19% of leaders now use a "democratized" eComm structure, up 20% from last year, according to Profitero's latest eCommerce benchmark study. This means eComm responsibilities — whether it’s auditing the digital shelf, managing content, buying retail media or educating retailers — are distributed throughout the marketing and commercial teams rather than centralized in one specialized team. In short, eCommerce dropped the “e” and is now just Commerce.
This transition to a democratized structure can be driven by a number of factors, but one thing is certain: eCommerce democratization is hard. It requires a disciplined approach to change management even the most agile brands struggle with.
Here are 5 questions every brand leader should ask to ensure a successful democratic transition:
1. Is democratization good for all?
eComm democratization may not be suitable for all markets and businesses as they mature at different paces. Survey and assess readiness, as a market with low online sales may be less ready; B2B business units may be less ready than B2C divisions.
Learn how Hero Group democratizes data:
2. Are we clear about the Jobs To Be Done?
Before assigning eComm responsibilities to new people, you must re-write job descriptions and restructure how they organize their time. For sales and brand teams, create playbooks for auditing the digital shelf and developing content.
3. Do we have the right incentives?
10% of companies haven't defined specific eComm KPIs and goals down to the functional level. Incentives are crucial because behavior follows them, and change management will fail if people can't see what's in it for them.
4. What (and who) must stay in the center?
Democratizing eComm responsibility does not mean doing away with Centers of Excellence. It simply means that center-led roles shift from day-to-day tactics to strategic initiatives like driving eComm-first innovation or pioneering shoppable media. Since roles and ownership can get confusing, create clear RACI guidelines to avoid dropping balls.
5. Do we have the right talent?
You need different types of leaders in the early “entrepreneurial stages” of eComm versus the later stages, where it’s about integrating into the core business. And you may need to upgrade your Swiss Army-knife generalists for more T-shaped specialists.
Profitero’s Commerce Advisory team can help guide you through the most daunting digital transformation challenges. We offer flexible solutions that include: retail readiness assessments, RACI models & playbooks, talent assessments and learning & development.
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