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E-commerce marketing: Trends and strategies

E-commerce marketing strategies

E-commerce continues to experience significant growth, driven by technological advancements and changing consumer behaviors. Many retailers have reported substantial online sales gains, with digital shopping becoming integral to the retail landscape. In the age of smartphones and tablets, online shopping is expected to remain a key growth engine for brands in the coming years.

Year-over-year online sales growth

With this ongoing transformation of the digital retail landscape, you might have to consider ditching some less profitable brick-and-mortar locations and doubling down on your e-commerce efforts to boost sales. Below are the top 20 e-commerce strategies and trends.

What is e-commerce marketing?

Instead of relying on a physical and local store, e-commerce marketing utilizes various online channels, such as social media, digital content, search engines, and email marketing, to increase traffic and drive awareness.

Briefly, e-commerce marketing involves using a mix of paid and organic strategies to reach potential customers and send them targeted messages that ultimately result in a sale.

Read more: Mobile commerce is on the rise: What, Why and How to adopt

20 best e-commerce marketing strategies to boost your sales

1. Manage multiple channels through one single platform

As businesses grow, there is a pressing need to eliminate human error when managing commerce data coming in from various channels. With the emergence of integrated platforms or super apps, product data can be extracted and mapped automatically across multiple channels without manual input.

SleekFlow, for example, allows businesses to access all e-commerce channels, such as Shopify, Shopline, and Woocommerce, on just one platform. This improves operational performance by delivering a single interface for staff and supervisors across multiple teams.

The system can pull data such as new user registrations, orders, and delivery details from different websites, making it much easier for businesses to keep track of all prospects and leads.


2. Being everywhere at all times

According to BigCommerce, online spending is distributed evenly between marketplaces, large retailers, websites, and category-specific stores. In other words, businesses must deliver a seamless and consistent shopping experience at every touchpoint.

Where Americans shop online

To succeed in omnichannel retail, you must ensure every single touchpoint is deeply connected. Disney has demonstrated perfectly from start to finish: it begins with the customer’s initial experience on its mobile-responsive website. After purchasing tickets, customers can scout plans, consume content, and prepare for the entire trip on a mobile app called My Disney Experience

Once the customer is physically at the park, they can use the app to see wait times for all attractions and events on a real-time interactive map. Customers can even use the app as a photo storage device for photos taken with Disney characters and as a restaurant food ordering tool. That’s a truly omnichannel experience in that Disney manages to immerse their customers in the world they create literally at every moment.

3. B2B e-commerce is becoming a top growth sector

Late in 2017, Frost & Sullivan expected global B2B e-commerce sales to surpass business-to-customer (B2C) and valued it at $3.2 trillion by 2020. B2B refers to business-to-business, and e-commerce is defined as the business model that focuses on selling goods and services to other companies through online channels.

Instead of targeting an individual customer, B2B companies offer raw materials, finished goods, services, or consultations that other businesses need to operate, grow, and profit. Examples include Dropbox, General Electric, Xerox, and WeWork.

One of the best practices is the collaboration between Forex and Spotware. Spotware has developed a trading software called cTrader and sold it to forex brokers. To access the forex markets and trade online, traders must use a trading platform or software. 

This is clearly a win-win situation since Spotware could get a greater range of sales, which leads to more income for the business. On the other hand, if Forex has not adopted cTrade, the brokers would have to make some software by themselves, making it impossible to offer services at affordable costs. If you have overlooked the importance of B2B e-commerce, you are losing more chances to develop.

4. Getting help from AI-based chatbots

After receiving a customer’s message, chatbots run the texts through an algorithm to determine the best response. Although it sounds complicated, the process only takes about 2 seconds.

Chatbots play an instrumental role in sales leads and conversions. For example, Sephora’s has increased the average user spend to over $50 USD, whereas Tommy Hilfiger’s has contributed to a nearly 90% rate of returning customers.

Apart from the aforementioned advantages, there are more compelling reasons to get your company a chatbot, including but not limited to 24/7 customer services, lower cost, shorter response time, and, most importantly, allowing the company to live up to the customers’ rising expectations of “always-connected.” Truth be told, there are currently more than 300,000 active chatbots on Facebook’s Messenger alone, it is believed that more and more businesses will start introducing chatbots to their customer support.

5. Expand your business internationally

Cross-border purchasing has also surged dramatically recently, bringing new opportunities to brands and retailers. Despite slowdowns across some of the regions due to the coronavirus pandemic, sales have bounced back in many countries, for instance, there was a massive increase in the United States’ cross-border online sales in May.

U.S. cross-border ecommerce growth

Thanks to the internet, taking your e-commerce business global is no longer a daunting task. The easiest strategy is to partner with trusted digital platforms, such as Amazon Global Selling and eBay Global Shipping. These websites are specifically designed for global reach, everything from the language to the price to the shipping rates will change automatically depending on the market, so the whole experience will be more appealing to overseas customers.

