The retail industry has experienced a major transformation over recent years with the advent of e-commerce. A business can now market its products across borders, independent of its physical location. With a total of 685 million online shoppers spending an average of €1,540 in Europe, and with e-commerce turnover predicted to grow by 14% in 2016, today is definitely a good time to market your products online.
Here are a few useful tips on how to start or optimize your e-sales results:
Selling at online marketplaces, where supply can meet demand in the most efficient way. Though they might seem too vast, daunting and competitive places to sell at first, well-known and established e-retail platforms such as Amazon, eBay, Bol.com and Etsy can be a great help for growing your online sales quickly. They offer a range of benefits:
- 1. Direct exposure to a large, frequently used buyer network, with very little effort.
- 2. The potential of positive customer reviews after a sale can help you build up trust for your products and ease the process of customer acquisition.
- 3. You can leverage the solid infrastructure for a relatively low budget (between 3.5% and 45% of your listing value, depending on the product category, platform and your number of monthly listings), as opposed to striving to set up your own e-shopping solution.
- 4. You can even outsource your inventory and automate your order fulfilment process. If you sell on Amazon for example, you can subscribe to the Fulfilled By Amazon option and have your inventory shipped and processed directly by Amazon. This service can also cover your multi-channel inventory as it allows you to allocate a part of your inventory to the distribution channels of your choice.
- 5. You save more time because you are using their existing processes and benefit from their expertise – no need to reinvent the wheel! You can then focus on developing your core business.
In brief, online marketplaces provide you with a larger target audience, a lower cost structure and more time to focus on your core business.
Customer reviews: love it or leave it
The digital revolution has given more power to consumers: information and choice. Consequently, consumers have become more selective and seek independent information to support their purchase decision-making process. The Deloitte consumer review reports that 81% of consumers read customer reviews and 60% of consumers trust customer reviews as much as a personal recommendation from one of their friends or family members. According to Reevo stats, having 50 or more reviews per product can increase your conversion rates by 4.6% on average. In other words, transparency is not only a must – it also pays! Though the idea of getting bad reviews may scare you at first, it is actually essential that you get a few of them. 68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores, while 30% suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see any negative opinions. Customer reviews also improve your website’s organic search ranking in search engines. Search engines spiders score higher for unique content that is updated regularly. User-generated content, such customer reviews, is also a great way to boost your position.
Subscription model: the secret to customer loyalty
Subscription-based business models are currently trending online in many unexpected industries: from software to clothing and fresh food to beauty products. And the results are sometimes astounding. Dollar Shave Club, which sells grooming products, tripled its revenue to $60 million in the space of one year. This model owes its success to the hassle-free shopping experience it provides to the customer. Customers receive the product of their choice at a given frequency without having to worry about reordering it. The price is often more attractive if they opt for a bundle. In other words, they know that they will receive what they need when they need it, without having to make any effort. The magic is that the subscription model is as beneficial for your business as it is for your customers. It leads to recurring purchases from customers, without the need for any specific loyalty programme process.
Create an emotional connection with your customers through product customization
Today’s customers are looking for companies that pay attention to their individual needs. The rise of Big Data enables businesses to personalize their communication and present a personalized offer to their customers. This may be a good start, but it is not enough any more. Customers want to be able to customize their products. Spoonflower.com is a very good example for people who like to create their custom fabrics and wallpaper. Forrester Research says that digital technology is about to turbo-charge a mass-customization trend. More than 35% of US online consumers are already interested in customizing product features. The opportunity of this new trend is huge as it builds a feeling of ownership and accomplishment among your customers, resulting in spontaneous brand advocacy and increased repeat purchases. You don’t necessarily need to allow your customers to build their product from scratch to acquire successful results. Minor customization options, such as a monogram addition, message engraving or personalized packaging which are easier to implement and more cost-effective, can already create a huge impact. This worked for Coca-Cola with their “Share a Coke” campaign, allowing people to purchase personalized bottles with different names and words.
Become a memorable e-retailer thanks to a state-of-the-art omnichannel strategy
Consumers are now able to engage with a brand or purchase its products via a wide range of channels: apps, platforms, mobile websites, desktop websites, call centres, catalogues, social media or simply physical stores. The challenge is then to synchronize all of your channels so that you can provide a consistent and seamless shopping experience to your customers. The secret of success is to focus constantly on building an exclusive customer experience. Torfs is a retailer that excels at this. The Belgian shoe retailer won the 2015 omnichannel award.
- Torfs is able to show the stock availability for any item in each of their stores via its website in real-time.
- Online shoppers can reserve shoes at the shop of their choice.
- Any online order placed before 7 pm is delivered the next day (even on Saturdays and late in the evening). It can also be returned to any shop for an immediate refund.
- The company’s digital devices, from 3D machines scanning for foot measurements, to online backordering, are available in the physical stores create such a “wow” effect that it makes it really difficult to not want to come and visit regularly.
In short, the advent of e-commerce is an opportunity you shouldn’t miss. The latest e-commerce trends require that you think more about the psychology of your visitors than the technology of your website. We encourage you to continuously test and improve your processes to ensure your e-sales results climb to great heights.