The world as we know it has shifted. Whether we realize it or not, we’ve found ourselves on the path of ‘The Hero’s Journey’, but why is that relevant to business and what does that have to do with ecommerce? The Hero’s Journey is a classic narrative structure that’s shared by stories the world over. It consists of 3 parts that represent a monomyth that we can observe in most, if not all, cultures. For that reason it outlines a process that is relevant to the entire human family. It’s no secret that adverse conditions provoke change. In fact, some of the most ingenious solutions were produced in times of great strain, I mean, whoever heard of a breakthrough without first having a problem!? Whilst change can create the ideal circumstances to begin a new venture let’s be honest about the good, the bad, and the ugly that lead to innovation.
The hero or protagonist lives in the ordinary world and receives a call to go on an adventure. The hero may resist the change initially, but is ultimately forced to make a critical decision: embark on the adventure or forever remain in the illusion of security.
The world has been shaken by the novel coronavirus and amidst these global tides of change, it has become evident that we’ll most likely face lasting effects. We’re already seeing disruption in the short to medium term; retailers are shut, payment schedules are interrupted, supply chains are straining, employment arrangements are in question, public life is restricted, debt levels are rising, and the end of the pandemic is not yet in sight.
To help us understand the route ahead, let’s take a look at a few of the markers:
- Ecommerce has grown 25% from March 13-15 compared to the baseline period of March 1-11.
- Amazon is turning away shipments of “non-essentials” to FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon) warehouses. This decision has affected 53% of Amazon sellers, preventing them from shipping products to their customers.
- In March online orders for home delivery and click-and-collect reached double-digit growth across Southern Europe.
- Surveys indicate that 80% of consumers will return to shop non-essentials online in 2020.
- By 2022, the projected number of D2C ecommerce buyers will reach a milestone, at 103.4 million.
Initiations on The Road of Trials
The hero sets out on the road where he must begin facing a series of trials and tribulations until he defeats the main obstacle or enemy. The hero’s ability to identify obstructions on their path and align with supporters along the way is critical to the mission’s success.
The markers indicate that it is time for many businesses to make some critical decisions so that they might adapt. Lockdowns around the world have brought ecommerce into the spotlight and so it seems that we may be on the road to online sales, but preparedness is essential.
What the trends have taught us so far:
- Relying on platforms like Amazon can have a downside. If third party sellers can’t deliver, because of disrupted supply chains, disgruntled sellers, delivery delays, and warehouse infections then the previously loyal customer might just as well shop at the general store down the block that will deliver in a better time frame. This customer may feel good about supporting their local business, enjoy the human interaction (rare these days), or appreciate creating less of a negative environmental impact.
- People and businesses are moving to work more remotely. ‘Work flexibility’ could incite a major course change, impacting a multitude of industries from travel, to furniture, to online tools, therefore, reshaping the overall geography of business spending.
- Businesses using marketing and media channels to engage with their audiences and communities, even when sales are not possible, will ensure brands ‘stay close’ to their customer base whilst the rest of the world is ‘social distancing’.
- Direct sales from a brand’s own website will be a powerful strategy as this allows businesses to have all the levers at their disposal (i.e. logistics, marketing, web design, customer journey, and payment processes) including the ability to autonomously implement temporary solutions if, when, and where they are needed.
Now let’s take a look at those proverbial monsters along the way, what trials and tribulations might you face as you embark on this journey? At this point in the world’s ecommerce sojourn we have seen both sides of the D2C trend playing out; the venture capital playbook can pressure entrepreneurs to grow faster and at a larger scale than what would have otherwise been sustainable, leaving businesses vulnerable to ever-rising customer acquisition costs and market conditions. With over 400 D2C brands in the US and even more beyond, staying nimble is critical to standing out among the crowd. One of D2C’s biggest discrepancies is the huge chasm between how a D2C business is valued hypothetically on the private market, and the harsh realities of how it is actually valued on the public market. It should also be noted that some leading D2C brands have managed to sync with venture funding and generate a lot of sales growth from physical retail locations as well as ecommerce channels. Whilst avoiding these traps is a good method for survival, protecting fulfillment by managing a sound supply chain will be one of your greatest weapons in the fight to maintain a good customer relationship and ensure loyalty. The overall message being; aim for healthy options for selling directly from your website through ecommerce platforms and offline retailers. Flexibility between them amounts to excellent agility in any crisis and covers all your bases.
The Return: Master of Two Worlds
The hero returns home, having endured the trials and hardships of the adventure, but the hero is no longer the same. We see the hero succeed by achieving a balance between who they were before their journey and who they are now.
With trials overcome, let us forget about the if and when for a moment; businesses will eventually get back to work by switching directions and implementing new functions. Businesses the world over are already calibrating their operations and accounts to ensure not only their own survival, but that their supply chains, work forces, communities, and stakeholders can prosper another day. Once you get a chance to look beyond the pandemic, what does the current business you’re in or the one you’re launching look like? Building a customer base from scratch will be hard and expensive, but to change is to survive. There will be many who succeed and many who will fall short in advent of economic disruption and harsh market forces. Brands will face challenges to maintain their existing operations and growth trajectory whilst delivering profits, but many will emerge from this odessey a master of two worlds. Perhaps you already have a dream? It may be time to take that first step, or adjust the path your business is already on. Keep a lookout for mentors and supporters along the way. DRVE cares about your journey and offers something completely different. We provide online businesses solutions where the first question is not the size of your budget but rather, how much do you want to grow? We partner with exciting online businesses and execute performance-based programs equipped with expertise and capital that generate actual revenue growth.
For more information on ecommerce in the time of corona check out our breakout article Navigating Ecommerce in Uncertain Times and keep watch for next thursday’s article in our News Room, set to complete our compendium on how to survive and even thrive through global upheaval.