Retailers must elevate ecommerce in order to succeed
~ Senior business figures, including Sir Martin Sorrell
warn web is now critical to retail and brand success ~
~ CEOs must get ecommerce the boardroom respect it needs ~
Senior business figures Sir Martin Sorrell and Sir Tom Hunter are among the leading lights of British business warning retailers to raise their game when it comes to ecommerce.
Among the issues raised by an independent report published today, was an apparent lack of willingness among CEOs to own ecommerce, denying it the strongest voice around the boardroom table.
Independent research commissioned by ecommerce specialist eCommera, found only 30 per cent of retailers' ecommerce operations report in to the CEO. The research suggested this reporting line is critical: of those ecommerce operations reporting growth during 2010, 61 per cent do report into the CEO or the board, while lower performing operations report into the CMO or CIO.
Sir Tom Hunter, CEO of West Coast Capital, said: "CEOs need to take their online sales channel just as seriously as their offline one. Just because they can't actually walk through an online store doesn't mean ecommerce isn't the future of their business. Sadly I suspect many CEOs believe they don’t, can’t and shouldn’t have to ‘get’ the web but this is very much the mainstream now and vital to the success of the business."
"The future of retail is undeniably multichannel – clicks and mortar – and the next real win will be for those that can use the competitive advantage of bricks to combine with the clicks to offer a seamless customer service."
Speaking in central London at the launch of the research, Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP, said: "The most successful retailers of the future will be those who understand profoundly both the physical and virtual channels, yet what we're still seeing is a culture, at the very top of some businesses, where CEOs are failing to understand the web and the opportunities it presents. Ten years ago, perhaps this could be forgiven, but not now."
In more than a quarter (27 per cent) of retailers, ecommerce reports into a line of business, such as finance, marketing or technology.
Andrew McGregor, CEO of eCommera who commissioned the research, said: "The past couple of years have been tough for all retailers. Nobody has had it easy but those fairing best are the companies who are running their ecommerce operations most effectively and taking them most seriously. That means giving ecommerce a seat at the top table."
"The challenges of online are very different to traditional retail but CEOs must understand the web and the unique data their ecommerce operation creates and what it tells them about the ways in which they must refocus and refine their business."