In today’s ‘Day in the Life’, we catch up with Saradha Sethuraman to talk about her role in-depth, as well as to find out how OMG Transact – a consultancy focused on improving ecommerce sales performance – has weathered the impact of Covid-19.

Please describe your job: What do you do? 

I am an ecommerce Business Director at OMG Transact, Omnicom Media Group’s specialist ecommerce practice.

When it comes to ecommerce, it’s about more than just getting the right media placement or spending more ad dollars than the competition on digital channels; it’s an end to end ‘process’. OMG Transact is the consultative offering that supports our clients through this process to deliver sales growth.

In my role, I help build and implement this end to end process that is bespoke to each of our clients’ business requirements. I also provide recommendations on how to get the best results out of their current organisational structure, how to bring ecommerce into core planning principles, as well as how to succeed in this highly competitive environment.

How has your typical day been impacted in the short term by the pandemic?

This pandemic has really highlighted the importance of ecommerce and the need for a fully connected customer journey in every category, but most critically in CPG.

As a result, my day is now much busier than before! We are advising current and new clients on how best to anticipate demand online, increase their ‘digital availability’, get their retail hygiene right, and most importantly how to plan for the upcoming months – given the world is slowly moving back to some form of normality.

Working at home has also helped me to reflect and respect different personal challenges of the people I work with, whether that is time away from the desk for a walk, or a toddler on someone’s lap during a client call.

Which companies have impressed you since the outbreak?

Since the lockdown there have been many brands that have quickly understood the need and scale required from their ecommerce arm and have put quick steps in action to address the needs in the market.

Kraft Heinz in the UK, for example, has launched a D2C platform selling a selection of products as product bundles on its website. By doing so they were addressing a consumer need for having basic staples such as canned beans and soup or baby products when the supermarkets were becoming inaccessible. And it was done with such élan – it looks great and I think it is easily scalable. The brand will just need to ensure it continues to understand its audience behaviour, analyse customer journeys and purchase behaviour to then implement quick changes.

Similarly, Deliveroo in the UK has quickly expanded its services from serving food to connecting so many convenience and supermarket stores like M&S, Aldi and Co-op, to serve essentials for customers at their doorstep. The integration happened in no-time and in the short term helps customers get home deliveries in the same day, rather than wait for a supermarket slot.

This does however signify a fundamental shift in how grocery businesses can operate moving forward. Deliveroo is doing exactly what Instacart has been doing for some time in the US, so there is certainly the opportunity to scale this beyond lockdown. By doing so, it would bring so much ease and convenience to customers who will continue to use ecommerce for grocery shopping in the long term. That said, it emphasises the need for omnichannel planning not only in media but also in the supply chain.

Lastly, I’ve also been impressed with other businesses like LVMH, Dyson and BrewDog, that have redirected their production lines to support the immediate need for sanitisers and ventilators.

What changes are you making to help your brand or clients connect with how people are feeling and experiencing the pandemic?

We are advising our clients to switch their messaging to ensure it is more relevant to the situation, such as emphasising how products can be received without direct contact. Messages that focus on the human element are far more likely to enhance effectiveness and resonate better with consumers. Similarly, creating feel-good content that alleviates anxiety and promotes positive messaging is also working well.

What trends have you seen in the last few weeks in your sector?

Throughout lockdown we have had a steady influx of briefs from clients who have taken our recommendations to invest in ecommerce.

However, often there is the tendency to invest in media before a brand might be digital ready, so as much as we are helping brands invest in ecommerce, we are also taking an advisory role on how to make them excel on ecommerce platforms. To be successful, it is crucial to have the right operational and content elements in place before allocating too much investment on these platforms.

What advice would you give a marketer right now?

Whilst it has been an uncertain and scary period, this year has seen a huge leap in technology and innovation across multiple industries and disciplines. Unsurprisingly, there have been fundamental changes to how people consume media, shop for essentials and travel. And brands need to remember that these shopping behaviours are only going to strengthen and evolve.

I truly believe that the move to online shopping for grocery and essentials will have a longer-term impact on the UK and further afield. So, as a marketer it is critical to understand how your brand is perceived online, how shoppable it is, and how it compares to competitors. Once this is clear it is important to revisit the channel-mix priority whilst thinking about the need for agile ecommerce friendly supply chains.

So, my top tip would be – think about the impact on the entire value chain, think about the business impact rather than being focused on brand or media or ecommerce to make sure you sustain and grow in this environment.

What does long term planning and strategy look like now at your company?

My job is to be future focused, helping our clients future-proof their businesses from an ecommerce value chain perspective.

Given we work with clients who are of different maturity levels, we are giving them the support they need on a range of things from setting up the rights foundations to how to rewire their organisation to stop ecommerce being siloed and ensuring the media planning always has a shoppable destination.

For more on ecommerce, visit our topic page, download the Ecommerce Quarterly or Best Practice Guide.