Markets are moving online. Largest categories of online retail globally include apparel, consumer electronics and computer hardware. The fastest-growing categories include grocery, beauty & cosmetics, home appliances, and furniture.
Online retail in India was $15 billion in 2016 and estimated to be $200 billion in 2026.
India is the largest growing market globally in e-commerce.
eCommerce has tremendous potential. But, how do you get a share of the pie? What does it take to enjoy success in eCom market?
3 Keys to eCommerce Success.
1. Generate visibility
In early days of eCommerce query-based traffic dominated sales. “Query based” means people type in a search term (a query) and are then shown an ad relevant to their search, like on Google.
Since Facebook and now Instagram, there has been a shift to contextual advertising where you choose whom you want to target with your ads based on context.
There are 4 major players who provide contextual advertising:
- Google (Google Search, Google Shopping, YouTube, Google Display Network and more), which offers both query-based and contextual targeting.
- Facebook, which offers contextual targeting.
- Instagram (owned by Facebook), which offers contextual targeting
- Pinterest, which offers a combination of query-based and contextual targeting.
To generate high visibility across these four channels, you need to focus on the following aspects of your communication
Targeting: Choose granular targeting over broad targeting. Try to segment your audiences and test multiple audiences. Whether it is Google Ads or Facebook Ads, they provide tools for identifying audience segments and targeting them via multiple campaigns / Ad sets.
Creative: While designing creative for your Ads, place text on upper third or lower third of visual. Use faces of real people as it tends to generate higher click-thru rates. Make sure that the landing page should be contextual to the Ad Creative i.e. it has the same visuals / creative used in the Ad.
Building a sales funnel:
A “sales funnel” is an eCommerce lingo / term for a series of web pages that you send people through in a specific order to elicit a specific response. In other words, it’s a deliberate sequence of engagements designed to get people to say yes to your offer.
There are many ways to optimize the sales funnel and move the site visitor to the checkout / purchase page.
- Pre-sales page: Its a good idea to take users to a pre-sales page from an Ad. A pre-sales page usually solves a problem the potential customer is facing. For example, “make up tips for teenagers” could be a blog that acts as a pre-sales page and leads teenagers to buy the right products / explore product categories.
- Lead magnets: Lead magnets are free resources that you will create to capture information of prospects. For example, you create an eBook (PDF) for “How to dress your kids in summer” and get users to download this eBook only after providing their email address. Lead magnets can be served via apps that provide exit intent notifications or when a user spends some time on a page.
- Email workflows: You can create multiple email sequences to target consumers who have abandoned the purchase of products at various stages. Some commonly used emal workflows by eCommerce businesses include pre-purchase, cart abandon & discount ladder, post-purchase and win-back (for lost customers).
2. E-Commerce optimization
An eCommerce website usually has these pages – Homepage, Product category pages, product pages, check-out page and thank you page (post-purchase). Each of these pages can be optimized to increase conversions / sales.
Homepage: The homepage is a good page to establish your brand and tell first-time visitors what past-customers think about your brand. Here is what you should include on the homepage of your eCommerce website
- Brand message: What does your brand stand for. Whats your story?
- Customer testimonials: You could include either text-based or video testimonials on the homepage and offer social proof. You could also include good feedback received on social media
- Links to the top product category pages.
- Newsletter subscription / community building: If you want to keep users updated regularly, you could have them subscribe to your newsletter or to your community forum.
Product Category pages: The product category pages is where you need to include a lot of SEO related content. Most of the eCommerce websites have atleast 1500 – 2000 words of content describing the product category.
Product pages: On the product pages, you need to have a hero shot of the product, a product description, and a product sales video—all above the fold. People prefer to consume content in different formats: some like to look, some prefer to watch, and others to want to read, so we cater to all media formats.
Under the main product video, we could have what we call “third party pitch videos.” These are essentially PR pieces that were done about our product/brand. It always helps to have more than just us saying our product is great.
For product details, we need to have long form content. You can scroll down the page and consume content and images as you go. There should also be a call-to-action at the bottom of the description so that users don’t have to scroll up to click add to cart.
You could also have a very strong social proof section on the page that includes traditional reviews as well as customer testimonial videos.
These videos can be acquired by sending past customers to an incentivized video review page. You could email people after they buy and offer to give them a gift certificate to our website in exchange for a video review of the product they just bought.
Like Amazon or other ecommerce websites do, we should have a cross-sell section where we offer people additional / related products.
3. Engaging customers in a conversation that turns them into repeat customers
If there is one long-term strategy that you should focus on with eCommerce, then it would be to get repeat purchases. The cost of acquiring a new customer is significantly higher than the cost of retaining your customers.
How do you go about retaining customers?
Here are the few tactics you can implement for retain your customers:
- Customer accounts: Customer accounts can make repurchasing easier by giving customers instant access to previous orders as well as pre-filled shipping information. How do you get customers to create accounts? The trick is to provide the option to create an account after the first order has been placed
- Better customer support: Customer support systems help you effectively communicate with your customers and provide them with the right level of support. Having a live chat or help desk tool such as Freshdesk available can turn a customer question into a sale or a customer complaint into a resolution. Very often, an effectively resolved complaint or problem can turn an unhappy customer into a loyal, repeat customer.
- Loyalty program: Loyalty programs, sometimes referred to a customer retention program, are an effective way to increase the frequency of purchase. Such programs are implemented by most eCommerce companies because they motivate customers to purchase more often in order to earn valuable rewards. Amazon Prime or Flipkart Plus in India are two loyalty programs that are offered by these eCommerce giants.
- Offer-based emails to customers: Email marketing is the backbone of customer engagement and your retention strategy. Emails give you the opportunity to continue building a relationship with your customers before and after their initial purchase. It’s critical that each message you send adds value to your customer’s experience.