Guest Post by Grégory Beyrouti.
eCommerce Market Challenges
In today’s environment, companies have to face numerous challenges when it comes to dealing with the eCommerce market. Rather it’s with customers or internal challenges, companies have to be up to date with environmental changes and competitors’ evolutions. The 5 biggest challenges can be summarized this way:
- Customers are more and more demanding as well as more and more informed. The real challenge here is that companies have to apply a more customer-centric culture and stop thinking about money first.
- Reliability. Reliability is essential to reassuring customers. The challenge here is finding the right reassurance elements and spreading an image of reliability to customers.
- Security is essential to success in eCommerce. Customers’ fears of identity theft or being hacked (and the reality of those concerns) have created a real challenge for brands and companies. Thus, a priority is to protect sensitive customer information and offer a secure purchasing process at the same time.
- Differentiation. Differentiation is a MUST HAVE in 2015 and will be even more essential in the coming years. Increasing a company’s retention rate requires differentiation. It can be either through the product offer, brand image or services (modes of delivery, payment method, etc.).
- Omni-channel. The multi-channel concept has transformed into Omni-channel, improving loyalty, customer service and supply chain efficiency, increasing brand interactions and basket size.
Strategies to Combat Those Challenges
First it begins by differentiating yourself from your competitors. This can be done through the personalization of the customer journey (through the products or services). However, personalization can only be done if you use the data collected from your website. It will help you to better understand your customers’ needs and therefore offer them what they want.
The use of data can also be coupled with the use of metrics such as ROI, retention rate, conversion rate, customer satisfaction, which are all essential KPIs to pay attention to in order to improve an offer.
Go further in the personalization strategy and apply it on your social media as well. Humanizing your brand by putting a name at the end of your conversations on your social media, talking to your customers by using their first names, and displaying the author’s headshot on your blog enable customers to know who is talking to them and thus feel closer to the brand.
Last but not least, to face the Omni-channel challenge, companies have to work on mobile-optimized or responsive sites. Connected customers are using more than one channel in their shopping experience, but they are looking for the same service across all channels and devices.
Personalization in eCommerce
eCommerce requires a defined marketing strategy. Today personalization is essential, as customers look for a “real” online shopping experience. The personalization strategy can be applied throughout the purchasing process. On the product page, personalization can be attained through cross-selling; showing to your customer that you have other products corresponding to his needs. Personalization is also possible in the delivery experience – enclosing a little hand-written thank-you card doesn’t cost much but means a lot for your customer. Personalization is the key to your business’ success!
Ensure High Customer Retention Rates
If you want to continue to have a high customer retention rate you’ll have to work on several elements. First, make sure you actually stand for something. Show to your audience the interest they may find in your brand. Then, be available on social media. Social media is the place to be if you want to hear what your customers think about you or if you want to exchange with them.
Make sure to use the words your audience wants to hear. Certain words are more persuasive than others such as FREE, NEW, to increase the average shopping cart. Moreover, make sure to make it personal. As I already said this is important to humanize your brand and to take all the customers interactions personally. Show to your customers that they mean a lot to you. Show that you know them as well! Free gifts according to their past purchases, coupons valid on a specific type of product, etc.
Choose the right platform to interact with your audience. If you want to improve your online customer service you have to do it through the channel your audience uses. Make your customers feel privileged. Label your customers according to the value and quantity of purchases, offer coupons, promotions to your best customers. And finally, build a powerful loyalty program. For that reward your customers as soon as they sign up.
In general, eCommerce platforms are here to help online retailers to launch and manage their eCommerce shop. They offer different tools related to marketing, payment, ranking, stock & product management, statistics, orders, etc. The main objective is of course to facilitate the online retailer’s life when it comes to doing business online. However you have 2 different types of eCommerce platforms:
- SaaS. The software as a service (SaaS) consists in offering a software subscription instead of a license purchase. This is an all-inclusive service where customers can use all the different features integrated and managed by the editor. While WiziShop offers a performance-based economic model where the amount customers have to pay depends on their turnover, all other SaaS platforms offer a subscription model which means that every month customers have to pay a fixed amount.
- Open source refers to a computer program in which the source code is available to the general public for use and/or modification from its original design. Usually, Open Source solutions are used by web agencies for their customers’ websites implementation.
eCommerce in 2015
We have just completed a fairly extensive study regarding the biggest eCommerce trends in 2015 that will be published on our blog through 10 articles with a downloadable version available at the end. The first part was published on August 4. This study was carried out by WiziShop with information based on experts’ articles. Some of the biggest eCommerce trends we found for 2015 are as follows:
- Flexible delivery: This year businesses are fighting for free delivery and return is getting more and more important. The new standard is to create a fluid shopping and delivery experience across the board.
- Mobile traffic continues to rise: The use of mobile phones has gone global as two in every three people are using a mobile device to connect to the internet.
- Design trends: Mobile-friendly eCommerce websites stop being a nice to have and start to become a necessity for doing business online.
- Social media’s power: Social Media offers a web-based opportunity for you to gain new customers, increase your knowledgebase about what your customers are looking for and get them involved in your business.
- Digital marketing: In 2015 marketers are asked to be more creative as social media is becoming more and more important. The time to sell is over, your audience is expecting valuable posts, answers, and the most important, to be engaged! Think social conversion, content marketing and mobile.
- Driving loyalty: In 2015, this is about being social, knowing your customers, becoming personalized, creating a customer-centric culture and having a consistent brand image across channels.
- Security: In 2015, to protect your customers it’s imperative to know how to properly protect your ecommerce site and your sensitive customer data in order to avoid hacking and fraud.
The future of eCommerce
Environmental changes and adaptability need to be constant. Online retailers will have to surround themselves with experts and tools in order to be up to date with these eCommerce trends and environmental changes. Adaptability is the catchword in this sector. We are facing constant online evolutions coupled with more informed customers. So concretely, it implies to be reactive! The eCommerce still has promising days ahead.
If you are thinking about launching your own website make sure to carry out a market study in order to know the market (such as competition, audience, potential customers, specific needs). Then you can establish a business plan for each market you want to target. Always go as deep as possible in your research and make sure this is a potential market for your activity. You also have to make sure that you are targeting the right audience. There is a lot to do before actually launching a website but this is a great experience when done correctly. Lastly, always surround yourself with the best experts to help and support you in your approach.
Tips for Success
One way to make our customers visible online is via SEO. We realized lots of optimization is necessary in order for each of the WiziShop store to be well ranked (automatic URLs rewriting, etc.).
We’ve also developed the “Smart Check-Out”, which is an ultra-optimized order tunnel to generate sales. All the information required is filled in on only one page, we check the data in real time, and we can subscribe easily with a Facebook or Paypal account. With the Smart Check-Out, the shopper makes an order 2 or 3 times more quickly than a “classic” order tunnel.
For more advice on creating a personalized eCommerce experience, check out our annual white paper composed of 20 experts’ tips to succeed in eCommerce in 2015, including experts from different areas always to help online retailers in their activity.