Strategies for eCommerce Success

We’re living in an accelerated world of eCommerce.

10 years growth in 3 months according to a recent study by Bank of America and Forrester Analytics. While it can be debated how this measured, we can all agree things have changed rapidly in digital.

ecommerce growth graph

If we are only looking at the United States eCommerce we notice it is very fragmented and differentiated. Some brands are clear leaders in digital, while many are still stuck in the ’90s. Taking a closer look at digital, you'll realize it's really not new things, just things faster and better than before- continual improvement. Consider smarter browsing, better search, easier to access data, and improved payments. Where the biggest shift in eCommerce has occurred is on the customer side- the adoption of digital growth, which equates to more and higher customer demands.

Customer Focused eCommerce Strategies

So what has changed for the customer in the past year and what lessons can your company learn from these changes? We are sharing insight into three areas that have changed over the past year and how you can consider these changes and integrate them into your eCommerce strategies moving forward.

Connecting Digitally

Consider how meetings were forced to change this past year, shifting from in-person to virtual. While both can be effective, in many cases people are finding virtual meetings are preferred. Less time spent getting to and from the meeting, no organizing conference room times, clothing choices, and more. Meetings can also be easily recorded and re-referenced when virtual. Digital has become as real and as good (even better) than our physical meetings in many cases as long as you are able to keep that connection and engagement. 

How can you apply what we have learned about virtual meetings to your eCommerce strategies? 

  1. Video offers increased engagement. When you have a video meeting it always seems to be more engaging than those without. Bring video into your digital storefront by offering live video support, a video showcasing products, and video tutorials.
  2. Voice to text: We are seeing voice search continues to rise in popularity with the use of smart devices growing. This could quickly become a preference over text search, especially for certain age groups.
  3. Shared highlights and annotations are useful in meetings and offer a great way to share ideas and connect with others so why not consider offering shared wishlists (Amazon already has this) and the ability to socially comment on products with their family and friends.
  4. Meeting recordings can be extremely helpful- the ability to look back and review.  Consider allowing customers to re-connect after their done browsing by offering them the ability to record their site experience- from searching, to cart order, and return history this can help customers shop.

Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs have already evolved dramatically since the days when their sole goal was to drive more profit from existing customers. During COVID-19 stay-at-home orders we saw an increased shift in allowing everyone to participate in the brands they love and be recognized for their contribution on digital platforms. Successful eCommerce strategies include strong loyalty programs that create value for the customer, but still keeping the brand's own objectives in mind.  

How can you apply what we have learned about loyalty programs to your eCommerce strategies? 

  1. Create brand advocates: Understand that non-transactional behaviors like referrals or positive reviews can be just as valuable as purchases.
  2. Update forms of your loyalty program. Gone are the days of punch cards- membership, app downloads, a credit card sign-up, and creating an online profile all are forms of modern-day loyalty. All are equally valuable in their own right, especially as first-party data is quickly becoming key to understanding and marketing to customers while third-party cookies are phased out.
  3. Engage beyond the transaction through the community. This allows for customers to have a more meaningful relationship with the brand and as a brand, you deepen your relationships with the customers. Think beyond the product- holding Facebook or Instagram live events, offering DIY activities for families to do together, creating services related to your products, etc. Customers seek more meaningful relationships online so being able to create an experience that is authentic and purposeful will prevail. 
  4. Use data to drive your decisions and improve. Whether it’s through personalization or finding new opportunities to better serve customers, the data and analytics from online loyalty programs are powerful. Leverage your online loyalty program to build and deepen your relationship with your customer through data-driven decisions. 

Traditional Storefront to Digital 

The past year was not only digital-first but digital-only in many cases. As traditional storefronts had to shut their doors, digital leaders like Amazon have made us question if the in-store experience is really better. Several things have stood out that makes us prefer online shopping over traditional store experiences this past year. 

What is key to the digital customer experience moving forward?

  1. Augmented reality is here to stay. Fit and look are crucial in more sectors than just apparel- appliances, furniture, makeup, etc. What was once a cool tool is now a must-have feature for brands to truly grow their online presence. 
  2. Diversify: Build durability across your supply chain so you’re not dependent on any one source.
  3. Fulfillment should be the main focus going forward. The bar is always moving, and consumer expectations of all brands are being set by the offerings of big players like Walmart and Amazon. In some cases, the time to buy online takes less time and costs less than heading into the traditional store. And while 2-hour and same-day delivery aren't possible for all brands, focusing on offering continual clarity in your fulfillment and delivery services to the customer is within reach.

Final Thoughts

The record number of retail bankruptcies in 2020 was driven more by outdated business models than by COVID itself. Digital isn’t really “virtual” anymore, it is our reality! That is why it's so important to stay on top of trends and work to implement the ones that make the most sense for your brand into your eCommerce strategies. When digital integration is done right, customers accept and in most cases prefer it.

Echidna is a leading digital commerce agency with capabilities including strategy, creative, marketing, systems integration, technology services, and managed services. Our team is experts in delivering end-to-end solutions with high complexity for B2B, B2C, D2C, and mixed business models. We are committed to delivering top-notch quality on a predictable schedule and at an affordable rate that our clients recognize the real value in and dedicated to helping leaders continue with their growth and innovation well into the future.

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