Succeeding in the eCommerce world has always been a tough task. But the challenges that companies faced before will likely fade in comparison to the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Right now, eCommerce shops are actually experiencing a spike in both traffic and sales, as people are panic buying items online and trying to avoid crowds in the stores.
However, as the worldwide economies try to recuperate, the purchasing power of various audiences is likely to diminish, which will make excelling in your marketplace more crucial than ever before.
Luckily, even in volatile times like these, there are opportunities that savvy eCommerce stores can take advantage of, setting themselves up for success in both the short and long term future.
So, in this article, let’s explore some of the key trends and strategies that are likely to define the eCommerce industry in the coming years.
Choose the Right Platform
When building an eCommerce store, you will undoubtedly face many challenges along the way. However, the difficulty and severity of the obstacles that you’ll have to overcome will largely depend on the platform that you decide to use when building your store.
As you probably know yourself, there’s an abundance of options to choose from at all price points, which is why many novice entrepreneurs become overwhelmed and sometimes make a selection based on superficial criteria that don’t really matter in their situation.
Luckily, the process doesn’t have to be that complicated, at least if you treat it as a business decision just like any other. There are a few primary factors that will determine how easy to use, and convenient the platform is in your situation, all of which can be broken down and analyzed even if you don’t have prior experience.
First off, you will need to decide whether you want to use a SaaS-based platform or an open-source platform.
SaaS-based platforms are based on a monthly payment system, where you get a full service that includes user-friendly customization, hosting, and extensive support, giving you a quicker and simpler option for setting up your store.
Meanwhile, an open-source platform, you get more flexibility, but will also need more technical knowledge to set everything up correctly.
SaaS-based platforms tend to be more costly, but you are getting a fully refined solution that can offer customizable eCommerce automation with a few clicks of a button. However, if you need more advanced functionality and are, for instance, looking for multi-vendor marketplace software, an open-source solution might make it easier to develop the specific features that you’ll need.
Another crucial aspect you must consider is SEO. Google and other search engines have started prioritizing websites that are faster and easier to use on any device, so the platform that you choose must be able to provide a seamless experience to your visitors, and also be naturally structured in a way that makes your pages easier to index and rank.
Finally, since you’ll likely have a lot of products, you also want a platform that will be easy to manage. That means that the process of adding products should be straightforward, and the platform should offer the ability to add them in bulk if necessary, as well as make it simple to use a centralized description system across the website.
Alternatively, you could use a simpler platform like Excel, which could be more affordable if you have a reliable system for managing your products on your own. Many eCommerce companies often are seeking Microsoft Excel support services that can offer real-time support and help with optimizing product SKU tracking processes and ensure that you’re always on top of any changes.
Diversify Your Paid Ads
PPC traffic converts as much as 50% better than organic traffic, which is why it’s not surprising that businesses invested more than $10 billion in Pay-Per-Click advertising just a couple of years ago, with that number increasing every year.
However, even though you can successfully drive traffic to your site using Facebook or Google Ads alone, that has become much more difficult as more and more online businesses are competing to get in front of the same audiences.
The good news is that even though the competition for the traditional paid ads is becoming fiercer, there are actually quite a few ads opportunities that are still underutilized across markets, serving as an excellent alternative for savvy marketers that are able to take advantage.
For instance, Google shopping ads are a relatively new development that’s only now starting to gain traction. With the buyer habits continually evolving, these types of ads are a perfect way to put your hottest-selling products in front of audiences who are actively looking for them without needing people to click through to your site.
Using Google Showcase Ads, you can potentially attract high buyer-intent shoppers at a fraction of the cost that traditional ads might entail, not only showing off specific products but also getting the viewer more familiar with your brand and your store.
You should also experiment with video ads, as they serve as another opportunity to separate yourself from the competition and highlight the unique qualities of your selection.
Using video, you can not only insert more information about your products but also have more opportunities to highlight different features, showcase your product from different angles, and show specific-use examples that will help overcome prospect objections.
The bottom line is, while there are certainly plenty of paid ads opportunities, and the more traditional choices should still be a central part of your effort, experimenting with some of the newer approaches can be effective at reducing your customer acquisition costs and helping you reach wider audiences that might not respond to other advertising methods.
That way, if you ever wanted to list your website for sale, you could point to a steady stream of traffic and the ability to attract buyers from a variety of sources, which is sure to increase your site’s value.
Streamline the Checkout Process
If you want a quick way to boost sales while the economy is halting because of the COVID-19 pandemic, your best bet would be to get the most out of the people who have already taken the time to put items in their cart but never completed the purchase.
There are a variety of reasons why shopping carts get abandoned, but what many eCommerce store owners fail to realize is that there are proven strategies you can use to reduce the frequency of those occurrences significantly.
For one thing, if you have a complicated shipping cost calculation process and make your customers jump through hoops to finalize their order, you can be sure that a significant percentage of abandoned carts are there because prospective buyers just give up in frustration.
Structure your pricing in a way that shipping would become an afterthought – either offer a reasonable and flat rate based on the purchase amount or weight, or even offer free shipping above a certain purchase amount, but make sure that it never becomes more complicated than ticking off a box.
You should also forego any attempt to force buyers to create an account. Sure, you might think that you are building a customer base, but at the same time, you’re also losing a significant percentage of purchases because people just don’t want to register.
Finally, even if your checkout process is simple, many people will not finish their purchase simply because they get distracted by something else.
The good news is that even though you can’t completely prevent it, you can get in front of these people again using retargeting ads, and more often than you might think, a simple reminder that they have an unfinished purchase will be enough to get them back on your site.
Continue to Optimize
With customer acquisition costs rising higher every year, and new competitors popping up in all industries, gaining even the slightest edge can be the deciding factor between barely breaking even and enjoying record profits.
Therefore, if you want to gain and maintain an advantage over the competition, you should use every single interaction with your customers as leverage, gaining insights about their behaviors and the performance of your campaigns, which you can then use to tweak and optimize various parts of your efforts.
Today, there’s a wide range of analytics tools for eCommerce that you can use, and many of the eCommerce platforms also come with tracking solutions that can help you collect and analyze data.
By testing and tweaking your approaches, you will not only make the most out of your marketing budget but will also learn more about your customers, which will allow you to optimize every part of your business, including products, UX, marketing, advertising, and communications.
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