I had the chance to catch up with Bert DuMars, VP of Digital Marketing & eCommerce at Newell Rubbermaid, in advance of his keynote later this month at the eBusiness Forum. I spoke with Bert about the impact of digital channels on the overall shopping experience, and how Newell Rubbermaid is charting a course for profitable eCommerce growth. Here are some of his thoughts.

Q: What digital initiative have you undertaken in the past 12 months that you're most excited about?

A: I am excited about several new digital marketing initiatives at Newell Rubbermaid, including our new global branded website and eCommerce platform, preferred digital agency partners, and content development and management program for our retail and distributor partners. We have partnered with IBM to build our new global website platform using its WebSphere Commerce Service, a cloud-based service, and have one major brand project in development and two more in the creative design phase. We completed an extensive review of digital agencies this year and selected a small group of outstanding agency partners for our brands to use for new website and eCommerce development as well as overall digital marketing programs. In addition, we started a major product content development program to enhance the presence of our products on our retailer and distributor partners’ eCommerce websites. We are improving the digital shopping experience for our brands by improving product copy, meta tags, photography, and videos. Early results show this effort is already paying off with increased sales on retailer and distributor eCommerce stores. 

Q: How do you weigh digital opportunities against channel conflict?

A: Our primary focus is improving the shopping experience and content for our products on our retailer and distributor partner eCommerce stores. We use our branded eCommerce stores as a place to learn what content delivers the best shopping experience and then migrate that content and knowledge to our sales teams to improve the product pages on our retailer and distributor partners' eCommerce stores. We purposefully do not discount price on our branded eCommerce stores to avoid channel conflicts and let our retail and distributor partners effectively compete. We find that the majority of our direct eCommerce sales are convenience-driven, meaning the consumer is choosing to pay full price because they cannot find a certain size or one of our long-tail product SKUs at their favorite retailer or distributor. Over time, our goal is to make all the long-tail SKUs available through our retailers and distributors, which will require that we continue to grow our drop-ship expertise.

Q: What is the most exciting development or trend that you currently see in eCommerce?

A: I think the most exciting development is the increase in the online visual shopping experience. When I look at the way products are now presented on websites like Houzz, Pinterest, and YouTube, I see the future of window shopping and browsing visually instead of purely via search. eCommerce is now evolving from a “I know what I am looking for” to “I want to explore.” Price and features will still be important, but the ability to digitally romance the consumer is increasing every day. 

Hear more from Bert at the eBusiness Forum, October 25-26 in Chicago.