What is Digital Retailing? Part One: Organization

Somebody who works in the E-commerce industry recently told me they have trouble explaining Digital Retailing to others. Because it’s still a fairly new concept to consumption, I, too, used to have trouble explaining Digital Retailing to others. Of course, when somebody hears the phrase Digital Retailing, they think online sales, and that’s pretty accurate. However, I’d like to speak about Digital Retailing at a higher level, as though I had to explain strategies to the Shark Tank.

I started to think about what exactly it is that I’m doing to help businesses succeed with a digital presence. I know having a proper Digital Retailing strategy is a must. And I know that my effort, skills, and knowledge provide results such as increased ROI and leads, but for a while I couldn’t explain how these elements help in an easy phrase. Then, I came up with a sentence, somewhat of an elevator pitch, that I feel clearly explains how I view Digital Retailing:

Digital Retailing involves creating a properly organized, efficient, scalable, and engaging digital presence.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to break down each element from the above phrase and explain why I feel they’re important to every company’s Digital Retailing presence. Please keep in mind that a majority of my experience and skills have been developed from Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Online Merchandising.

Organization

Working with SEM has made it clear to me that a digital presence must absolutely be well organized. Because I work at an agency, I get the incredible opportunity to work closely with a variety of departments, allowing me to get hands-on experience with how research and tasks are completed across all departments. My favorite department to hover around is development.

A partnership between search marketers and web developers works in everyone’s favor. Developers have shown me how important the organization of a project architecture must be in order for the project to function properly, ideally, and to be prepared for future updates or progressions in technology. Working with developers also introduced me to a better and more organized workflow, utilizing Version Control Systems and regular expression to make my life easier as a technical SEO (and probably so I don’t have to bother a developer for a simple change to a .htaccess or robots.txt file). In my experience, digital marketers commonly make the decision on what the hierarchical structure of categories and navigation should be, along with addressing canonical decisions and proper content organization and strategies.

Of course, having a background in search and definitely a more business oriented individual, I can’t leave out all of the organization that must go into an effective digital marketing campaign. Whether you’re working with SEO, PPC, Display, Social, or other, you’re going to accumulate A LOT of data. I’ve found the best way to handle all of that data is to develop outstanding organization skills. Once you have a solid strategy for organizing and researching, stick to it! That’s the only way you’ll keep your sanity. If you’re working with a team, make sure everybody is using the same techniques for research and data gathering. This will ensure data is kept consistent when passed around between coworkers and clients.

Another commonly overlooked aspect of Digital Retailing organization is brand consistency across channels. This includes displaying accurate content through all areas of the online landscape, including: phone numbers, website address, contact emails, promotions, descriptions, etc. As retailing moves more towards an omni-channel approach, brand consistency and organization will only become more important when delivering an optimal user experience.