Industry Expert David Nagy Discusses Building an Ecommerce Business: Feature Interview

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In this age of digitization or, at least, digital acceleration, it’s easy for some to start making assumptions about the world around them. Driven by the ways in which communication and the transfer of information is evolving, some technology devices, like smartphones, seem necessary to own and use, becoming almost ubiquitous in our daily lives. For business owners, the same truth applies. It’s obvious that they need to be where their customers are gathering to engage, explore and shop. And, given the recent shift in consumer preferences and behaviour toward online channels, it’s just as easy for merchants to determine that they need an online store in order to reach more customers and increase sales. However, according to David Nagy, digital pioneer and Founder of eCommerce Canada, there are some considerations that need to be made before investing time, money and effort into building your ecommerce presence.

“Most retail businesses are online today,” he says. “If they weren’t before the onset of the pandemic, they most certainly are now. The digitization of everything and store closures associated with the pandemic, along with consumer shopping behaviour that shifted somewhat away from physical brick-and-mortar stores toward online channels, precipitated an obvious spike in ecommerce sales over the course of the past couple years, as well as the idea in the minds of most merchants that they have to be selling online today in order to grow their business. And, although that may be true to an extent, there are a number of different paths that businesses can take to become a success online. And, there are a host of considerations that need to be made before investing anything into digitizing a business.”

Expansion of ecosystem

All-too-often, Nagy says, small- and medium-sized businesses that are without the resources of the bigger players in the industry tend to rush into investing in digital tools that are, in the end, not likely to benefit their operations, improve efficiencies or enhance the customer experience. They are usually investments made in haste as a result of a fear of getting left behind or missing out on the online boon. However, in order to optimize their digital efforts and capitalize on the opportunities that are available to them through ecommerce, explains Nagy, merchants have got to define their online business. To do this most effectively, he says that a thorough understanding of the brand and its consumer have got to be developed and leveraged.

“Business owners have got to understand that establishing an ecommerce presence doesn’t simply mean putting your products online and waiting for the sales to start happening,” he asserts. “When a business puts their products or services online it represents an extension of the ecosystem of channels by which their consumers can shop and engage with them. It also represents a massive step toward creating a truly omnichannel offering. So, in order to most effectively begin to build out the digital components of that ecosystem, merchants have to make sure they have a really good understanding of their brand and the experience it offers consumers. And, they need to also possess a deep awareness of their consumer and the experiences that they seek from their brand. Without this knowledge, any investment into digitization of the business would be done without the proper considerations being made.”

Understanding your customer

Nagy goes on to explain that the digital layer of a merchants’ ecosystem could include multiple channels that offer a number of different options concerning product delivery and transfer. Merchants can sell product directly from their website, utilize social media platforms to showcase and move inventory, sell through a third-party marketplace, or develop a strategy that involves some or all of these tactics. In addition, merchants may offer their consumers home delivery, the ability to purchase online and pick it up in the store, purchase in-store and receive the product at their home or order online for curbside pickup. They are channel and service options that are helping merchants enhance the experiences that they offer customers, says Nagy, reiterating the need to understand the value that the brand provides for consumers.

“Defining the brand helps merchants determine which direction they want to go, which path toward ecommerce success they’ll need to follow,” he says. “Combined with knowledge of their customer allows merchants to better understand which channels are going to be most beneficial for them to leverage. You can’t be everywhere at once. Where are your customers frequenting online? How do they like to engage with your brand? How do they like to shop? Knowing the answers to these questions is a great place for merchants to start plotting out exactly what tools and channels will be included within the digital component of their ecosystem, how it interacts with the other tools and channels and what adjustments might be required by the business in order to accommodate these new additions.”

One step at a time

When it comes to the building and execution of a digital strategy for the business, Nagy stresses the importance of doing so with the consumer’s needs and preferences at the core of development. This will go a long way, he says, toward guiding and directing the formation of a digital roadmap for the business to work toward. He explains that, supported by customer data, anything that the merchant has access to and can make sense of, the roadmap and ecosystem can evolve and adapt, informed by changes in behaviour. However, he adds that merchants don’t need to build out the entire digital portion of their ecosystem in one day, suggesting that it’s a work in progress that will likely take a few years to build and hone before achieving the levels of success and growth that merchants crave.

“There’s no question about the fact that it’s absolutely necessary to be online as a business today. But, it’s just as necessary to understand the ecosystem that your building, the reason you’re building it and the consumer you’re building it for. For most small- and medium-sized businesses out there, developing an online presence and reaping success from it is really a journey that requires merchants to take things one step at a time. Identify areas where you know enhancements can be made and place your focus there. And, above all, make sure that the ecosystem you’re building allows for an easy, convenient and consistent experience within which customers can effortlessly traverse from one channel to another throughout their shopping journey. It’s what they’re looking for from their favourite brands. And it’s up to the brands to deliver.”

For information about the ways in which eCommerce Canada can help your business compete in a digital world, visit

Article Author

Sean Tarry
Sean Tarry is an experienced writer who leverages his unique storytelling abilities to bring retail industry news and analysis to life. With 25 years of learning, including over a decade as Editor-In-Chief of Canadian Retailer magazine, he’s equipped with a deep understanding of the unique world of retail and the issues, trends, and innovators that continue to influence its evolution and shape its landscape.

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