By: James Barlow, Country Manager at Akeneo
The retail landscape is transforming at an exceptional rate, meaning retailers can no longer rely on a brick-and-mortar presence to get their product offering in front of consumers. For retailers looking to secure their future beyond the pandemic, the need to evolve their online strategies is inescapable. Ecommerce sales are expected to total $4.891 trillion worldwide in 2021, further proof of its vitality to retail strategy and also making it an increasingly competitive space for businesses to be in. Failure to embrace new, innovative ecommerce strategies will leave many retailers risking the same fate as high-profile high street casualties, such as Debenhams, Gap and Topshop, who all faced the brutal repercussions of Covid-19 pandemic.
Take ASOS, for example, an online brand that always creates fresh strategies by leveraging technology and innovative functions on their site such as “See My Fit”, creating inclusive campaigns that capitalise on customer-made content. In order to retain customers and expand the omnichannel experience, retailers need to be ready to adapt to thrive. A successful ecommerce strategy should be at the heart of everything retailers do if they want to capture the market and remain relevant in a rapidly evolving space. There are various facets to ecommerce – technology, channels, influencers, personalisation and more. It’s important for retailers to make investments where they can, during the many touchpoints on the customer journey, giving themselves the best chance of striking gold with their audience.
4 tips for ecommerce success
1) Perfect your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Without SEO, it may be challenging to get your product in front of shoppers and also establish your brand voice. It has become essential to ensure that your company website is updated, relevant and optimised for search engines like Google and Yahoo, especially as 45% of all online shopping transactions start on search engines. By correctly positioning and enriching your product content, you’ll be able to enhance the user experience and streamline the online customer journey.
To perfect your SEO strategy for ecommerce, start with keywords or phrases to use to search for a specific product, topic or service in search engines. You can use websites like Google Ads to find the right keywords to use in your campaigns. The next step is competitive research with free tools available online to help you do that research into what keywords other players are using. Optimising your website pages will be key in helping to get your offering out to the right audiences.
2) Tap into social commerce
The best retail strategies are omnichannel strategies and as part of nailing your ecommerce strategy you should definitely consider the role that social commerce can play, integrating sites like TikTok, Instagram and Facebook. Particularly during the pandemic, shopping on social media has seen exponential growth. The closure of the high-street has forced consumers to move solely online, opening up new opportunities for brands on social media.
Across the board, social media sites are making it simple and easy for consumers to make their purchases, offering in-app integrations to streamline the customer experience. For example, leading beauty brand L’Oréal has recently partnered with video streaming app TikTok to create sponsored content with TikTok creators and to enable consumers to shop frictionlessly in the app.
3)Optimise your product data
As we’ve already seen, in today’s ecommerce landscape, the number of marketplaces and channels are growing by the day. This increases pressure on marketing, IT and commerce teams to deliver consistent product information that is both detailed and appropriately presented across sites. That’s where a Product Information Management (PIM) solution comes in handy to help manage large product inventories and produce compelling content for customers. Implementing a PIM has proven to provide a 20-50% increase in conversion, contributing to a significant increase in profitability, revenue and overall success.
4)Leverage UGC and influencer marketing
User-generated-content (UGC) should be at the center of your ecommerce marketing strategy. Research by Business Insider found that shoppers who interact with UGC are 97% more likely to buy than those who don’t. Consumers generally tend to trust recommendations and reviews from real people, rather than content generated by the brand themselves. Not only can this help to build consumer trust, but will also help to minimise returns and increase repeat purchases.
There’s several avenues retailers can go down to strengthen their UGC. Firstly, social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram play a huge role generating new customers with research from Hootsuite showing that 52% of online brand discovery taking place on social media. When users share their experiences with a brand on social media, you create interest around your products. It also helps to drive brand loyalty and helps form a community with people that resonate with the brand and its ethos.
UGC can also be created through influencer marketing, a staple for many brands today. Unless you want your company to be left behind, then you need to start leveraging influencer marketing. With 9 out of 10 brands using some form of influencer marketing, working with influencers will grow your brand awareness and form your narrative. Ecommerce brands can now reach even more people when they work with influencers, particularly if they’re not just showing a filtered version of their lives.