After watching and advising e-commerce retailers and brands for over 16 years, we’ve learned that online businesses need to master the entire spectrum of e-commerce — from marketing to selling to fulfilling — to ensure that their story is a successful one.
And despite an increasingly fragmented e-commerce landscape, a deluge of online competition and a growing population of fickle consumers, stories of success are everywhere.
Long-term success in e-commerce really boils down to evolution and growth — strategic growth, tactical growth, and ultimately, financial growth. Chances are, you aren’t sophisticated in all three of these areas now (don’t worry, you’re not alone). But as you mature as a manufacturer, retailer or reseller, the full spectrum of e-commerce will be relevant and vital to you and the future of your business.
E-commerce doesn’t begin on your website. Or even your product detail page on marketplaces. It starts on the search results page. Whether that’s Google, Bing, Amazon, eBay or Facebook, a sophisticated digital marketing strategy is essential for any modern seller to cut through the noise and find interested consumers.
And finding those consumers comes down to understanding how they search, what they see and where they go.
How they search — Today’s most common consumer searches are driven by a real sense of urgency:
- Searches centered around “open now” have tripled
- “Near me” searches have grown 130%
- “Same-day shipping” has increased 120%
What they see — Today’s buyers can consume content wherever, whenever and however they want.
- More than 81 million Americans are trading pay TV for streaming
- 74% of people now multiscreen
Where they go — Smartphones have officially taken over as the primary source for e-commerce traffic.
- 80% of shoppers use smartphones in physical stores to look up product reviews, compare prices or find alternative store locations
- Nearly half of holiday online retail traffic now comes from mobile devices
Takeaway 1 — Learn where your customers are searching. According to a study by Survata, only 15% of consumers start their searches on a retailer’s website. Most likely, the rest of them begin that journey on Amazon, Google or Facebook. Leverage the many product advertising options at your disposal to find them.
Takeaway 2 — Make sure your ad content is optimized and test every element of the ad (different images, titles, keywords, etc.) for performance. After your content is optimized, analyze your results across multiple dimensions (date, time, location, device, query, etc.) for maximum return.
Do you sell on Amazon? Or do you have an Amazon selling strategy? The former means selling only as much as current marketplace trends allow; the latter involves tools and technologies that empower you to sell above and beyond what competitors in your category are doing. With 56% of product searches starting on Amazon by shoppers in the US, UK, Germany and France, defining your selling strategy on Amazon is essential. It start with promotions like Sponsored Products and continues through thorough product detail pages and customer reviews.
Of course, you’ll also need to reach beyond Amazon if you want to hit new sales goals and records. For example, are you…
Tapping into the full potential of fast-growing marketplaces like eBay and Walmart?
- eBay accounts for as much as 50% of successful sellers’ marketplace sales
- Walmart marketplace sees up to 100 million visitors every month
Pricing products competitively?
- Today’s consumers are more than twice as likely to choose marketplaces over webstores
- More than half choose marketplaces so they can compare and find the lowest prices
Reaching consumers as they discover new, niche sales channels?
- At any given time, 3-4,000 unique shoppers are looking at listings on Tophatter
- The world’s #1 shopping app, Wish, has rapidly grown from a small startup to 300 million users worldwide
And the list goes on: Overstock, Newegg, Sears, Bluefly, Pricefalls, Shop.com, Tanga, Rakuten, Hollar, Fullbeauty… it’s practically impossible to stay relevant to the modern e-commerce consumer without a comprehensive, cross-channel marketplace strategy.
Takeaway 1: Focus on your feedback — respond to complaints and inquiries early and often. High ratings and reviews can hold as much value as quality content and outstanding advertising, and they often contribute to the marketplace’s algorithm that determines search rankings.
Takeaway 2: Don’t be afraid to “go global.” If you haven’t begun to tap into the incredible revenue potential of cross-border trade — whether that’s across the pond in the UK or across the world in China — you could be missing out on a mountain of sales to ready-to-buy consumers.
It’s a struggle that even the most experienced retailers and manufacturing brands face: You can have the best marketing and sales strategies expertise can buy, but none of it’s going to make a measurable difference until your orders are on doorsteps in record time. As eMarketer puts it:
“Consumer demand for free shipping is nothing new, but shoppers have been getting more impatient year by year. Amazon Prime’s speed is acclimating shoppers to faster delivery, and these greater expectations are affecting all retailers.”
Fast, free fulfillment is no longer optional — it’s table stakes. The more equipped you are to win this race to the last mile, the better able you’ll be to meet consumer expectations and gain lasting loyalty.
If you don’t find a way to offer both fast and free delivery, your competition certainly will. More than half of retailers in North America now offer same-day delivery. (By comparison, just 16% offered the service in 2016.)
Many businesses are testing new technologies, from advanced package scanning to drones to robot testing, to better meet demands. Meanwhile, big-box retailers like Walmart and Target are acquiring same-day delivery startups and carrier services, and Amazon is buying up land for its growing fleet of cargo jets.
It may seem like there’s no way to truly keep pace. But with the right tools and technology, it’s still possible to optimize fulfillment operations for even the most demanding expectations.
Takeaway 1: Explore your drop shipping options, whether that means acting as the drop shipper for larger retailers (e.g., Amazon, Walmart) or leveraging third-party logistics (3PLs) providers to drop ship for you.
Takeaway 2: As you integrate with new fulfillment partners, be prepared to meet the unique requirements of every retail, brand and marketplace partner. Also, develop a clear customer service plan and prepare all parties that might play a role in the customer experience.
For more information on the modern marketing, selling and fulfilling landscape, insights from various e-commerce leaders and tips on how you can ramp up your online strategy, download our eBook today.
The Story of E-Commerce Success: Marketing, Selling, Fulfilling