Since the past five decades, the world has seen accelerated growth in E-commerce. As of the year 2020, the global pandemic has shifted the course of E-commerce as more consumers opt for online relating shops over brick-and-mortar. Another reason for this peak is the variety of e-commerce strategies implemented by the sites.
As per Statista, there’s a significant rise in the total global retail sales in E-commerce at about 16.10 % in the Q3 of 2020 to 32.4% expectedly by the end of the year 2020. In addition to that, global retail sales surpassed USD 3.5 trillion about 18% more as compared to the year 2019 and are expected to double by 6 billion USD as of the year 2023.
The current E-commerce market is heavily dominated by Amazon. About 66 % of people worldwide choose to access Amazon for the product or service they are looking for. In such a dominating market, where the existing competition and emerging retailers are part of the online market every day, only the best will make it to the customers.
When it comes to e-commerce strategies, understanding the different stages of the buyer is essential. About 68% of people around the world, abandon their cart for various reasons. Thus, inbound marketing and understanding the sales funnel is important.
The sales funnel consists of three stages: Top of the funnel (ToFu), Middle of the Funnel (MoFu), and Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu).
Top of the Funnel (ToFu):
It is the first stage, and a crucial one indeed. At this stage, you as a company or brand can generate maximum potential leads. The individual or a person at this stage will first start searching for their preferred choice of product/ need/ service.
This is where you have to drive the audience towards you and generate leads by engaging with the customer and make them aware of what you provide and how you can help them with what they seek. You can do this using SEO tools, pop-ups, blog posts, etc.
Middle of the Funnel (MoFu):
At the top funnel, the lead got informed about your site and is now interested to know more thus, proceeding to MoFu, looking out to know more. This is where the lead will navigate through your products and services.
This stage could be complicated to serve millions of people out there, with their preference of choice. It is also the stage where most leads will leave if they don’t get the desired choice.
One can improve this stage by providing filters, delivery options, similar options for the products out of stock, etc. Provide information about quality standards through images, description or videos.
Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu):
BoFu is the deciding factor. This stage is where the client is ready to commit to your service and purchase the product.
To make this process more relevant, provide discount coupons, special coupons for first-time buyers, referral codes, etc. Make sure the client sticks with you and visits your site again.
All these stages of “Sales Funnel” are crucial for one to understand and study the customer and implement e-commerce strategies accordingly.
Following are some sure success e-commerce strategies that will help each of these stage work efficiently and in your favour:
1. UX/UI design:
In the year 2020, where the digital world has been ever-growing, every consumer prefers effortless and easy to access applications and websites. To make the interaction of your consumer with your site easier, one can apply design thinking phases: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test for your User Experience (UX) design. Know your audience, empathize with them, test the site, get some feedback and work on it. This is a continuous process.
User Interface (UI) should be easy to access. Note all the key factors essential for a better UI. Check for Checkboxes, Text field, Search Field, Sliders, Notifications, progress bars, pop-ups etc.
UX and UI design always go together and when worked properly can do wonders to your site. To imply this e-commerce strategy make sure the navigation is not overly complex, use landing pages, provide a log-in option, subscription, multiple payment options, and most importantly the security of your consumer.
Use proper colour palettes, design, shapes, images and videos. Avoid offensive content. Each layout and segment of your page must be simple yet distinct. Provide the consumer with proper descriptions, image/video references and creative banners.
Always try to minimize the efforts of your consumers as much as possible. Your site mostly, if not, partly defines your brand.
2. Augmented Reality (AR):
Augmented reality (AR) allows the user/consumer to preview the product or service before actually buying it, through a virtual experience. In other words, it is a virtual try-on. For example, the customers can try out their clothes or makeup virtually by applying different filters based on their size, body shape, colours, skin tone. A person willing to buy furniture can virtually visualize how it could fit in the room and see if it looks good.
About 30-40% of users purchase from sites that have augmented reality enabled. This is because it closes the gap between shopping at the store and online purchase.
From all e-commerce strategies, Augmented Reality is quite a technical build, it will definitely boost your site’s performance. Some of the most renowned websites that use Augmented Reality are IKEA and Sephora.
3. Mobile Commerce:
Of all electronic devices, about 51% of consumers prefer purchasing through mobile, over a computer. As per Statista, mobile commerce is expected to take over about 72% of the market sales by 2021.
The main advantage of mobile shopping e-commerce strategy is one can access the online shop from any place, at any time and is handy. The past three years have shown a significant rise in transactions through mobile. Mobile commerce is a big deal in the e-commerce market.
Apart from that, it is suggested that you create a website for your brand instead of an application. Most of the time, if your service is falling short to the consumer expectation, the user may delete the application, or uninstall it over memory issues. So, a website is a way to go. You can always provide an “add to your home page” option to your user, for easy accessibility. Mobile Commerce is one of the e-commerce strategies that one must consider crucial and take into practice.
