Tips On How To Adjust Your E-commerce Strategy To Come Out On Top
As a result of the digital and technological innovations over the last 15 years, e-commerce has changed and is still changing almost daily. The groundwork of e-commerce is an online platform, website, or app that provides customers with access to products or services or, in other words, it delivers products or services to customers.
But why would a company - lets say a company that has a physical store location - would want to branch out from brick and mortar to a virtual store?
It usually happens when there is stabilization or a decrease in sales, the competition is fierce, and you need to reach more customers. Otherwise, your business might collapse.
In you do decide to go online, you can reach thousands and thousands of people and get new customers both locally and internationally. You can also significantly reduce your costs, protect investments, and improve profitability. Sounds good, right? And while there are some potential business risks involved, with a right marketing strategy, your chance of succeeding is quite realistic.
Another great reason for expanding your business towards e-commerce is the fact that by virtue of new technology you can add flexibility, convenience, and better services to your sales, which will benefit your customers and help you with improving brand loyalty.
So, what are the real benefits of being an e-commerce customer?
- You don’t have to stand in queues to check out
- You have an enormous array of product options to compare and choose from
- You can shop online 24/7
- You can purchase digital goods that are available right away, e.g. apps, music, films, tickets, insurance and so on
Long story short, introducing or growing your e-commerce business has many benefits for your customers and your company.
But, before we discuss effective e-commerce marketing strategies that can be used for achieving more revenue and turning online visitors into loyal customers, let’s look at the development of e-commerce strategies over the years.
There have been a few stages of e-commerce evolution:
- Cross channel
Let’s take a closer look at these stages.
The first strategy of e-commerce that came into existence was based on expanding from a physical store with an online sales channel, called the multi-channel approach.
This method suggests that both channels function separately and there are two different parts that control operations and carry responsibilities for financial allocations and targeted audience. Interactions between both teams are limited or do not exist at all.
Additional sales channel allows to get to more customers, but those customers who use both channels simultaneously may experience some informational dissonance because of the differences in marketing strategies conducted by the online team and the team that runs a physical store.
Cross channel 🤝
The following stage of e-commerce is called the “cross channel strategy”. This name came from the integration of offline and online structures that became possible due to the developing technology.
Both the physical and online channels are combined and there are integrated teams that are managing both channels. The result of this approach was a better customer experience comparing to the multi-channel strategy.
The next stage of the evolution in e-commerce is known as omni-channel strategy. In addition to cross channel approach, there is an extra feature - user research. The development of advanced technology allowed organizations to conduct the systematic investigation of customers and their requirements.
User research employs a variety of methodologies and tools to gather information, determine and analyze facts, and subsequently create marketing strategies that are truly relevant to the customers’ needs.
Knowing your customers’ needs is the most important advantage in obtaining e-commerce success. It gives businesses an opportunity to formulate relevant actions with personalized offers and create loyal customers.
Conducting user research and carrying out relevant actions with personalized offers to consumers can be a real challenge for any company. Not all businesses have reached this phase yet.
Two other strategies of e-commerce are mobile commerce and social commerce.
Mobile use is the fastest-growing way of accessing the internet today. This presents huge opportunities for mobile commerce - that is to say, the companies can sell products or services through the apps installed on mobile devices.
Since traditional user research techniques may be turned to mobile app user research, any company that is transitioning into the third phase should consider developing m-commerce marketing strategies in order to expand the number of loyal customers.
Another type of e-commerce that has been evolving for the last few years is social-commerce. The never-ending use of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and WhatsApp poses tremendous commercial opportunities for companies. As a result, the vast majority of them are investing in their s-commerce strategies with a purpose to reach, share information, and help potential customers with their choices.
It may sound like something easy to achieve, but before pushing your strategic e-commerce aspirations, you should take into consideration that besides the cost and time required to set up a virtual store, there are also operational issues to address.
Data security, dependency on IT, supply and inventory management, logistic aspects - all these challenges require specific skills you will have to attract and bring into your organization. Additionally, local and international tax and legal implications need to considered.
You have to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your whole organization, therefore you have to conduct an internal analysis before implementing the e-commerce strategy. We can recommend trying the traditional 7S-model of McKinsey, or the quite efficient Business Canvas Model approach.
Afterwards, it is necessary to execute an in-depth analysis of the market and of the current and future trends, identify the profile of the target customer, find out who are the main competitors and then set realistic goals and sales strategies.
You could try carrying out the so-called S.W.O.T analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). It will allow you to limit your business risks as much as possible and create unique and competitive advantages using your strengths or improving your weaknesses.
In other words, only when you execute quantitative or qualitative market research and get profound insights into the online behavior and needs of your customers; only when you analyze the market trends, competition, and technological developments you can establish and perform an e-commerce strategy successfully.
Obviously, this strategy is not a ready-to-use solution that can be prescribed to any e-tailer for achieving their ambitious business goals.
As soon as you are done with all the analyses mentioned above, you will be able to figure out your own e-commerce strategy based on different factors including the current coronavirus outbreak and its unknown aftermath.
Still, we are happy to share with you a few important focus points that might help you to do the vital adjustments to your own unique strategy:
- Devise a fully thought-out mobile marketing strategy as part of the overall e-commerce strategy. Mobile is becoming the consumers’ preferred channel for online shopping. Everything needs to be adapted to the mobile experience
- Do not forget about customization. For example, you could use an immersive creation experience — no coding required! With live 3D and AR preview in the online store, your customers will know what they are going to get before the purchase even happens. Something like this will keep them coming back for more
- Make sure that you are using responsive and intuitive software. There are lots of advanced multifunctional solutions - Wix, Prestashop, as well as Shopify, Magento and WP plugins such as WooCommerce. We recommend carrying out some extensive tests before making the final choice
- Make sure that you are hiring high-skilled IT professionals, preferably experienced freelancers from trusted freelance platforms
- Constantly conduct user research and analyze customer behavior.
- Don't forget to work on your customer service
- Integrate ToFu (top-of-the-funnel) strategies. These strategies are designed for converting ToFu leads (prospects who are not ready to engage with you yet) into first-time buyers
- Collect segmented leads with comprehensive quizzes for deeper engagement
- Create well-thought-out holiday gift guides that might convince your prospects to make a purchase
- Convert one-time-purchases into long-time subscriptions
- Integrate MoFu (middle-of-the-funnel) strategies. These strategies are designed in order to convert MoFu leads (prospects who engaged with you but haven’t bought anything yet) into loyal customers
- Activate these leads via promotional emails
- Do not ignore their wishlists
- Analyze abandoned items in the cart and quickly react by offering the alternatives
- Integrate BoFu (bottom-of-the-funnel) strategies. These strategies are designed in order to convert your almost-ready-to-act prospects into first-time or repeat customers
- Do not underestimate the power of customer testimonials
- Aim for easy and convenient payment system. The same applies to delivery options. Free shipping is the best 😄
- Take care of the customers who ended up with Sold Out products;
- Do not forget about affiliate marketing programs. Make social media work for you.
Starting and developing a successful e-commerce business is not that simple. Like any other business, it’s involves a lot of hard work, skill, effort, and determination. Hopefully these tips will help you get ahead.
Still, it is necessary to choose the right people and right platform, establish long term sales and marketing strategies, follow your own unique pass, and always focus on your customers’ needs.