Ecommerce and 5 Steps to Building Your Strategy and Approach for Success
The new levels of demand that ecommerce has reached in the era of Covid-19 are now forcing businesses of all kinds to consider developing a digital sales channel, when a few months ago, it was not even a blip on their radar. The challenges brought about by this new paradigm must be addressed with an approach that allows for efficient integration with the business' current infrastructure, processes, and product portfolio.
In order to achieve this, we propose 5 steps to build your strategy and approach for success:
1. Development of a Clear Product Strategy
A common mistake made by companies trying to develop a digital sales channel is failing to consider the fitness of their current product offering to the digital consumer's requirements, habits, and expectations. Competitive scenarios are entirely different in the digital space, so several considerations are essential to minimize the possibility of failure.
- Differentiation. Our product or service offering must be revised in light of the new market conditions. It would be wise to review the value proposition and the most relevant benefits to be showcased to increase differentiation.
- Margins. Having a direct-to-consumer channel will most likely create a renovated, more effective cost structure, which could potentially improve our margins. It would be wise to consider transferring those savings to the end consumer, whose expectations of lower prices for digital purchases is a given.
- Niche. Sometimes the competitive digital landscape will make some of our products or services unfit to compete. We may need to choose only the most likely to win, and sometimes that implies tending to only a fragment of our traditional market, focusing on niches.
2. Customer Experience
The difference between success and stagnation in ecommerce is an optimal customer experience, and a few musts in this respect are:
- Customer centricity. The customer journey must be reimagined for the digital channel. New data sources, technological tools, and different interactions with the consumer have a notable impact on their experiences and perceptions. An in-depth analysis from the perspective of the consumer is the best way to get it right.
- Data-driven. One of the most significant advantages of digital experience management is the amount and depth of data about customer characteristics and behavior. Optimizing the experience is considerably more accurate when all decisions are made from hard data evidence. A/B testing is also a noteworthy source of information to enable incremental improvements.
- Social. A dominant trend since social media's mass adoption is the culture of distrust, which sees the customer trusting their peers more than they trust companies or mainstream media. Therefore it is crucial to incorporate socially integrated services, such as recommendations and sharing, to leverage reach and social interaction.
3. Technological Infrastructure
Several technological components are the foundation of a successful ecommerce operation:
- Platform. The landscape of ecommerce technologies is a vast and complex one. Choosing the right platform must take many factors into account, like the ease of implementation vs. integrability, complexity vs. customer experience, and customization vs. security. In the end, we must ensure that the platform selection fits our strategy and customer journey and not the other way around.
- Data. Ecommerce performance depends almost entirely on optimizing every step, every screen, and every user interaction. Data is the only way to achieve proper performance. Hence, it is mandatory to have sufficient data gathering tools and their optimal configuration to support decision making.
Security. Customer data protection is paramount to provide the customer with a strong perception of trust, as well as complying with GDPR and other privacy and security norms. Investing in reliable and secure cybersecurity measures is an indispensable ingredient for a successful ecommerce operation.
- Payment. Online payment is one of the most positively affected industries due to Covid-19, expanding the options for the customer and the merchants. Every day, it is cheaper, more comfortable, more secure, and more convenient to offer a diversity of payment channels to satisfy any customer preference.
4. Communication and Audiences
Whatever product categories, niche markets, business model, or geographical coverage an ecommerce has, every single one needs an audience. As previously mentioned, optimizing the audience experience can make or break an ecommerce business. A shortlist of considerations follows:
- Channels. An ecommerce operation can live within a marketplace, on a website, or even in a mobile app. All these options are non-exclusive. Any ecommerce can reach out to their audiences in all these channels. It is crucial to prioritize and adjust each, depending on the audience's preferences and behaviors. Once again, data must inform these decisions.
- Digital marketing strategy. Digital marketing for ecommerce is a different animal altogether. Some necessary and useful marketing tools in this medium include intensive and extensive product-based SEO, social amplification, video tutorials and demonstrations, influencer marketing, email marketing, conversion funnels, performance-based media buying, ROAS, and ROI monitoring. All of these should be coordinated to achieve sustainable and profitable ecommerce.
After the online customer journey, the delivery experience is responsible for completing a perfect experience or turning it all into one badly memorable ordeal. A few things to consider:
- Last-mile delivery. With the explosion of delivery suppliers, it can be daunting to decide which one is the best fit for our business. It all depends on the business model, coverage, reliability and service level offered by each of them. But also, the customer’s own preference must be an essential deciding factor.
- Owned vs. Outsourcing. Depending on the scale and the volume of our product offering and the market size, a feasible choice could be to create our delivery infrastructure. However, for most starting ecommerce operations, that would not be the most reasonable approach.
It is evident that a successful ecommerce business entails significant challenges, a sound strategy, and a great amount of data; make sure to have a comprehensive checklist and expert help when starting out your ecommerce project.