Introduction to Ecommerce Strategy
Until a decade ago, it wasn’t possible to buy something you have not physically seen or felt. It meant taking the trouble to visit shops and outlets and find the right product that meets your requirements. For example, a particular shirt brand of a particular size may be available only in one or two shops in your area and you need to do some legwork to know where it is.
Likewise, an electronic device or appliance could be selected only after visiting a few shops and spending time examining its features and pricing.
With internet access becoming universal, payment gateways becoming secure and reliable and rapid growth in mobile telephony, increasing the number of mobile applications (apps) thanks to smartphones, buying goods have become so easier at the click of a mouse or a scroll on your mobile. Anything from jewelry, heavy machinery, cooked food, groceries, electronic goods can now be ordered online in the convenience of your home or office.
No wonder, more and more businesses are setting up ecommerce strategy of outfits to sell their own products or act as aggregators sourcing products from other companies and selling it. The success of Amazon, eBay, Alibaba, Flipkart, all point to the enormous potential of ecommerce business worldwide. Ecommerce strategy is advantageous on account of lower overhead costs, lower distribution costs but it requires some planning and groundwork to get the ecommerce business going.
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Following are the different steps:
1. Create a Good Website & Ecommerce Strategy plan its Content
Just as in brick and mortar having a physical space is important, likewise in having e commerce website is the first important step in starting the business. It should have an attractive name that people can recall easily and if possible related to the type of goods we are planning to sell. Sometimes, a generic name will also suffice as later on, you may add more categories to be sold on ecommerce site.
The homepage should be appealing but simple to use and navigate. Pay attention to the quality of the content as it must slowly come up in Google rankings. Apart from product descriptions, photos, or videos, there must be an introduction regarding the company, its operations, terms and conditions of sale. Educative blogs, product reviews and news clippings can also be added in the site.
Ensure that content is original and not pulled or rephrased from other sites. It applies not only to text but videos, audios, infographics, and images too. Also have space for user-generated content in the form of opinions, product reviews, videos, and audios. Some of the best ecommerce marketing strategy involved asking people to upload videos for a charitable cause.
2. Start Marketing Activity for the Site
Once the ecommerce site is ready and running, people need to know about the site for your sales to happen. In the initial stages you may not have the funds to go for big media campaigns nor is it required as most of the promotional work should happen online. Google Adwords enables you to place ads on pages most searched for your keywords and some traffic would happen through organic growth if the ecommerce site is search engine optimized (SEO). Use Pay-per-Click (CPC) advertising and CPM (Cost per impression) advertising in search engines wisely by selecting the most relevant keywords and bidding for them. This will enlarge your reach online and visibility to a growing number of customers who shop online.
For small businesses having a content management system (CMS) in place would be a great advantage. Having a CMS as in WordPress would enable you to do away with coding requirements, it will ensure automatic security updates to make sure the customer data and your own data is secure. Installing Plugins can help you create web forms for your customers to contact you. Ninja forms and NextGen are good options to try out.
Email campaigns with good offers and discounts can lure traffic to your e-commerce site and lead to sales conversions. It is better to use an email management software that will track your results, give page templates, automate your sending process, give delivery and open rates status. Some e-commerce companies offer on monthly and yearly subscription rates for email management based on the number of emails sent.
MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, AWeber, GetResponse, Constant Contact are some of the popular email management software in the market. It is always better to verify the email addresses before sending, have a good subject line, content with text and pictures that are well written and edited for clarity with a definitive call-to-action: Such as Register, Accept, Download, Contact etc.
3. Start Social Media Campaigns
Social media popularity is gaining day- by -day and no marketers can ignore the power of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Linkedin. New products, offers, discounts, competitions, lucky draws, and coupons can all be popularized through social media. Social media players have now options to increase visitors to your website, create more likes for your posts, create more likes for the page and in Twitter generate more followers.
It is better to stick to three or four good posts every week rather than sharing and posting the large number of postings that appear as spam for those who like your page. It is better to automate the Facebook, Twitter posts by scheduling ahead rather than spending daily on updating the pages.
Instagram is an ideal social media to share product photos, reviews and user-generated content quite popular in the United States.
Youtube is an ideal ecommerce marketing strategy for sharing videos of your products, user testimonials and sharing them on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest etc.
4. Have an Online Shopping Cart
A shopping cart app is a must for online shopping which works with the most number of payment gateways. Ecwid is one such app that is capable of seamlessly integrating with the website and social media. It is capable of tracking all your sales, gives comprehensive information about the store and allows you to add categories of goods. Payment options should be flexible and in some cases, the cash-on-delivery option may be ideal to get more business depending on the target persona and products sold.
An effort should be made to make the checkout process simple and less cumbersome for the shopper. Registering before buying can enable them to re-login into their account and continue with the purchase procedure where they have left.
