Blog Post - Naji El-Arifi, Mar 5 2020

Naji El-Arifi talks to The Buyer on devising a digital strategy

Naji El-Arifi talks to The Buyer on devising a digital strategy

Naji El-Arifi, Wunderman Thompson Commerce's Head of Innovation, recently opened the One Step Beyond conference in London. While there, he sat down with Richard Siddle to answer a few questions on how to create the right digital strategy for your business, one that leads to growth in the right channels. The key Naji said, "Is to commit fully to whatever digital strategy you decide on and help it drive the rest of your business forward."

Q - For those that don’t know Wunderman Thompson Commerce can you let us know the top line of what you do?

In a nutshell, we help brands, retailers and manufacturers sell more online. That means helping to build and run eCommerce websites, driving efficiencies in-store, and consulting on how to sell well on Amazon. If it involves technology and helping our clients win online, then we are probably working on it! Usually, we focus on web and digital, developing strategies and implementing solutions for four major channels: Direct-to-Consumer, own-brand websites, online marketplaces like Amazon and Tmall, and social.

Q - Any case studies that demonstrate the kind of work you do and the effectiveness and benefits?

Overall we mainly do massive migrations of large e-commerce platforms to support the ambitions of enterprise-level organisations. This includes the biggest grocery re-platform (for Sainsbury’s), building the biggest platform in B2B (for Premier Farnell) and creating the largest eCommerce estate today in luxury fashion (for a brand we can’t mention).

We also work to implement new technologies for our clients as well. As an example, if you go to the DFS website on an iOS device, some of the sofas have an AR view. We did the early tests and implementations of that to ensure that they were ready on day one of release.

Q - What are you looking to cover at the One Step Beyond conference?

I will be focusing on six trends that we have identified from a range of independent research we have undertaken.

Q - What are the key issues that most companies need to prioritise when looking at a digital strategy?

They need to ensure that they are creating a balanced strategy across the key channels and using data to enhance each, to promote an omni-channel approach.

Q - What are the big wins that companies can have by running more effective strategies in that way?

As well as increasing revenues and helping deliver a great, end-to-end experience, an omni-channel approach helps future-proof your organisation. It’s especially important when you think that customers are now more loyal to service than to brand – this is one trend I will cover in my presentation.

Q What do you see as the next big challenges to overcome when it comes to digital?

How to be everywhere for the customer. There are going to be so many ways for consumers to interact with your brand that it will start to get difficult managing all of them. For example, someone could come via voice or mobile, web, outdoor, or in-store. How you ensure that everyone has a consistent experience is going to be tough.

Q - What advice would you give to a company looking to sell online for the first time? What are the fundamentals to get right?

The first place to start is to know what your customers want, what their expectations are, and how best you can serve them. From this vantage point, the following decisions around platform, UI and CX will fall out. Many organisations also focus too heavily on their own sectors – getting inspiration from those that sell the same products and operate in the same industry. But consumers shop across industries and channels.

Take inspiration from the very best…not just the best in class.

Q - Does it always cost far more than you think to do well selling online?

That depends on how much you think it will cost. Some basic research will show you that setting up an online operation won’t be, and isn’t supposed to be cheap. Organisations that think this way have often underestimated eCommerce, thinking that “selling online” is about the creation of the online store front. The best online sellers have thought about how selling online compliments the rest of their business, how it needs to be supported by infrastructural changes, how it needs to be constantly traded and optimised and how cultural change is vital.

Q - Do you think direct to consumer will eventually rip up the traditional retail channels and brands will need to have a DTC strategy?

For us we believe that you have to have a balanced strategy, this is mainly to ensure that you are not too heavily reliant on one specific sales channel. As a brand you should be spread over four key areas:

    • D2C
    • Retailers
    • Marketplaces
    • The new kids on the block across social