How to Adapt Your E-Commerce Strategy for a Changing World

March 28, 2014

Retail is changing fast, and keeping up with its evolution is more challenging than ever. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, for example, visits to brick-and-mortar stores during the holidays have dropped by more than 40% in the last four years. This massive growth represents a significant shift in the industry, which continues to bring new channels and even more change in consumer behaviour. What does this mean for retailers?

Though the methods of selling may change, the one constant will always be your product catalogueueue. You want to take those products and provide them to the customer where on the channels they want to purchase on, be it an online marketplace, a search engine results page or comparison shopping engine.

Here, we’ve outlined three ways to ensure your retail strategy can adapt to the changing times.

1. Work efficiently.

Work EfficientlySpend your time on activities that most support your strategic goals, and minimize the time you spend on low-value work. There are a number of ways to accomplish this goal.

  • Simplify and centralize your product information in a single, clean data feed so that you only need to make updates in one place. This also helps minimize manual processes, decreasing the risk of human error.

  • Transform your data with tools like business rules. For example, a clothing retailer can use a business rule to add colour and size to his product titles, ensuring his T-shirts are listed accurately and effectively. Business rules can save you countless hours of unnecessary work.

  • Improve your product data with accurate product descriptions and categories to make sure your products show up in buyers’ searches. Focus on including the information that buyers are searching for.

  • Build a partner ecosystem to enhance or expand your capabilities. Whether working with the fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) program to streamline your fulfilment process or expanding your supplier network to add more products, take advantage of what’s already out there.

2. Understand your competitors to stay ahead of them.

Know your competitors and find out how they’re adapting to evolving buyer behaviour. Not only will you learn best practices and pick up new ideas, you can also formulate a plan to keep yourself one step ahead of them. Here’s what to look for:

  • Are your competitors expanding their supplier networks? Have you weighed the benefits of using FBA or eBay’s Global Shipping Program?

  • How are your competitors bringing an offline “touch and feel” to their e-commerce experience? Are they using Rich Media tools to highlight key product features? Does that make sense for your customer demographic?

  • What channels are your competitors using to get exposure in different geographies? Would it be a good idea for you to expand to an online marketplace like Tesco in the UK, for example? Or perhaps MercadoLivre in Brazil or Amazon Canada?

3. Keep your focus.

Every business has unique goals and customer needs. However, the evolution and growing complexity of online retail today has made it much harder to stay focused on what matters to you and your customers. Too often, retailers find themselves thrashing around on low-value activities or getting too bogged down in the minutiae to concentrate on the parts of their business that really matter.

For example, tracking down and resolving listing and product data errors across multiple sources is time-consuming and inefficient.  Manually updating your product catalogueueue from multiple suppliers leads to human error and distraction. Perhaps most important, if you have to rely on multiple reports or reporting platforms to know how your products are selling, you’re missing the big picture.

Instead of overwhelming you, technology should be harnessed to help you manage the daily chaos and stay focused on your goals. Having a single place like ChannelAdvisor’s platform to aggregate your data and drive actionable analysis takes many of the distractions off the table.

Our transaction-based reporting provides a complete picture of what’s important and what you should really be focused on: what your customers are buying and how they are buying it.

To achieve sustained success in a changing world, online retailers must be willing to adapt their businesses. Customers are not coming to you in the same ways as before. You and your core product inventory must go out to meet them where they are online. In order to do so effectively, you must work as efficiently as possible, understanding all your options and staying focused on what matters to your business goals.

Everything else is easy.

Blog post by Jamie Claar, ChannelAdvisor Product Manager


Improve Online SalesTo learn more about how you can adapt your business to an evolving e-commerce landscape, download this free tip sheet: 8 Ways to Improve Your Online Sales.