Over the past few years, E-commerce businesses have seen multitude growth opportunities. A lot of us are willing to embrace e-commerce sold products since it makes our lives so simple and a non-deniable fact is e-commerce provides you with so many options. We take stock of 20 E-commerce Growth Strategies Checklist for 2018
According to Business.com, the top e-commerce markets in the world are-
- China- $672 billion
- United States- $340 billion
- United Kingdom- $99 billion
- Japan- $79 billion
- Germany- $73 billion
- France- $43 billion
- South Korea- $37 billion
- Canada- $30 billion
- Russia- $20 billion
- Brazil- $19 billion
E-commerce expansion can be categorically divided into three main sections-
- Top-Tier markets– This includes countries such as US, UK, China, Japan, Australia, South Korea
- Second layered markets– This includes countries which are enthusiastic about expanding e-commerce business and exploring newer ventures. This comprises of countries such as India, Indonesia, Sweden, Mexico, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland
- Wait and see- This includes countries which have a little base over e-commerce business, but would like to wait and watch the trend before making any serious investment. This comprises of countries such as Argentina, South Africa, Russia
It is predicted that by 2021, the global retail e-commerce sales will hit almost 4.5 trillion. Clearly, these stats show where e-commerce business is heading to. Nevertheless, between 2012 and 2017, there have emerged several e-commerce start-ups.
While the world is experiencing a growing trend of e-commerce solutions, it is equally important to incorporate the right mechanism to have long-term returns.
20 e-commerce growth strategies checklist for 2018.
1. MOBILE OPTIMIZATION:
One of the best ways to enhance your e-commerce business is by providing mobile optimization. This includes optimization of look and feels along with providing some simple features such as digital wallet integrations. So why is this so important. Well, more than 41% of online sales happen through mobiles and this number is going to see a drastic increase in 2018.
This allows users to buy anything from your website on the go. By integrating with digital wallets such as PayPal or Amazon Pay, you don’t have to bother your user with typing in too many information over the mobile. Friendly mobile websites almost instantaneously double your sales.
You can easily check mobile optimization for your e-commerce store by using some the below-mentioned tools:
2. SOCIAL MEDIA ADVERTISING:
An effective way to reach out target audience is through Social Media advertising. This could be based on geo-targeting or behavioral-targeting. Though we still have television, radio and newspaper advertisements, social media has proved to be cost-effective and allows you to readily interact with your potential customers. Allows you to quickly analyze whether user received your message and reacted.
Social media channels are increasing year to year. Every year we witness newer social media network emerging with better longevity.
Once you create your Ad, it is equally important to monitor its performance and make changes based on traffic behavior. Some tools which will help you monitor your Ad performance are-
2018, will see more social media marketing and spread across different social media channels.
3. CRO WITH DATA-DRIVEN OPTIMIZATION:
CRO stands for conversion rate optimization. Average conversion rates are just about 2%. CRO allows you to determine which design, color etc. will help to increase the sales. Data-driven optimization can also help in improving the conversion with tactful analysis of behavioral data.
Data-Driven optimization analysis involving more critical information such as-
- Top entry/exit pages
- Actual paths to conversion
- Visitors likely to convert using desktop/mobile or based on geographical location
- Some typical actions which might lead to conversions such as product comparison
- Previous or repeat customer
- Analysis around the website display such as headers, colors
- Visitors profile data such as demographic data
- Appealing voice of customer support based on qualitative analysis
- Reasons for abandonment using mechanism such session replay
- Average amount of time spent on each page
This can be made easy by using some of the below services. The advantage is, these companies do end-end optimization. So you don’t need to worry about this:
Other tools include- Google Analytics, Crazyegg. This is an iterative process and requires improving your e-commerce store to be more functional, accessible, usable and make customers more intuitive by being persuasive.
4. CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT AND CRM:
CRM stands for Customer relationship management. A common example is Salesforce. Customer engagement involves detailed analysis of customer trends and can be effectively done using CRM tools. Some of the important data points include-
- Customer’s last purchase
- Whom did the customer chat with
- Average LTV of the customer
- Maximum product category searches done by the customer
- Is the customer constantly looking for discounts?
- The last email sent to the customer
This requires pulling in information from various sources such as Chats, Facebook messenger, Email, SMS, Order status, Loyalty program, referral program, customer groups etc.
