In today’s digital marketplace, having an online presence is essential. Social media and SEO are imperative aspects of any promotional strategy, and your business is likely doing what you can to stay ahead of the curve.
But is your business selling online?
For many types of businesses, ecommerce can present a lucrative opportunity. Even if you have typically operated in a physical store, selling online as well can open your consumer demographics and supplement your revenue more than ever before.
The U.S. economy has evolved to include automation, specialization, and especially online vending. In fact, the National Retail Federation expected online retail sales to grow 8-12% in 2017. This is more than three times the growth rate of retail sales in general. And if the growth holds true, the industry will add up to between $427 billion and $443 billion.
“Retail has undergone massive disruption due to the rise of online shopping and the emergence of massive ecommerce only companies, companies which have the logistics and digital prowess to quickly adapt to fast-changing consumer behavior,” Business Insider writes in an introduction to their ecommerce newsletter. “The pace of advancement is blistering and the shift to digital will continue to have a significant growing impact on global commerce.”
So, how will your business compete in this global online marketplace?
With the right preparation and marketing techniques, you can lay the foundation for a successful virtual business.
How can your business prep your ecommerce site?
Even if you already have a physical retail store, adding an online store takes careful preparation. By covering every detail before your store launches, you can ensure that you are selling efficiently. To start, consider taking the following steps to best set up your ecommerce website.
- Know your audience. By opening an online store, you are also opening your customer demographics. But this does not mean that you should try to attract everyone. Carefully curate your target audience so you know who you are marketing for. This may also influence which products you choose to include on the online store.
- Troubleshoot the development. While it might be tempting to get through the development stage to you can start selling, this could only present your customers with glitches. Take your time building the store and test out several versions. Ensure that the payment methods work smoothly and that your customers promptly receive a confirmation email. Details like this are key.
- Plan out your packaging. Decide how you plan to package your products and order the materials ahead of time. It might be wise to order more than you think you need, since this might help you avoid delays down the line. Secure your label-printing methods and work out the more economical shipping option.
- Allow customized shopping. When your first customer clicks into your ecommerce site, they should have access to a user-friendly shopping experience. This is why it’s important to consider which personalizing options they will have access to. For example, you can automatically generate a list of shopping suggestions as a user clicks through your store.
- Integrate all channels. Since some of your local customers may switch to online shopping, be sure that prices and product descriptions are the same across platforms. Just be sure that shoppers are aware that tax and shipping cost may affect the price.
Add online exclusives. Including online exclusive products before you even launch is a great way to boost sales from the start. Just be sure to advertise them as such. Then you can switch the offer regularly and promote these offerings in your physical store as well.
By taking these steps, you can be ready to launch your ecommerce website. As you prepare to make your website live, you can also craft an effective marketing strategy.
How can you best market your ecommerce business?
As a business owner, you certainly know what it’s like to market against a pool of competition. But adding an online store only intensifies this.
“The ecommerce industry is constantly evolving, and those who don’t stay on the cusp of new innovations and trends will quickly fall behind the competition,” Springbot writes. “Despite the healthy growth in the ecommerce market, many online business owners are finding it more and more difficult to break through the noise and make their products stand out.”
The key is to stay diligent and stay on trend. While there are countless digital marketing strategies to boost your ecommerce site’s visibility, these are some of the most important trends to know and follow this year.
- Add social buttons to your online store. The importance of social media marketing is no secret to you, but there are ways to integrate this strategy into your ecommerce site. One effective way to do so is including social sharing buttons to every product. This way, shoppers can share the products to Facebook, Pinterest, and other sites.
- Build up to the launch. You’ve spent months of resources on your ecommerce development, so the launch should gain attention. Consider a social media countdown to your launch, perhaps with a giveaway on each day. You can also advertise your online exclusives ahead of time.
- Host giveaways and contests. These social media strategies are excellent ways to build brand awareness and gain followers. Start by offering smaller items at first, and then switch to larger items as your site pulls more regular traffic and more revenue.
- Sell on social. Never underestimate the power of Pinterest and other product sites. By posting your items on Pinterest, users can click through to your actual site and purchase the item that caught their eye. Instagram also has ecommerce features, so consider taking advantage of these as well.
- Create blogger partnerships. Find bloggers in your niche and consider this marketing option. By partnering with bloggers, you make your product visible to thousands of potential customers. This could be significant for your network of customers.
- Keep up with SEO trends. You likely have an SEO strategy for your business’s website, but it’s important to expand this to include your online store. This is why you should continuously update the store to include current keywords and include the site in your link building strategy.
Following Through on Your Ecommerce Strategy for Marketing
With the expansion of the ecommerce industry, you will likely face more competition as the years go on. This means that it is your job to stay relevant and keep up with trends. Constantly analyze your analytics to determine what you can change, add, and improve upon.
And of course, don’t hesitate to send out surveys and bring in extra resources.
“Reach out to your customers in a variety of ways and make sure you are working with a team of experts with varying skill sets,” Junaid Ali Qureshi writes in Mouseflow. “If you listen to everyone’s ideas, you may find new ways of improving your current campaigns and outreach methods. And, as always, make sure you are monitoring your website analytics to examine trends, keep your website optimized, and track your results.”
By staying diligent and keeping a critical mind, you can constantly find room for improvement in your ecommerce site and marketing strategy. This will ensure that your site is advancing your business as fully as possible. And if executed well, the results will rest in the revenue.
Dennis Spaeth, Electronic Media Editor at Cutting Tool Engineering, holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northern Illinois University. Including nearly 9 years at CTE, Dennis has more than 30 years of daily newspaper and trade journalism experience.