Trends in eCommerce: A Chat with BVA’s Director of Sales, George Fernandez
We’d like to introduce you to George Fernandez, BVA’s Director of Sales.
George joined the BVA team in September 2020, bringing to the table a wide swath of industry expertise in eCommerce technology and its service industry.
His career journey started while working at Magento when it was under the eBay Enterprise umbrella, providing him with a great foundation. As a Sales Development Representative, he learned about eCommerce technology and quickly worked his way up to Business Development Manager of North America-West, overseeing multiple solutions at eBay Enterprise.
This role brought a whole new world of fulfillment best practices to the forefront of his industry education. In conjunction with his background in international business, George was able to develop a deep understanding of eCommerce, technology, and fulfillment logistics.
The front-end platforms George became familiar with over the years span across Magento, Demandware (SFCC), Oracle, IBM, SAP Hybris, EpiServer, BigCommerce, Shopify, and even WordPress. When it comes to back-end 3PL fulfillment services, most of what he learned came from four years spent working between what is now Radial and PFSweb.
From a digital media and marketing perspective, George studied best practices across SEO, social media, performance media, and Amazon. He had the opportunity to work with well-respected strategists, such as BVA’s current VP of Strategy, Doug Hollinger, that taught him not only about direct-to-consumer (DTC) commerce, but also B2B commerce.
This holistic experience within the commerce space has given George the rare opportunity to see just how multi-million and multi-billion dollar organizations run their day-to-day operations, along with how smaller companies can create solutions to successfully disrupt the market in their respective verticals.
As you’ll find in this article, these are the fun conversations that George likes to have; he could talk all day about this stuff. In the question and answer section below, you’ll hear his hot take on current commerce trends, along with advice he would give to brands right now. Let’s dive in!
A Candid Q&A With George: Trends in eCommerce
1) WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHANGES YOU’VE SEEN IN ECOMMERCE DURING RECENT YEARS?
George’s Response: The last several years in the eCommerce technology space have been interesting, to say the least. Companies have come and gone or dramatically shifted how they do business. There have been many acquisitions, along with the creation of new technologies. Projects that used to be measured by years and millions can now be done in a few months at a fraction of the cost. It's a completely different landscape.
Consumer brands don't have to worry about bearing the massive costs of assembling technology teams to sell online. Technology companies are creating less burdensome solutions from a human resource and financial perspective. These advances in technology allow merchants to focus more on their brand identity, brand loyalty, and ultimately growing sales. Solution partners like Shopify and Yopto are two prime examples of how far technology has come in terms of providing sophisticated solutions that once would have required a trove of resources and now can be implemented with a fraction of the time, money and resources.
The service side of the industry has also shifted. What used to be a hardware and code-centric space evolved with new software becoming service concepts. Agency partners that have focused on building brand loyalty and growing sales are gaining notoriety over who has the most advanced technical team.
The competitive advantage now lies with the best ideas, not those with the biggest budgets. This is a huge benefit for new brands who used to tremble at the thought of going up against household name brands online.
The evolution of the technology itself is aimed toward the unapologetic goal of growing sales. This is a simple notion derived from complex processes to build brand identity and brand loyalty. What has seemingly been more difficult has been getting these processes in place and executing effectively. The best way to build a better brand experience is to start with updating antiquated processes and technologies, all in the support of creating more revenue.
Brands are also now forced to focus on optimizing their opportunity to capture a sale. With consumers being more willing to explore new products and services online, every touchpoint for your brand needs to be optimized. Personalization platforms, customer service technology, and site optimization tools are all necessary elements for most eCommerce experiences.
2) HOW HAS THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC AFFECTED COMMERCE?
George’s Response: COVID-19 undoubtedly forced eCommerce to the forefront of the conversation. Everyone is reconsidering how they do business, especially their eCommerce strategy. With in-store traffic decreasing significantly due to unforeseen government ordinances, many companies who previously relied solely on brick-and-mortar locations or pop-up shops for revenue are now exploring ways to supplement those losses through online channels.
Household name-brands have not been immune to the effects of COVID-19. Brands that once thought it was too expensive to make updates that fit the evolving needs of consumers are now living in a world where it’s too costly not to change.
It’s also important to note, with the pandemic has come a change in how consumers interact not only with their friends and loved ones, but also with their favorite brands. As the technology that people use to interact with each other evolves, so too will the channels in which corporations utilize to grow sales. Examples of this significance can be seen in Shopify’s recent partnership with TikTok and the evolution of the Instagram shopping experience. Consumer brands will need to adjust their omnichannel strategies accordingly.
What’s more, Fortune 1000 brands that have been slow to adopt omnichannel fulfillment while opting instead to utilize sophisticated order management systems (OMS) have now had unusable assets for at least parts of the year. This will inevitably lead to smaller budgets across the board and force companies to learn how to flex in a new way.
3) WHY DO YOU SEE BRANDS CHOOSING SHOPIFY OVER OTHER ECOMMERCE PLATFORMS?
George’s Response: What I have witnessed over the last several years is companies focused on flexing for peak (season, that is). Brands are finally spending more time to discover how to operate in a leaner capacity throughout the other parts of the year(s) without the same sales generation as years before. This trend will undoubtedly give Shopify a new surge of interest from brands that once thought its eCommerce platform may be out of the question.
With many of these companies exploring eCommerce for the first time, they are looking for something quick, inexpensive, and easy-to-use. Platforms like Shopify undoubtedly have an edge over the competition when it comes to providing a solution that is relatively intuitive, low total cost of ownership (TCO) and a quick implementation time.
Web development resources will be asked to do more with less. Ecommerce leads will have to adopt new disciplines in the name of efficiency. Due to these reasons, Shopify’s extensive partner ecosystem and third party integration apps will prove to be more important than ever before. Not to mention, Shopify has continued to push the boundaries of their commerce ideology with their B2B functionality and fulfillment type-of service pursuits.
4) WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO BRANDS RIGHT NOW?
George’s Response: A huge commonality between brands focusing on building their eCommerce solution and startups that have disrupted markets is the mindset that it's okay to not be an expert in every single aspect of running a business in the 21st century.
Successful brands like Chubbies and Rebecca Minkoff allow agency partners to focus on the code and to utilize the technology to grow sales, all while they themselves focus on the direction of the product and defining the brand identity. As we’ve seen, the most successful brands are ones that assert a sophisticated brand identity that allows consumers to develop an emotional connection with the brand. The brands that can best paint the picture of the emotion attached to their product or service will gain the most market share.
Not all brands have yet made the transition to look at consumers as psychographic groupings rather than the traditional demographic model. This transactional model is no longer a winning recipe in the face of channels like Walmart or Amazon competing with the advantage of economies of scale. On the other hand, brands are quickly learning that people don’t just buy products, they buy a better version of themselves; they buy the product that best fits their vision of a certain scenario and who they want to be in that scenario. This is what brands need to focus on to win in today’s ultra-competitive climate.
At BVA we have experts that specialize in the implementation and design of your website, digital media, marketing, and overall commerce strategy. We even get as granular as defining how our clients should be utilizing specific channels like Amazon. This expertise is what has allowed us to work with companies in all stages of their growth cycle and be effective in driving positive, measurable results.
As we head into 2021, it’s important for brands to consider trends and the evolution of technology as they complete their new year planning. Creating a holistic commerce strategy involves evaluating all possible sales channels, consumer touch points, and industry innovation.
George would love to continue these meaningful conversations anytime. You can send him a message via his Linkedin or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you're looking to build a new website, add new channels to your commerce strategy, or increase conversion through these channels, feel free to reach out to us here!