In today’s world, a strong e-commerce strategy is vital for the success of retail brands and businesses hoping to maintain their spot in the market. Shahid Nizami, Regional Vice President, Asia Pacific and Japan, ActiveCampaign, speaks to us about how companies can create a successful online retail plan.
In challenging economic times, maintaining a reliable online revenue stream can keep your business buoyant.
Are you wondering how you’ll maintain a healthy volume of sales over the next 12 months? You’re far from alone.
Supply chain disruption, inflation and staff shortages continue to make life difficult for retail brands and businesses.
And while the cessation of COVID-19 restrictions has seen more customers cautiously venturing back into bricks and mortar outlets, online shopping remains the preferred modus operandi for many consumers around the world.
So much so that global e-commerce sales are tipped to total US$5.5 trillion worldwide in 2022. By 2025, they’re expected to account for almost a quarter of all retail sales.
Against that backdrop, a compelling e-commerce strategy is no longer nice to have. Rather, it’s likely to prove critical to the health – and survival – of your enterprise.
I’ve spent the last decade of my career helping companies of all stripes and sizes craft and execute e-commerce strategies that have driven topline growth and contributed to healthy bottom-line profits.
Here are five things to keep in mind when developing or overhauling yours this year.
Your product range
Selling online can appear a pretty simple proposition. Put your entire product range and price list on your site, arrange an online payment facility with your bank and dispatch the orders as they come in, right? In reality, it’s likely to be significantly more complex and there are plenty of opportunities for rookie players to come unstuck.
At present, for example, rising freight costs are a serious roadblock for many businesses, particularly if they’re located outside major hubs or they sell bulky or heavy items. With consumers generally reluctant to pay high shipping fees, retailers may need to consider absorbing some of those costs, if they’re to make sales. While taking that economic hit may be good for topline growth, your bottom line may end up looking decidedly less healthy as a result.
That’s why it pays to curate your range, so every item you put up for sale online has the potential to make, not lose, money for your business.
Your capacity to service customers
Online or in-store: you may think of them as two separate aspects of your business, but customers don’t see it that way. Whether they’re transacting with you digitally or in real life, your brand is your brand. It doesn’t matter if you’re an international behemoth like Amazon or a boutique business with a single outlet – buyers expect and demand a consistent, high-quality customer experience across all channels. If you fail to deliver, they’ll mark you down accordingly.
For that reason, it’s essential to ensure you have the resources to not only dispatch online orders but also to manage enquiries and returns and all the other touchpoints in the customer life cycle efficiently and well. That could require you to partner with specialists that can handle aspects of your e-commerce operation, such as fulfilment and logistics, for you. You may also need to invest in additional customer service employees who can help you deliver efficient, responsive and personalised service.
Show the right message at the right time
Stop creating multiple landing pages and hoping people land on the right ones. Send everyone to the same page and personalise it — so that your message hits right on target every time. Additionally, you can boost store sales with smarter image placement. What’s the last thing each customer bought? What might they want next? Use each customer’s unique purchase history to create more opportunities to cross – and upsell by putting the right product and service images in front of the right visitors.
Opportunities to extend your reach
An e-commerce strategy that sees you marketing your wares to existing customers, or prospects who are already aware of your brand and business, is unlikely to yield more than incremental sales growth. Pursuing symbiotic or mutually beneficial relationships with other organisations can help you to extend your reach and tap new market segments and demographics.
One of your options for doing so may be joining an online marketplace. This segment of the e-commerce sector has seen exponential growth in recent years. Research conducted by Forrester in 2020 highlighted the fact that a third of all US business now flowed through e-commerce channels, with online marketplaces accounting for an extraordinary 63% of that trade.
Listing your wares on a reputable marketplace whose brand values and service levels are compatible with those of your business could help you expand your online footprint quickly and cost-effectively. It can be a great way to acquire a high volume of new customers without incurring the marketing and advertising costs that often come standard when you’re attempting to break into new territory.
Your capacity to evolve and pivot
Spending many years traversing the ever-evolving e-commerce landscape has taught me the benefits of having ‘strong convictions, loosely held’. What do I mean by this? In a nutshell, the best e-commerce strategy is one which allows you to pivot and adapt in response to customer trends and behaviours.
You’ll be able to do this successfully if you set clear goals for your e-commerce operation, implement metrics that enable you to monitor how well your enterprise is performing against those goals and constantly review your operations to determine whether a change of focus is warranted. And while it’s easy to gauge your prowess in straight sales terms, it pays to take a deeper, more holistic view; one which looks at return rates and customer lifetime value, as well as the volume of product you have heading out the door.
Setting your business up for a stronger future
In today’s times, a sound e-commerce strategy is essential for retail brands and businesses that hope to maintain mind and market share. Invest in ensuring yours is fit for purpose and you’ll stand a better chance of surviving and thriving, regardless of what the future holds in store.Click below to share this article