In”Part 1″ and”Part 2″ of the EvRolution collection, I have addressed consumer shopping trends and how bigger global and web-only retailers are reacting to new customer demands. This report focuses on what little to midsize ecommerce merchants and smaller manufacturer manufacturers can do to remain competitive.
- decrease your cost of goods sold. Buy your merchandise at the lowest cost possible. Look at sourcing directly from producers and independently labeling your merchandise if possible. Think about stocking inventory for popular items if you drop ship. Negotiate bulk discounts. Price competition is becoming fierce as all the customer channels compete against one another. You want to have the cheapest COGS possible.
- Optimize your pricing. The customer’s price is determined by the marketplace. Even brands that you sell may use online promotions in their shops. Use tools such as WisePricer, BI360, Monsoon Commerce, or other people to monitor competitor and market pricing and assortment. Find your best product mix and always monitor your prices, either manually or via automation.
- Add more relevant content. Add relevant content to your product descriptions and details. Consider using video. Add alternate images. Alter your articles for alternate channels if required to maximize sales there.
- Get the mixture right. Make sure that your product variety matches your client base or channel. For those who have a Walmart client, so to speak, you do not need to market Tiffany products. Also, remember it is important to have a selection of price and quality on your assortment.
- Add market products. Even in the event that you sell mass-market goods, you may want add market products as up-sells or cross-sells wherever possible. You will probably find better margins which will help offset the lower margins of mass market products which are highly price competitive.
- Stay ahead of the seasons. Make sure to purchase your seasonal merchandise well in advance to guarantee availability. Prep them beforehand and be prepared to promote at exactly the exact same time you find the major online retailers participate, or even before.
- Innovate. Your larger competitors innovate daily, you need also. Try remarketing advertisements, try various promotions, do a sweepstakes or contest on social media to catch new email subscribers. Try Google Product Listing Ads. You can experiment on a small scale and see what works before you invest a whole lot of money.
- Implement multichannel strategies. I discussed this in more depth, at “Multichannel Marketing Key for penalizing Online Shoppers,” a recent article. But make certain that your products appear wherever your target customers store — that is online, on their telephones, and on tablet computers. They probably start with Amazon, Google search, Google Shopping, Pinterest, as well as Instagram and Facebook.
- Produce loyalty programs. It is cheaper to sell to an existing client than it is to discover a new one. Find a way to improve your customer retention and loyalty. If you invest $10 per purchase on your pay-per-click campaigns — on the low end for the majority of retailers –can you afford to provide a customer a 15 percent discount on a $100 purchase? It is probably worth considering. Offering free shipping on a $100 purchase for repeat clients would probably be a fantastic idea. Free returns may be a simple reward for your loyal clients. Define a particular program and make it exclusive for members.
- Go societal. Consumers want to shop with friends. Set up a shop on a social shopping website like Wanelo. Develop your Pinterest boards — most merchants are visiting high conversion rates there. Try Instagram. I recently spoke with a merchant who had been able to acquire over 20,000 followers on Instagram before launch his online store, with an innovative photograph campaign and sweepstakes. Use automated tools to simultaneously post on Facebook and Twitter. Stay fresh and remain committed.
- Provide free shipping. Be ready to provide this as a standard shipping method. Build it in the price of your goods or cost of doing business. Exceptions could be orders of less than $25 or so. Expedited delivery is the new standard, so consider offering discounted 2-day delivery. You may realize that possible with the new Priority Mail deliveries from USPS.
- Consider hassle free returns. It is tough for a small merchant to pay for return shipping, but it might provide you with a competitive advantage. If your return rates are extremely low, you might want to experiment with the idea. Begin with existing clients and see what happens.
- Create new markets. Many smaller online retailers are expanding their sales to other nations. It is relatively easy, for example, for U.S.-based merchants to experiment with other English speaking countries like Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. Research carefully as there may be many new challenges for you, but it might be a fantastic way to expand if you’ve got healthy margins and your product is in demand in these countries.
- Localize for Spanish at the U.S. Another way some retailers are growing their earnings is by offering their online shop localized in Spanish at the U.S. to bring the growing buying power of the Hispanic population in the U.S.
- Insert a physical shop. Can I just say that? You bet. Many little brand manufacturers are adding physical shops. I anticipate some smaller online retailers can do the same, especially if they keep their own stock. Brick-and-mortar retailers are also adding online shops. Smaller ecommerce-only merchants can do it . Order online, offer free pickup at the front desk. You may grow a local presence and find some valuable direct client contact.
- Offer online coupons. As well as coupons you may offer on your own promotions, think about joining a site like RetailMeNot or Coupons.com. You may bring in new customers.
- Provide a mobile store. It is time to optimize your shop for tablets and smartphones. Optimize your email promotions also. Mid-sized online retailers might want to take into account a shopping app for the iPad.
- Review your ecommerce platform. Are you running the identical user interface as when you started eight years back? Think about a comprehensive review of your online cart and platform. There are many new choices that were introduced and updated in the previous 12 months. Most provide software-as-a-service licensing, which might decrease your cost. New merchandising features, built-in order management, marketing automation, and other improvements might be making your current store obsolete.
- Accessorize your cart or platform. Even if your internet shop is a year old and the user interface is world class, look at other ways to improve your customer experience. Consider adding online chat to boost your conversion rate and raise your order values. Add personalization to your shop. Automate your shop with dynamic pricing. There are lots of third party products that easily integrate with most shopping carts to enhance your revenue generation.
- Experiment with your shop. Try new things each month. Use A/B and multivariate testing to try new promotions, new shopping cart designs, checkouts, and colour schemes. Be analytical and allow the results drive your own decisions. Your big competitors do A/B testing each and every day. A 1 percent improvement in your conversion rate is monumental. A.5 percent improvement is important. Those kinds of gains are possible through continual testing.
- Add alternative payments. If you accept credit cards, consider adding PayPal and vice versa. We will probably see new payment approaches from a number of other sources. Evaluate your products and clients. Shoppers use PayPal. Amazon shoppers may prefer Payments by Amazon. Give your shoppers choices.
- Review your customer experience. No matter your platform or cart, examine the customer experience in your shop. Is if fast? Could you easily find products? Can a shopper begin on order on her iPhone and complete the order later on her notebook? Do you provide a one-step checkout? Do you provide a mini-cart? Have you got picture zoom and pan? Is product accessibility contained in your online store? Have you got a shipping estimator from the shopping cart? These are important features for the modern shopper.