Ecommerce playbooks are increasingly being created by large global consumer brands. Are these ‘How To’ guides just the latest fashionable management initiative, or can they deliver value to the teams and partners they are intended to help?
We believe that when done well, ecommerce playbooks can ensure consistency, efficiency and agility in digital and ecommerce teams, ultimately improving the performance of the business. Large ecommerce suppliers often produce their own as part of their marketing initiatives, but if you create your own, it should include standard operating procedures for how your business operates.
For some brands, a single ecommerce playbook may be all that’s required. For global brands with their own D2C or marketplace channels, then a series of playbooks with in-depth information on best-practice operations and specific instructions can be appropriate.
Below we outline why we believe brands should use ecommerce playbooks, and some top tips to ensure that they are effective.
The value of ecommerce playbooks
At Pattern, we have created playbooks for brands covering a range of topics including: digital content, CRM, CX, Amazon’s Vendor programme, and guides for using specific software and tools. We’ve also created more general ecommerce playbooks with digital glossaries to help everyone from new starters to senior management teams understand digital terminology.
We prefer to collaborate on their creation with the teams who will be using them to encourage buy-in at an early stage. For playbooks to be effective they need to have a clear aim that is linked to broader business goals.
This could be to improve the brand content on retail partners’ websites, with the ultimate goal of selling more through those sites. Or to ensure CRM teams in each market understand email marketing and ecommerce best practice, use the same KPIs globally and adopt the same segmentation or A/B testing techniques to optimise results.
A successful ecommerce playbook should ensure that there is a common language for everyone to discuss digital and ecommerce across the business – one reason that glossaries are useful, though they may seem basic to those who already have good ecommerce knowledge. As digital channels become more important to total revenue, it’s crucial that the wider business can participate in conversations about them.
For large global businesses, there is a greater risk of a lack of consistency in how teams operate in different markets or regions, and in learnings from one team – whether good or bad – not being shared with everyone who could benefit from them. Effective playbooks can help bridge gaps in corporate memory.
As proponents of localisation in ecommerce offers, one thing we should point out is that playbooks should not be so rigid that they dissuade teams from operating in a way that is right for their local market conditions. In some cases, playbooks may need to vary by region if they include operational specifics.
Top tips for creating an ecommerce playbook
Clarity is key: Don’t assume that everyone knows as much as you do; start with the basics. Would someone who is new to the business understand it with minimal guidance? Playbooks need to be succinct but clear in direction.
Test and adapt: Encourage input from the team and employees undertaking these tasks or processes, and then test it. Test on both experienced employees and more junior staff members, or staff that aren’t closely involved in that area, to ensure that it is easily understood by everyone.
Ensure it stays relevant: Revisit the ecommerce playbook content at least quarterly; and if anything changes with regards to processes, systems or structures, ensure a playbook review is included as part of the change management process.
Explain why it should be used: Make sure the audience understands the value of playbooks. Explain the aims of the playbook as part of the introduction, so users are clear on what it is supposed to achieve.
Communicate it exists: Like any tool or accessible information, if people don’t know what it is, how to use it or where to find it, it won’t get used. Ensure you have a communications plan in place to embed the playbook into existing ways of working. An education or training session might be necessary to complement the document.
Do you think effective ecommerce playbooks would be beneficial to your business? Get in touch to discuss how we could support you.