Want to infuriate your customers, destroy your reputation, and lose money? Of course you don’t. Ecommerce fulfillment problems are one of the fastest — and most common — routes to lost business, particularly among large brands with massive inventories. So what are the most common glitches? And how can you fix them? Continue reading “9 Common eCommerce Fulfillment Problems and How to Fix Them”
Whereas businesses with a brick-and-mortar location naturally centralize their marketing efforts on their physical presence, the world of eCommerce faces an entirely different set of challenges. As much as having an online retail business provides significant flexibility, it also means that a business essentially lives or dies by how much it connects with consumers; a feat made far more complex given the ubiquitous role of eCommerce in everyday life. However, with the right planning and detailed eCommerce marketing strategy, an eCommerce business can break through and reach its target audience. Continue reading “8 Ways to Create an Unstoppable eCommerce Marketing Strategy”
In just the past few years, the eCommerce space has developed by such leaps and bounds that online retailers now have countless tools at their disposal to streamline the process for consumers, allowing them to remain competitive in the face of a wildly growing industry. Among the most popular resources for eCommerce sites is Shopify.
Since its founding in 2004, the company has created increasingly sophisticated software designed specifically with online retailers in mind. It’s a tremendous tool that more eCommerce businesses should be utilizing to strengthen their products’ reach. Continue reading “10 Secrets to Success with Shopify”
In the world of eCommerce, many new stores struggle to get even a small piece of the market. When you are running an eCommerce store, marketing is the biggest part of your job, and it has the most direct impact on your bottom line. As any seasoned eCommerce veteran will tell you, your online store needs a sustainable, long-term marketing strategy in place, instead of short-term growth hacks. With this in mind, here are 10 solid startup marketing ideas to bootstrap your ecommerce store.
Marketing Ideas for Startups
1. Launch contextual marketing campaigns
Contextual marketing campaigns are aimed at nurturing prospect relationships, and making people more likely to buy. Any info that you gather about your customer’s profiles, behaviors, and context can help you deliver highly relevant, and personalized content to the right person at the right time.
You can gather this data by:
- Setting up analytics on your online store and tracking user behavior
- Asking your store visitors and customers to fill out a form/survey
- Using a marketing automation system in the back end
2. Promote user-generated content
Online consumers tend to place more trust in reviews, ratings, photos and other forms of user-generated content than they do in the traditional modes of marketing and advertising like TV and radio. Shoppers want first-hand experiences of customers who’ve already purchased that product. This is primarily because they people believe user reviews are more authentic and credible than an ad-campaign.
3. Build more relationships and partnerships
Do you know any online store owner or offline business that sells a complementary product? Partnering with them to sell packages/bundles could help new customers gain awareness of your store, and drive new traffic to your site. It won’t cost you or your partner anything extra, and yet you will both benefit by bringing new customer awareness to each business’s online presence.
4. Create videos that show customers how to use your products
YouTube channels are certainly a fun way to connect with your potential customers. People love the interactiveness of how-to videos, tutorials, and glimpses behind the scenes. Peeking behind the curtain makes people feel like they are getting to know you, and therefore they’ll be more confident about buying from you.
5. Give away products, and create a buzz
You can offer your products for free or dirt cheap in exchange for a glowing testimonial or review. Think ‘review bloggers’! The more of a following these reviewers have, the better. For just the cost of your product, you’ll be able to reach a wide audience. You can also host giveaways on social media to generate buzz. Something as simple as asking people to share a photo of your product in exchange for an entry to win said product could create a pool of raving fans. Speaking of social media …
6. Drive engagement with your audience on social media
You don’t need to spend hours on end daily to promote your online store via social media channels. In fact, some of the best social media campaigns take less than an hour per day to execute. Keep it simple by beginning with the platform your target market is most likely to hang out on. The key is not to have a dormant site. Respond to inquiries, comments, and reviews.
7. Segment and target key audience personas
Identify who is visiting your online store, and then cater directly to them. You can then create ad campaigns that speak to this type of person, showing them relevant content that would make them more likely to buy.
8. Launch an affiliate program
Joint venture and affiliate marketing campaigns encourage other people to sell on your behalf. They take a commission and you get more customers. It’s a win-win. Some affiliate marketers have large email lists that you might not yet have. By giving them a portion of the proceeds, they are doing all the heavy lifting for you.
