Dentsu launches platform to make sense of the ecommerce boom

VP Simren Deogun talks about how the new offering helps CMOs navigate digital disruption.


Thanks to the pandemic, ecommerce saw a decade’s worth of growth in just two months. To help marketers handle that degree of disruption, Dentsu has new platform to help brands succeed in this new environment and utilize platforms like like Amazon, Walmart, Shopify and Salesforce.

Simren Deogun is VP of brand solutions at Dentsu and is leading the offering alongside Damien Lemaitre, SVP of media product and innovation. First announced as a global initiative in the summer, Dentsu Commerce formally launched in Canada this month and offers DTC and retail consulting, merchandising, storefront and content building, as well as Shopify service offerings.

Deogun says the massive ecommerce penetration spike is forcing CMOs to think differently about the role of marketing in purchase decision, understanding what motivates shopping behaviour and what is here to stay, versus what is fluid.

With second and potentially more pandemic waves ahead of us, brands have to be cognizant of health and safety being top of mind for the foreseeable future: Dentsu’s insights reveal 47% of shoppers are choosing online shopping or stores that offer quick in-store pick up for online purchases.

But its not just owned channels that brands need to be mindful of. Big ecommerce players like Amazon, the quintessential online marketplace for merchants, as well as Walmart, are making significant adjustments: Amazon is expanding into luxury product categories, while this summer, Walmart announced it is opening up its online marketplace to Shopify’s small business sellers.

That means brands have to up their game, which means leveraging those platforms – an experience Dentsu is aiming to guide clients through.

Deogun tells strategy that to embrace the ecommerce boom, brands need to have the capability to test and use solutions quickly because of the unpredictable state of the shopping experience, regardless of the sector. Her agency, as a result, is taking a much deeper dive into shopper marketing, understanding in store and online behaviour and digitizing in store to offer easier discovery online before going into a store.



One segment that is being transformed is health, a relative latecomer to ecommerce, but one that holds particular relevance for families that have members who are high pandemic risk.

“We are seeing demand in the health sector significantly increasing,” Deogun says. “Not just for product information and discovery, but also the capacity to make a complete purchase and have that product shipped.”

It’s going to be one of the industries undergoing a huge shopping experience transformation, she says. Rexall, for example, added a health focus to its loyalty app, and users not only manage and refill prescriptions digitally, but also receive information related to wellness products from its chain of pharmacies.

CPG brands also need to think about themselves differently in a marketplace increasingly driven online.

Deogun says it’s seeing a shift toward more content and experiences being about lifestyle, rather than being rooted in convenience and low-price points. That means considering how do their products fit into meal planning, or creating stronger and more rich family experiences when we are spending more time at home. In the case of Kraft Heinz, a Dentsu client that has been building up its DTC capabilities in the form of ecommerce platform Kraft Heinz Canteen, it is doing that by building on their longstanding brand trust and values, and connecting people to them on a new platform.

Beauty, fashion and apparel have come under significant strain because of store closures and the fact that they are heavily influenced by disposable income. Where Deogun sees opportunity is through the virtual shop.

“How can we take the concept of the in-store consultant that offers specific beauty or product tips or helps you select which clothes might look best for a specific occasion and translate that into a traditional experience digitally?” she asks, while still creating a human connection in the shopping experience. While brands have adopted AR, the challenge is that the tech is not as developed as it could be and require significantly more testing and learning.