In response to the pandemic, retail businesses across the globe were forced to pivot to online selling which has now morphed into a must-have feature for any competitive retail store.
In fact, it is predicted that there will be over 2.14 billion e-Commerce shoppers by the end of 2021. Since e-Commerce accounts for over 18% of all retail sales, it’s a smart addition to any retail business that will future-proof your operation for years to come.
Now small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are trying to do more with less, which means making the most of your resources as you offer an online retail experience to your shoppers. You need an innovative plan for the busy Christmas period, and to ensure you kick off 2022 strong!
The good news is that you don’t always need a huge budget to be a disruptor in the e-Commerce space, and we’ve looked at a few options to make the most of e-Commerce for your retail brand.
1. Get the user experience right
When lockdowns hit, many retailers had to switch to e-Commerce overnight, something which not everyone was prepared for. After 18+ months of the pandemic, it’s clear that the volume of online purchases are staying on the rise, and it’s important that retailers use it to their advantage.
The user experience on your website can be the difference between a sale or an abandoned cart. Think about the way you would expect to navigate a site yourself, and ensure a mobile-optimized website that’s easy to use. Make sure your images load quickly and that the checkout process is seamless. When in doubt, conduct regular user testing on your website to make sure your users are having a great experience. Whilst a custom website can rack up some costs, there are now plenty of options to create your own site, meaning you don’t always have to break the bank.
2. Create good content on the right platforms
Content marketing is popular because it’s affordable to produce—and shoppers love it. You can promote your products by creating helpful or otherwise valuable content that your shoppers are looking for. This could take the form of:
- Blogs on your website or guest blogging.
- Social media posts.
- YouTube videos.
While it can take time to create good content, it’s generally free to produce, so this is a smart way to grow your small business if you don’t have many resources. For example, if paying for Facebook Ads isn’t in your budget, you can create how-to videos on your product, or show what you’re selling in action.
The great thing about creating your own content is that you can tap your team’s expertise. Your employees will know your brand and products like the back of their hand; so why not use that expertise to generate more content? Brands like LUSH film how-tos, guides, and other specialist content thanks to their team’s experience.
The key to effective content marketing is then to share content on the platforms your audience uses. For example, if you’re selling to 20-year-old college students, you may want to consider age-appropriate content on the platforms they are most likely to use such as TikTok, and maybe not LinkedIn. Do a little audience research before you spend hours producing content—your shoppers’ preferences should always dictate what you create.
3. Partner with influencers
Did you know that 50.7% of retail stores work with influencers? SMBs don’t always invest in influencer marketing because it sounds expensive or complicated, but in reality, it’s an effective way to stand out from the competition.
Influencers are effective because they promote your products to a readymade audience that already trusts the influencer’s recommendations. Instead of trying to build an audience yourself, you can hire an influencer to boost your products in a matter of weeks.
You can look for influencers manually, but to save even more time, you can try using an influencer marketing platform to automate outreach, campaigns, payments, and more.
4. Optimize your product listing pages
e-Commerce is more convenient than in-store shopping in many ways, but it has one big disadvantage: shoppers can’t physically see your products. If you want to generate more sales, then the way you display your product listing pages is absolutely key.
If you haven’t already overhauled your product pages to attract more customers, you can boost sales by:
- Creating high-quality images: Since shoppers can’t see your products in person, they have to rely on images. Share more than one photo of your goods. It’s better to over-communicate with visuals on your product listing pages. Product photos should show the product size for scale, closeups, the product from multiple angles, and how to use it in daily life.
- Adding videos: A picture might say a thousand words, but videos share a novel’s worth of information in 30 seconds. Create videos that describe each product, show it in use, how to set it up, etc. Don’t expect shoppers to read all of the text on your product listing page. Instead, tell shoppers everything they need to know about the product with a quick one-minute video.
- Optimizing for SEO: Search engine optimization is an effective, long-term way to bring more shoppers to your website. It takes a bit of elbow grease, but adding keywords like “women’s red shoes” to your product page will help you rank for more queries in the long run. Be sure to add relevant keywords to your product’s title, description, and image alt text to boost your search engine presence.
5. Use a CRM
In 2021, there was a 25.7% increase in e-Commerce retail sales globally. That means more people are shopping online today than ever before. This is great news for growing retail brands, but it presents a huge challenge: how can you keep track of your online customers?
A customer relationship management (CRM) platform does just that. This platform keeps all of your shoppers’ information in one place, which makes it easier to market yourself, understand shopper demographics, and more. Plus, a CRM allows you to segment your customers into groups based on the products they buy, how often they buy, how long they’ve been a customer, and any other metric that matters to your business.
A CRM will also allow you to create personalized experiences at scale for each of your customers. The tool lets you add shoppers’ names to emails, remind them to order refills, and other personalized touches. Since 44% of shoppers say personalized experiences would make them a repeat customer, this is a must for growing your e-Commerce brand.
6. Promote products with email marketing
For every £1 you spend on email marketing, you can generate £30 in sales. Since most shoppers want to hear from retailers via email, this is a smart way to grow your business beyond 2021 without busting your budget.
Use a tool like Mailchimp to send welcome emails, abandoned cart reminders, coupons, promotions, and much more. It will even allow you to create automated campaigns that run based on triggers. This means you don’t have to lift a finger: your email marketing will happen automatically, bringing even more shoppers into the fold while you focus on growing your business.
The bottom line
Retail is a profitable niche, but it’s incredibly competitive. More and more consumers are now shopping without an in-store experience, so give them what they want by launching an effective omnichannel presence for your retail brand.