How much do you understand your clients business?

As digital specialists we spend our lives telling clients what they should do, how they should do it, and why they should do it. We are their digital advisors, their partners, their facilitators. We are the experts in all things digital. But do we really understand their business and what it takes for them to be successful?

If you are an agency you will likely have worked in multiple sectors at once. One day working with a finance client, the next an ecommerce business, or more likely both in the same day. Clients in sectors with completely different business models, challenges and objectives.  It’s all in a days work for a digital agency and you work hard to understand the details of a clients business.

But the realities of how they go about business will rarely be fully understood. How they fulfil their services in detail, the challenges they have to overcome, the process from website to customer receipt for goods or services and beyond.

I have worked for years with ecommerce businesses driving sales online. But rarely have I fully considered what happens after the purchase, the fulfilment of goods, the returns, the margins, the stock issues. I have just taken what the client has on site, promoted it, and generated revenue. Job done.

As we entered 2021 I decided it might be time for me to understand more. And I didn’t just dip my tow in, I jumped in head first. The simple way would have been to set up a side website, maybe start off drop shipping, and build slowly from there. That felt like a bit of a cop out.

Instead I went and bought an existing ecommerce business. One with an existing website, a lot of stock, and importantly a customer base.

It took a while but the purchase of www.affordablewine.co.uk finally completed on August 13th and took delivery of 4,000 bottles of wine. To say it has been a steep learning curve so far would be an understatement.  Not only am I now responsible fulfilling the orders that I generate, but I also have to deal with customer queries, breakages, returns, suppliers, VAT… All with limited knowledge of the wine itself.

The challenges are daily, but I am enjoying every minute. And I believe it will make me a better digital marketing consultant for future ecommerce clients. I will have a better understanding of their challenges, their business, and how I can help.

The journey is only just beginning for Affordable Wine, but regardless of where it takes me I already know I made the right decision.  If you work in digital (and most of you will!) then I would highly recommend finding a way of getting involved on some small scale with your own business. It will make you far more effective at your day job.

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