The e-commerce industry is a bustling marketplace of old and new ideas, reinvigorated with digital innovation to transform the way consumers shop, businesses operate, and the global economy evolves.
Choosing to do away with brick-and-mortar stores, e-commerce businesses operate in the digital realm fully, and represent the future of trade. They are one of the major driving forces of a worldwide digital transformation, and can reshape traditional business models and ideals.
To stand out in their respective fields, owners of online businesses have begun to come up with creative strategies to help them outperform their competitors. But while innovation appeals, there are many intricacies involved in creating a successful e-commerce business, and some key factors remain ever-essential. We look at some of them here:
Determine Your Target Audience
The world we live in is increasingly fragmented, where people are separated by a diversity of interests and backgrounds. Determining and understanding your audience can help you relate to less, but the right people, and engage them effectively.
While it may seem logical to appeal to as many people as possible, casting your net wide can hurt your efforts to attract your main audience. It is therefore imperative that e-commerce businesses align the purchase intention of their primary consumers to their products or services. This ensures quality leads and higher conversion rates, and eventually increased sales and better profit potential.
E-commerce store owners can look into conducting market research and utilising tools such as Google analytics, Semrush, Facebook Audience Insights and others. Furthermore, they can create personas to paint detailed pictures of their quintessential consumer, and analyse other competitors on the market to gauge the kind of profile they may want to target.
Optimise the Entire Experience
Capitalise on the convenience of online services by empowering a seamless and fuss-free experience through and through. Your customers deserve a frictionless transaction from browsing, purchasing to receipt – an integral part of ensuring user satisfaction, retention and conversion.
E-commerce businesses can begin by beating out and assessing the browsing experience, identifying any lapses or areas that can be improved on before fine-tuning it to perfection. Besides eliminating frustration, strategies to streamline or complement the navigation should be considered. For instance, optimising website loading speed, arranging and numbering stages of checkout, getting rid of distracting elements, or indicating upfront costs can significantly improve the customer’s journey. Filter and search functions can also be incorporated to simplify the process for users. To make sure users carry through with their purchases, integrate clear, concise and actionable calls-to-action (CTAs) to guide and prompt them to take actions desired by your business.
Moreover, a variety of payment methods, especially popular ones like credit and debit cards, digital wallets and PayPal should be included so businesses don’t miss out on customers with specific payment preferences. E-commerce business owners should also seek to make their website mobile-friendly, as mobile payments account for up to 44.5% of all e-commerce transactions in 2020, and this figure is only expected to rise.
Leverage E-Commerce Tools for Analysis and Workflow Automation
Automating your processes wherever possible can go a long way in helping you focus on your core business activities. The Internet is filled with various technologies and solutions devised to reduce manual labour on time-intensive tasks, letting business owners reallocate resources and make improvements to their current system.
No longer do e-commerce brands have to rely on themselves to build websites – they can now seek assistance from web development professionals and even make use of robust website builders like Shopify and WordPress to set-up and address their most fundamental needs. Need a centralised location for all your business’s operations? Integrating an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system can save you considerable time and effort by helping you sort, monitor and manage on a single database. In addition, a multitude of analysis tools can assist in aggregating and organising data, providing insights, identifying inefficiencies and risks, and informing sensible decisions.
Build Authority and Relationships
There are many facets to fostering strong relationships with the audience and within the industry. The most crucial of all, is satisfying your current customers with responsive and quality service, such that they can become repeat customers who return to your business when they need it. It is more effective to please and retain than to entice new customers who require a new cycle of outreach and engagement. That said, e-commerce businesses have to remember that their reputation can be affected by word of mouth, product and service reviews, reviews on their Google Business Profile and more.
But this doesn’t mean that attracting new customers can be neglected. Growing your customer base is as important as maintaining it, and business owners, especially those with a presence in the digital arena, can do this with social media engagement. By actively interacting with your audience, such as by crafting posts, or responding to comments and messages, businesses can not only expand their audience but also improve brand awareness.
Link building can also contribute to increased recognition from relevant audiences and search engines like Google. Encouraging industry partners to link your website on theirs can enhance your brand’s authority and reliability, ultimately leading to higher rankings in the eyes of users and search engines. Connect with other brands to partner up and adopt link building as a strategy to achieve more brand recognition.
Never Underestimate the Value of Content
What else can capture the attention of users and search engines alike? Content! Content can position you as a prominent figure in your industry, showing that you are knowledgeable, insightful and up-to-date. Ideally, effective content, such as product descriptions, blog posts, and email newsletters, should be high-quality, relevant, and engaging. It should also answer questions that your audience might have or address their pain points.
There are endless possibilities for content, and e-commerce businesses can leverage this flexibility to find alternative ways of fostering more trust, traffic and sales. For one, newsletters can contain offers, discounts, information on new arrivals, and even helpful infographics. These methods establish a strong and lasting connection with consumers, even if a purchase has been or has yet to be made. Such positive interactions are valuable to brand loyalty and can influence the future purchase decisions of your audience.
Pay Attention to Your Business Cash Flow
Positive cash flow and profit can sound like the same thing, but not knowing their differences can significantly impact your business. While positive cash flow means there is more cash going into your business than out, profit refers to the amount of money your business earns after all your essential expenses have been deducted, or the financial gain your business is left with after all costs have been paid. Each plays a big role in a business’s sustainability and growth. For instance, positive cash flow is used to fund day-to-day expenses, cover bills, pay salaries and service loans; and profit made can represent the health and success of a business.
A 2020 survey has shown that three out of five small business owners state cash flow as a concern. Common causes of cash flow issues include muddling profit with revenue, forced growth, not preparing for lean periods, among others. E-commerce business owners need to be wary of decisions that can lead to cash flow problems and employ strategies to mitigate them. Identifying your expenses, generating a cash flow forecast and compiling financial reports are some ways in which businesses can keep a closer eye on their expenses and manage their assets with more clarity.
That said, allocating your capital strategically is key. Avoid overspending on unnecessary things that do not contribute to your business’s long- or short-term profitability or cash flow. Instead, focus on investments that generate positive returns, whether it be by enhancing your operational efficiency or expanding your customer base. Keeping a balance of positive cash flow and profit is vital for effective financial management to fuel your business’s success.
Choosing to shift or launch your enterprise online may help you get a leg up above your competitors, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will thrive. Therefore, recognising the work that goes behind a digital storefront can be hugely beneficial for e-commerce business owners who aspire to excel in their careers. Among layers of meticulous planning and execution, are steps that include determining the brand’s target audience, optimising the customer’s online experience, utilising the available tools and technologies, a proactive attitude towards building relationships and recognition, prioritising the value of content, as well as properly managing the business’s cash flow. By zeroing in on these aspects, e-commerce businesses can better position themselves for growth, making their journey to stability and success easier.
Discover how IXEN Interactive can propel your e-commerce business to new heights today.