Increase its online sales thanks to the skills development of its marketing and sales teams


Currently in many industries, brands see eCommerce as a solution to get by from an economic point of view. While traditional distribution channels are suffering, mainly due to the health crisis, companies are striving to accelerate their online activity. Global eCommerce sales have grown by an estimated 16% over the year 2020. An even more significant increase is expected in the coming years.

For most companies, it is becoming urgent to exploit their e-Retail channel in addition to a direct-to-consumer (D2C) approach, since the latter is unfortunately not suitable for all sectors.

Launching an e-Retail activity involves major transformations

Seizing online sales opportunities is a real challenge and this is particularly true for large companies, whose distribution activity is based on long-standing partnerships with retail brands.. Turning to online commerce impacts the entire value chain: organization, management, logistics, tools, marketing, sales, etc.

Product categories are monitored using an algorithm and daily test-and-learn. Marketing investments can be optimized in real time directly at the reference (SKU), and data analysis can be extended to the successful interpretation of consumer behavior.

To manage these different aspects, organizational and operational changes must be deployed internally. Since the marketing and sales teams are responsible for this e-Retail activity, it is imperative that they develop new skills associated with this sales channel. Areas of knowledge including:

animation of brands on eRetail platforms : how to make its product pages more attractive, improve digital shelving vis-à-vis its competitors or how to design detailed activation schedules

commercial negotiation : how to negotiate counterparties adapted to the digital world (eg data sharing), ensure that adequate price levels are maintained, design joint business plans

performance measurement : how to monitor the right indicators, use the right tools, understand the needs of consumers and adapt their strategies according to

Designing training and skills development programs is today an essential strategic lever for companies wishing to succeed in their transformation in online commerce.

The five golden rules of a successful training to master the ins and outs of digital commerce

Rule # 1: Know where you are and what you need

Your skills development journey begins with a complete audit of the maturity level of your business with online sales:

Strategy : what place does eCommerce occupy in your distribution activity? What are the amounts of the allocated budgets? Why did you opt for an e-Retail approach vs. a direct-to-consumer model?

Operations : what percentage of your sales are made online? How would you rate the quality of your product pages? Is your online visibility satisfactory?

Organization and Process : How many people work directly on this subject and what are their job titles? What is the composition and scope of activity of your global management teams compared to your local teams? Within your marketing / sales teams, who is responsible for negotiations, content, e-trade, media, analytics?

Performance and Tools : Are the teams well equipped to obtain and deploy adequate content on online distribution platforms? Are they able to track business metrics across different resellers and different markets? Do you have access to studies on market trends and consumer behavior?

Talent : What is the level of expertise of the members of your teams regarding these new functions?

Once these questions are answered, you should be able to identify the level of knowledge of your teams, as well as the gaps in your current organization against your target goals. An essential analysis step to be able to launch a complete skills development program.

Rule # 2: involve top management and link the training program to business objectives

Since the skills program is part of a larger transformation plan, it is imperative that it involves top management and reinforces the overall business goals of the company. The skills development course is an opportunity to standardize the ways of working across the different functions and the different markets.

When setting the training agenda, it is important that each of the modules leads to the acquisition of skills, rather than a simple understanding of concepts. Trained people should have in mind the skills they are acquiring, in order to be able to put them in perspective of their overall business objectives.

Training programs often show low effectiveness, as the modules are more geared towards presenting concepts than putting them into practice. It is essential to focus on practical skills and their implementation, than sticking to theory.

Rule # 3: Identify e-Commerce champions internally, especially within marketing and sales teams

The acceleration of e-Retail has impacted most of the value chain and, by extension, multiple functions within companies, such as general management, logistics, legal, IT, marketing , sales… However, some people will have a key impact on your daily e-Retail activity. These people will be your internal e-Commerce champions. For example, it can be e-Kam, e-Business managers, managers of digital activations …

These profiles must be prioritized for eCommerce training around in-depth work sessions and dedicated workshops on themes such as e-Trade marketing and e-Retails negotiations. The other functions will be less directly involved (such as business unit managers, brand managers, members of cross-functional support functions). They will benefit from acculturation to the e-Retail transition, consisting of more generic courses. For example, topics like omnichannel journeys or global eCommerce figures will suffice.

Consumer habits, the type of market players and ways of working naturally differ by region. In Europe, for example, online sales represented 12% of total commerce sales in 2019, while this share was 21% in China according to the Statista study, 2000). For this reason, local adaptation of training is essential. This can be done by calling on local representatives responsible for tailoring the content specifically to their geographic area or by selecting internationally recognized training institutes.

Rule # 4: Value form as much as substance

It is important to combine theory with practice by diversifying training formats. A dual approach with an interactive program is more impactful and effective, using various formats, such as eLearning, workshops, bootcamps, as well as individual training sessions, during which learners can interact with experts in time. real.

A successful skills upgrading program goes through a rigorous educational process, combined with coherent training modules. Indeed, commitment to training is essential and that is why the formats top-down are to be avoided. On the contrary, promote varied and interactive formats (videos, exercises, infographics, testimonials within eLearnings courses, …). It is also important to invite learners to print or download certain formats as a deliverables to manipulate and read. For quality eLearning formats, it is advisable to integrate creatives and UX designers into your project teams.

Regarding the physical sessions, it is recommended to apply Design Thinking methodologies to encourage discussion and the creative process. Learners can then be asked to design real documentation (templates, RACI), which will then be used by teams in their daily activities.

Rule # 5: Measure and support for the long term

After investing the time and resources to design the most appropriate training program for the company’s employees, it is necessary to ensure that the skills will be acquired over time. Long-term support is therefore essential to guarantee the application of good practices. Individual coaching sessions can then be set up as part of the program, and thus provide operational monitoring better spread over time.

This skills development program can trigger the creation of a full-fledged eCommerce community within your organization. Named by internal Champions, it can become a breeding ground for knowledge exchange via experience sharing sessions, meetups, round tables, forums or even competitions.

Finally, in order to assess the business impact of the training program on an organization, it is essential to measure the level of employee engagement via completion and attendance rates, but also the overall return on investment of the program. This is why it is key to define upstream the business performance indicators to be monitored (eg level of sell-out, margin, return on marketing expenses, share of shelf space, etc.). We must also try to isolate the natural growth factors of the industry to assess the real incremental impact of the program (i.e. an index of outperformance in relation to the growth of online sales in the sector of activity in question. ).