4. E-commerce Terms:
The e-commerce market is wide and complex, so are the terms it is associated with. Studying and understanding the different e-commerce terms will help you understand the market, financial status, the consumer and so many other essential things required for your business knowledge. Some of the important e-commerce terms are explained below:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) helps in the visibility of your site and reach to the potential leads or traffic. Google uses a crawler that goes from site-to-site to match the organic search results and only the most relevant match results get it to the Search Engine Result Page (SERP). There are a variety of factors that contribute to the search engine algorithm like the domain, URL, internet speed, accessibility, uniqueness, etc.
Application Programming Interface (API) helps two servers communicate with each other or helps share/exchange data between two or more applications. API helps your sites overall functionality.
There are a variety of e-commerce examples: Log-in API, Product API includes the product description, product ID, product price, product discount, Cart API, Payment API.
Google Ads, in simple words, is online advertising. You pay Google a certain sum per day/week/month to allow your site to rank on the top of the Search Engine Result Page (SERP).
When a person is searching for a product with keywords that are associated with your site or brand, Google Ads will put your site in ranking on the first page. This increases the chances of maximum consumers interacting with your site, which in turn will help a top of the funnel consumer reach the middle of the funnel.
Return on Investment (ROI), helps you calculate your financial gain in an investment made. It is calculated as follows,
ROI: (Profit or Gain – Cost or Investment) / Cost or Investment X 100
There is no standard formula to calculate ROI, but the above mentioned is widely used.
Key Performance Indicators (KPI), in e-commerce, helps the user monitor the site’s progress regarding the following key categories: sales, marketing, customer service, and manufacturing. Each of these categories has a different formula to calculate the KPI.
There are many other terms like, Call to Action, Bounce Rate, Conversion Rate, Cart Abandonment Rate and so on.
5. Affiliate Marketing:
As per Statista, in the year 2020, the US spent about 6.8 billion USD on affiliate marketing and it is expected that it will hit around 8 billion USD in the US by the year 2022.
Affiliate Marketing is when a business pays two or more external websites a commission in exchange for the promotion of their site/ service/ product.
To make it simple, most sites provide the customer with a referral code, which when used by the referred person, they get a coupon discount or certain commission. Same works in Affiliate Marketing but in a much wider sense. There are three different parties involved in affiliate marketing namely: the seller, the affiliate, and the consumer.
Also, note that, as per the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), you need to disclose your income through affiliate links.
6. E-commerce tools:
To attain sustainable growth in e-commerce and imply e-commerce strategies, one has to invest in various tools associated with it. For a beginner, e-commerce could prove as a breakthrough but not unless you are using the appropriate tools related to mail and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Invest in resources or tools that are associated with each of these fields: Mail, Analytics, Marketing, Optimization and Social Media.
Top rated by TrustRadius in 2020, Mail Chimp is the best e-commerce tool for email marketing. Mail Chimps free plan allows its user to send up to 10,000 emails to over 2000 subscribers. This is huge if you’re a small business group or a beginner with minimum marketing resources. Mailing is the top-most e-commerce strategy for a beginner.
Google Analytics (Analytical):
Google Analytics helps in analyzing your website performance, scoreboards, and customers. It provides the user with a report based on customer engagement. This insight will help you understand the potential of a customer to buy your product or service.
Google Analytics has in-built technical support that will help you analyze huge data, audience reports, Funnel Analysis, Predictive analysis and many more. In addition to that, Google Analytics also allows its user sharing access. One can also connect the analytics with Video 360 and Ad Manager.
Google Marketing Platform (Marketing):
Google Marketing platform unifies DoubleClick Digital Marketing, which was first introduced in 1996 and Google Analytics Suite. This together helps the user in the optimization of digital media and customer experience under one single name.
In addition to that, Google Marketing Platform provides Integration centre to manage and share product links and Administrative control to control the users, provides insight on user accessibility.
Heat maps is an analytical software that helps its user visualize statistical data. CrazyEgg is one such heat map software. In addition to that, they offer eye-tracking tools like scroll map, overlay and confetti.
Heat Map: This feature allows the user to detect the number of clicks the customers tends to on your site. The heat map will highlight where people are clicking the most on your site in a variety of colours.
Scroll Map: The Scroll Map feature, through a spectrum of colours will highlight how far the customers tend to scroll down. The time moatspend is highlighted as darkest and fades down to the least amount spent.
Overlay: The CrazyEgg overlay also provides an overlay report where a user will see a (+) mark beside each clickable element. On clicking is (+) the user will see the percentage and number of people interacted on that particular clickable element.
Confetti: Much like heatmap, this feature also provides you with several clicks in a variety of colours except, confetti feature will highlight a particular colour for a particular metric. For example, if you choose the “day of the week” the orange will highlight Monday, green will highlight Tuesday, and so on. This will help you differentiate the highest peak of your site.
Facebook Ads (Social Media):
With over 2.60 billion users, Facebook continues to grow and attract customers. As of 2019, over 140 million small businesses benefited through Facebook ads. Facebook ads are the top-most used social media ad service at about 93%, second, being Instagram ad service at about 72%.