6. Subscription programs are hot

Subscription-based marketing is one of the dominant elements in modern businesses. Ever since the concept of customer relationship management was introduced, many brands have started prioritizing customer retention over customer acquisition. With reference to Zuora’s report, the subscription-based business model has exploded by over 350% since 2012, growing 5 times faster than S&P 500 company revenues and U.S. retail sales.

Subscription economy index level

Running a subscription service is good for both businesses and customers. First of all, a customer, after signing up, can just sit back and enjoy the premium service. The autopilot simplicity of subscriptions removes the thinking out of a purchase decision – subscribers never have to remember to reorder every month, which gives them the reassurance that they will have whatever they need before they need it. Meanwhile, the longer a customer is with you, the more they trust you, and the more you become top-of-mind, thus bringing in longer-lasting and higher-paying referrals.

7. Adopting progressive web apps

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) blend the traditional browser experience with the mobile app experience. Simply put, PWAs are web-based applications intended for laptops or mobile devices. By accommodating the same application on both iOS and Android uniformly, PWAs save the time and cost of developing a native application.

Since PWAs are created with reusable codes, developers can repeat the same codes and modules in quick succession. In addition, as the app primarily redirects to the original e-commerce site, the groundwork has already been laid. Implementing a PWA is the most efficient alternative for e-commerce business owners who want to offer customers native app-like features quickly.

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)

8. Don’t forget about D2C

D2C is commonly known as direct-to-consumer, meaning the manufacturers and producers start selling directly to end-consumers via an e-commerce site. Normally, the traditional retailer business model has to go through wholesalers, distributors, retailers, and finally to a consumer. However, D2C suggests cutting out middlemen instead of solely focusing on bulk purchases and that providers should consider selling individual items to individual customers.

As a matter of fact, over 55% of shoppers prefer to shop directly with brand manufacturers over retailers, according to Astound Commerce Insight. The researchers also discovered that nearly 60% of respondents already used a brand manufacturer’s website to research products and usually made their purchases there.

9. “Try Before You Buy” is the new trend

While there are just a few benefits of physical stores, in-store sampling was supposed to be the most prominent one. Unfortunately, today’s online shops also offer customers the “pay later” option, if they are not satisfied with the product, they are more than welcome to send it back for free.

As an e-commerce giant, Amazon launched Prime Wardrobe for Prime members in 2017. The customers are given a 7-day trial period before checking out, they can then pay for the items they want and return items they don’t with the provided return label. If you are interested in investing in this feature, please have a clear return policy with foolproof instructions. The simpler the returns process, the more likely customers will shop from you again.

 Prime Wardrobe

10. Modern buyers want more flexible payment options

In the early days of e-commerce, payment options were often limited to card payments, but now there’s a much wider range of payment methods for online shoppers. Statista has researched the preferred payment methods of online shoppers worldwide, between them, credit card payment is still the most popular, but e-payment and other methods are also growing rapidly.

preferred payment methods of online shoppers

When it comes to e-commerce payment methods, of course, the more, the better. After all, consumers are likely to abandon their carts if their preferred payment method isn’t available. By equipping your site with a payment gateway that includes an array of payment methods, you give your business more opportunities to gain sales.

11. Dynamic pricing to drive revenue

Dynamic pricing is now taking e-commerce by storm. It is a pricing strategy in which prices change in response to real-time supply and demand, giving retailers the best chance of selling a product while making the most possible profit from each sale.

Dynamic pricing

Dynamic pricing strategy can appear in several forms, each of which can be used to achieve different goals. Uber, for example, has chosen to match fares to several variables, such as the time and distance of a customer’s route, traffic, and the current rider-to-driver demand. Sometimes, this means temporary surge charges during busy periods. With this system, Uber manages to make sure there are always enough drivers to handle all ride requests so customers can get a ride quickly and easily.

12. Product visualization for interaction

Product visualization for e-commerce is a powerful way for e-tailers to profit from online sales. Wake up to the fact that e-commerce is growing faster than ever; it’s high time to represent products with a fresh look. Many companies do this by enabling their websites with visual product configuration software. Via this method, customers can see a picture or rendering of the product while completing their orders online.

To best explain its effectiveness, Retail Perceptions concluded that nearly 40% of consumers would be willing to spend more on a product if it offered an augmented reality experience. Thus, retailers who offer augmented reality features online have a competitive advantage that will likely increase sales, conversion rates, and the number of products sold for their online store. 

IKEA was quick to adopt this technology to assist its shoppers in making better buying decisions. The company collaborated with Apple and built the “IKEA Place” app, which allows customers to visualize IKEA products in a superimposed graphics environment.

Augmented reality and retail

13.  Use videos to promote your products

While grabbing people’s attention is a huge task, video content is able to help viewers forge a positive, memorable association with your brand and what it stands for. Wyzowl has discovered that approximately 79% of customers preferred using videos to get information about a product over reading text on a page.

Animated logos add a dynamic and modern twist to traditional branding, effectively capturing attention and enhancing brand recognition through movement and visual storytelling.

There are a variety of formats to create a marketing video. Given that online audiences enjoy short, snackable content, you might consider launching a charming animated video like Starbucks’. 

