Imad did his MBA in International Business from University of Greenwich, UK and is an Executive Diploma holder in Digital Strategies for Business from Columbia Business School, USA. Imad is an experienced
E-commerce and Digital professional with a strong track record of driving sustainable growth for 15 years in the UK and Pakistan. Skilled in building robust digital commerce foundations, rapidly scaling business and operations, leading team transformations, and achieving aggressive yet profitable growth.
Imad, tell us a bit about your educational background and how you end up becoming an experienced Ecommerce and Digital professional?
Having grown up in the digital age, I’ve always been fascinated by the intersection of technology and business. This led me to pursue a BA Hons Marketing Management, MBA International Business, and an Executive Diploma in Digital Strategies for Business. After graduating, I began my career as a Digital Media Strategist at Groupon, where I gained valuable experience from one of fastest growing ecommerce companies back in 2010.
Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with leading global companies like Tesco and Unilever, where I’ve led and executed successful digital commerce and marketing strategies. My educational background, professional experience, ability to adapt to emerging technologies, and passion for staying ahead of industry trends have been key factors in my career progression.
Ecommerce and the digital industry are the two most in demand careers nowadays, are there any specific skills required to excel in these fields?
Absolutely. The ecommerce and digital industry is constantly evolving, so it’s important to have a strong foundation in the fundamentals, such as:
Digital marketing: This includes understanding the different digital channels, tools and platforms, as well as the best practices for reaching and engaging target audiences.
Data analytics: The ability to collect, analyze, and interpret data is essential for making informed decisions about digital marketing campaigns and ecommerce strategies.
Technical skills: A basic understanding of coding and web development is helpful, but not required.
Project management: The ability to manage complex projects under tight deadlines is essential for success in the fast-paced ecommerce and digital industry.
In addition to these core skills, it’s also important to learn more about customer acquisition, conversion optimization through the right value propositions and content creation. The ecommerce and digital industry is fast-paced and constantly changing, so it’s important to be able to think outside the box and be creative, innovative, and adaptable.
What is the meaning of digital transformation, and how is it different from digital marketing?
Digital transformation is the process of using digital technologies to improve business processes and create new value propositions for customers. It’s about more than just adopting new digital tools and technologies. It’s about rethinking the way you do business and using technology to enable new and innovative ways of working – by reshaping processes, culture, and customer experiences.
Digital marketing is a subset of digital transformation that focuses on using digital channels and platforms to reach, engage and convert customers. It includes a wide range of activities, such as search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, email marketing, and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.
What are some of the most important elements of an effective ecommerce website?
An effective ecommerce website should be:
User-friendly: The website should be easy to navigate and use, with a clear and concise checkout process. Fast loading times and intuitive design are crucial too.
Mobile-friendly: More and more people are shopping online using their smartphones, so it’s important to have a website that is mobile first.
Secure: Customers need to feel confident that their personal and financial information is safe when shopping online. Make sure your website uses HTTPS encryption and has a valid SSL certificate. This is essential for customer trust.
Visually appealing: Your website should be visually appealing and reflect your brand identity. Use high-quality images and videos to showcase your products and services.
Well-written: The content on your website should be compelling and informative. Make sure to include clear and concise product descriptions, as well as helpful blog posts and articles.
Lastly, effective SEO, personalized recommendations, and conversion optimization techniques can significantly boost conversions. Regularly analyzing data to make improvements is an ongoing process for success.
What is your experience with using marketing automation tools?
I have extensive experience with using marketing automation tools, such as HubSpot, Marketo, Mailchimp and Eloqua. I’ve used these tools to create and execute automated marketing campaigns across a variety of channels, including email, social media, and paid advertising.
Marketing automation tools can be incredibly effective for saving time and improving the efficiency of your marketing campaigns. I utilized them to improve customer engagement and drive sales – the results included a significant increase in traffic, conversion rates and our overall ROI. They can also help you to build the right customer segments, personalize your messaging and target campaigns more effectively.
We want to start using video content on our website to provide customers with more information about our products. What type of video content would you suggest we start with?
Here are a few types of video content that you could start with:
Product demo videos: These videos showcase your products in action and highlight their key features and benefits.
Customer testimonial videos: These videos feature your customers talking about their positive experiences with your products or services.
Educational videos: These videos provide helpful information and tips on how to use your products or services.
Behind-the-scenes videos: These videos give your customers a glimpse into your company culture and how your products or services are made.
Remember to keep videos concise and visually appealing. High-quality production values are essential to make a positive impression. You can also use video content to promote your brand and tell your story. For example, you could create a brand video that highlights your company’s mission and values. Or, you could create a series of videos that tell the stories of your employees and customers.
What are the key fundamentals when creating content for various digital platforms?
Creating digital content involves understanding the audience and platform. I’ve created content for websites, social media, email campaigns, and more. Usually following these key steps:
Audience Analysis: Identify the target audience’s interests, pain points, and preferences.
Content Strategy: Develop a content plan aligned with business goals, including topics, formats, and distribution channels.
Creation: Produce high-quality content, whether it’s blog articles, videos, infographics, or social media posts.
Optimization: Ensure content is optimized for SEO, readability, and engagement.
Distribution: Share content across relevant platforms and channels, including social media, email newsletters, and content syndication.