9. Build your own email list
Email marketing is one of the best marketing channels for driving targeted traffic to your store. For someone to give you their email address, they are likely already interested in your product, making it that much easier to convert them into customers. And, email gives you enough space to mention things that you just can’t fit into a post on social media.
10. Launch your store on multiple platforms
From Ebay to Amazon, Etsy to Shopify, there are many options for hosting an online store which can act as an extension to your main store. Large platforms such as these may make it easier to spread brand awareness, while allowing you the opportunity to drive traffic back to your personal website.
While running marketing campaigns isn’t the only way to guarantee your online store’s success, it’s a great way to put your brand name out in front of hordes of potential customers that are still out of your reach. If done correctly, you can leverage the store’s brand awareness by launching unique digital marketing campaigns. Always remember that ideas for marketing campaigns, especially for startups, should aim at inviting, encouraging, and rewarding customers for engaging with your business. Keep relationship building at the forefront and your marketing efforts will be rewarded in no time.
With each passing year, eCommerce sites are becoming more and more established as consumers’ preferred way to shop. Thanks to the convenience involved in online shopping and the wider variety of products that sites can offer, the customer experience offered online is both rising in prominence as well as shaping the retail landscape in general.
Shipping options, for example, are now one of the deciding factors in where customers choose to shop. However, in addition to its vital role in setting up product offers, there’s another side to shipping and fulfillment in general that needs to be addressed, namely the concept of eCommerce fulfillment pricing.
What Is eCommerce Fulfillment Pricing?
At its most basic, fulfillment is defined as “the process of receiving, packaging and shipping orders for goods.” The term is generally tied to the eCommerce world, and when it comes to designing a fulfillment strategy, companies are often faced with handling their own fulfillment or outsourcing to an organization that specializes in this specific niche. Both sides carry their own drawbacks and benefits that eCommerce businesses need to consider carefully, especially seeing as fulfillment has more than its fair share of additional costs associated with it.
However, with fulfillment costs continuing to rise across the board, many eCommerce businesses are having to shift their approach to pricing in response. With fulfillment needs in mind, this technique allow businesses to compensate for increased fulfillment costs and design their price points to offset this ongoing trend. With the proper tools to navigate the changing fulfillment costs, pricing can keep your company firmly on the upswing and prevent your profits from suffering in the long run.
Ways to Optimize
In keeping up with fulfillment costs, you may need to switch up how you price your products going forward. Fortunately, there are more than a few ways to optimize. We highly encourage adopting the latest technology — such as automated systems — to help streamline your operation and declutter your fulfillment process. However, here are some other tips that can help you achieve optimal results.
- Offer free shipping: We’ve previously discussed the strategic power of incorporating free shipping into your offer. Though free shipping may seem in direct contrast with maintaining a tight fulfillment strategy, the benefits in reducing shopping cart abandonment, boosting sales and edging out competitors will more than make up for any perceived loss. Moreover, you can structure it based on a minimum order amount and devise the best way to offset any lost profits through pricing.
- Work with a variety of carriers: Based on your customers’ and your business’s needs, you should have relationships with several carriers and fulfillment partners to help maximize your profits. This will be based on a combination of delivery needs, service level and costs, but when all is said and done, you should be able to keep your fulfillment running smoother than ever. As a bonus, you’ll have easy access to shift towards other carriers if something changes.
- Real-time carrier rates and flat rates: Introducing real-time carrier rates or flat rates is another way to adjust your shipping in the face of changing fulfillment costs. With real-time carrier rates, you can use any number of eCommerce platforms to integrate your shipping process with standard postal organizations to ensure that the most updated rates are applied to a given purchase, giving your customers the chance to choose one. Flat rates can be just as rewarding, though you must be careful to establish a median rate that will not overcharge or undercharge the shipping of a certain product. If all your products are fairly similar in terms of size and weight, this might be the best way to go.
Just the Beginning
Although we’ve discussed a few ways that you can adjust your business to compensate for the cost of fulfillment, countless options still remain. Be sure to delve into in-depth pricing comparisons before instituting any widespread changes, and calculate what works for you. After all, eCommerce fulfillment pricing varies wildly from business to business — due to your location, your products and a number of other factors — and such a specific decision is one that only you can make for your business. Price mapping, for instance, is an excellent way to investigate whether any changes you might be considering make sense within the context of your business.
