COVID-19 has left a lasting mark on the retail and wholesale landscape. As buyers stayed home, much more spending shifted online. Products once rarely bought online are now ecommerce staples. And speed and convenience have risen to the top of the list for customer demands. The future of ecommerce looks bright. But growing an ecommerce business is hard work and requires taking the right steps.
Implementing the right strategy will help you compete in a crowded market where many similar products and services are offered at a wide range of prices. As the competition ramps up, here are six ways to supercharge your ecommerce strategy.
1. Invest in automation
If you have an offline business and are considering expanding into ecommerce, automation should be at the top of your list when selecting an ecommerce platform.
Ecommerce automation leverages software to convert tasks, processes, or campaigns to automations that intelligently executes required tasks. It makes it possible to do more with limited resources and avoid being overwhelmed as an online business grows.
More businesses are using automation to increase efficiency and improve customer experience. According to Hubspot, 79 per cent of high-performing businesses have been using some form of marketing automation for more than three years. This shift has accelerated through COVID-19.
2. Send reminders when shopping carts are abandoned
Cart abandonment is one of the biggest ‘leakages’ for many ecommerce businesses. It’s common for people to click on the products they feel like purchasing and then abandon their cart. BI Intelligence has estimated that abandonment results in $4 trillion in lost revenue annually. But with business automation software, you can send reminders to customers who didn’t complete their purchases.
Research conducted by Listrack showed that initial emails sent three hours after a consumer abandons their online shopping cart have an average open rate of 40 per cent and a clickthrough rate of 20 per cent. So there’s a good chance of winning back some of these lost sales by following up.
3. Maximise customer value
With the high cost of gaining new customers, their value lies in repeat business. So, ultimately, the goal is to increase the lifetime value of your customers. This can include identifying your most valuable customers, and then determining the conversion paths they followed.
Find out how long it takes these customers to make a second, third, or fourth purchase, and the typical order in which items are bought. This provides the opportunity to accelerate purchases with tailored upsell and cross-sell calls to action, such as email follow-ups.
Another way to get repeat business is through a customer loyalty program. Offers and rewards based on past purchases can be used to entice customers to make additional purchases instead of considering competing providers.
4. Automate inventory management
Inventory management is key to building an efficient fulfillment network. Your inventory management system should accurately forecast demand so that inventory can be purchased, replenished, and managed effectively.
If you’re managing inventory in multiple locations, your inventory management system should also use automated rule-based order routing to match orders with stock in warehouses closest to the customer. This saves time, expedites fulfillment, and reduces shipping costs.
Learn more in Inventory Management: A Short Guide for SMEs.
5. Build trust to boost ecommerce sales
If you’re an unknown brand or have a new online store, building trust will help you sell online. One way to build trust if by displaying customer reviews and testimonials where potential customers can see them. Also including trust badges will help to boost your reputation. Depending on what you offer, these can include badges for:
- Guaranteed safe and secure checkout
- Free shipping and returns
- Accepted payment methods (such as PayPal and credit cards)
- Third-party endorsements (such as Google and Trust Pilot)
- Money back guarantee.
6. Create urgency and scarcity to increase sales
Successful ecommerce businesses create a sense of urgency and scarcity through special offers to customers. These can include limited-time discounts on all products or product ranges. Alternatively, if you are overstocked on a product, you could have a flash sale to generate sales. By leveraging data and automation, you can target customers who have purchased the same or similar products before through email marketing.
Although offering incentives will be more applicable to online retailers, wholesalers and business-to-business sellers can also offer discounts to create a sense of urgency and scarcity.
7. Improve fulfillment to grow ecommerce
One of the biggest attractions for consumers and businesses purchasing online is quick fulfillment and delivery. If you are not competitive in this area, other businesses will be glad to meet customer expectations and fill the gap. If you’re not ready to invest in creating a fulfilment center or network, you can outsource to third-party logistics providers who offer fulfillment services.
As more businesses start or expand ecommerce, third-party fulfillment has grown dramatically. In the first half of 2020, large fulfillment centres saw a 50 per cent increase in demand. These centres enable small businesses to ramp up ecommerce without having to store physical goods.
Ride the ecommerce wave into the future
Whatever stage you are at – whether developing your first ecommerce website or looking for advanced ecommerce solutions – selling online will continue to grow. Applying the tips above and keeping up with changes will enable you to take advantage of this growing sales channel.