You’re looking to grow your business. You’ve decided that the best way to do that is to grow your customer base by reaching new customers online. But how exactly can digital marketing and, more specifically e-commerce, help you to grow your customer base and achieve your goals?
There’s no question that e-commerce is growing exponentially. E-commerce has completely changed the way that consumers behave to research, evaluate and consume products and services. Year on year, online sales are rapidly growing and this is only going to increase.
The question is, how can your small business capture your share of this rapid growth in online sales, and can e-commerce and digital marketing help you to reach new customers, and maybe even sell more to your existing customer base?
In this guide, we’re going to outline our top 10 e-commerce strategies which you can use to grow your business online using digital marketing and e-commerce.
As with any marketing strategy, the first step to maximising your business’ online sales is to have a comprehensive understanding of your target market. Whatever your product or service, you need to clearly define which niche markets you aim to target so that your can sell online with specialised offerings that will add value to your current offering to influence your online customers’ decision-making process.
You then need to select a digital channel through which customers can obtain your product or service, whether it be a popular online retailer such as eBay or Amazon, or a bespoke e-commerce website for your business. This will all depend on the nature of your business and your e-commerce strategy: what are your aims, budget, timescale and what do your online customers expect?
The online consumer, or what we like to call ‘Consumer 2.0′ has a wide range of demands and needs which need to be satisfied for them to effectively research, evaluate and select your offer over competitors’.
If you are trading through an established online retailer then this will be less of an issue. However, if you have decided to develop a bespoke e-commerce website, then you need to be delivering a personalised, one-of-a-kind experience to every visitor.
A winning e-commerce strategy will be integrated with an highly effective content marketing strategy utilising user-generated content in order to drive customer action. If you’re selling through an established retailer such as Amazon, they have customer feedback systems on product pages which provide customers with a wealth of useful information from real customers, which in turn develops customer loyalty and will serve as one of the most important factors in the purchasing process when you are reaching new customers online.
Tailor the experience to Target Segments
If your are developing a bespoke e-commerce website, engaging design and friendly navigation menus will be key ingredients of your site design which will attract new customers and increase repeat purchases significantly. For the customer, it makes the shopping experience so much more enjoyable and accessible.
If your product range is diverse and your target market consists of a number of segments, then this is a strategy that your customers will absolutely love. Tailor the browsing experience to your different segments to provide a shopping experience which is more relevant and engaging to each type of customer.
Let’s say you’re selling bags. You have a back to school range which is sensibly priced, modern trendy designer bags for college students and a range of luxury handbags. Your site design will then be automatically tailored based on the age of that customer. So if a college student goes to your website, they’ll see a modern design with vibrant colours as opposed to clean dark colours for older customers who will be interested in your luxury range.
Provide the same experience for all your customers across all your digital channels. The chance is if one of your customers is a loyal Amazon user, that’s where they are going to go to research and purchase what they are looking for – they’re not going to visit each company’s website to check for details.
Enable your customers to experience your brand seamlessly by integrating your e-commerce strategy across a range of digital channels. They key is to understand your online customer and which channels they use, these are the channels you need to be targeting.
Mobile commerce is growing exponentially, at a rate of 130 percent each year. If you do not have a mobile commerce strategy, and online sales represent a significant proportion of your sales revenue, then you are going to see a huge loss in revenue over the next several years.
In order to stay competitive and continue to sustain or grow your online sales, you need to have a mobile commerce strategy in place. This means offering a range of mobile-accessible services including real time notifications, click to call, maps, product information and customer feedback/reviews.
Use logistics providers
If you’ve identified e-commerce as one of your long-term growth strategies, then you need to be able to accommodate the increasingly number of orders you’ll be facing.
Third-party logistics providers can help you to answer a large number of complex orders relatively easily. Reverse logistics, your ability to handle exchanges and returns efficiently and economically is an increasingly important factor to consumers and using a logistics provider could give you the competitive edge you need.
Do you have a product or service which your customers would like to receive on a regular basis? For example, a downloadable series of books – something that you can send on a monthly basis, this is called the replenishment model. Or your product or service may be more suited to the discovery model, where you offer your customers a subscription to a curated experience, something that’s new or hard to find, delivered periodically to the customer’s doorstep.
Cut out the middle man
The Internet is enabling small businesses across the world to have greater access to a wider group of consumers. Large manufacturers, including those based in foreign markets such as China, are increasingly looking to do business with smaller businesses as they realise the potential of small businesses which trade online. A smaller business also has the unique advantage being able to introduce new products or services more easily because they aren’t limited by the many constraints which face large, complex organisations such as complicated supply chains.
Provide a seamless customer experience
Your online sales will see a healthy boost if you offer your customers a seamless experience when shopping with you – that means making sure that brand experience, product availability, promotional strategies and content marketing are delivered consistently to all your customers, across all your digital channels. Whether customers are buying in-store, from home, or on the go, they expect an awesome customer experience. Here’s a top tip: To measure the performance of your digital channels, implement web-based supply chain technology.
And there you have it. Our top ten tips for growing your business through online sales! Whether you’re new to e-commerce and want to find out whether it’s right for you, or you’re looking to do it better and grow your business online, we’re here to help you grow your business and get the best results from all the exciting opportunities that digital marketing can offer!