Whitney Young of Energizer Holdings: How To Measure the Value of Your Ecommerce Strategy
Written by: Satta Sarmah Hightower
"As a leader, or as just a stakeholder working within an ecommerce team or a digital team, part of your role and responsibility is to educate the broader organization on how the digital shelf works, what it takes to achieve success, [and] where the organization is relative to other internal expectations and even competitors. To do that, we have to set KPIs and measure the value of delivery." — Whitney Young, Senior Director of Global Ecommerce, Energizer Holdings
As the age-old saying goes, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. That’s especially true when it comes to the digital shelf.
But with so much data coming from all directions, it’s often challenging for brands to define the metrics that should guide their ecommerce strategy and how to measure the value of their digital shelf.
Lauren Livak, director of the Digital Shelf Institute, and Whitney Young, senior director of global ecommerce at Energizer Holdings, have collaborated on a framework to help brands develop more effective value measurement.
Here’s what Livak and Young had to say during the webinar about critical key performance indicators (KPIs) for the digital shelf — including why it’s imperative for brands to measure success in their ecommerce strategy.
The Basics of Value Measurement
To effectively measure value, organizations first need to understand what they need to measure, how they need to measure, where they can get the necessary data, how to showcase and affect value within their organization, and how to communicate value to key stakeholders. As ecommerce and digital teams start their measurement journey, they should focus on the business outcomes they’re trying to drive — and the value they’re trying to deliver to their organizations.
"Especially with the digital shelf, there are so many retailers, there are so many requirements, and there are so many different types of success — depending on what you're executing on. You really need to know how to measure [value], what to look at, and how you can pull different levers to really affect that change." — Lauren Livak, director of the Digital Shelf Institute
Value Categories and Areas to Measure
The three categories of value Livak and Young identified are:
Achieving sales and market share growth;
Exceeding market expectations; and
Driving operational excellence and cost optimization.
To measure value within each of these categories, brands can focus on several key areas, including:
Assortment and availability;
Ratings and reviews;
Share of voice;
Though this list isn’t exhaustive, it provides a good starting point brands can use and subsequently tailor to their organization’s unique needs.
Where To Gather Data for Value Measurement
Young says one of the first questions brands need to ask on their measurement journeys is where they can gather relevant data to measure their performance.
"There are so many pieces to consider when you ask yourself this question: 'What internal data sources do I have? What external data sources do I have? Where can I find qualitative data? Where can I find quantitative data? If I already have a data source, are there other sources around that can give me a more comprehensive view?'" she says. "'How do I get to my baseline? What about a current baseline? What about a historic baseline? How do I measure progress?' All of these things may not come from the same data source and are key to considering where you find the data."
Data sources will look different for every organization and for every digital shelf need. It’s also likely the data your brand needs will come from your vendors or other third parties. Whatever the case, doing a data audit is a critical first step.
Young says teams also shouldn’t assume all data is free. They may have to get a budget for data to support their ecommerce strategy. To build a business case for this strategic investment, Young says ecommerce and digital teams should "make sure you explain 'the why' of what the data will show. Help the business and approvers understand what they can't see today and what they'll be able to see in the future."
Driving Your Ecommerce Strategy: How to Measure Value
Livak and Young also defined five key areas to optimize data use for value measurement:
Who owns the data?: Ensure you know who owns each piece of data.
Who owns the measurement?: Determine who is responsible for the data and reporting it out.
What is the reporting cadence?: Based on what you’re measuring, establish and communicate your data, ideally on a quarterly basis.
What are you measuring?: Clearly define what metrics are important and consistently report this information to key stakeholders.
Is this regional or global?: Determine whether you’ll report all global results or roll up into global reporting.
Young adds that defining the scope and frequency of reporting is critical to success. Too much data too often can overwhelm stakeholders and jeopardize their continued engagement and buy-in.
How To Communicate Value
To Young’s point, how ecommerce teams communicate value can make all the difference.
"You often think finding data is hard. Then you think figuring out how to measure it is hard, but personally, I would argue figuring out how to communicate is the trickiest [part]," Young says.
The challenge for most organizations is that stakeholders want information, but often don’t have the time to digest it. To combat this, ecommerce and digital teams should start by determining which pieces of information are best served through email, a dashboard, a scorecard, a live presentation, or a meeting.
"If it needs explanation and you need to explain why, I highly recommend either an upfront training or having a meeting to cover it. If the metrics can stand for themselves, an email or a dashboard can work. Start there, but most importantly, ask for feedback periodically from your stakeholders," says Young, adding that teams should adjust their communications strategy based on this feedback.
Ultimately, communication is all about education. Ecommerce teams have to invest time to provide context and explain what certain metrics mean from certain retailers and marketplaces — whether it’s Amazon, Walmart, or Target. They also need to tailor how they communicate based on the stakeholder group. For example, the executive leadership team may need different context or different reporting in a different format than cross-functional stakeholders.
"As a leader, or as just a stakeholder working within an ecommerce team or a digital team, part of your role and responsibility is to educate the broader organization on how the digital shelf works, what it takes to achieve success, [and] where the organization is relative to other internal expectations and even competitors," Young says. "To do that, we have to set KPIs and measure the value of delivery. That is our method, to educate and communicate."
Getting Started With Value Measurement
Measuring value will require a multifaceted approach, but Livak and Young both suggest it's best to start small and build from there. Here are several best practices they offer for brands:
Start with the retailer that provides the most data: Many brands likely will begin with Amazon, since the platform offers the most comprehensive data.
Focus on geography: If most of your business is in North America, start pulling data for this region. If it’s international, start with the country for which you have the most data.
Get retail- and retailer-specific: Prioritize looking at the data that matters the most for retail — and for the specific retailer you identified at the beginning of the measurement process.
Cultivate buy-in: Get alignment from leadership and cross-functional stakeholders by giving them a preview of the data and delivery mechanism, such as a dashboard or scorecard.
Fill your data gaps: Get data from internal and external partners, such as agencies and vendors.
Wash, rinse, and repeat: Follow this exact process for other retailers.
Track performance: Measure your progress, test and learn, and adapt your strategy.
"Bringing [stakeholders] with you on [this] journey and making sure leadership understands those metrics and are on board for measuring those is really important before you launch more broadly," Young says.
Measuring value takes time and effort, but by effectively deploying data, aligning to business outcomes, and communicating with and educating key stakeholders, ecommerce teams will position their organizations to conquer the digital shelf.
For more of Livak and Young’s insights on digital shelf KPIs, listen to this recent episode of "Unpacking the Digital Shelf."