What makes an online business successful? Is it the products you sell, or their price or marketing? The ecommerce industry is continuing its fast growth and will continue to do so in the near future. But today it is is crowded with a plethora of players selling similar products and most engaged in price wars to win over customers. But deep discounts and engaging in price wars doesn’t ensure long term success. Innovation in product strategy or the delivery process is key to success in this competitive industry, not discounts.
Getting back to the fundamentals of marketing i. e. focusing on the 4Ps of marketing – Product, Price, Place and Promotion can give you a starting point to build a strategy that leads you to long term ecommerce success. Here are some tips that will guide you to success.
1. Develop a USP for Your Store
The age of developing general ecommerce stores is over. That war has already been won by Amazon and the other key players. And if you want to become another Amazon or eBay, that’s a guaranteed way to fail. The future of ecommerce is about specialty stores. Heavily invest in your brand which is unique & creative, and never take it easy on your lead. In this online age, it’s hard to have customer loyalty.
So you need to expand your product line in your niche to stay ahead of the competition. You need to stock deep. For example if you opt for footwear as the category to specialize, stock so many varieties for footwear that even Amazon doesn’t have. Become the destination for people looking to buy footwear online.
2. Choose the Right Technology Platform
Choosing the right ecommerce platform is very critical, since an ecommerce business is heavily dependent on technology. Its not just enough to have a robust and scalable ecommerce platform. Social media integration, good UI & UX, mobile friendliness, SEO, modules for content marketing and customer support have also become the fundamental needs of an online store today.
Based on these factors and the understanding of what’s required to open a successful online storefront, decide which ecommerce platform will suit you best. Don’t forget to factor in your business goals, budget, and technical experience also.
3. Work on Your Pricing Strategy
Your product pricing strategy may make or break your business. Do a detailed study of your competitors and their pricing and then decide your products prices (and discounts) accordingly. If you are in a very competitive category, to make an impression in the market you may have to keep your prices low initially. And to attract more customers, you can run periodic discount offers. But try to keep a balance. Don’t give too much discounts otherwise customers will start expecting discounted price all the year round.
4. Understand Your Customers
Understanding your customers aids you to sell further. The more you know about their needs, the easier it is to recognize opportunities to sell them the new products and target them with suitable offers. Profiling existing customers also makes it easier to find new ones.
However, you must confirm that you act in accordance with data protection regulations for any personal information on existing and potential customers that you collect, keep and use. There are specific rules for ecommerce. Understanding your customers facilitates you in planning. You can forecast what they will buy, and guess how much stock you need. Relating customer management to purchasing can improve profitability.
5. Have the Right Online Promotion Strategy
There are several ways you can go about promoting your online store. Having a concrete promotion strategy is important to succeed in an online business. Ecommerce marketing isn’t easy and requires lot of effort and work. Your ecommerce marketing should be comprised of:
- PPC advertising
- Email marketing
- Content marketing
- Social Media Marketing
Having a winning strategy for each of these online marketing tools, combined with other steps explained above will definitely take you ahead of your competitors.
6. Improve Your Brand’s Credibility
Your brand’s credibility is important as it results in loyal customers and repeat business. Give your customers a guarantee that your store is a good place to buy products from. Ask for testimonials and feedbacks of satisfied customers. Offer a small discount to your customers for their next order if they write a review. Integrate reviews from third party sites to your store to make the feedback look more genuine and useful. Get your website audited from trusted certification companies like VeriSign and show their certificate. Add SSL certificate to your site to make the payment process more secure.
7. Make It Easy for Customers to Buy From You
Today consumers have more places to buy from than every before. If you have an ecommerce business, and you wish for online shoppers to buy from you, you have to attract their attention – and make their shopping experience satisfying and easy.
There are various ways to do this – make sure that your site loads rapidly; make your navigation intuitive; display customer reviews prominently etc. Apart from this, you can remove the requirement of creating an account. Also make sure that your default shipping option is pocket friendly. You should also contain various payment options like credit card, debit card, mobile wallets and net banking.
8. Keep Functionality in Mind
When it comes to functionality and speed, bounce rates and shopping cart abandonment are directly connected to your website performance. The slower your store functions, the less money you will make.
The other feature of functionality is navigation. Formulate it as user-friendly. Often, this comprises of categories list, a well-organized header and footer. You may also need to append a search field and site map on the homepage of your store. This will assist your shoppers to search exactly what they are looking for within seconds.