The Traits of a Bricks-To-Clicks Company

As the founder and CEO of Content Analytics, the “Control Center for eCommerce,” David Feinleib has worked with the world’s largest brands and retailers as they have navigated the shift from Bricks To Clicks. It’s a transition that’s been years in the making, but it’s one that has taken on renewed urgency now that e-commerce represents more than 10 percent of U.S. retail purchasing and is the fastest-growing business segment for most suppliers and retailers. David’s clients span a diverse set of verticals, from P&G, Clorox, and PepsiCo in consumer packaged goods (CPG) to Levi’s in apparel, Samsung and Energizer in electronics, Mattel in toys, Walmart in retail, and many more. In his Apress book Bricks To Clicks, he shares his key learnings about what makes companies successful in navigating the shift from in-store to online.

What is the approach of companies that are going from Bricks to Clicks? What are they doing that is making them so successful? David identifies many common traits that make successful Bricks-To-Clicks companies:

  • They experiment obsessively.

They don’t try just one approach. They try many different approaches in parallel. E-commerce is a world of experimentation.

  • They adapt quickly.

One supplier David worked with theorized that sales from third-party sellers— marketplace sellers—might be eating into their growth. They immediately implemented a new capability so they could measure the impact of marketplace sales on their first-party business. It turned out they were exactly right and now they have the data to prove it.

  • They view growth in e-commerce as a long-term trend that is not going away.

 Just a few years ago when David was first talking to clients about Content Analytics, some told him that the time still wasn’t right for e-commerce—especially in areas like grocery— because there simply wasn’t enough money being spent on it to move the needle. Now he meets with directors and executives at these same companies whose jobs are dedicated to e-commerce. Many have built entire teams to address the specific needs of e-commerce. Bricks to Clicks 3

  • They apply technology so they can scale.

Many of the clients David works with were trying to do brand audits, brand content updates, and other activities manually, one product at a time. They’ve found that those processes simply don’t scale. What’s more, they consume an enormous amount of time of the personnel tasked with marketing, merchandising, and sales. They brought in technology to help them scale up and to free their valuable people to do the jobs they came to do.

  • They reduce their cycle times so they can operate at Internet speed.

One supplier David worked with told him that they were used to getting a static brand audit once per year. Another supplier told him they were used to updating the content that showcases their products on retailer web sites once per year. Since they began working with him, both of these clients have used technology to accelerate their cycle times and are now able to receive brand audits, out-of-stock reports, and pricing reports and update their content on a daily basis.

  • They use e-commerce to reinvent their workflows, processes, platforms, and organizations.

They see that a decade from now, e-commerce will have transformed not only the online shopping experience but the in-store shopping experience as well.

That is only half the story. The other half of the story—the theme that has emerged from David’s three years of working with Walmart, P&G, Clorox, Levi’s, Mattel, Samsung, and many other of the world’s leading brands—is that thought leaders at bricks-to-clicks companies not only have the vision required to see the future of e-commerce but also have the interest and ability to build consensus across their organizations that organizational transformation is required to compete in that future e-commerce world.

About the Author

David Feinleib is Founder and CEO of Content Analytics, the Control Center for ECommerce. Prior to Content Analytics, David was Managing Director of The Big Data Group, where he produced the well-known Big Data Landscape. Previously, David was a general partner at Mohr Davidow Ventures, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm. David co-founded Consera Software, which was acquired by HP; Likewise Software, which was acquired by EMC; and Speechpad, a leader in web-based audio-video transcription. He began his career at Microsoft. David holds a BA from Cornell University, graduating summa cum laude, and an MBA from the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. The author of Why Startups Fail (Apress, 2011) and Big Data Bootcamp (Apress, 2014), David is an avid violinist and four-time Ironman finisher. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife Nicole.

This article is excerpted from David Feinleib's book Bricks to Clicks: Why Some Brands Will Thrive in E-Commerce and Others Won't (ISBN 978-1-4842-2804-3).