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Five Minutes With: Darren Hill, CEO of WebLinc

What are your biggest challenges and opportunities for the next 12 to 24 months?

Deeply entrenched technologies dominate small business and enterprise eCommerce markets. They’ve neglected the mid market, though. The mid market is full of fast growing brands in competitive spaces. The right technology fit is critical for them.

By giving retailers a flexible technology solution, we help them remain competitive. To further meet the mid market’s needs, we’re introducing new platform features in 2016. Together, they’ll help our clients gain workflow efficiencies, decrease development time and cost, and improve customer experience. Since eCommerce had a banner year in 2015, our solutions are on the radar of more retailers than ever before.

Why is there a gap between consumers’ expectations and retailers’ marketing realities?

Rapid advancements in technology and our “always on” society have led to unrealistic expectations from consumers. Today’s consumers want products to be available and shipped out as soon as they spot them online.

It’s common for consumers’ expectations to outpace an industry’s capabilities. We’ve seen it for decades in eCommerce. For example, when shoppers discover a feature they like on one site, they expect to see it everywhere. This leads to the challenge of marketers playing catch-up. Even with all the investments in technology and people, the disconnect between what brands can deliver and what consumers want grows. Adapting to the new norm, whatever it’s defined as by consumers, is what strategic marketers do.

What keeps your clients up at night?

Having worked directly with retailers since 1994, we put ourselves in their shoes every day. After investing time, money and resources into choosing the eCommerce solutions we provide, clients want results. In our world, that translates to sales. And knowing enough to make the smartest decisions to drive sales is a daily task for our clients.

Another challenge our clients often face is how to scale their business while maintaining brand identity and quality customer service. When sales skyrocket, everything needs to flow seamlessly, from order fulfillment to email marketing. We are a sounding board for many high growth retailers, and we learn so much from these interactions.

What is the hardest thing to educate clients about?

Retail marketers often have a lot on their plate, and as they grow, they can overlook some of the fundamentals. The current overload of tools and data has many becoming data-sifters. This work can be useful, but getting the basics down is key. Things like knowing who your ideal buyer is will always be necessary. When our clients truly understand how to effectively market to shoppers, products sell faster. The dash to collect comprehensive data may be tempting, but acting on that information is an entirely different task.

What marketing trends do you see accelerating in the next year?

We’ll see more refined visual content marketing. With 65% of senior marketing executives believing that visual assets (photos, video, illustrations and infographics) are core to how their brand story is communicated, the buy-in is here. On-site product video, beautiful photography and colorful graphics that are mobile-friendly will continue to win over customers.

2016 will also produce more content that consumers seek out versus content that’s pushed through traditional channels. Lastly, we’ll see more businesses owning the space where their branded content lives as opposed to “renting space” on Facebook, YouTube and other platforms.

–Darren Hill is co-founder and CEO of WebLinc.

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