Starbucks debuted a cartoon web series called 1st & Main. Every episode is about a cast of anthropomorphic animals going through struggles in art. Storylines were based on observations about the coffee vibe and culture, showcasing Starbucks as ‘the third place’ between home and work.

Tip: if you are planning to create the animated video yourself, consider choosing the best animation software

14. Voice search is the next big disruption

As presented by Adobe, almost 50% of customers used voice search technology to conduct general web searches, whereas over 90% of brands have been making significant investments in invoices. The reason why customers love voice search is mostly because of its “hands-free” feature; it lets people carry out searches while they’re doing other things. As voice search technology continues to improve, some even more powerful algorithms can understand user intent and then reference previous searches and purchases to cater to the user’s special needs.

To prepare your site for voice search, you have to improve your voice search optimization. Due to the more conversational nature of voice searches, long-tail keywords are more important than ever. Long-tail keywords are more specific than standard ones, meaning they usually have lower traffic volume and less competition. It can be impractical to manually track your keyword targets and results, so it is highly recommended that you utilize free tools such as Google Search Console and Google Analytics for keyword data.

15. Every marketing decision is guided by numbers

Analytics is the core of growing an e-commerce business. It is helpful in optimizing the copy of your Call-to-Action button, creating superior meta tags for your competitors, and so on. Since there is a lot of data to measure, parse, and analyze, finding the right e-commerce analytics tools to process large amounts of data and produce actionable insights can offer your brand an immeasurable advantage over competitors.

Google Analytics is perhaps one of the most well-known analytics tools used by website owners worldwide. It can be easily integrated into many e-commerce platforms. The only drawback is that in order to get really detailed reports, you really need to spend a lot of time fine-tuning the filtered perspectives. Luckily, thanks to the tool's popularity, there are countless Google Analytics tips that you can follow.

Google even set up an Analytics Academy to help you learn about this powerful measurement tool.

 Analytics Academy

16. Keep investing in social media

Ever since its emergence, social media has always proved itself to be invaluable for brands looking to boost sales and brand awareness. According to Absolute, close to 90% of online consumers believe social media helps them make the right shopping decision.

With such huge market potential, social media companies are also actively exploring new ways to better enable shopping via their platforms. In particular, Instagram rolled out a shoppable posts feature that allows customers to tap on the product tags in organic posts and complete purchases. Snapchat also launched its visual search feature, by pointing the camera at products or barcodes, users can be redirected to the Amazon store to make purchases. Facebook Messenger has also incorporated chatbots to facilitate customer service.

17. Micro-markets have great opportunities

Too often, marketers focus only on big or middle-sized markets such as China, India, the United States, and others, ignoring the fact that even sparsely populated areas might offer a unique opportunity for cross-border e-commerce.

For example, New Zealand, Ireland, Latvia, Malta, and Iceland are among the micro-markets. They have small populations and a decent infrastructure to which most have access. Running a business in these regions only has to face limited competition as most of the largest brands pay no attention to them. There is no IKEA in Malta or Amazon in Iceland. Hence, there is plenty of room for you to fill in the blanks, especially when you are already competing with these stores in your domestic market.

18. Customers are making more green purchase decisions

Green purchase behavior usually refers to buying environmentally friendly products that can be recycled and bring benefits to the environment. Increasingly, consumers are becoming more knowledgeable about the environment and reflecting this knowledge in their decisions to buy green products. As reported by Nielsen Company, a whopping 81% of global respondents felt strongly that companies should help improve the environment, in light of this, consumers around the world are adjusting their shopping habits.

Corporate sustainability

One of the easiest ways to reduce your business’s environmental impact is to practice green procurement, such as avoiding excessive packaging, using raw materials that are free of toxic substances, and adding recyclable or reusable elements to your products.

19. Customers still love stories

It’s no surprise that the marketing world has embraced storytelling, in fact, it’s one of the most effective ways to connect on a deeper level with consumers and humanize a brand. The best-known textbook case is probably Harry’s, a company that sells shaving equipment and men’s grooming products. 

Just from looking at their site, it’s easy to see that brand-oriented storytelling is a major component of the company’s identity. They talk about fair pricing and issues that affected the founders, along with a discussion about “modern masculinity,” keeping customers engaged while coming to the conclusion that men can be anything they want.

brand-oriented storytelling

20. Go for e-commerce personalization

E-commerce personalization means delivering personalized experiences on websites by dynamically showing content, product recommendations, and specific offers based on previous actions, browsing behavior, purchase history, demographics, and other personal data. It comes in many different forms, from personalized product recommendations on the homepage to cart-abandonment marketing emails, with the ultimate goals of pushing repeat purchases, driving sales, and increasing conversion.

Customers want to feel special and personalization helps to improve their shopping experience. As claimed by Accenture, nearly 40% of consumers have left a website because they were overwhelmed by too many options. That’s why you should make good use of the cookies collected, discovering the particular category the users are interested in. Next time, when the visitors return, you can personalize a homepage for them accordingly, allowing them to shop without distractions.

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