Running an ecommerce business has plenty of advantages over other types of companies. You can do it from anywhere with an internet connection. You don’t have the overhead of maintaining a storefront, and you don’t need to fret over the ideal location of said storefront. But that doesn’t mean it comes without its own distinct set of challenges.
The ecommerce landscape is constantly changing. There are always new channels to reach customers, and SMB merchants can get lost in the shuffle of big marketplace companies at war with one another, like we’re currently seeing with Walmart and Amazon.
And, of course, there’s the never-ending flux of consumer habits. Some 69 percent of customers between 18 and 36 years of age still prefer in-person shopping for most things other than books, office supplies and consumer electronics. But with customers spending more of their time on mobile devices, the rapid maturation of m-commerce is poised to change that.
How to Future-Proof an eCommerce Business
Let’s say you’re already up and running with your ecommerce business and have the basics covered. Here are some tips you can implement to stay competitive and current as the landscape continues to evolve.
The 18 largest marketplace operators, including Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and Jet, sold more than $100 trillion worth of goods last year. That’s about half of all ecommerce sales. Some 92% of customers shopped on Amazon, and 65% of consumers said they feel comfortable purchasing from merchants they’ve never heard of before on marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay.
To make the most of your brand’s online presence, you need to leverage multiple channels – both in terms of remaining active and making sure you’re optimized for them. You must be present on price comparison engines, mobile apps, multi-site product aggregators, marketplace platforms, and social commerce options.
So how can you do this? Using a system like BigCommerce gives you a central location to manage all your sales channels. Not only do you get ecommerce management tools for your website, but the platform integrates with top channels including Google Shopping, Amazon, eBay and Pinterest. Your inventory can sync across all marketplaces, social media, and your point of sale platforms including ShopKeep and Square. This approach allows you to avoid errors, skip manual data entry and optimize your inventory.
Get Serious About Pinterest Ads
Pinterest is an often-neglected social network, even though it is the third largest one out there, with more than 175 million monthly active users. The network is comprised of 80 percent women, but the number of men using it is increasing, with 40 percent of new sign ups coming from them.
If that fits your demographic, you may be interested in knowing that it’s one of the most affluent social networks, as more than a third of the user base earns more than $75,000 a year. As a result of that higher income, the average order value from Pinterest ads is $50 – making it the highest of all social media channels.
Promoted pins are an excellent investment, especially since you can use them to sell products within the Pinterest ecosystem. Plus, free impressions come into play when Pinterest users save promoted pins to their own boards. Because pins never disappear, whether they are promoted or not, and the majority of advertisers see about 5 percent more impressions a month or so after their ad campaigns end.
Using a combination of promoted and organic pins helps boost overall performance of all pins on your account. There are four different ad types you choose from: Awareness, Engagement, Traffic, and Action Pins, so you can choose the one that works best for your goals.
Get Your Google Analytics in Order
Assuming you’ve already signed up for Google Analytics and implemented the tracking code across your site using the Google Tag Manager, it’s time to get more serious about the data you collect and how you use it. At the very least, make sure you integrate your shopping cart and enable ecommerce tracking.
This allows you to more easily see your ecommerce conversion rate, your total number of purchase orders, your revenue, and your average order value alongside all the other valuable metrics about your audience demographics and behavior. You’ll have a much easier time determining the ROI on your advertising campaigns with this data so readily available.
If you want to take it one step further, you can use Cyfe’s new data mashup widget to help you combine different metrics from various other dashboard widgets together, so you can correlate the conversions you track in Google Analytics with social media engagement, email clicks, YouTube video views, Moz ranking fluctuations and more. This can help you spot trends faster, so you to make better-informed business decisions.
Turn Your Brand into a Lean Media Company
Content marketing can help you strengthen your brand in a number of ways. It expands your brand’s presence online, helps build brand awareness, and ultimately is one of the best tactics to bring new customers to your store.
Start by creating buyer personas, or representations of who your ideal customers are. Then, create content for those people, as if you were speaking directly to those fictional individuals. Think about the demographics and background of all major customer groups, and create a persona for each of them.
Next, think about the types of content you want to develop for various stages of the buyer’s journey. Options can include case studies, buyer’s guides, authority guides, lists, expert roundups, infographics, product comparisons and podcasts. Leave room to use images and video wherever possible to enhance your content overall. If you decide to go the podcasting route, you can use a tool like Anchor to transform your podcasts into sharable videos – getting more bang for your content buck.
Once you know the kind of content you want to develop, create an editorial calendar to help you stay organized, especially if you’re working with a team. This will let you know what content you should be working on and when, and allows you to align your content publication with any timely merchandising promotions you’re also working on.
Promote your content – to your own audience, to other companies’ audiences, and with paid media advertising. Promote it on your blog, your social media accounts, your email list and so on. Find influencers to target, and work with them to promote your content and spread your message.
Experiment with Augmented Reality
Not quite the same thing as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) can be a unique way to stand out from the crowd.
Your brand can use Snapchat Lenses, or create a sponsored Lens as part of a wider marketing campaign. Take, for instance, the 2016 Super Bowl, when Gatorade created a Lens that poured a bucket of Gatorade over the user’s head. In 24 hours, they saw more than 100 million views, and it continued to go strong after the Super Bowl ended. Smaller brands, of course, are unlikely to see that level of engagement, but even a fraction of it would be a major win.
You can also use Instagram face filters, although these can’t be branded just yet – to create something fun and memorable for your followers. You can also use the Facebook Frame Studio and AR Studio, or venture your way into augmented reality apps.
Putting it All Together
Though a successful ecommerce store won’t happen overnight, staying competitive and current will be easy as long as you focus on creating an omni-channel presence with fresh content assets on many platforms, and as long as you have the tools in place to track what’s performing best for you.
Work systematically to include all of these things in your ecommerce growth strategy, and you’ll be primed for a viable business into the future.
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