The past year has been a wild one for the world of eCommerce. Between lockdowns and social distancing throughout 2020, online sales have rocketed, resulting in ten years’ worth of growth in the space of just three months.
While eCommerce sales accounted for just 19.1% of total retail sales in February 2020, this percentage jumped to 32.9% in May, rising again to 34.5% in February 2021. More people are now turning to online stores for everything from fashion and DIY to their weekly food shops, and it looks like these new consumer habits are here to stay.
As more businesses turn to online platforms to continue trading, this also means that competition has grown increasingly fierce. As larger corporations and global giants dig deep to invest in online services, this has driven up the cost of digital advertising and overall customer acquisition costs.
So, how can smaller businesses compete?
Show your visitors a great time
Customer experience makes all the difference. With visitors browsing more and more websites, they now expect businesses to deliver an intuitive digital experience that’s a breeze to navigate. By focusing energy into creating an engaging eCommerce experience, businesses can differentiate themselves from the competition and continue to grow under this shift in consumer expectations.
Your next steps
Focus on building loyal relationships with your customers. With customer acquisition costs increasing, customer retention has become more important than ever. This means that the customer experience needs to be viewed as a fundamental part of your marketing strategy, giving customers a reason to choose you every time.
Since customers are moving between online and offline options, it’s important to develop a flexible strategy that works across multiple channels. From social media to online marketplaces and wholesale, solid marketing and customer service strategies will ensure a consistent customer experience across all touchpoints.
Plus, with social media becoming a key marketing tool, it’s a good idea to make sure your website is mobile-friendly. As of February 2021, 43% of websites were accessed using mobile devices, so make sure it has a responsive design to help reduce the bounce rate and give you high-quality leads. By mobile-optimising your website, you can make sure that you’re delivering the best experience, no matter how customers find you.
Get discovered by the right people
If you have a great digital experience ready and waiting, focus your efforts on SEO and PPC. These strategies will help drive traffic to your website and increase your chances of being discovered by the right people, while also improving the overall experience. Here are some checklists of the fundamentals for each one to get you started.
SEO eCommerce checklist
- Optimise your content
Use keywords for your products and services, but make sure the writing stays natural. Forcing keywords into every sentence will do more harm than good.
- Use responsive designs
Google thinks being mobile-friendly is just as important as we do! That means responsive web designs will rank higher.
- Create SEO and user-friendly URLs
URLs tell search engines exactly what your page is about, so use short addresses that focus on keywords. Try splitting the link into sections, such as: store name/category/product.
- Have a good page loading speed
Speed affects ranking, both directly and indirectly. Longer loading times mean a higher bounce rate, which equals a lower ranking.
- Optimise your product feed for Google
By organising your product catalogue in a way that Google can easily understand, you can increase your chances of being featured when a customer makes a relevant search.
- Create content
Blogs are a great way of keeping your website up to date and ranking higher for more keywords. Try writing regularly about product reviews, updates and new releases.
- 301 redirects
If you have any discontinued products, create a redirect that takes your customers to a newer version or the main product category page. This stops visitors from reaching a dead end, and also passes on your page ranking to the new address.
- 302 redirects
For any out of stock items, use a temporary redirect which, like a 301, passes on your page ranking to the new address.
- Keep your robots.txt file up to date
This file tells search engines exactly which pages to crawl. Google will only crawl through a certain number of pages, so this helps guide it to the most important ones.
PPC eCommerce checklist
- Choose your platform
Facebook, Google, Instagram, eBay… First, think about where your target audience is most likely to spend their time, and focus your efforts there. As your business grows, expand across different platforms for a multi-channel approach.
- Optimise your product feed for Google
As well as being great for SEO, making your product catalogue easy to understand gives your PPC ads the best chances of being shown to the right buyer.
- Paid social advertising
By using paid ads on social media, you can engage with your audience and target specific users without relying on organic platform algorithms.
- Use shopping ads
With Google Shopping Ads, products are displayed right at the top of the page, making this a great way to get your products noticed. Meanwhile, social media campaigns on Instagram and Facebook let you retarget audiences who previously showed interest. You can also set up a shop on these platforms too, so your customers can make a purchase at various touchpoints.
- Use dynamic campaigns
Dynamic ads are a powerful tool for driving traffic. Using your website, Google matches customer searches to your content and creates a headline tailored to their search terms.
- Keep customers engaged
Once you’ve generated traffic and acquired customers, you also need to invest in classic marketing techniques to keep them engaged and coming back for more. Set up email marketing campaigns and offer up promotions like free shipping and discounts.
Steps for eCommerce growth
Growing your eCommerce business has three key steps. First, you need to engage with new customers. Use shopping campaigns across multiple channels to generate high levels of traffic, and make sure your website is mobile-optimised to make the most of every opportunity. eCommerce marketplaces are also a great way to meet new customers.
Next, grow sales and profits by using the right software. eCommerce channels will automatically capture user data, which you can then use to generate future sales directly through your website instead. An effective way would be to offer customers a discount code for shopping directly from your online store the next time they buy products from you.
Finally, keep your customers engaged with quality content and effective marketing strategies. Personalise your marketing by learning more about them. Think about what items they were interested in and look for trends, so you can offer promotions for similar items and encourage repeat custom. By sending out emails with value, you can show customers you actually care.
A bright future for eCommerce
With online purchases now making up over one-third of total retail sales, now’s the time to invest in eCommerce. Create an exciting website that delivers a great user experience, and then put a cohesive marketing strategy in place across all customer touchpoints.
By making the experience consistent and reliable across multiple channels, you can increase traffic, differentiate your brand and encourage customers to choose you every time.
Want a price for your new website?
We’ll price the website build according to the amount of work required. This price will be agreed upfront — along with the specification — before starting the build so there are no sneaky, hidden fees. The first step is either to book A Consultation Call with one of the team, using the options below.