we notice that a clear split has been made for the operational functions. What frequently is seen is the following organizational implementation:

  • e-Commerce shop management function is (part-time) performed by the client
  • IT Web store management is outsourced to an external party
  • Payment processing mostly outsourced to a specialized provide
  • Customer services is performed by the same or another external party
  • Fulfillment is performed by the same or another external party

What is being noticed is that even having a fabulous designed web store that is technically functioning superb it is no guarantee for success. If your website can not be found online by your potential customers the success will be limited. Therefore the importance of the eCommerce shop management function is vital for launching and maintaining a successful web store.

Requirements for sourcing models
To ensure that e-commerce shop management will contribute significantly, it is a valid option to have an experienced/specialized party involved to do the set-up of the shop management function. Based on their knowledge and use of supporting tools/techniques they can do the initial set-up and implementation of this function. When your own organization wants to and is capable of performing this function on its own, the sourcing contract needs to be flexible enough to provide you with the opportunity to do so without any impact to the other contracted eCommerce services.

Suggested E-2-E communication model
To ensure that the integration of on and offline channels is secured it is desirable to have periodic alignment sessions. During these sessions a check is performed on brand strategy, strategic marketing planning and related items.

Suggested E-2-E communication model
The online marketing function is more and more an integrated part with the other (technical) functions needed to support an e-commerce solution.

When outsourcing an e-commerce solution, it is preferred to have the possibility included in the sourcing contract, to insource/re-source the online marketing function. You should have the flexibility to do this without jeopardizing the other services in the contract.

How is your online marketing function organized?