As a rule of thumb, every business today is obligated to specific regulations in the sector in which they operate. Retail is no exception and is perhaps one of the more demanding business sectors due to the volume of work involved. Retailers must ensure they are fully in line with retail financial compliance standards to avoid numerous consequences such as fines and restrictions from regulatory bodies, damage to brand reputation, and so on.
Competition is the norm by which a pricing is often defined. Recognizing your customers’ needs and demands and acting on them quicker than your competitors can give you a pivotal advantage in an increasingly tough market. In addition, you must understand your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and know how they will react to all the things you are reacting (it’s a closed circuit, really) so you can be one step ahead.
In the world of ecommerce, there is so much going on that it’s hard to keep track of everything. You should be aware of what your competition offers while catering to the increasingly demanding customers. Often guided by pricing as their primary decision-making criteria, your customers can perform comparisons between your online store and others in an instant. Hence, being aware of your competition’s products and when to adjust your pricing is a vital process for e-commerce business.
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.
In the most basic terms, the marketing mix definition is placing the right product, at the right place, at the right time, and at the right price in front of your potential customers to see and buy it. The trouble lies in doing it well, in order to make the most sales possible. How can you define the right marketing mix for your retail store?
Let’s break this down a little further, shall we?
Anyone who’s been in the retail business knows how important capitalizing on the shopping wave during the back-to-school, or BTS, season is. Depending upon which expert you ask, this potential boom in sales is the 2nd, or 3rd, biggest one during a calendar year.
As summer camps draw to an end, parents start a frenzy of last-minute shopping for school, which, combined with back-to-college shopping, translates to a whopping $68 billion spent. This means that merchandising and marketing strategies, and the ever-important multi-channel shopping experience at retails chain, all need to be tweaked.
Let’s take a closer look and delve deeper into seasonal retailer and e-tailer techniques for riding the back-to-school wave, and what exactly BTS and BTC mean for retailers.
Understanding the Significance of Back-to-School Shopping
The BTS season is a little different from the boost in sales during ‘normal’ holiday seasons. In a nutshell, it’s longer than these other ‘boosted sales’ periods.
Parents may begin their research on products, prices, and promotional offers — usually online — as early as July. They compare the collected data and make their decisions by the month of August, making the purchase around the same period. Last-minute frazzled trips are usually done and dusted by September. This means that retailers have a longer window of potential sales compared to other big sales days, such as (say) Black Friday.
Products that receive a boost during the BTS shopping window include office supplies, apparel, electronics, and books. This long list of products, and the relatively longer sales window, make strategies a little more complicated during the BTS season.
Brick-And-Mortar Stores Rejoice!
As more and more e-tailers take over territory originally occupied by brick-and-mortar retail outlets, you could be forgiven for assuming that retail stores won’t be doing much business. To the contrary, though, it’s these stores that will see more traffic than their online counterparts. While parents will head to their laptops to buy devices and wearables for their kids, all other purchases will get them walking into brick-and-mortar stores.
School supplies such as notebooks, textbooks, and writing materials drive parents to stores, with kids in tow. Stores are the primary choice for parents buying writing materials and books (87%). These are followed — in terms of brick-and-mortar store demand — by shoes (80%), jewelry and accessories (64%), and clothes (64%).
Even as store-based retailers gear up for wars with e-tailers during the upcoming holiday season, they are set to receive a boost in sales from BTS parents.
It’s easy to see why: parents need to shop with their kids to accommodate their preferences, and most feel this is best done at a store, rather than online.
Tailoring Your Strategies Accordingly
Since we’ve already discussed the massive potential of this season, let’s take a look at marketing — and merchandising — strategies designed to help you achieve optimal returns.
First, you’ll need to understand that customers are primarily concerned with who offers the best deals. As a retailer, your first priority would be to think along those lines, and come up with a strategy that helps you put your brand right there. Even Apple — not a brand known for offering sales — caves in during the BTS season, offering discounted ‘student’ and ‘education’ prices.
Clothing giants such as Urban Outfitters and H&M target children from middle-school through college age with carefully planned ads. Take a closer look at textile e-tailer websites, and you’ll probably see smiling school and college kids, with huge blurbs advertising discounts up to 70%.
Take a look at your competitors, and make sure you stay ahead of the game. Build marketing strategies around the BTS shoppers, and you’ll see your sales numbers rise.
E-Commerce-Specific Strategies, Techniques, and Ideas
With so many consumers spending so much of their time online, the retail industry today — while still relying on in-store interactions — has grown to depend on big data and online transactions.
If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to embrace social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. In fact, that last tweet-broadcasting platform now has a ‘buy’ button, letting you sell products right off your Twitter timeline. If you aren’t aware of what the ‘Twitter’ timeline is, your brand’s social media game is in need of some serious updates this BTS season.
Seeing as 41% of college-goers base their buying decisions on smartphone-based research, M-commerce is another concept that needs to be embraced in order to ride the BTC wave.
Wherever your potential customers spend their smartphone browsing time is where your brand needs to be front and center. For instance, the humor app ‘9GAG’ had 164 million visitors in December 2015 alone. Considering that most of these users are college students on their phones, this is a great place to advertise.
You can use retail analytics software providers such as Intelligence Node to help you build strategies based on big data and competitor trends.
Embracing concepts like new social media platforms and big data, and understanding the significance of a strategy tailored to buyer trends in the BTS season, you’ll be able to capitalize on the buying trends of parents scurrying to stores with school-going kids close on their heels.
Whenever you run a product-based business, the concept of supply and demand immediately rises to the top of your growing list of concerns. After all, the efficiency of your business greatly hinges on your ability to plan for the uncertain future. To do this requires a deft handling of your supply chain and all that entails. In the world of eCommerce, it’s easy to get caught up on either the front and back ends of your software infrastructure. However, it is actually the middle in which you must focus your attention, as this is where supply chain forecasts enter.
For obvious reasons, consumers are naturally drawn to any way in which they can save some of their hard-earned cash. So it stands to reason that free shipping has become such a popular feature to promote eCommerce sites. In addition to the built-in appeal of giving customers the chance to cut down their purchase total, such a tactic has a tremendous impact on customer service and, in many instances, may directly lead to the formation of long-term customer relationships. However, like any marketing tool, free shipping delivers the best results when used strategically to accent your business.
Without fail, sleigh bells start ringing in the final quarter of each year, and yet, the holiday season doesn’t simply end with “Auld Lang Syne.” When it comes to sales cycles, there’s typically some seasonal angle your business should be taking at any given time of year. Whether that extends to something as broad as the beginning of summer or the ever-popular back-to-school season, there are countless ways in which you can capitalize on the changing calendar.
Traffic. For most people, the word simply pertains to that everyday headache faced during your daily commute. However, for anyone working within the world of eCommerce, traffic is the most critical element of business and the one on which everything hinges. Regardless of how stellar your products are or how meticulously designed your website is, your business is all pomp and circumstance signifying nothing unless you find a way to connect with your intended audience.