...Well, in most cases. Over the next few weeks, 2PM will be highlighting exemplary eCommerce operations run by digital publishers. There aren't very many and, frankly, it's because it's very difficult to introduce core competencies into existing business models. And eCommerce must be a core competency to survive as a vertical.
For media groups who move into eCommerce, there are several areas that must become core competencies: product sourcing, vendor relationship growth, shipping logistics (or 3PL management), customer service control, product copy editing, product photography, CRO (conversion rate optimization), and native brand growth. And depending on resources, front and back end development.
It's a tall order but media-first
companies like: BuzzFeed
, Barstool Sports
(Ugh. I know.), Gear Patrol
(my former employer), and even the New York Times
are doing great things. I monitor three factors: frequency of product updates, ease of purchase, and ease of delivery.
These are rare exceptions, so alternatives will be discussed as well. Online publishers and podcast groups have enormous potential to move the retail needle. Look no further than Crooked Media's collaboration
with Cotton Bureau; together they moved nearly 40,000 units in Q1-Q2 of 2017. For media groups that are reliant upon (often net 90-120) advertising revenue, this can be incredibly beneficial for a media group's cash flow optimization.
There isn't a one-size-fits-all recommendation for every media group but one thing is for certain, adopting an eCommerce plan is a must. Whether or not the CEO should decide to insource or outsource eCommerce operations is the next determination to be made. And as an operator who's operated on both sides, the solution is apparent to me. Most media groups should focus on net profits and leave the grueling operations requirements to existing eCommerce partners.