afternoonLife is hard for the ecommerce professionals within traditional brick and mortar retailers.  This was clear from talking with retailers this week in Palm Springs.  It’s hard for two reasons.

First, retailers who start online like Hayneedle.com, Build.com, and the Knot have the advantage of having their entire ecommerce organization focused on optimizing the customer experience.  Most have been laser focused on this since they launched online sometime in the last decade.  These etailers now worry about cost of conversion, optimizing their second or third generation of ecommerce personalization and can suss out vendor products that will deliver real results vs those that are too untested to deploy with fast ROI.  Traditional retailers who only recently came online face a cultural bias towards the in-store channel.  This is a strong headwind against which ecommerce professional are constantly pushing.

This headwind results in undercapitalization of the ecommerce channel, our second problem.  This means that ecommerce teams lack the technology and expertise needed to offer an online customer experience that delivers both revenue and other track-able metrics.  Unless a retailer gets serious, has executive buy in and vision, deep pockets and the courage to boldly push ahead, it’s an uphill climb for ecommerce groups trying to optimize the online channels.

There are known strategies that can accelerate success even in the most staid organizations.  Merging catalog and ecommerce marketing organizations, cleaning up product catalog data with an eye to ecommerce, implementing personalized recommendations on product home, category and detail pages and investing in ecommerce specific personnel are all known ways to pump up ecommerce results in 2013 and beyond.