Retailers saw their biggest Cyber Monday ever in 2016, according to Forbes. Your rebuttal might be, “But that’s an online shopping holiday! How large is electronic commerce (e-commerce in shorthand) overall?”
It’s a $350 billion industry — and it’s doubled in size over the last five years, according to The New York Times.
Those statements together say a lot. We know shoppers are flocking to e-commerce over brick-and-mortar retailers in droves. Countless news stories chronicle the shuttering of mom-and-pop shops due to stiff online competition and the inability to leverage e-commerce solutions to compete with tech titans like Amazon and eBay.
Major retailers are feeling the tides of change as well. There may be no better example of this shift than Macy’s. The big-box department store announced the closure of 68 locations due to “declining traffic in stores” and “changes in customers’ shopping behaviors, including a focus on buy online, pickup in store and mobile-enabled shopping,” reports its corporate site.
E-commerce businesses benefit from immense demand but face an arduous battle to stay above the fray (or get noticed in the first place). We asked business owners and entrepreneurs to share their most hard-earned lessons in the pursuit of e-commerce success. These businesses saw proven ROI after implementing the following strategies to identify their customers, gain traction and drive repeat business.
E-Commerce Tips From Experts
Promoting a company on social media can be great for your business, whether it’s e-commerce or brick-and-mortar. But it’s more complicated than tossing up a funny meme every once in awhile.
For starters, you need to target your customers and go where they are. Then you need to engage them with compelling messaging. This is the fun part of your social strategy and where you get to write the witty messages relevant to your business.
You will also want to monitor those posts to see what is working and what is not. From these findings, you can adjust the messaging and plan your next actions. But that’s not all you can optimize. You should also determine targeted keywords for each post, monitor performance metrics, and create a content agenda.Justin GuinnMarket research associate for Software Advice, a Gartner company
Developing multilayer risk management is frequently-overlooked, but it is an essential part of building a successful e-commerce business. This includes tools and practices to address criminal fraud, chargebacks, loss of merchandise and other threats to their business’s sustainability.
Unfortunately, merchants often neglect strategies that target diverse risk sources. At the same time, many deploy automated tools in a less-than-effective manner, thereby increasing friction, false positives and shopping cart abandonment.Monica Eaton-CardoneCo-founder and COO of Chargebacks911
At JAM Paper, we have a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and also our very own blog. These platforms give us a chance to spread promotional materials like coupons, but more importantly it offers us an opportunity to interact and engage with our target audience. Our blog typically consists of DIY crafts that showcase the variety of uses for our products. In the blog posts we include direct links to the products used as well as detailed instructions and pictures. These content marketing tactics also provide us with an opportunity to optimize our web presence ... with relevant keywords ...
The next tip is one of the biggest tips I can offer: It’s using Amazon’s fulfillment service, also known as FBA. Amazon is the No. 1 e-commerce retailer on the planet, so selling your products on their marketplace is a pretty good idea. With FBA, we pay Amazon to store our products in their warehouses and then once they are purchased by an Amazon customer, Amazon will pick, pack and ship the orders to the customer directly from their warehouse. Essentially Amazon uses their brand and platform to promote your product AND they do all the customer service work.Dylan PetersPR Coordinator at JAM Paper & Envelope
[M]y tip would be to try and figure out very early what parts of your business you enjoy doing and what parts you don't enjoy. If you're hoping for long term SEO gains as an example, you'll need a blog. Do you like to write? If not, can you make videos as posts? If you aren't comfortable making content, then finding a way to outsource that, rather than either fighting with it continuously, or not doing it at all makes the most sense.
At the beginning making those priorities might not be easy and certainly they'll change over time, but trying to figure this stuff sooner rather than later is going to be incredibly helpful.Mark AselstineFounder at Uncorked Ventures
We developed a successful “Influence the Influencer” marketing program to drive awareness and traction for our business. We executed our influencer marketing program by exhibiting at several trade shows and by direct mail ... As a direct result of our influencer marketing program, our sales have increased +50% in each of the last two years. We picked up dozens of new accounts that continually purchase products. Many customers tell us they were referred to us by their Architect or Code official, confirming the success of our influencer marketing program.Mark TyrolP.E., president at Battic Door Energy Conservation Products
There are dozens of e-commerce marketing tactics. However, you're going to exhaust yourself if you try to implement them all at once. You'll burn through your resources and have no idea which campaigns worked. The key to success is to choose one strategy and stick to it. Pouring resources into one channel lets you build a marketing machine that can grow more efficient over time. At Company Folders, we've developed our content strategy to get more bang for its buck. Our content is successful because we excel at one thing instead of being mediocre at ten things.Vladimir GendelmanFounder and CEO of Company Folders
What’s your advice to achieving e-commerce success? What aspects of generating online sales are most difficult for you? We’d love to hear from you!