2018 will see a rise in this trend since in the past it has been proved to be a very effective way to reach the target audience. This helps in generating leads by providing some advanced analytics and logistics. Nevertheless, you need a CRM platform which can provide this seamlessly.
It is a fact that most number of conversions happens through organic traffic. So you definitely need at least 50% of your website traffic to be organic traffic driven. The advantage is, you do not have to pay for Ads and can rely on main keywords and other SEO best practices.
Over the past, we have seen e-commerce stores get to market and start to backtrace and optimize their SEO hits. Well, though this works, still a very time-consuming solution. So the right way is to start SEO optimization from the very beginning. The goal is to improve your rank between 0 to 5 for any keyword search.
2018, will see more focus on targeting optimization of long-tailed keywords before moving to short-tailed keywords. Beyond keywords, there are multiple other SEO optimizations techniques.
In case you do not have the required SEO optimization expertise, you can always hire an SEO expert through-
Alternatively, you can also use some of the well-known SEO tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights, Keywordtool.io, Google Analytics, Google keyword planner.
6. PAYMENT SOLUTIONS:
Credit Cards and Debit cards are present in every e-commerce stores payment options. Over the past few years, this trend shifted and more e-commerce stores started integrating with digital wallets. Every year new digital wallets are emerging, so your website needs to check the usability of these popular digital wallets and try to incorporate it.
This requires an understanding of the popular digital wallets used in a specific geographical location. Some e-commerce stores such as Overstock.com, Expedia, eGifter, Newegg allow bitcoins.
You can add bitcoins to the popular payment gateways such as Stripe, Coinbase, CoinGate, BitPay. Most of these not only accept bitcoins, but also other altcoins such as ethers, litecoins.
7. BRANDING AND REBRANDING:
Branding just does not end with logo. There are so many other things which we need to consider while branding any e-commerce store. Some of the greatest mistakes e-commerce stores do is, by not investing much into branding.
Branding could include something as simple as changing the theme color, adding a video, sharing success stories, customer experience, testimonials, word of mouth and most important not over-committing. This also implies rebranding to existing e-commerce stores to get started in a newer way. Popular brands such as eBay, Snapdeal have also gone through rounds of rebranding.
If required, you can always hire a branding strategist such as-
- DesignStudio- https://www.wearedesignstudio.com/
- Design Pickle – https://designpickle.com/
- Juno – http://www.junowebdesign.com/
It is worth noting how some start-ups such as Dollar Shave Club, Hired, Zumper have employed branding to their advantage.
Technology plays a key role in the success of e-commerce business. The right blend of technology helps to cater several problems in a very simplified way. 2016 and 2017 have seen several e-commerce start-ups emerging successfully. The right use of technology can be a major differentiator.
Some of the key technology trends to watch out for in 2018 are-
- Shoppable videos
- Artificial Intelligence
- Big Data
- Mobile commerce
- Cross-channel integration
- Blockchains and Cryptocurrency
- Direct social media purchase
- Voice assistants
Some of the tools, apps, and technologies include- MailChimp, Facebook Ads extension, BuyButtons, Shipstation, Yotpo, Smile.io, PixelPop, InStockNotify, Shippo, Soundest.
One could easily embed these technologies to provide specific discounts based on shopping patterns to selected customers, notify once stock is available, compare two products or simply track transactions using blockchain.
Some simple tricks to incorporate the right technology is as used by Lenskart.com
Their Try in 3D option, allows you to check the glasses over your face. This is virtual reality, which helps to easily shop for a product.
9. PAY PER CLICK:
Pay per click is pretty much a traditional way to attract potential customers. So how will this be incorporated in 2018? Enhancing the existing approach for pay per click is the way forward. PPC requires minute detail evaluation about-
- Keyword analysis
- Channel Strategy
- Constant Monitoring
- Competitive Analysis
- Negative match
- A/B Testing
PPC requires expertise and constant alterations. You can very well employ a PPC management company to do this work for you. Some of these are-
- VJG- https://www.vjginteractive.com/
- JumpFly- http://www.jumpfly.com/
- 1SEO Digital Agency- https://1seo.com/
- WebpageFX- https://www.webpagefx.com/
Some of the tools you can use are- Google Adwords, Bing Ads Editor, WordStream Advisor, AdWords performance grader, SEMrush, AdEspresso.
