In the past few years it has become clear that just being present online, having a niche, beautiful products, and a business that does everything right, isn’t sufficient anymore to generate sales. Competition is becoming tougher and tougher and customers are more demanding. So how can you create a successful e-commerce business in this new environment?
First, let’s take a look at the statistics. According to comScore statistics, the B2C online market in the U.S. is continually growing. In 2002, 72 billion dollars were spent online on retail goods, and in 2012, 289 billion. Forrester equally expects that online sales will grow from 7% in 2011 to 9% in 2016. They forecast that U.S. consumers will spend $327 billion online in 2016.
Meanwhile, the average conversion rate decreases every year. IBM’s Coremetrics study on Black Friday shows that in 2012 sales increased 20.7 percent over 2011, while conversion rate stayed almost the same: 4,58% in 2012 and 4,57% in 2011.
Shopping cart conversion rate also dropped steadily since 2008 to 2012. This means that people buy online more than ever and they will continue to buy, but that they also browse a lot, change their mind faster and jump from shopping cart to shopping cart, trying to compare and chose between various offers.
Customers have more choices than ever, the overall retail sales increased, but also did the competition between various online retail players. So, if you want to reach your customers and to keep them, you have to do more than those classical marketing moves that everyone does. Go beyond the usual online marketing actions. Here are a few ideas that could help your e-commerce differentiate and become the dynamic business you always dreamt about.
1. Learn more about your customers. The online medium provides a great range of solutions that can help you establish the profile of customers. Use segmentation, surveys, and heat maps to see who your visitors are and what they search for.
2. Make customers want to stay on your site. Try to create more than a website navigation structure and a sales path. To stay engaged, customers need a perfect user experience. You don’t have to reach all the superlatives at a time, but your site can be at least two of the following things: beautiful, useful, responsive, helpful, or innovative.
3. Surpass your visitors’ expectations. According to US Online Retail Forecast, 2011 To 2016 “during key time periods in the last holiday season (e.g., Thanksgiving, Cyber Monday), more than 70% of online holiday buyers (in a joint survey with Bizrate Insights) say that they purchased online instead of in stores because deals online were better”. Knowing your visitors means you can offer what matters most to them. Be prepared to throw in offers, discounts, coupons or whatever else could add value to shopping online.
4. Be communicative and remarket. Anticipate your customers ‘preferences and their shopping moves, send them personalized messages in real time or through mail. If they abandon your shopping cart, remarket through an email campaign. But be careful not to over-message and avoid becoming annoying. Talk to your customers when they really need it and when you could be helpful in some way (present a new offer about something they already liked, solve a problem they encountered on the site, etc.)
There are other things you could do for your customers and many online marketing actions you could implement. The important thing is to test permanently, to try to know your visitors and to do all you can to create a unique shopping medium or at least one that runs perfectly.