Our launch partner for the original Ecommerce Hero series on NDA, ecommerce and marketing consultancy Entropy, is our exclusive partner for the new series of Ecommerce Hero on ECA.
As well as showcasing industry talent, participants will be sharing how their ecommerce strategies have adapted in 2021 as we come out of lockdown.
To launch the series, we hear from Jim Clear, Digital Commerce Proposition Director at Entropy. Before joining Entropy, Jim worked mainly client side in senior ecommerce roles with brands such as Argos, Bupa and Wyevale Garden Centres.
Who is your ecommerce hero?
Kevin Lewandowski, CEO of the leading music marketplace and online community Discogs.
What has he done to win hero status in your eyes?
From its origins as a community based purely around electronic music, Discogs has steadily evolved to encompass all musical genres. As well as serving as an IMDB meets Wikipedia resource for music fans, Discogs’ increasingly popular Marketplace allows collectors to buy and sell online, with 16m records traded in 2020.
Kevin has overseen Discogs’ 20 year evolution from his original hobby website into a global marketplace allowing a wealth of individuals and small businesses/stores to browse, trade and buy a mind-boggling quantity of music online. And all while creating the closest digital experience to rifling the record racks of a vintage shop on a crate digging mission. Amid the uncertainty of the last year, this has provided a lifeline for small stores generally unable to trade as well as invaluable retail therapy for the record collectors amongst us.
How has his heroism helped drive ecommerce?
Often left out of industry news around the “vinyl revival” that focus on new records only, Discogs’ sense of community is crucial to its success, with 500K contributors producing and editing all content for its significant database. Discogs’ sense of usefulness, fun and sustainable credentials have also helped fuel its growth in recent years as an ever growing number of users move from intrigued “lurkers” to more committed collectors, buyers and sellers.
This means that there are currently 61m items available to buy via Discogs, nearly 10m from UK sellers, many of which are small record shops that I know from personal experience have only managed to survive the last year through their sizeable pivot to ecommerce, where Discogs’ targeted, specialist feel generally makes it the preferred online channel for all stripes of music enthusiast.
What are the biggest challenges in ecommerce we need another hero to solve?
With the last 12 months having seen several years of ecommerce growth at once, keeping on top of the pace of change is the biggest challenge for any growing digital brand. A clear but flexible plan for growth, backed up by the right organisational structure and culture to implement and change course as necessary is essential. The right balance of “tech and team” can sometimes be overlooked or underestimated when developing your strategy but exciting shiny toys won’t work without anyone to play with them.
And with the pace of change slowing down slightly in the coming year (hopefully!), taking stock of recent short-term developments to see which can beneficially stick – and which should be discarded – is also of vital importance to delivering profitable, sustainable progress.
How has your business changed its use of ecommerce over the Covid period?
We work with a variety of different sized clients across various industries at Entropy, but the biggest change we have seen has been the growth of Direct To Consumer sales – and we’ve been helping brands to either accelerate their offering here or start completely from scratch.
As well as the various widely quoted statistics around the growth of online sales, one of the most telling stats is that Shopify had 1.7m businesses using its ecommerce platform by the end of 2020, a significant increase on their 1m at the start of the year, with much of this growth driven by Shopify’s specific targeting of DTC brands.
What’s an interesting ecommerce innovation you’ve seen as businesses have had to adapt?
Having started my ecommerce career at Click and Collect pioneer Argos, it’s been interesting to see C&C becoming even more mainstream out of necessity as local, independent businesses in particular have needed to embrace new ways of working, often along with improved local delivery services as well.
It will be interesting to see how much this extra flexibility continues as we hopefully continue to move towards the much longed for total reopening of society.