5. Distribution and Logistics
The most important part of ecommerce strategy business apart from of course the quality of goods is the delivery of goods, returns policy and shipping costs. In some regions, where appointing a carrying and forwarding (C&F) agent for local delivery is not possible, additional costs may be incurred in shipping the goods as such it should be clearly mentioned at the time of sale whether there are additional shipping costs on the product. The Ecwid shopping cart app mentioned above integrates with most shipping companies which help in integrating shipping rates into the system. By quoting shipping rates at the time of checkout, the company saves from revenue leakage due to unexpected shipping costs. This is more applicable for global business.
Similarly, taking into consideration the growth and volume of business, it makes sense to tie up with third-party logistics providers to manage complexities. Reverse logistics is also important as customers judge a company by how fast they handle returns and exchanges. Reducing the delivery time and delivery within the scheduled time is vital for the success of e-commerce marketing strategy business.
6. Sell Internet-Exclusive Products
The success of Moto G, X mobile from Motorola is here to stay. The company launched their products exclusively on Flipkart.com and it remains internet exclusive although it has a service network covering all cities and towns in the country. None of its products are available in retail. So to increase the charm of your e-commerce marketing strategy venture it is better to focus on products that are exclusively available online. It could be ethnic jewelry or garments, recycled paper, imported electronic goods or accessories not available in retail and so on.
7. Invest in Mobile Sales and Marketing
Many e-commerce companies are now developing mobile applications and doing promotions on mobile to get across a larger audience. Surveys show that people accessing the net through mobile phone is increasing rapidly and they are also more likely to download several apps for purchasing goods or for payment of bills. M-commerce or mobile commerce is growing at an exponential rate of 200 percent. Therefore, the e-commerce marketing strategy players need to provide product information, delivery status, click-to-call maps, real-time notifications to customers on mobile.
8. Give Personalization a Priority
Online shoppers have different tastes, interests and buying behavior, therefore, catering to their needs is paramount. Even smaller players can use the newest technologies available to create a unique personalized shopping experience based on their interests and preferences. Individualised promotions, personalized product selection and shopping experience are what they are looking for.
If a customer has shopped for a mobile phone before and is presently shopping for jewelry, they can be reminded of new offers in mobile phones which may be of interest to them and hence lead to sales. Or the new offers and suggestions could also be based on their browsing history enabled through tracking cookies.
9. Wishlists and Customer Interaction
When shopping online, visitors usually forget about their wishlist and hence a gentle reminder may help them complete their buying process and help generate revenue for the company. Interaction with customers should be an ongoing process either through email, phone or through SMS.
10. Defining your Niche Market
For small and medium players it is important to establish their ‘territory’ or niche and identify the target audience with common interests and spending behavior. The e-commerce site should be tailor-made for such an audience. This is better than targeting a large database and losing focus.
The success in e-commerce marketing strategy space depends on a variety of factors such as product quality, delivery time, returns policy, customer service, payment procedures and so on. The most basic requirement, however, is to have great content to drive readers to your site. Product descriptions should be unique, user reviews should be encouraged, optimize site load times.
It is important to have good quality photos that can be zoomed in and seen from different angles for the buyer to decide on the purchase decision. It applies to most products including jewelry, phones, clothing, electronic products and consumer products. Site loading times can be improved by reducing the photo resolution and not putting too many photos on a page.
In the case of clothing, footwear and accessories, body measurements and corresponding sizes should be clearly mentioned rather than just saying Small, Medium, Large, Extra large etc. In some cases, it makes sense for the company to have an offline presence in some cities so that those who want to touch, feel and buy have the option to do so. This can be enabled through own outlets or through franchising to reduce costs.
The different pages could be linked making it easier for Google to show the search results. In fact, search engines prefer e-commerce sites that have the internal linking facility. This is possible by linking relevant pages thus making navigation easier for the buyer.
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In many e-commerce sites, you find many products displayed but some of the in-demand products may be out of stock. It is better to have a dynamic e-commerce site that updates product outruns in real time so that customers only see what is on offer.
Security is of paramount importance in e-commerce and implementing secure socket layers (SSL) in e-commerce site with valid certificates would go a long way in establishing credibility with search engines and customers. Most importantly correct any spelling, grammatical or brand name errors. Some e-commerce sites have links that lead to 404 error message, ensure that links to external sources are functional. It is possible through Google Webmaster tools and crawling application like Screaming Frog. Create a URL (universal resource locator ) for each page that search engine optimized and has e-commerce strategy keywords with the name of product and category.
This has been a guide to Ecommerce Strategy. Here we discuss the basic concept with Top 10 Tips to Succeed in Ecommerce Strategy. You may also look at the following articles to learn more –