Jennifer DiMotta is the founder of DiMotta Consulting and has been a guest professor at the Wharton School of Business. For the last 20 years she has been helping direct to consumer brands and retailers in the USA to successfully execute aggressive growth strategies. That’s included the consumer facing Hayneedle and Office Depot and the B2B ReStockIt.com. To achieve all that she focuses on building a financial foundation, empowering the top talent, and designing expert-driven strategies.
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About the Business
- Got into eCommerce in the 90’s
- Aggressive Growth Consultant for brands expanding or optimizing their eCommerce
- Has broken growth down into a four-part method called the DiMotta Method
- Guest lectures at the Wharton School of Business
Jennifer started in eCommerce in the mid-90’s. Since the internet was rapidly evolving Jennifer admits that she and her colleagues didn’t fully understand what they were getting into. Her first gig was a side job that stemmed from her experience in catalogue marketing.
Jennifer’s analytical and segmentation work appealed to that first employer as they were putting a team together. Jennifer took on a couple email marketing roles because the parallels between that and catalog work were very strong.
From that point she continued to gain experience and add more roles and responsibilities.
Understanding the value of digital eCommerce is the first step that Jennifer takes with her clients. Jennifer has built several eCommerce businesses from scratch with her eponymous method.
The DiMotta method consists of four “P’s” — People P&L, Purpose and Plan
People, Jennifer says are the most important element in any business plan. Not only the people you hire but also understanding your customer at a human level, not just a transactional level. The biggest and best investment you can make is finding and hiring the right mix of people.
Looking for people with a good mix of professional and technical skills that also fit with your culture can make a huge difference. The person who is leading the charge on the inside of the company needs to be a strong leader.
No matter how much eCommerce experience they have, if they don’t have leadership qualities, it can bring progress to a halt. Getting peers and upper management on board with eCommerce, in general, is critical.
eCommerce can be daunting, especially for people who haven’t come up with it and aren’t familiar with the language—including all the acronyms. Building a really solid P&L can help ease some of the apprehension about eCommerce.
Showing executives financial pictures evens the playing fields because all executive understand that. Another reason to build a good P&L is so that you have a really solid understanding of what the financial picture looks like for your business.
Jennifer recommends doing a 3 and 5-year projection, but also likes to show a realistic path to success—and revenue for those businesses just getting started in eCommerce.
The world is becoming increasingly competitive and consumers are expecting a lot from the brands they engage with. On a recent turnaround with a major brand, Jennifer noticed that the eCommerce team seemed particularly lost.
A company-wide survey confirmed her suspicions. It turned out the eCommerce team was feeling lost because they lacked a clear vision. Employees, just like consumers are driven by purpose. Purpose drives motivation and increases productivity.
Building a purpose completely transformed engagement and completely turned the department around.
The plan is the piece of the DiMotta method that brings everything together. The plan is tactical and must tie directly to the purpose. Every company needs different levels of specificity—for some businesses it’s monthly or quarterly.
Jennifer says that it’s also important to set measures for success and have established times in which to check in on whether or not those goals are being achieved.
A Conversation about Marketplaces
There are differentiations between major marketplaces and specialty retailers, but what Jennifer says is really special are direct to consumer retailers who are cultivating exclusive products and creating an almost cult-like environment.
It’s tempting, of course, knowing the huge volume of people who will see your product to be on a marketplace like Amazon or Walmart, but Jennifer says they will aggressively negotiate your price down. And now, in addition to your lowest price point, you are likely going to have to pay to be seen.
In sum, Jennifer says if you are going to get involved in one of these marketplaces, it’s essential that you’ve built your brand and your own direct to consumer channels first. Even if you have everything in place, Jennifer stresses caution for the long term.
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eCommerce Book Top Tip
- The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
eCommerce Traffic Top Tip
- Email — Still a strong method, still cheap and one of the best methods to create relationships with current customers or subscribers. The challenge now is saturation, so creating great content for your existing customers is one of the best things you can do.
Tool Top Tip
- Find one tool and try to do as much with it as you can. Jennifer uses Outlook to not only communicate, but also for scheduling and to-dos.
Growth Top Tip
- Look at the three essential levers—traffic conversion and average order value as a way to create revenue growth. Of the three, most typically traffic or conversion are to low. Focusing on one of those is key. If conversion is low, look to the website and find opportunities to improve the user experience. If it’s traffic, focus on traffic growth from email, SEO or a stronger social media strategy.
- Muck Munchers’ Martin Harvey on how to grow fast in year one
- “100 Practical Ways to Improve Customer Experience” with Martin Newman of Practicology
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