The advent of technology has allowed businesses to move away from traditional brick-and-mortar stores to the online world. Today, almost all businesses have a digital presence because more and more buyers prefer shopping from the comforts of their homes. 96% of Americans who have internet have purchased something online.
Research shows that millennial and Gen Xers devote around 6 hours per week to online shopping. The growth in online shopping has been exponential. Global online sales were worth $1.9 trillion in 2016 and this figure is expected to rise to $4.06 trillion by 2020.
However, low barriers to entry have saturated the online marketplace and intensified competition. Even though it is easier to set up an online store, standing out from the crowd and capitalizing on digital channels is not everyone’s cup of tea.
Just having online presence doesn’t cut it anymore; to conquer the online world, you need to have a plan and a strategy.
Here are five lessons that you can learn from those who have done it right.
1. Craft a strategic marketing plan
Richard Lazazzera, the founder of Finch, a successful e-commerce store, believes that a business without a comprehensive marketing plan is like a bucket with holes. It was Richard’s strategic marketing plan that supported Finch in its infancy.
His marketing plan focused on converting prospective customers as soon as they entered the funnel. Some of the elements of the marketing plan were capturing emails through newsletter subscription options, upselling offers, and retargeting customers who abandoned their carts.
Successful e-commerce stores engage in 360-degree marketing, where they try to reach customers at all touchpoints. For best practices, you can look up to Sophie and Trey, an online boutique that is leveraging all the right digital channels to reach out to their audience. The boutique has its own blog, a YouTube channel and is also active across all major social media platforms.
2. Engage with customers
You have to build a connection with your customers and the only way to do so is by talking to them. David Tendrich, CEO of Reliable PSD, emphasizes the importance of having meaningful conversations with customers.
He believes that customers have all the answers that you are looking for; you just need to ask them. You have to show your customers that you care about them and you can do that by promptly addressing their concerns and queries.
This will help you build your brand equity and ultimately drive more visitors. According to McKinsey research, 70% of customers’ buying experiences are directly related to how they feel they are being treated. Digital marketing agencies such as setalks can help you keep your customers engaged.
3. Invest in customer loyalty
A customer at your store is worth more than two at the competitors’ store. Often businesses focus on acquiring new customers than on managing existing ones. A loyal customer not only spends more, ut also provides free word-of-mouth marketing.
Research shows that 71% of customers stopped using a service because of a bad experience. The total loss was $83 billion in the US only. In the world of automation, customers crave to talk to a real person. Make sure that you have trained staff to help them.
It may seem a bit obvious, but loyalty programs have a huge impact. As per Nielsen, 76% of North American consumers prefer retailers who have loyalty programs. Ease of payment is yet another important factor that ensures loyalty.
4. Have a long-term vision
A long-term vision always keeps you on the right path; it does not let you drain your energy on short-term benefits. The example of Amazon is quite relevant here. Amazon started off as an online bookstore only.
However, Jeff Bezos’ vision was to turn Amazon into a complete online store and now Amazon is one of the largest e-retailers out there. Amazon’s mission has always been “Growth over profits” and Amazon has stayed true to its mission.
As Jeff Bezos put it, “any company that wants to invent on behalf of customers has to be willing to think long term and it’s actually much rarer than you might think.”
5. Keep an eye on competition
Regardless of the size of your company, there will always be someone that does something better than you. Hence, it is imperative that you keep a vigilant eye on the competition.
Some of its notable acquisitions include IMDB, and Goodreads. Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, has been able to beat Amazon as economies of scope and scale lead to cost savings. The company has 350 million active buyers, which translate into high operating margins.
Setting up an online business is much easier than scaling it. But the real key to a lucrative business is a customer-centric approach. You have to step into the shoes of your customers and think about their needs first.
Sohail Rupani is a senior digital marketing strategist at Pac and Copy Plus, a Florida based print and digital media agency. He specializes in SEO and SEM techniques. He is passionate about technology and loves to aanalyzethe tech industry in his spare time and stay in touch with the latest happenings. He also writes technical articles about SEO and digital marketing. Follow @sohailrupani for more updates.