For more invaluable insights into how you should approach your company’s pricing, check out our Comprehensive Guide to Competitive Online Retail Pricing Strategies.
The retail world of today is radically different from what the industry looked like just a few years ago, thanks in large part to the increasing prevalence of eCommerce as many consumers’ preferred way to shop. So many innovative approaches to marketing products and services have arisen that it is more essential than ever before for your business to take note of what works and what does not. Take, for instance, the current dilemma that Uber is contending with over its signature policy of surge pricing. Within this example alone lies a vital lesson about how to make the most out of a fresh way to serve your customers.
What Is Surge Pricing?
The most ubiquitous of the current online transportation companies, Uber has operated for years with surge pricing in place. The company’s mobile app employs an automatic algorithm that increases fare rates whenever demand is higher — such as during morning and evening rush hour, the holiday season or inclement weather conditions — and depending on the number of drivers in the immediate area.
Although intended to ensure availability for devoted customers and encourage drivers to hit the road for some extra cash, surge pricing has been the center of controversy among some customers. Despite the inherent benefits in this pricing approach, Uber’s efforts to balance supply and demand of its own service have had decidedly mixed results.
Perception Is Reality
Regardless of Uber’s intentions with surge pricing, the practice has been seen as unethical and exploitative, using an automated system to capitalize on busier times of day to ratchet up profits. However, based on Uber’s business model, sound rationale lies behind this tactic that could easily explain how surge pricing is a legitimate way to offset demand and not simply a blatant case of price gouging as some have claimed. After all, Uber does allow users to receive notifications when prices have increased to surge levels and/or when they return back to normal.
In fact, the real issue behind Uber’s struggle with its pricing could very well lie in the company’s inability to effectively communicate the advantages of surge pricing to its users. Whenever price increases are involved, it’s imperative that they are handled with a delicate hand and that your marketing hinges on overcoming customers’ natural bias against paying more. Whether or not they understand the reasoning behind it will inevitably shape their perception of the pricing as well as the company as a whole.
The Automation Factor
Aside from Uber’s faulty marketing in conveying the logic in surge pricing (thereby shaping public perception), the company’s adoption of automated pricing is actually one that continues to be embraced by many eCommerce sites, including leaders like Amazon. Since pricing is one of the predominant factors in determining the likelihood of a purchase, automation can help remove the guesswork and optimize the balance between offering great deals and fostering profitable long-term customer relationships.
Even surge pricing can work if it’s implemented just right and the market shift remains within reasonable limits. Granted, how automated pricing works best for your business will depend greatly on the specifics involved in your target audience, your product/service and your industry in general. Yet, we highly encourage you to look into automation as a key tenet of your pricing model going forward.
A Lesson Learned
More than anything, Uber’s struggle with surge pricing underscores the integral role that proper communication with consumers has in determining the reaction to your business policies. How you market your product and portray your company will feed into how heavily your prospects consider the value you can bring to their lives.
Even though Uber’s execution of surge pricing may have been less than ideal, the takeaway here should center on the strength and power that you can gain with automation. There’s a reason that it has become one of the most reliable tools to streamline your operation and maximize performance, and your pricing will benefit from incorporating some form of automated system in the immediate future.
For more invaluable insights into how you should approach your company’s pricing, check out our eBook, “A Comprehensive Guide to Competitive Online Retail Pricing Strategies.”
When it comes to transforming prospects into paying customers, there’s no way we can underestimate the significance of your marketing team. After all, this is where the difference lies between a quality product that crashes and burns to one that becomes a household name as well as an industry standard.
From spreading awareness of your product, to persuading consumers that the value your company brings is worthy of their attention and money, marketing tackles it all one step at a time. So incorporating the newest innovations in retail marketing strategies into your business is an absolute must.
Cutting Edge Retail Marketing Strategies
Here are a few key concepts that should absolutely be part of your ecommerce marketing game plan going forward, if they aren’t already.
