2020 has been a year like no other. With the world grappling with an invisible enemy, many brands and businesses were challenged with lockdowns, shifts in consumer spending, and serving their customers safely. If 2020 was a year of reactive strategy, below are some strategies to consider proactively to help you accelerate your growth in 2021.
1. eCommerce, front and center of your strategy
Pandemic or not, consumers will continue to buy online even after the environment becomes more normal. The fundamental convenience of shopping from any time anywhere has become more of a habit. Investing in eCommerce is no longer an after-thought, but core to the success of the company.
The roles of in-store and online have reversed from an experiential and transactional standpoint. While in the past, customers may browse in-store for getting a feel of the product, and order online for better pricing and convenience, now websites have become the new storefront. This requires businesses to create a deeply engaging experience online. Choosing platforms like Shopify, which allows brands to get started quickly and then build on-site experience with plugins and extensions will help the brand grow step by step without needing significant investment upfront.
Large brands like IKEA are using augmented reality to provide an immersive and as close to the realistic experience in-store as possible. For smaller brands investing in high fidelity product videos and images, with relative size depictions and detailed descriptions will be helpful to give full context to customers. Companies like Casper have added video calls to enable their customer service representative to do a live walkthrough of their products. This has enabled them to not only serve their customer better but also extend the range of customers each store could service across the country. Mining customer reviews and feedback using products like Bewgle, and building FAQs will help with address customer questions upfront about one-off scenarios one could face. Providing snippets, highlighting what attributes customers have said the product is good for from reviews will build trust and give deeper insights about the experience and fit.
2. Put consumers first
eCommerce channels have seen a flood of new customers for products that are typically bought in-store. The pandemic has brought uncertainty and stress of adaptation.
It is important to understand your customers deeply to understand how best to serve their changing needs. Whether it is via a chatbot on the website, surveying customers when about to exit, cart abandon emails, or post-purchase, using products like Bewgle to intelligently collect feedback and analyze it deeply will enable businesses to rapidly adapt.
Offering free delivery and flexible returns policy will alleviate concerns customers’ concerns about buying without seeing. Communicating more for shipping updates at every stage, paying more to enable tracking on shipping, and providing a direct calling number help in putting customers at ease.
For many businesses, the purchase journey now begins online and with a pick-up in store. Being able to provide notifications when an order is ready for pick-up, pre-booking appointments, and communicating upfront delays and changes make it a smooth experience.
3. Build loyalty
Many Brands struggled with managing inventory online due to increasing demand. Unlike in-store, customers have a myriad of options across different channels, leading to customers switching to competing brands. This led to rapid growth for new brands as consumers were willing to give them a try. Managing online inventory is critical to managing brand reputation and loyalty in long run.
It is important to personalize engagement with customers. Recommending products based on past purchases, building excitement with sneak peeks, and raffle giveaways build excitement. Having a loyalty program will make the customers buy directly via brand websites vs marketplaces and increase repeat purchases. Launching products to market fast can help brands capture the market share of emerging consumer trends. Using Bewgle, brands can quickly identify what’s hot in the market and launch new products fast. Shipping complimentary trial packs of new products with orders can help with market testing before scaling and getting direct feedback from consumers.
4. Market holistically
Your audience is not on only one channel. For a new consumer brand, it may initially be more effective to start on marketplaces to get traction and audience reach. Choosing the first channel to launch is critical to success. Understanding the reach and audience profile will help align the fit of the channel to the product audience. For e.g. for beauty products, Nykaa in India and Sephora in the US, Lyst in the US and Myntra in India for fashion, Wayfair for home goods, etc are specialized channels to consider.
While it may be very tempting to heavily invest in marketplace growth, it is equally important to build your own brand. Social media like Instagram and Facebook are powerful platforms to not just drive reach and engagement, but also drive sales using Facebook Shop and Instagram Store features. It will enable you to capture the demand at the source and drive conversion.
Having your own website will help you have an independent voice and relationship with your customer. Email marketing may seem very 1990s, but it is still the most effective method for engaging and driving conversions. Investing in building your subscriber base by advertising your website on your product packaging (whether selling it via marketplaces or social) and driving traffic to your website will yield long term profitability.
5. Bring your team along
Winning in eCommerce requires investing in the right skills and tools. Having a robust platform for omni-channel inventory management, scalable website, analytics tools like Google Analytics, marketing & automation tools like Klaviyo, and review management & insights tools like Bewgle will help collect the right data for fast action. In planning for 2021, don’t forget to budget for tools for your business.
Lastly, it is crucial to bring your team together. eCommerce teams require a different set of skills – Tech-savvy, highly data-driven, and social media aware. This may be especially difficult if you are making a sharp transition into eCommerce, with your team not ready to take on the new responsibilities it requires. Investing in the training and education of the team in a more online-focused environment will help smoothen the transition.
Our team is here to help you. To learn more about how we can help you succeed in eCommerce, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org