Online sales are growing at an exponential rate. Globally annual revenue for online sales is set to tip the $2 trillion mark in 2017. The market is very competitive and the customer is informed and empowered.
Customers have higher expectations than ever. They only wish to see things that are relevant to themselves, and personalised for them. A “one size fits all broadcast approach” will deliver mediocre results. If you are serious about building a successful e-commerce business you need a platform that will make this happen. Here are some tips to keep you ahead of the competition:
An e-commerce platform is required to outperform the competition and really leverage the opportunity that online sales present. Sitecore® Commerce is a leading platform that brings together everything you know about your customer. It combines this knowledge with your product information, web content, and digital marketing.
Knowing the likes and preferences of your individual customer is key to successful e-commerce. It enables you to deliver specific content tailored directly for them. You can provide each customer with his or her unique shopping experience, and you can build life-long fans.
The result? The ability to deliver a highly-personalised shopping experience, one that builds a relationship with your customer. You are far more likely to get repeat purchases when you cater to individual preferences and provide targeted information.
Having your own platform puts you in control of the whole process. When you use another channel for distribution and fulfilment, such as Amazon, you are selling to a customer but you are not building a relationship. You don’t have the opportunity to gather the information that will provide a rich customer experience in the future.
A successful e-commerce platform provides certain core capabilities. It must be possible to price products and catalogues with ease. You should be able to run promotions on individual products or categories at will. An order management system that enables the capturing and monitoring of customers’ purchases is necessary. The ability to categorise and organise your merchandise is required. Most importantly you need to be able to gather information about your customer so that you can target your marketing at an individual level.
Sitecore® Commerce has all of this capability. Once you have a robust system in place your e-commerce marketing can be focused and effective. With this in place you can put the best marketing tips into practice.
Before you begin it makes sense to know what you are doing. Create a plan including all the things that you intend on using for your content marketing strategy. This can incorporate blogs, vlogs, newsletters, product reviews, and industry information. Once you know what you want to do, you can regularly check back against your plan to measure your progress.
Original content creates a bond with your customers. Establish yourself as an authority in your market; a place where customers can access all the knowledge they need about your product, service or industry.
This can take many forms, from blogs to newsletters to product reviews. Take advantage of the current appetite for video content. This does not have to be professionally produced content. What happens behind the scenes is interesting to your customer. For example an informal video of a “Day in the life of our design team” can generate interest; or have a sales associate review a product.
With the information you have gathered about individual customers you can present them with personalised content that they will find interesting and engaging. You can also present the right information at the right time to facilitate conversion.
User-generated reviews are powerful and effective. When your customer reviews your product you get the added benefit of social proofing. Potential clients are reassured when they see other people have been happy with their purchases and your service.
Other ideas include running a competition where fans can make an advert for one of your products; or offer a prize to the best picture of your product in a special location.
People love to get things for free. A loyalty programme encourages customers to make repeat purchases and rewards them for doing so. It also has the added benefit of providing you with detailed information about the spending habits of the individual customer. It is a valuable channel that can be used for targeted marketing.
The modern customer expects things to be seamless. They should be able to move from a laptop to a tablet to a smartphone effortlessly. Your online presence must allow for this.
Customers also want options. A “cookie-cutter approach” will not work, and flexibility is important. Be able to respond to the requests of customers, and even better, begin to anticipate what they may want.
The way forward
The future holds many exciting prospects as technology races ahead and consumers become more and more sophisticated. An intimate understanding of your individual customer, and having a proper commerce platform, can position you to take advantage of these opportunities.
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