‘Exceeded our marketers readiness’: As e-commerce growth accelerates, Dentsu is adding a new practice to meet the demand

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With the launch of newly formed commerce practice, Dentsu Commerce, Dentsu wants to become the agency holding company that brands turn to for their expanding commerce needs.

The coronavirus pandemic has sped up the growth of brand commerce; with people stuck at home or wary of shopping in-person at stores they’re shopping online in droves. With that being the case, brands big and small need to quickly bolster and accelerate their e-commerce capabilities.

“We actually launched this practice in the middle of Covid-19 [because] all of our clients [have been] nervous about their ability to support their customers needs,” said Vikalp Tandon, global president of Dentsu Commerce. “The only way we could help them is to figure out how they could reach all of their customers digitally, engage all of them digitally and how they could be serviced digitally.” 

With the new commerce practice, the holding company is working to beef up the capabilities of brands like Shiseido, Adidas and Procter & Gamble, among others. While the commerce practice was already in the works, the pandemic and changing consumer behavior it caused made it more important for the new group to go to market now. 

The growth of Amazon and online retail in general has made commerce a more important discipline at agencies in recent years. Brands that had traditionally focused shopper marketing efforts on end-caps or shelves in stores have been looking for more holistic approaches to commerce planning to capture someone’s attention wherever they shop. To help those brands, other holding companies have built out new commerce practices; for example, WPP created Wunderman Thompson Commerce last March. 

“The consumer adoption of e-commerce has exceeded our marketers’ readiness in most cases and Covid-19 has certainly accelerated that,” said Jacki Kelley, CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network Americas. “It’s heightened the importance of strong online transactions and proven brands with the strongest relationship with their customers are in a far better position to manage going forward.”

Tandon will lead the practice and work with Dentsu’s 3500 commerce experts who are employees of agencies across the holding company. Agency execs from Dentsu shops like Isobar, 360i and Merkle will also contribute to the practice.  

Dentsu Commerce has already worked with Shiseido to retool the company’s approach to its website design making it more about the consumer experience rather than specific technical specs, according to Thomas Wasser, global director of omni-channel marketing at Shiseido. 

The holding company is also working with a snack brand to build out a direct-to-consumer venture as well as with a household CPG brand on “commerce-led” planning. 

With this practice, Dentsu will work with CPG brands to create new brands to build relationships directly with consumers and “own the purchase journey from start to finish,” said Kelley, adding that doing so will help legacy CPG brands compete with startups.

Overall, Dentsu is looking to add a “commerce lens into the strategy planning efforts” of its agencies, added Kelley.


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