Automated Marketing Analytics
We’ve previously praised the advantages of automation to optimize multiple aspects of your business (such as pricing) and save you time in the process. However, when you use automation in concert with your market analysis, you can also gather intelligence that will drive other business decisions. With each passing year, more and more companies are incorporating automated analytics into their future plans. Roughly half are already onboard, and it’s about time your business does the same, lest you fall behind industry trends. The power that can be harnessed by automation is truly something that can elevate the performance and precision of what your business is already doing and make it exceedingly easy to take it to the next step.
The Customer Experience
First and foremost, your marketing campaign should cater to your target audience, but taking this philosophy a bit further might sweeten the appeal of your product enough to boost engagement. Design with the customer experience in mind, including everything from personalized messages to incentive programs and special offers to help prospects blossom into long-term customer relationships. Moreover, employ an omnichannel approach to your marketing that incorporates mobile apps, desktop websites and other forms of media, encouraging loyal customers to get involved in all sides of your business.
Content to Win
If you’re still unconvinced of the pertinence of content marketing in boosting business, allow us to put an end to your uncertainty right now. The past few years have incontrovertibly proven thedifference that regular content generation can make in getting the word out about your business. In fact, over one third of all traffic to shopping sites comes from search engines! Blogs, ebooks and whitepapers are among the most popular forms of free content that you can use to help prospects find you over search engines and/or entice them to sign up for your mailing list. However, what works for your specific niche may differ. Perhaps new media marketing like podcasts or a YouTube channel will suit you better. Regardless, you’re missing out if you’re not releasing some kind of content on a regular basis.
Introducing Proximity Marketing
Thanks to the location tracking capabilities now made mainstream via mobile devices, proximity marketing is a major part of many successful companies’ current strategies. With the localized data you receive, you can adjust your advertising content accordingly, speaking particularly to the physical location of your customer. Perhaps you might pitch them a relevant offer based on their shopping habits or attempt to sway them to check out a new offer on your website instead of visiting a the brick-and-mortar location of one of your competitors.
Research to Develop
In order to keep your company’s evolution running strong, be sure to devote a significant segment of your resources to market research. Whether these duties are assigned to a dedicated team or scattered among your business, it’s invaluable to gauge customer response — through surveys, direct messages or other means — as well as stay up-to-date on what companies both in your industry and beyond are doing to connect to their prospects. Oftentimes, this can be as simple as setting up alerts or connecting to relevant companies, publications and websites on social media and other networks for the latest news to be delivered to you directly.
Go Forth and Strategize
To remain competitive in the retail space (but particularly in the technology-centric world of eCommerce) is essentially impossible without remaining closely in tune with the latest and greatest approaches to spreading your company’s message.
The above techniques will help to make your marketing team that much stronger, but these alone aren’t enough to keep you on top for long. Marketing means never settling for the status quo, and so constant evaluation, testing, and implementation should always be in place to ensure that you’re providing the best service to your customers and doing justice to your products. The long-term life of your business may ultimately depend on it.
For more invaluable insights into how you should approach marketing your eCommerce business, check out our eBook, “Key Automated Marketing Strategies for eCommerce Store Success.”
One of the worst things you can do with regard to your business is to insulate yourself from the industry you serve. In the case of eCommerce, the technology and tools you use to foster growth move along at such a rapid pace that you’re bound to become outdated unless you’re closely attuned to the latest retail marketing trends.
The eCommerce space may be constantly evolving, but with the right knowledge to guide the future of your business, you can benefit from emerging trends and retain a significant lead over your competitors.
Examples to Lead
In recent years, eCommerce has grown by leaps and bounds, and though we understand that the advancements involved may seem overwhelming at first, we can’t stress enough just how vital it is that you make a concerted effort to implement the latest practices. After all, the performance of your business would only benefit with the most popular and powerful marketing trends in your back pocket. Here are a few tips to follow based on what approaches are currently conquering the retail space.
1. Leverage “micro-moments”
Mobile technology has largely reinvented the business landscape across the board, and consumers are constantly checking their smartphones for updates and to stay connected. By tapping into “micro-moments” with push notifications and other messages, you can reach consumers on a whole new level catered specifically to their lifestyle.
2. Embrace omni-channel marketing
Customers nowadays expect fluidity between mobile devices, laptop computers, phones and physical locations. Your business functions at its finest then when all these channels are united. Feeding leads from one to the next creates a unified experience that offers a pervasive awareness of your business. Take a look at where your supply chain can improve, and consider introducing an app to support your new omni-channel structure.
