Industry experts, with their wealth of experience, are the best people to guide online retailers on which opportunities to grab, paths to avoid, and challenges to fight to stay competitive in today’s eCommerce sector.
Through our CRO Insights Series, we bring to our readers the wealth of experience and expertise of retail and industry leaders who talk about the latest trends and the future of eCommerce. This month, in our 14th post of the series, we talk to Giovanni Pollarolo of AYBL Group.
Giovanni is the head of eCommerce at AYBL group, comprising women’s gym wear brand AYBL and the female fashion brand Boa. The group aims to expand and acquire more brands in the future.
As a part of this role, he manages a team of experts in eCommerce, CRM, data analysis, and merchandising.
Giovanni previously worked in digital marketing and eCommerce agencies and has a strong background in marketing and consumer behaviour. He has led eCommerce for top brands like D1Milano and Lounge Underwear.
Originally from Italy, Giovanni moved to the UK for studies and built a successful career in eCommerce here. Let’s hear what he has to say about today’s eCommerce landscape.
A shift in consumer behaviour post COVID-19 is prominent on our brands. It has become harder to gauge user interest and what type of entry points customers use to interact with websites. Their journeys have become more fragmented and less linear.
It is difficult to catch users’ attention now as they are warier about pricing changes and marketing strategies by brands. As a result, our direct campaigns have a lesser impact on customers today.
Due to the integration of offline outlets and online presence, brands cannot seem to focus on a specific niche. And with several new brands going online, the space has become more crowded and competitive.
In terms of diagnosing existing problems, we use a data-led approach. We use data through our CRM and data analytics platforms to analyse user behaviour at the market level and store level. We also try and lead with our experiences and be as flexible as possible to adapt to market changes and shifts.
We gauge how diverse types of audiences interact with our websites and products through qualitative and quantitative research. Which we then use to inform changes in our UX design, product merchandising, and marketing campaigns.
Therefore, our focus is on improving both our products and website usability.
Along with this, we ensure a continuous cycle of improvements through A/B testing. So, we try as much as possible to foresee problems and test them before they occur.
The overcrowding of most industries, especially online, is becoming a big problem for brands. Further, as competition grows, customer acquisition and marketing costs have skyrocketed.
We also saw how internationalisation was a big problem for brands during COVID-19. Many brands, especially in the fashion industry, faced shipping problems, which led to a rise in shipping costs and affected business profit margins.
Also, there are technological gaps in a lot of areas. Many third-party solutions and software—whether ERP, CRM solutions or any other analytics software that could support brands—do not seem to be at par with the levels of growth, information, and data brands need nowadays.
More often than not, these platforms do not integrate as seamlessly as they should be. And when such integrations are available, they come at a much higher cost to brands. Therefore, the barrier to entry is high for several mid-level brands, making it almost impossible for them to reach their goals.
Brands should leverage opportunities that will help them capture extra market share, such as increased availability and distribution of their products in the international market. Being able to offer a high level of customer support and customer experience in other countries, and not just in their home market, could be a big advantage.
For instance, at AYBL we are looking into the European and the US markets in terms of distribution to offer free returns and one-day delivery to customers. So, I think collaborations with companies that can facilitate their international presence will be a massive opportunity for brands.
In terms of technologies, I think brands should use data in their day-to-day decisions.
In my experience working with different brands and agencies in the past, I have seen a lot of eCommerce brands that are not as data-led as they should be. Hence, brands should tap into this potential a bit more.
Moreover, video content, augmented reality, and current trends on social media—moving from Instagram and Facebook to TikTok, for example—are some important trends brands should pay attention to.
Overall, I think the technological and distribution gap as the biggest significant opportunities for the majority of brands in the eCommerce space at the moment.
At AYBL, we are constantly trying to be at the forefront by planning and executing ahead of time. We try to foresee problems before they come, using data to investigate the possible opportunities that our brands can reach in the next 5 and 10 years.
While we are strict with our goals and the way we want to push the brand forward, we also see our team and our brand as flexible.
We have a fantastic team that helps us tackle problems as they come. And many brands lack the sort of resilience and flexibility required to stay on top of the game. Being agile is necessary in today’s world because we have seen during COVID-19 how unpredictable our digital environment and our users can become.
That apart, technological changes are so fast paced that being stuck in our ways will not help!
This is the fourteenth post of a series of posts where we speak to eCommerce and retail experts to dive into the future of digital growth. Check out our previous interviews with Simon Bagel of The White Company, Michael Parker of Frasers Groups, David Kohn of Heal’s, and others.