Now more than ever, “eCommerce strategy” is one of the hottest buzzwords for online businesses. The recent global pandemic has caused businesses to shift the way they think, operate, and advertise. People who have never shopped online before are now using this as a primary way of spending money and many people have found new websites to shop on. But this isn’t a temporary thing that you can ignore. While stores will eventually go back to normal operations, many people will continue to be wary of crowded stores, especially at peak shopping times, like the holidays. Your preparation with eCommerce now could be an important investment for your business. So what do you need to do?
Rethink Your Digital Strategy
When it comes to eCommerce, so much of your success comes from your digital strategy. What you are doing now may be working, but if you haven’t planned for the long term, you are going to miss out on valuable opportunities. If you haven’t had much of an online presence until the last few months, you need to sit down and really figure out how you are going to get your name out there. If you’ve been doing this for a while and you aren’t seeing an increase in traffic, it may be time to update your plan.
You should also look at your website. While it may seem obvious, your website really does make or break your ability to successfully sell online.
Consider the following questions and how you are doing compared to your competitors:
- What does your conversion funnel look like?
- Is your website easy to navigate?
- Do you have good photos of your products?
- Do you display customer reviews?
- Are delivery and shipping options easy to find?
- Are you offering same day curbside pickup?
- How complicated is your checkout process?
- Is your website mobile friendly?
This list isn’t comprehensive by any means, but they are among the important questions to consider for your website. How you present your products can make a huge difference in your eCommerce success.
Improve Your Order Fulfillment
Order fulfillment is one of the first areas of your eCommerce strategy you should focus on improving. Due to the pandemic, large companies such as Amazon have slowed their delivery times for non-essential items, which gives you the perfect opening. Competing with Amazon may seem like a pipe dream, but if you can offer good customer service, extra perks, and reliable fulfillment, you stand a good chance of redirecting some of their business to yourself.
As you become more competitive, be aware of when you may receive a rush of sales and what you need to do to prepare. Holidays, transitions like returning to school, and other changes may prompt people to order more than you are normally equipped to fulfill. While this is great for your bottom line, it could become problematic if you find yourself unable to fulfill all the orders that are placed. If you have multiple locations, make sure that you are fulfilling the online orders from all your store locations. In times of high demand, leverage the inventory from all your stores to fill online orders.
Integrate Your Physical and Online Storefronts
While you may have been able to separate your physical and online storefront in the past, you can’t do that anymore if you want to keep your numbers up. Now is a great time to implement a more holistic approach to your in store and online efforts. When you have customers in your store, consider directing them to your website if what they are looking for is out of stock temporarily. Offering to let them place an order and buy it from the website in the store closes the sale right then, as opposed to taking the chance that they decide to go somewhere else. You can also work in things like loyalty programs, gift cards, and other promotions all with cross channel integration, between your store and your website.
One of the biggest things you need to integrate is your POS system. If you are using different software for your physical location than you do online, you can easily run into issues of not having a correct inventory count or a costly accounting error. Integrating into one system eliminates these issues quickly and simply.
Offer More Flexible Pickup Methods
The recent quarantines and stay-at-home initiatives have prompted many businesses to offer multiple fulfillment options such as curbside delivery, home delivery, in store pickup, and same-day pickup. In order to compete with these successful businesses, you’ll have to increase your flexibility and offer these options as well. It’s important to get ahead of the game and realize that even after the immediate danger of the virus passes, retailers and customers will be more likely to use businesses that still offer these new conveniences.
Increase Your Communication
One positive consequence of COVID-19 is that the virus has acted as a catalyst for businesses to increase their communication with their customers. Email and social media marketing have become essential tools to direct customers to businesses’ websites. Take this opportunity to increase your communication with your customers through these methods. Publish personalized, relevant, and useful content across all your channels. If your processes, policies, or procedures have changed, you can use social media to get the word out to your clients and customers.
“Facebook has seen a 50% increase in messaging, Instagram usage is up 40% and Twitter’s monetizable daily active users has spiked 23%… it seems social is returning to its roots. Social is about the power of human connection.” Take advantage of the increased online traffic and direct as much of it as possible to your website. You can leverage customers’ dependence on social media in your own favor if you turn up your online communication strategies.”
Ryan Donovan, Chief Technology Officer, Hootsuite
Implement a Better SEO Plan
A successful eCommerce strategy will focus not only on prioritizing your existing customers, but on acquiring new ones in the online world as well. You can do this by upping your SEO game through using content-rich keywords. This will help you rank better in search engine results and increase the online visibility of your website. Implementing a solid SEO plan will be more of a long-term strategy for your business—it’s an item that will always be on your to-do list, but the rewards of your diligent SEO work will make it all worth it.
This is especially important to start now. SEO efforts done properly won’t show results overnight. If you put in the ground work now, you will be in much better shape later on. Start by targeting both broad and long-tail keywords that fit your business. While some of the biggest keywords may be very difficult to rank for, concentrated effort on long-tail keywords can yield some great results for acquiring new customers.
Retail has been forced into its next big innovation, and your goal should be to ride at the crest of the wave. Following these steps and making consistent improvements will set you up for eCommerce success that you may have otherwise missed out on.
Rethink. Revamp. Restart.
Let Us Help! While some retailers have internal teams to accomplish all of this successfully, many retailers have limited resources and need assistance. By leaning on your technology partner, and your vendors, you can quickly create and launch your eCommerce site.
At Celerant, we create your site for you, integrating and leveraging your product data from within your POS, and migrating any existing product data & images you have or we can pull directly from your vendors. To help you ramp up your digital marketing efforts, we offer an email marketing platform, integrated with your customer and sales data in real-time, so you can send personalized emails based on past purchases and sales data. Our team of digital marketing specialists offer assistance with creating the campaigns, building the email segments, and sending the emails out on your behalf. Our specialists will work with you to create your SEO strategy, and make the ongoing changes to help your eCommerce site rank above your competition for your most important search terms.