What is e-commerce marketing?
E-commerce sales have been growing rapidly ever since people started adjusting to the ‘new normal’. In fact, many retailers have made triple-digit online sales gains in the second quarter of 2020, as reported by CNBC. Stepping into the age of smartphones and tablets, online shopping is expected to be a key growth engine for every brand in the coming years.
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 give the sales a big boost. Below are the top 20 e-Commerce strategies and trends for 2022 and beyond.
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 campaigns, to bring in traffic and drive awareness.
Briefly, e-Commerce marketing is about using a mix of both paid and organic strategies to reach potential customers and send them targeted messages, which will ultimately result in a sale.
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 the need for manual input.
SleekFlow, for example, allows businesses to access all e-Commerce channels such as Shopify, Shopline and Woocommerce on just one platform, improving the operational performance by delivering a single interface for both staff and supervisors across multiple teams. The system is capable of pulling data such as new user registrations, orders and delivery details from different websites, allowing businesses to keep track of all prospects and leads much easier.
2. Being everywhere at all times
According to BigCommerce, online spending is distributed evenly between marketplaces, large retailers, web, and category-specific stores. In other words, businesses need to deliver a seamless and consistent shopping experience at any given touchpoint.
To succeed in omnichannel retail, you first have to make sure every single touchpoint is deeply connected. Disney has demonstrated perfectly from start to finish: it begins with the customers’ 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 any photos taken with the Disney characters and a food ordering tool at the restaurants. 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 the global B2B e-Commerce sales to surpass business-to-customer (B2C) and valued it at $3.2 USD trillion by 2020. B2B refers to business-to-business, and speaking of e-Commerce, it 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.
The collaboration between Forex and Spotware is one of the best practices. Spotware has developed a trading software called cTrader and sold it to forex brokers. For a trader to access the forex markets and trade online, they will need to use a trading platform or software. This is clearly a win-win situation since Spotware could therefore 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 which would make 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 helps from AI-based chatbots
After receiving a customer’s message, chatbots will run the texts through an algorithm so as to figure out the best response accordingly. Although it sounds complicated, the whole process only takes about 2 seconds to complete.
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 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 to the customers’ rising expectations of “always-connected”. Truth to 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 in recent years, 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.
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 has been 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.
Running a subscription service is good for both businesses and customers. First of all, as a customer, after signing up, they 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 actually 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 more longer-lasting and higher-paying referrals.
7. Adopting progressive web apps
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are a blend of the traditional browser experience and the mobile app experience. Simply put, PWAs are web-based applications that are intended to cater to users on a laptop or a mobile device. With the same application accommodated on both iOS and Android uniformly, PWAs save both 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. For e-commerce business owners who want to offer customers native app-like features in a short time, implementing a PWA is the most efficient alternative.
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 speaking, the traditional retailer business model has to go through wholesalers, distributors, retailers, and then finally to a consumer. But D2C suggests cutting out the middlemen, instead of solely focusing on bulk purchases, the providers should consider selling individual items to individual customers.
As a matter of fact, over 50% 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 for researching products and usually made their purchases there as well.
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 with 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 to 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 make sure to have a clear return policy with foolproof instructions. The simpler the returns process is, the more likely customers are likely to shop from you again.
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.
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 strategy can appear in several forms, each of them can be used for achieving different goals. Uber, for example, has chosen to match fares to a number of variables such as 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, customers can therefore get a ride quickly and easily.
12. Product visualization for interaction
Product visualization for e-Commerce is a powerful way for e-tailers to gain 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 are doing this by enabling their websites with visual product configuration software. Via this method, customers can see a picture or rendering of the product while they’re 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, putting retailers who offer augmented reality features online at a competitive advantage that’ll 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 that allows customers to visualize IKEA products in a superimposed graphics environment.
13. Use videos to promote your products
While grabbing people’s attention is a huge task, video contents are able to help viewers to forge a positive, memorable association with your brand and what it stands for. Wyzowl has discovered that approximately 80% of customers preferred using videos to get information about a product over reading text on a page.
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 that were 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 invoice. 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, 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 keywords, which means that they usually have lower traffic volume, but also less competition. It can be impractical to manually track your keyword targets and results, you are therefore highly recommended to utilize free tools such as Google Search Console and Google Analytics for keywords 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 more. 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 definitely offer your brand an immeasurable advantage over other competitors.
Google Analytics is perhaps one of the most well-known analytics tools used by website owners from all corners of the globe, 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 popularity of the tool, there are countless tutorials available online. Google even set up an Analytics Academy to help you learn about this powerful measurement tool.
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, the social media companies themselves are also actively exploring new ways to better enable shopping via their platforms. In particular, Instagram rolled out a shoppable posts feature which 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. Not to mention Facebook Messenger has incorporated chatbots to facilitate customer service.
17. Micro-markets have great opportunities
Too often, marketers only focus on big or middle-sized markets such as China, India, the United States and the other, ignoring the fact that even sparsely populated areas might render a unique opportunity for cross-border e-commerce.
For example, New Zealand, Ireland, Latvia, Malta and Iceland can be considered among the micro-markets. They have small populations, a very decent infrastructure to which most of their population has access. Running a business in these regions only has to face very limited competition as most of the largest brands paid 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 which 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 making adjustments in their shopping habits.
One of the easiest ways to reduce your business’s environmental impact is practicing green procurement, such as avoiding excessive packaging, using raw materials that are free of toxic substances, adding recyclable or reusable elements into 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.
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 to push repeat purchases, drive sales and increase 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 that the users are interested in. Next time, when the visitors return, you can personalize a homepage for them accordingly, allowing them to shop without any distractions.