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    August 7, 2023

    Chris Perry and Oskar Kaszubski of firstmovr: Why Empowering Ecommerce Teams Is Just As Critical as Boosting Ecommerce Performance Metrics

    Written by: Satta Sarmah Hightower
    “Organizations need to really understand that this is the time we need to upskill. We need to really understand how to enable the entire organization to help them go from a regular world to an AI-powered world.”
    — Oskar Kazsubski, Chief Growth Officer and Co-Founder, firstmovr

    When it comes to driving success on the digital shelf, building the right technology stack and tracking the right ecommerce performance metrics are only part of the equation. 

    Brand manufacturers also must empower their people.

    Organizational enablement is one of the most effective ways brands can advance their ecommerce maturity, according to chief growth officers and co-founders Chris Perry and Oskar Kazsubski of firstmovr, a leading commerce education and change management consultancy. 

    Last year, the firm released the “Sheared: Shedding Your Coat of Corporate Conformity in the Age of eCommerce” report, which explored the main barriers that hinder digital transformation for brands. firstmovr recently released a 2023 edition of “Sheared” that focuses on the factors and capabilities that will accelerate brands’ ecommerce maturity.

    Perry and Kazsubski joined a recent episode of the “Unpacking the Digital Shelf” podcast, “8 Factors for Maturing Ecommerce,” to discuss one of these factors: organizational enablement. Here’s their take on why the road to digital shelf success for brands starts with having the right organizational structure and talent.

    The Barriers That Hold Brands Back

    Though brands face a variety of challenges as they try to advance their digital maturity, measurement and organizational enablement are two of the main barriers they face, Perry and Kaszubski say.

    But measurement is about more than just attribution. It’s also about measuring your ecommerce readiness as an organization. 

    “We are what we measure, we are what we do. One of the challenges today is that traditional leaders who kind of avoided omni[channel] and ecomm — maybe not on purpose — but avoided it because it wasn't their job, have stayed in a harbor,” says Perry, who serves as firstmovrr’s chief learning officer. “They stayed safe in this harbor not sailing the seven seas of tumultuousness that was out there disrupting [ecommerce]. The problem is we need their expertise and their maturity applied to this tumultuous sea coming at us.”

    Perry argues leaders need to evolve their expertise because both ecommerce and their business have matured. This means it's vital for brands to onboard new tools and capabilities and upskill their workforce to better support digital shelf transformation.

    Empowering Employees With Artificial Intelligence (AI)

    Kaszubski says empowering ecommerce teams has become a necessity because of the rapid pace of technological innovation, particularly with artificial intelligence (AI). 

    AI is set to transform work as we know it, so employees will need to become more comfortable with the technology and adept at how to apply it to their everyday work.

    “The number one issue is not only ecommerce, we also have AI now coming into the fold. So, the challenge we actually have is that, in terms of change management, we almost have to make a double jump. Organizations need to really understand that this is the time we need to upskill. We need to really understand how to enable the entire organization to help them go from a regular world to an AI-powered world,” he says.

    Though there are rightfully concerns about AI, the best move for organizations isn’t to ban the technology, but rather to figure out how to capitalize on it to increase their efficiency and productivity and boost their competitive advantage. Kaszubski says AI can be particularly powerful in ecommerce because of the technology’s scalability, allowing organizations to supercharge their processes and systems — whether it be product content optimization or customer personalization. 

    “Fundamentally, this is something that we can actually push forward as a narrative within the organization, but we have to be open-minded to it,” Kaszubski says about AI.

    Setting SMART Goals To Accelerate Digital Shelf Transformation

    Along with optimizing the use of AI, brands need to level up their ecommerce strategy, with a greater focus on defining what growth means to them.

    Perry says it’s key for organizations to develop specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, time-bound (SMART) strategies and goals.

    Based on firstmovr’s experience consulting clients, Perry says many companies often set goals that are too broad or solely focused on achieving specific ecommerce performance metrics. 

    They may say their goal is simply “growth,” “to win on the digital shelf,” or to grow ecommerce sales 22% year over year (YOY), but what’s missing from these goals is “the how,” “the why,” and more importantly, a very specific “what.”

    Perry says it’s crucial for brands to clearly define their growth goals. For example, they can use a framework to diagnose their growth gaps or opportunities based on households, trips, and baskets and define what levers to pull to improve these metrics.  

    “Those are growth goals. ‘I want to increase my basket because I already have lots of consumers coming in and I get decent trips, but I want to expand the dollars per trip,’” Perry says by way of example. “Or ‘I have a highly repeatable product, but it's a vitamin, but they only take it two times. They only buy two and I could increase it to 12, so I have this huge upside.’ So, it's really thinking about those growth goals and then the building blocks towards those goals and designing around the capabilities.”

    Making the Right Investments To Drive Growth

    Perry and Kaszubski say brands must make the right strategic investments to drive ecommerce growth.

    A major part of this effort is making resource investments to organize their teams in the most optimal way. While the right org structure will differ for every company, Perry says some brands have found it effective to structure their teams around specific capabilities, such as the digital shelf or retail media. Others are finding success by bringing teams together more holistically around shared objectives and ecommerce performance metrics.

    Kaszubski adds that brands also need to build a comprehensive strategic plan, with a particular emphasis on product content, availability, growth gaps and their competitors’ weaknesses — not just the traditional profit & loss (P&L) metrics.

    “What I'm basically saying is, ‘Hey, let's actually build a plan, a very nuanced plan end-to-end.” — Oskar Kazsubski, Chief Growth Officer and Co-Founder, firstmovr

    Developing a Mature, Digitally Enabled Ecommerce Organization

    Coming out of three years of disruption and more than a decade of ecommerce evolution, companies must now determine how to future–proof their business.

    Technology will play a critical role in their transformation, but so will their people. Brands must skillfully marry tools, people, and processes to advance their ecommerce maturity. By doing so, they can create a high-performing ecommerce organization that meets consumers’ expectations, maintains its competitive edge and thrives both on and off the digital shelf.  

    To hear more of Perry and Kaszubski’s insights on empowering ecommerce teams, listen to the full episode.