Digital Wildfire takes hold


Over the years the extent of the digital landscape of retailers has grown like ‘digital wildfire’ and can to some extent be viewed as a real threat to their future capabilities. For retail this presents an emerging and what is becoming a significant problem

Retailers must have an understanding of what exactly constitutes their entire digital landscape, this being far more than a list of domains or the approved social pages.

Most companies have a difficulty knowing what they have out there in terms of their digital assets. The case of HMV losing control of its social media channels to some disgruntled employees when it made redundancies has been well documented – page wasn’t known about and the basic rules were not applied.

And there was the recent case of a QR code being used by Heinz on its ketchup bottles that led customers to a porn site. The registration of the URL had lapsed and reassigned to the adult content site and Heinz had not kept a record of this online asset.

The reality for most retailers is that they have had over 10 years of various people coming in and out of their e-commerce and IT departments that have all undertaken a variety of projects for an array of different people. Contractors, changing agencies, organisations the retailer has bought, and cloud service providers all muddy the water and make visibility of digital assets all the more tougher for retailers to get a firm and clear handle on.

The result is that they have ended up with a ‘digital bucket’ that holds various websites, analytics providers’ solutions, and content management systems etcetera. There is no over-arching view of this spaghetti-load of assets.

According to Sitemorse, research has found that retailers have no knowledge of an astonishing 41% of their digital properties – this is a serious worry. The company has also found that when it undertakes landscape mapping for retailers it identifies things like social media pages, mobile apps, web domains, and online promotional offers that the business knows absolutely nothing about.

Even in regulated industries firms do not have a full inventory of what they operate so it is not surprising that in the world of retail there is even more of a problem that pervades the sector.

Until retailers accept there is an issue of digital wildfire then it is not going to be extinguished anytime soon. The problem is only going to get worse.

Glynn Davis, editor, Retail Insider