Why Your Ecommerce Strategy May Not Be Creating Growth
Launching your eCommerce venture is an exciting challenge. You’ve given a lot of thought to picking the best possible products for your audience group. After weeks of testing, you’ve come up with a range of top-quality products that could become tomorrow’s favorites. You’ve secured a memorable brand name and domain name. You’ve got an eye-catching logo. You are ready to conquer your audience!
Experts estimate there are 12 to 24 million eCommerce websites around the world. The good news is that, while you are unlikely to be the sole eCommerce business in your niche market, there is plenty of room for growth. It is worth remembering that giant eCommerce website, Amazon, accounts for almost half of all sales. Six in ten Millennials will go to Amazon for their online shopping, making the online retailer the only remarkable competition. Yet, more and more small eCommerce businesses use Amazon to get noticed by their audience group. With a projected growth of 23% year-over-year, the eCommerce sector has learned a lot during the pandemic. Many new ventures have now developed strong and innovative growth strategies that leverage their digital presence.
However, despite your best effort, your eCommerce business has failed to grow. Yet, here’s a clue for you: Competition is not to blame for the absence of growth. Instead, you need to focus on a strategy that can target some of the most commonly overlooked disparities in the eCommerce sector.
Advisors don’t care about small businesses
Business consultants can be a game-changer when you are trying to grow your presence, regardless of your sector of activity. Unfortunately, in the eCommerce world, typical consulting services are available for large companies that have already proven their worth. Yet, the last thing you want when you’re launching a new business is for a consultant to ignore your call for help and choose to support your largest competitors instead. That’s where an Ecommerce Marketing Consultant can tailor their approach to your needs, size, and team to help capture unique opportunities. More often than not, business owners can feel stuck for options when they lack specific eCommerce expertise. Planning growth, marketing communication, advertising, market research, and data analytics can be a challenge in its own right. But as a small business, you don’t have in-house experts to rely on for guidance. That is precisely where a consultant can make a big difference. Unfortunately, there can be a lot of unfair bias resulting from consulting agencies that target big players only. As a small venture, you want to find eCommerce venture advisors dedicated to supporting and growing businesses of 10 to 1,000 people.
Shipping costs can discriminate against small players
Consulting isn’t the only source of bias against small players. The eCommerce sector is built entirely on the premise that shoppers can receive their goods directly at home. As a result, the delivery experience can make or break the deal. According to recent studies, 38% of shoppers will change retailer if they have a bad delivery experience. More importantly, almost two-thirds of customers compare eCommerce businesses based on their delivery options. Customers are not afraid to choose a brand over another if it means they can enjoy more advantageous delivery services. Almost half of the customers will abandon their shopping cart if they don’t find satisfying delivery options as they get ready to purchase.
Yet, delivery options are likely to differ greatly between eCommerce businesses. Big players can provide premium shipping services, such as same-day delivery, overnight shipping. However, for smaller brands, the only affordable option could be to stick to the more traditional 2-day shipping. Additionally, it’s worth noting that established brands can benefit from preferential tariffs that keep shipping costs low due to large shipping volume. On the other hand, small brands may not be able to match their low costs.
Customers are less loyal than you think
The first thing you learn when you launch your first business is to calculate the cost of customer acquisition. Promoting your brand and gaining the trust of new customers as a new player on the market can be a time and cost-demanding challenge. Thankfully, the marketing theory states that you can focus your efforts on retention once you’ve gained customers, as existing customers can remain valuable without the cost of acquisition. Except that this strategy fails to consider human psychology. Customers are forgetful. Just because they bought from your brand in the past, it doesn’t mean they will come back to you for future purchases. More people forget brands. Even an acquired and satisfied customer can accidentally purchase from a competitor with a similar look and feel as your brand without noticing the difference. Besides, people can change their minds for a variety of reasons. Perhaps, they have outgrown your target audience or found themselves in a new situation where buying from the same brand wasn’t an option. Consequently, an eCommerce strategy that focuses on customer retention could hinder growth.
Forget websites, social media rules
The eCommerce sector has ventured outside the realm of sites to consider social media. Social commerce, or the process of selling your products directly on a social media platform, is transformational to eCommerce strategies. Experts estimate that social commerce sales will reach $604.5 billion by 2027, making the platform the biggest opportunity small brands will ever have. We can thank the pandemic for the sudden surge of interest in social media and selling via social media. The Instagram Shop enables brands of all sizes to connect with their audience and sell conveniently in a matter of clicks. Facebook also provides a similar option, alongside Pinterest and TikTok. For small brands, it’s a game-changer as 60% of Gen Zers use social media, and especially Instagram, to uncover new brands and products. Being there where potential customers are looking for you can transform your brand awareness.
However, social media platforms are the first to react to rapid changes in trends and moods. An unknown brand that is spotted in the feeds of an influencer or a minor/major celebrity can suddenly experience overnight success. Success fluctuates online rapidly, depending on the social zeitgeist. It can be disheartening for brands of all sizes to build a strategy on the assumption that success is here to last.
Brands receive a lot of mentions online
Social media platforms are a unique digital room where businesses and users can both share content. The principle of user-generated content puts customers at the heart of your brand presence on social media. Indeed, a satisfied customer can refer to a brand online. Similarly, a dissatisfied customer can also reach out on social media to request customer support. To avoid confusion, it can be a good idea to follow the lead of fashion retailer H&M, who has created the HMxme hashtag to capture the customers’ experience. Using the hashtag, fashion bloggers, shoppers, and influencers are keen to share their outfits or home interiors, showcasing the branded products in a natural environment. From H&M’s perspective, it’s free advertising. Online mentions can act as a free advocacy program, where users can gain the attention of the brand in the process. On the other hand, the brand can leverage the mentions to reach a new audience group.
However, mentions can also reflect on established brand awareness. A brand that is already popular will likely receive more mentions than a completely unknown brand. Influencers and bloggers will prefer to link back to a social media account with a large follower group, as they want to grow their presence in the process. In other words, a small brand can find it hard to create a buzz on social media.
Tech innovation can make or break a brand
During the pandemic, British fitness guru, Joe Wicks, recorded a surge of new membership registrations to his online services. Wicks provides paid-for fitness and weight loss programs that combine both workouts and nutrition advice that can be partially personalizable. Wicks used the pandemic to promote free physical training online for kids, using the opportunity to reach out to new audience groups. The adult fitness program is highly effective and popular. Testimonials are overwhelmingly positive. But there’s one thing that testimonials fail to mention. Joe Wicks programs have recently been upgraded to be available via a customizable app accessible only on iPhone and iPad working with iOS 13 or above. What does this mean for customers? Simply put, customers who do not own a recent Apple device feel left out. They have access to the former generation program, which doesn’t offer the same level of service as the app. The bottom line? Tech innovations can be necessary to save costs or target new customer groups. Unfortunately, innovation can also be exclusive, forcing brands to divide their customers. Yet, decisions on technological innovation are typically taken at shareholder levels, leaving those with the money to decide where they would rather invest. In other words, there is sometimes no room for inclusiveness and growth in the business strategy.
In conclusion, creating a reliable and profitable growth strategy is no easy task. ECommerce ventures need to secure access to expert advisors who are experienced in their sectors. An advisor can help navigate the many fluctuations linked to customer behaviors, social media fluctuations, “imposed” tech innovations and service disparities.
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