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As E-commerce continues its meteoric rise to become the primary channel of sales, it is imperative that e-commerce businesses defend their market share by keeping track of the latest e-commerce strategies, innovations and opportunities for driving sales.
Innovation is great but, often, tactical initiatives that are thought of as new and innovative ecommerce strategies are little more than digital distractions that lure businesses into wasting time and resources. To help cut through the clutter, we have compiled a list of what we think are the most important areas worth keeping track of for e-commerce businesses.
E-commerce strategies: Embedded social commerce
Instagram has led the way with a new and innovative e-commerce strategies that are now available on the platform. In 2018, Instagram launched its shoppable posts feature and this has recently had a huge upgrade with brands now being able to sell directly within the Instagram app (we expect Facebook to soon follow suit).
Bringing commerce into social platforms that are usually focused purely on content and making almost everything ‘shoppable’ is a trend which we think is set for an imminent rollout across the major social media platforms. This is a fantastic opportunity to innovate your ecommerce strategies. Being able to sell in places where people expect to be entertained is a will bring new opportunities but also new challenges – the sell must be more entertaining and engaging to be able to compete with everything else vying for the user’s attention.
Making e-commerce strategies more social is likely to make transactions more spontaneous but, there is also a danger of fall-out for brands who do not match consumer expectations. Customers expect rapid order fulfilment via streamlined logistics (Amazon has set the standard high!). Social commerce does, however, have great potential for consumers to advocate the products they love and share news of purchases. We have launched several social-commerce stores and are able to help with the launch and management of a social media advocacy programme.
Given the real-time nature of social media, smart brands will develop agile approaches to developing and rolling out products based on news items in order to ride the traction of current affairs. Brands wanting to do this should have a robust approach in place to respond to cultural events such as red carpet appearances, sporting victories etc.
Experiential e-Commerce strategies
As e-Commerce strategies become more experientially driven, the boundaries between marketing and sales will continue to blur even further. Augmented reality and live video are already used in marketing and we’ll start to see this used more as an every-day technology to facilitate customer service. This will, in turn, allow sales teams to have remote video-calls with prospective customers, at scale. This is a great opportunity to bring products to life. Whether it’s a bicycle, car or a new brand trying to demonstrate its differentiated features, it’s a great way to bring customers closer to the brand. A number of technology providers are already delivering solutions which enable really innovative e-commerce strategies such as enabling bricks-and-mortar retailers to extend the reach of their shop floor staff to shoppers via video – directly from the shop floor.
The evolution of messaging services
Messaging apps in Asia have been fully e-commerce enabled for some time and, it’s only a matter of time before their western counterparts follow suit. Chinese messaging app, WeChat, has an amalgam of different services from banking right through to shopping. What we see now as ‘messaging’ could eventually become bigger than ‘social’ and, is likely to take the form of a ‘personal-private’ hub (as opposed to a public-broadcast hub which current social media platforms deliver).
Emergent ecommerce strategies: subscription
Brands selling physical products have a great deal to gain by providing their product as a service. Customer lifetime value and retention rates are overwhelmingly higher on subscription based business models which is why Amazon has offered subscriptions on vitamin supplements for some time. Retailers should be thinking about how to translate their products into a service – and how to keep the experience of using it special, with the likes of one-offs, birthday deliveries and layers of personalisation in the service offering.
Exclusive (scarce) offers
Nothing creates greater FOMO and demand than exclusive offers. Nightclubs have known this for some time by delaying entry and creating queues to get into their empty venues. ‘By Invitation’ is a great way for premium brands to bring scarcity back into the digital world. This can make customers feel special and gives them bragging rights of being ‘in the know’ and part of a club. Smart brands are already doing this with customer loyalty programmes which segment a brand’s most loyal customers. These offer small batches of limited edition products or services which are personalised and have special features which are less ‘mass market’.
Data driven e-commerce strategies
We live in a data driven world and, brands can use data to develop a competitive edge in how they design their products or services. Brands should consider how they might use data to drive their ecommerce strategies – there are a multitude of data sources out there (public, private, partner based, marketing and business data are all available if you go looking). E-commerce businesses should ideally use these data sources to inform their design decisions, increase conversion rates and brand engagement. We have built a number of data driven dashboards which have enabled brands to establish greater clarity over their customer’s needs. Very simply, data offers an opportunity for ecommerce businesses to better understand their customers and the market opportunity which can lead to big benefits in both products and services. Data can also be used to inform the best products to sell based on the different online audiences on social platforms for example.
Targeting Post GDPR
Restrictions placed on the use of customer data and targeted advertising mean that brands need to focus on making their data work harder for them. This involves creating more relevant, personalised experiences and delivering messages with greater context at key moments of the customer journey. Targeted advertising which is based on context is almost inevitably going to become more expensive for brands but, this can be counteracted by understanding the intent of a shopper. Constructing customer journeys that are more empathetic to their intent and speaks to the issues, needs and desires of shoppers can, however, only be done with solid customer insight. We expect there to be a surge in brands leveraging customer insight more effectively in their e-commerce businesses. Get in touch to discuss how our customer insight capability can help.