3. Incentivize consumers to promote you
You may have noticed that many successful businesses have turned to exclusive discounts and rewards for premium customers who sign up for a free program. Now these incentive programs are expanding outward, encouraging frequent patrons to spread the word about your business on social media and elsewhere. Believe us, satisfied customers are the best marketing tool you have.
4. Don’t delay automation initiatives
Few methods to streamline your operation will ever prove as effective as automation. From scheduling outreach emails tailored to each specific customer subset to dynamic pricing that adjusts to the market, countless possibilities await your business. In fact, did you know that there are ways to even automate discount pricing strategies to stay one step ahead of your competition? The Incompetitor software platform monitors all of your competitor’s pricing strategies in real time so that you can stay ahead.This more intuitive approach to the industry is precisely the time-saving tool you need to foster fresh growth.
5. Kick up content marketing efforts
Content marketing may be more important than ever before, particularly in the eCommerce space. This approach, of course, offers consumers a value-added bit of content that will hopefully boost awareness and ultimately sales. As content marketing continues to evolve, more innovative and competitive ways to capture leads are coming to the forefront.
6. Promote your site’s personalization
Today’s consumers have been groomed with customized interaction across their technology, and your business too can leverage this as part of your marketing strategy. Users expect an experience that is designed specifically with them in mind. For your business, that fact could have great impact on users’ purchase decision and allows you the chance to guide the shopping experience, perhaps even using location-based marketing and other sophisticated technology.
The Path Ahead
Of course, the trends detailed above are only some of the directions that the eCommerce world is heading down. However, we’re confident that you now have a better grasp of where your business needs to be in order to become or remain at the forefront of the industry.
Once you are on top of the latest developments, you’ll need to keep a close eye on what may be waiting just around the corner and anticipate how your business can continually innovate. Your customer experience should always remain paramount, and one of the best ways to ensure that this is the case is to never let your business slip behind the times.
For more invaluable insights into how you should approach marketing your eCommerce business and use automation to drive future success, check out our new eBook, “Key Automated Marketing Strategies for eCommerce Store Success.”
With today’s crowded marketplace, it has never been more essential to ensure that you have a sound marketing strategy in place to foster the growth of your business. Modern consumers are so regularly overwhelmed with content coming from all angles, social media, email, commercial, billboard, all vying for their patronage and hard-earned dollars.
This challenge is especially true when it comes to the retail space, which has faced quite a bit of disruption over the last few years thanks to the rise of eCommerce businesses. But traditional brick-and-mortar or digital based — all eCommerce businesses need a retail marketing plan to reach their full potential.
Heading to Market
To set yourself apart from other eCommerce businesses takes more than just a cursory idea of what your customers want. Rather, you must develop a deeper understanding of your place in the market and devise a thorough strategy that is tailored specifically to your product and the users you hope to reach. Only then will you be able to tap into your business’s potential for growth and realize the most effective ways to engage your customers. Here are a few steps you can take to jumpstart your company’s retail marketing plan.
- Identify your mission statement: Before you launch any kind of marketing effort, it’s absolutely imperative that you first establish a firm grasp of your business’s mission and objective in the marketplace. More specifically, you must know the need your business fulfills with customers. This understanding of your value will inform all subsequent decisions you make regarding how you market your product.
- Know your target audience: Once you know enough about the role your business plays in the market, the next step is to establish a clear idea of your ideal customer profile. These two are, of course, inextricably linked, but many companies neglect to recognize that how your business is designed and marketed plays an integral role in determining your potential customer base upfront.
- Decide on your branding: Now that you have defined your mission and audience, you need to then decide how to best connect the two. Everything from your logo to the outward messaging you send consumers shapes the specific branding of your business. Take a look at the competition for inspiration, and consider how you can distinguish yourself in the eyes of your prospects. What makes your approach different? For example, are you leading with price or quality? At this stage of your marketing strategy it’s critical to review your pricing and identify how it comes into play.
- Establish a marketing presence online: Given the age of social media we live in, it should be no surprise to realize that your business should have a presence among leading sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. However, your online presence doesn’t extend solely to these. Sites like Yelp, YouTube and Google Plus can also help expose your business to new prospects and boost your search engine optimization (SEO) ranking.