Simple Ad strategies, as shown above, include adding a registered trademark symbol, adding offers to the Ad. These strategies boost ad performance.
Reddit has several discussion forums which can be used to share some useful information relevant to your e-commerce store. Once you find a suitable subreddit forum, you can start a conversation to spread your business ideas.
Reddit can be used to share ideas and know more about different products as well as pitch in your products. This is a great platform to know similar e-commerce ventures. This is not a forum to advertise, but you can effectively put your thoughts and opinion about different products. Based on what you post, you get ranked based on up votes and down votes. Top ranking implies more people will read it through.
11. SHIPPING AND FULFILLMENT OPTIMIZATION:
E-commerce stores tie up with vendors for shipping and fulfillment. Most of the e-commerce stores rely on more than one vendor. This involves-
- Timely delivery
- Appropriate packaging
- Acknowledgements through emails/SMS
- Easy tracking of products by customer
- International shipping
- Invoice generation
Fortunately, we have some software available to do this inventory management.
- 3PL Warehouse Manager by 3PL Central – https://3plcentral.com/products/3pl-warehouse-manager/
- Royal 4 Systems WISE – http://royal4.com/3pl-and-logistics/royal-4-wise-3pl-warehousing-and-logistics/
- 3PLink by Camelot 3PL – https://www.3plsoftware.com/
So how do we use this to our advantage in 2018? Well, by using more predictive shipping analysis. With shipping analysis, you can-
- Monitor carrier performance and can build strong customer relationships
- Managing shipping costs
- Managing distributions zones
- Right packaging solutions based on weight
- Use geographical trends to manage shipping
- Based on customer density manage shipping vendors
- Effectively monitor expenses
For any e-commerce business, pricing a product is very crucial. Profit earned depends on the pricing. Some points to think are- What would be the minimum price benchmark, what percentage will be the profit and so on. A lot of e-commerce stores come up with random pricing models without prior analysis. This either ends in loss of sales or loss of profits.
Something worth noting is, the price keeps varying throughout the year. This can be classified as-
- Peak demand drives pricing
- New arrival pricing
- Time-based pricing
- Value-based pricing
- Dynamic pricing
Very few e-commerce stores use advanced analytics into pricing models. Well, there are tools which simplify this for you. These tools gather different analytics across products based on geographical locations, demand, time of the year, stock constraint with a competitor etc. and provide the right pricing model. Some tools are-
These tools allow you to automatically reflect price changes across different channels.
PR provides cutting-edge strategies to reach out the market for B2B and B2C business. Digital PR along with media can be used as a catalyst for the growth of your business. PR involves various strategies based on your business domain and market trends.
Some of the PR strategies could include-
- Adding the start-up story
- Adding the growth story
- Product detailing and differentiators
- Any major event story
- Customer feedback/story
- Videos showing customer testimonials
- Stats and growth trends story
- Expansion story
- Employee stories
You can also choose to outsource your PR to a professional PR agency such as-
- PR Agency One- http://www.pragencyone.co.uk
- Crenshawcommunications- https://crenshawcomm.com/industry/retail-ecommerce/
- Spark PR- https://sparkpr.com/
14. CATALOG EXTENSIONS:
An online product catalog creates immersive and information-rich content which builds interest amongst users. Another effective way to convert potential customers into loyal shoppers. A non-deniable fact is with online shopping customers do not get the opportunity to feel the products. So the onus of attracting customers completely lies on the e-commerce store.
