• Work Together 2020

Rising to meet unforeseen challenges with the aid of technology has been the key story for all businesses this year. The second installment of Rick Wilson’s exploration of ecommerce in 2020 looks at how brands should respond to social/political issues, effective marketing during crisis, the effects of the video conferencing boom upon events, and the “good disruptions” which hone the way we sell.

In July, the social justice protests which had crystallized into a global movement presented one of many unique challenges for businesses this year—how to address important social issues within companies and in external brand communication. Educator Maureen Benson challenged Rick and all business leaders to begin the work of creating more fair workplaces with this simple question: “How can we contribute to address the inequities and educational opportunities,” Maureen asked, “…particularly in the tech world?”

In the day-to-day of selling ecommerce products, many businesses grappled with how to fine tune marketing efforts appropriate to the times. Professional marketers like Coleman & Co.’s Marc Vila, host of the Custom Apparel Startups podcast, described evergreen marketing techniques which anticipated problems before they happened. “A big change that’s good,” said Marc, “can be just as straining on a marketing department as crisis.”

The challenge for ecommerce businesses through the middle of the year was to simultaneously be prudent while still looking for strategic opportunities. For example, stores which adapted to hybridized online/physical order and pickup actually found a new opportunity to reach more customers and serve them better, given widespread fears about the risks of shared physical spaces.

Technology platforms made these innovations possible. Chief among them, the rapid shift of business communication technology toward video conferencing affected meetings and professional events alike. Phil Leahy, producer of Miva’s Mivacon Digital Day 2020, shared how innovation is possible by identifying and seizing opportunities as they arise—not despite conditions, but wholly relevant to conditions. Then, it’s a matter of trying new techniques to see what works. “As we go along,” Phil said, “we’re going to learn more, and pass it on.”

As fall arrived, workers and business leaders continued to explore innovative new ways of producing good work. Rick’s “work-from-anywhere” experiment running his normal business schedule from a mobile office in an RV was a valuable proof-of-concept. 

In any ecommerce year, the holiday shopping season is an example of “good disruption”—mammoth shifts in volume and strategy which require reorientation on-the-fly. Ultimately the intense and chaotic nature of this season can be honing for a business or an industry. When ScanMyPhotos.com’s Mitch Goldstone joined the pod, he described how he has adapted his management style to stay responsive, nimble, and relevant. “Whatever’s today’s news is,” Mitch shared, “is what we’re focused on.”

There are major challenges ahead for America and its businesses—logistical and otherwise. Ecommerce professionals are uniquely suited to meet the moment, applying thoughtful strategy to create a healthy and prosperous 2021.

Listen to the new episode of the Dragonproof Podcast here.

Available to stream now: 

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Work Together: A collection of industry updates, insights, and resources designed to help independent sellers scale and support our community during the coronavirus pandemic.

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