Facebook ads provide Dynamic product ads ( Automated ads for your product catalogue), Video ads (user-generated content/ customer experience review/ compelling story through videos), Short-looping videos (video ads that are 15 seconds or less), Carousel ads (can showcase up to 10 images within a single ad)
7. Customer Service:
Unlike Brick-and-Mortar shops, online retail shops have to go a step further to solve the customer’s product-related queries, gain feedback, or provide assistance. This is where e-commerce customer service comes in.
E-commerce customer service is a support system that helps in assisting their customers in making purchase decisions or resolving queries. Customer Service is valuable at each stage of the sales and is one of the most important e-commerce strategies.
When a customer makes a purchase, ask for their valuable feedback regarding the product, if there is dissatisfaction from the customer’s side, provide customer support and convert the distrust for the product into a trust or suggest alternatives. This will also boost customer satisfaction.
Most of the time, the customer will reach your site for help, this is where you need to have proper customer support that excels in communication, product knowledge and a positive approach.
8. Customer Analytics:
A recent study stated that about 56% of customers will never make a purchase again from your site if they encounter bad customer service. To improvise customer service, one can track metrics of customer satisfaction through Key performance indicators KPIs or customer analytics.
Customer Analytics helps in collecting systemic data related to customer satisfaction and customer insights. It is also called as data analysis.
With the help of customer analytics, the user can retain their customers as well as gain new customers, this will further help increase the return on investment (ROI), an overview on customers buying preferences, and predicting churn rate.
9. A/B Testing:
Most of the time, for beginners, the conversion rates are low, and cart abandonment rates are high that will eventually affect the Return on investment (ROI) rate. A/B testing also called Split testing compares two versions of the same webpage or site elements like email, marketing asset or Facebook ads.
A/B testing will highlight the crucial problems in your existing site that may need optimization. There are a variety of A/B testing tools available such as Optimizely, HubSpot, Adobe Market, VWO. For an accurate A/B testing results, do your research, formulate a hypothesis, analyse consumer psychology and test through split URL testing, Multivariate testing and Multi-page testing.
A/B testing is all about reducing bounce rates and customer pain points. It is data-driven and is based on statistical metrics.
10. Artificial Intelligence:
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a system that is programmed to act and think like humans. In simple words, it is a machine that responses like a human. Since e-commerce is online there is hardly any face-to-face interactions between the seller and the customer.
Many online retailers are now opting for Artificial Intelligence (AI), for recommending products or services to customers and interacting/ engaging with the customers through the chatbox. About 47% of digital marketers practice Artificial Intelligence Strategy and about 54% online retailers claim AI has increased their work efficiency. Artificial intelligence enhances decision making factor of the customer.
Following are the benefits of AI:
- Virtual assistance
- Personalized product recommendation
- Problem-solving through chat-bots
- Customer Relationship Management
- Efficient AI logistics
- Fraud detection
- Fraud prevention
- Detects Automation
- Search Optimization
- Market Analysis
Some of the most widely recognized e-commerce sites that use AI are Amazon, Alibaba and eBay
Gone are the days when subscriptions were only restricted to books, newspapers and magazines. With the ever-growing digital world, online service providers have started to allow subscriptions to their users.
E-commerce subscriptions allow customers to buy products regularly through subscribing to their plans by charging a fee. The subscription plans vary from weekly. monthly, quarterly and yearly and the pricing is done accordingly.
To gain more subscriptions the site may provide their customers with multiple benefits like a fast delivery option, personalized recommendations, discounted prices, high-quality customer support, and so on.
12. Voice Search:
Voice search has completely changed the course of the digital market and shopping. About 72% of people around the world who have voice search activated in their device use it for their convenience and about 41% of adults use voice search daily.
Juniper Research, UK based analyst estimated that voice search will enhance e-commerce by about 8080 billion USD by the year 2023.
Voice search allows the user to input an audio command on their device. It also provides a personalized shopping experience. Voice search also builds a healthy relationship with the customer as it enables virtual conversation.
Of all e-commerce strategies this one is currently trending and is here to stay for a long run. Most widely recognized sites that enable voice search as an e-commerce strategy are Amazon, Dominoes, Nestle.
Key Take-Aways From the above mentioned E-commerce Strategies:
- Easy to access and responsive site design and interface
- Enable Augmented Reality (AR)
- Mobile commerce is the way to go
- Engage in Affiliate Marketing
- Understand and study the various e-commerce terms
- Implement various e-commerce tools
- Customer Service contributes to brand recognition
- To improve customer service practice customer analytics
- A/B Testing will help to compare two webpages to understand the defects
- Artificial Intelligence is the future of e-commerce
- Provide subscriptions with relevant benefits to the customers
- Enable voice search
The world e-commerce will keep on evolving and now is the right time to get started with e-business/ e-commerce.
The e-commerce strategies listed above are merely a drop in this ocean on billions of online retailers. It is always suggested to research, take suggestions from highly experienced and highly qualified professionals before getting started. Check for the competitors, industrial growth, keep updated on what digital marketing topic is trending and what is outdated.
Some e-commerce strategies are required to get started with your journey while there are some you will implement through an on going experience, practice and learning.
On an ending note, though the world of e-commerce is vast, if you deliver the right content to right people and keep your site updated your growth is promised!