- Define yourself as an expert: In recent years, content marketing has become a more central way to gain awareness for your business, but it’s only one of many ways to establish the expertise your business brings to customers. You can also build upon this with partnerships with other companies, guest posts on popular sites (yes, even for free!) and events that position your business as a thought leader within your industry. This goes a long way toward building your credibility among prospects.
- Monitor results and adjust accordingly: Even if you are actively marketing your business already, you need to be prepared to adjust your strategy when something isn’t working. This flexibility to recognize a failed effort and to switch things up is essential to develop the further growth of your business. To keep your company from staying stagnant, be sure to have analytics in place to monitor results and act quickly if changes are needed.
The Future Awaits
While the technology involved in eCommerce lends businesses a certain flexibility, this aspect alone is not enough to keep your business afloat. Every day, new challengers are entering the fray, and there’s never been a more critical time to review the marketing plan you have in place to reach your target audience.
These steps are simply the start of a grander, more effective approach to connecting with consumers. Endless possibilities await you, and you’ll truly need to stay vigilant with your retail marketing strategy to achieve the continuous improvement and forward growth your business deserves.
For more invaluable insights into how you should approach marketing your eCommerce business and use automation to drive future success, check out our new eBook, “Key Automated Marketing Strategies for eCommerce Store Success.”
As technology has increased the capability for businesses to deliver orders to customers in a more and more timely fashion, so too have consumers come to expect their packages to arrive faster and for a lower shipping cost (or even free).
eCommerce businesses have felt the pressure to bolster their order fulfillment processes perhaps more than most other businesses. After all, online retailers need to compete not only with each other, but in many cases, with traditional brick-and-mortar stores as well. Direct-to-customer order fulfillment may be a complicated game, but luckily, more and more tools have become available to assist eCommerce businesses.
Strategies You Can Use
As always, the direct-to-customer sector brings with it a distinct set of challenges that must be overcome if you wish to maximize your order fulfillment success. How your system operates is key to the output your business will be able to handle and, by extension, how equipped your company will be when your marketing efforts pay off and your customer base explodes. In order to optimize your business, a few essential steps should first be taken. Here are some basic strategies you can start to implement into your business to streamline your direct-to-customer order fulfillment process.
- Integration is a must: Before you can really make the most of your order fulfillment, you first need to introduce an integrated approach to your various systems, from order capture onward. Eliminating a segregated structure that keeps each element distinct and disconnected gives your business the ability to evaluate the order management and operations on a large scale, and this centralized view is absolutely essential to boost your order fulfillment.
- Embrace automation to optimize: When it comes to order fulfillment, accuracy and timeliness is naturally paramount. That’s why your business needs to have a fully automated process in place for everything from pricing to fulfillment. This will lend you the competitive advantage you need to help your business soar and the precision to keep customer satisfaction sky-high. You’ll also be in far better shape when order demand requires a higher level of performance than you could previously manage to tackle.
- Employ location-based strategies: Much of order fulfillment hinges on where your customer is based. Using location data as an integral part of your operation can guide you in deciding where to route deliveries, including local retailers who may be better positioned to meet faster delivery dates. In some cases, this might be a more efficient approach and maintains your platform’s status as the access point. Your customers will thank you for the improved service, and you might even be able to trim costs as a result.
- Explore order streaming: Order streaming provides your business with the chance to adjust its workload to not only warehouse conditions but also high-priority orders. A tool that rightfully emphasizes customer expectations, order streaming manages equipment and other resources as well as streamlines the period between order capture and fulfillment. In that regard, it can be a tremendous way you can boost productivity and maximize efficiency within your business and provide a better service to your customer base.
- Personalize to develop your brand: You wouldn’t automatically tie personalization and brand development to successful order fulfillment, but increased options and the ability to easily capture and employ data help you to boost brand loyalty and the likelihood of follow-up orders. Fulfillment starts with establishing a connection with customers that blossoms into a strong relationship. Never forget that your mission doesn’t begin or end with order fulfillment.
For more invaluable insights into how you should approach improving your eCommerce business with automation, check out our eBook, “Key Marketing Automation Strategies for Ecommerce Store Success.”