Measurement: Analyze content performance using analytics tools to refine future content strategies.
I helped several brands to create content that connects, engages and sells to the relevant target audience.
How do you see technology evolving over the next decade?
Over the next decade, technology will continue to transform industries. We can expect:
AI and Automation: Widespread adoption of AI for innovative and personalized products and services, task automation, and data analysis for decision making.
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR): Enhanced AR and VR experiences for marketing and customer engagement.
Blockchain: Increased use of blockchain for secure transactions and supply chain transparency.
5G: Wider implementation of 5G, enabling faster internet speeds and new opportunities for mobile experiences.
Data Privacy: Stricter regulations and heightened focus on data privacy and security.
Wearable Devices: Smartwatches and fitness trackers collect data about our health, fitness, and activity levels. This can be used to improve our health and well-being, as well as to create new and innovative products and services.
Sustainability: Technology-driven solutions for sustainability and environmental impact.
Adapting to these changes will be crucial for businesses to remain competitive.
What are the key steps to start a digital transformation project?
Define your goals and objectives. What do you want to achieve with your digital transformation project? What are your specific business challenges and opportunities?
Assess your current state. What are your current digital capabilities? What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Develop a digital transformation strategy. This should include a roadmap for how you will achieve your goals and objectives. You should also identify the key technologies and resources that you will need.
Build a team. You will need a team of people with the skills and experience to execute your digital transformation strategy. This team may include people from different departments within your organization, as well as external consultants.
Communicate with stakeholders. It is important to communicate with your stakeholders throughout the digital transformation process. This will help to ensure that everyone is on board with the plan and that you are able to get the buy-in and support that you need.
Execute your strategy. Once you have developed your strategy and built your team, it is time to start executing your plan. This may involve implementing new technologies, changing business processes, and training employees.
Monitor and measure your progress. It is important to monitor and measure your progress throughout the digital transformation process. This will help you to identify any areas where you need to make adjustments.
Here are some additional tips for starting a digital transformation project:
Start small and scale up. Don’t try to do too much too soon. It is better to start with a few small projects and learn from your mistakes.
Focus on the customer. Digital transformation should be about improving the customer experience. Make sure that your projects are aligned with your customer needs and goals.
Be flexible and adaptable. The digital landscape is constantly changing, so it is important to be flexible and adaptable in your approach.
Be patient. Digital transformation is a journey, not a destination. It takes time and effort to achieve meaningful change.
Can you mention any examples of ecommerce companies that inspire you? And why?
Certainly! Several ecommerce companies serve as inspiring examples due to their innovative approaches and remarkable success. Here are a few:
Amazon: Amazon is a pioneer in the ecommerce industry. They are constantly innovating and expanding their offerings to meet the needs of their customers. For example, they were one of the first companies to offer free two-day shipping, and they have also developed a wide range of private label products. Amazon is also a leader in cloud computing and artificial intelligence.
Alibaba: Alibaba is the largest ecommerce company in China. They have built a massive ecosystem of businesses that includes online marketplaces, cloud computing services, and payment processing. Alibaba is also a leader in big data analytics and artificial intelligence.
Shopify: Shopify is a leading ecommerce platform that makes it easy for businesses of all sizes to sell online. Shopify provides merchants with everything they need to start and grow their online businesses, including a website, payment processing, and shipping tools. Shopify also has a large and active community of merchants and developers who share tips and advice.
Zappos: Zappos sets the standard for exceptional customer service. Their dedication to customer satisfaction, including free returns and a unique company culture, sets them apart.
Shein: Shein is a fast-growing ecommerce company that is known for its wide selection of affordable clothing and accessories. Shein uses technology to quickly identify and respond to trends, and to streamline its supply chain. For example, Shein uses artificial intelligence to analyze social media and sales data to identify trends. Shein also uses robots to automate tasks in its warehouses.
I am inspired by these companies because they are using technology to innovate and improve the customer experience. They are also using technology to make ecommerce more accessible to businesses of all sizes.
Any advice you would like to give to our readers in the digital and ecommerce space?
Certainly. Here are some key insights based on my latest project with Tehniyat Salman, a digital native fashion startup:
Focus on your niche. By focusing on a specific niche, you will be able to attract a targeted audience and build a loyal customer base.
Leverage Direct-to-Consumer and Marketplace: Consider launching your business with a website and/or seller page. This approach allows you to have more control over your brand, customer experience, and data, which can lead to rapid growth.
Invest in digital marketing. Digital and influencer marketing can be a very effective way to reach, engage and convert target customers. Understand your audience, craft compelling ad creatives, build brand awareness and continually optimize your campaigns for better results.
Provide excellent customer service. Providing excellent customer service is essential for building long-term relationships with customers.
Use data to drive your decisions. Implement robust analytics to track your ecommerce performance. Continuously analyze data to identify what’s working and what isn’t.
Stay Agile and Adapt: The digital landscape evolves rapidly. Be prepared to adapt to new technologies and trends.
Be patient and persistent. It takes time and effort to build a successful digital business. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results immediately. Just keep working hard and learning from your mistakes.
Starting a digital-first business requires dedication, creativity, and a strategic approach. Hope the above lessons from Tehniyat Salman’s journey will help you take the right steps forward.