This not only includes images but also persuasive communication techniques with information-rich content. With growing business, you need more automation and hence a product catalog management. Some simple and free extensions, allow you to automate your catalog creation. Some of these are-
- WP Catalog
- WooCommerce Product Table
- Ultimate Product Catalog
- Ecwid E-commerce Shopping Cart
- Posts Table Pro
An example of a perfect catalog is as shown below which has different images, video, different colors available list- with visuals, size, and photos of customers who have purchased it. Worth noting, 2018 will see an increase in the number of e-commerce starting to add videos and customers who have explored the product photos –
With plugins, many e-commerce stores are also trying out various Product information management system such as-
While FAQs have been an integral part of any e-commerce store, creating the right FAQ is a challenge. FAQ has several advantages such as-
- Frees up time for the customer support since most of the basic questions are answered
- Creates trust between customer and seller, since you have taken the extra effort to guide them
- Since information is available readily, more people are likely to buy without hesitation
- Search engines value FAQ pages as high information resources. This will improve your SEO
This is one of the areas which will see an increasing number of e-commerce stores adding FAQs. This requires domain and business understanding along with some points to be considered such as-
- Logically group each question
- Precision while answering a question
- Don’t add too many or too fewer FAQs
- Add links for additional information
- Bullet points to answer
- Maintain the focus by not resulting in information overload
- Regularly update the page
A sample FAQ is as shown below-
16. CUSTOMER LIFETIME VALUE:
CLV determines the net profit prediction attributed to the future relationship with a customer. This requires some extensive analysis to determine customer behavior and building towards nurturing it. Some of the key attributes are-
- Creating brand loyalties
- Upsell and Cross-sell products
- Choose right rewards to encourage customers to buy products
- Use multiple touch points to provide best in class customer service
- Build long-term relationships
CLV has been a very underestimated metrics, however, the trend is changing. More online stores employ various CLV strategies. CLV combined with other metrics such as net profit, churn rate, customer acquisition cost, retention rate can provide excellent sales benchmarks. This is more important in domains having high market competition.
This also includes-
- Diversifying investments to channelize right use of CLV
- Choose the best acquisition channel to suit your business
- Constantly benchmark your efforts
- Decide where to invest for CLV growth
- Discover most profitable customer base
- Effectively handle customer complaints
- Categorize geographical locations to increase CLV
- Provide incentives such as rewards, discounts, cash backs
Some of the readily available tools include- Kissmetrics, Countly, Mixpanel, Heap.
17. INFLUENCER MARKETING:
Influencer marketing is a growing trend to improve conversions since customers trust other customer reviews. Word of mouth plays a very crucial role in marketing your products. This also includes-
- Product or service reviews
- Promotion contents
- Offer discounts
- Offer limited time additional freebies
- Content featuring your products
- Video with customer feedback
- Pre-video advertisements on YouTube
Reviews are important since almost 20% to 50% purchasing decisions are made through reviews. 92% of internet users rely on online reviews for the local business.
There are some paid tools for reviews available such as-
- TRUSTist – https://www.trustistreviewer.com/
- Bazaarvoice – http://www.bazaarvoice.com/uk/
- Feefo – https://www.feefo.com/business/gb_en
- Powerreviews – https://www.powerreviews.com/
A good example of using influencer market is as shown below-
18. INTERNATIONAL REACH:
Spreading any e-commerce business internationally has become simpler over the past few years. Till 2017, many e-commerce start-ups were restricting their business grounds to one country. Now the trend has begun to change and e-commerce businesses are looking to diversify geographically.
Some points to be checked before taking your business to the next level-
- Identify the potential audience
- Payment processing
- Shipping and fulfillment capacity
- Return policies
- Taxes or any customs duties
- Facts and figures of your business domain in the country
- Legal requirements. Every country has a different law
- Predictable profit margins
- Geographical conditions such as climate, political conditions, any unrest conditions
- Insurance costs for shipments
If with all your analysis the ROI is not very high, then it’s better to rethink about the location.
19. LOCALIZATION, PERSONALIZATION, AND CX:
User experience is pretty much older stuff. So what is different in 2018? Well, using concepts of localization to your user experience is new. With localization, you can show more popular products based on the geographical locations. A number of e-commerce sites have come with an option to enable location tracking. With this, they can improve your search and show only relevant products.
In the below website, you can see how automatically the location is being tracked.
While localization is important, equally important is personalization. Personalization allows users to customize what they want to see. Some sites do a quick survey before providing the search results.
Something which the below website provides-
20. EMAIL MARKETING AND AUTOMATION:
Email marketing is easy to incorporate since most of this is automated. Once an email is sent you can easily track the email and decipher huge analytics from this. It requires identifying the right customer base, developing strategies, being open and transparent about services.
Email marketing combined with analytics around-
- Specific times of the year require more promotional emails
- Certain customer base requires offers related emails
- Some customer base, you need to provide offers about new ventures
- Mails about discounts or offers or cash backs
- Different geographical locations will have different behavioral patterns
- This could be even a simple greetings or a thank you message
Email Marketing also helps to build customer trust and brand loyalty. Showcase products wherever you can. Several tools are available such as-
Let me conclude with this. We have seen a detailed review of what are the growth strategies you need to watch out for in 2018. These include some existing strategies blended with new trends and newer ways to approach it.