Interviewed in the latest installment of the Shiny New Object Podcast by Automated Creative’s Tom Ollerton is Amit Thard, regional head of e-commerce for South East Asia at Stanley Black & Decker. Here are five things Ollerton found out as a result of the conversation.
Get exposure, learn by doing
Thard believes the best place for marketers to start is in agencies. No one knows exactly what they want to do at age 21, and agencies give you more exposure to more areas. He’s also a big fan of proactive learning along the way - he tells me that early on in his career, he decided to get up to speed on SEO to make a bit of spending money. He enrolled in a community college course and created a website about a guy who was running for president - Barack Obama. He managed to make $15-20 a day by writing his own articles about Obama and his stance on different topics, even adjusting the tone of the site when more critical searches about various failures became popular. And learned a hell of a lot about SEO and websites along the way.
Ecommerce won’t replace retail, but evolution is needed
Thard points out that consumer behavior is changing; people - and young people in particular - are moving towards ecommerce rapidly. Meanwhile, brands are still trying to make traditional retail models work, when in many cases an online version can offer what they do, but better. He believes that traditional retail won’t be replaced by ecommerce and social, but needs to evolve to work alongside it. Those who don’t do this won't survive in the digital world. Those who are best placed to weather the change are the brands with their own flagship online store, and who have control over their own pricing. The tech brands - Apple, Dell, Lenovo and so on are good examples, and some clothing brands like Uniqlo and H&M.
Keep your eye on AI
Thard signs up for a lot of courses, he reads ebooks. In his spare time he looks for information that’ll help him keep up to date with the latest marketing trends, whether it’s free or he has to invest in it. He says while the good stuff is hard to find, it can prove invaluable for learning. His current focus is AI and its impact on ecommerce - he believes this will be the big thing in the next 3 to 4 years. And when ecommerce is predicted to grow five-fold in South East Asia over the next few years, he wants to know the latest in this tech so he can get ahead of the competition.
Get your ecommerce logistics right
While most marketers are talking about the front end, how to have a nice online shop front and get traffic and conversation, Thard believes we need to focus on ecommerce logistics - this is his Shiny New Object. Without this backbone in place, brands can’t fulfill orders, customers are disappointed, bad reviews are left and the business will suffer. Amazon is better than anyone here, however, he also points out Chinese company Xiaomi as another good example. Thard believes that companies need to get as close as they can to the bar Amazon has set, before they can even think about innovating past them.
To save time, be blunt
Thard is very straightforward in his approach to avoiding overwhelm - he says no. A lot. Whether it’s an internal or external project, unless it will directly generate revenue (his focus), he’s not interested. He’s often approached by agencies who want to talk about brand building - he sends them to the marketing team. He’s refreshingly honest about the conversations he’ll entertain having, and those he won’t. He’s too busy to do everything, so prioritises whatever will help him with his specific goals.
Listen to the episode in full below.