In a post-pandemic world, e-commerce platforms are booming.
But with great opportunities come great challenges.
As many more players are quickly participating in online retail sales, how can a business stay competitive?
In this post, we’re looking at a list of helpful tips to make sure you’re keeping focused on what matters.
With technology, it’s always easy to get sidetracked and spend too much money and time on problems that don’t really affect your bottom line, implementing features your customers barely notice.
In this post, we’re going to go through 7 helpful tips, to make sure you’re investing in what matters for your customer and keeps revenues growing.
Ready? Let’s get started!
1. You’re not selling a product
This may seem banal but it really isn’t. Selling a fashion product is never about selling the product.
It’s hardly ever about providing for a functional need. Or a tool to fix a practical problem.
What customers are looking to satisfy are their social needs - or using clothing, accessories, and merchandise as social currency to stand out or fit in.
In some cases, if you’re dealing with luxury items you can also find yourself fulfilling an emotional need, or the desire to own a particularly exclusive garment.
When you’re designing your landing pages, product pages, and communication strategy, make sure you are catering to the ‘job’ the customers need to get done by purchasing your product.
Don’t spend too much time figuring out who they are, sometimes that could be a total loss of time.
What you want to understand is their reason for buying and then using this information to present the item you have to sell in the most alluring way possible.
We discuss the theory behind jobs to be done in this article, which we recommend reading to learn more about this new marketing framework.
If instead, you spend too much time talking about the product itself you may dilute some of its magic and mystery!
It’s all about the feeling! That’s why the whole platform needs to create and support certain emotional states throughout the whole customer journey and browsing experience.
And that’s what we are going to talk about next!
2. Build an experience
Let’s start with why.
An experience is much more difficult to price for your customer. An experience is emotional, memorable, and meaningful. It can be priceless - or in other words - extremely expensive.
By creating a digital brand experience, you’ll find it much easier to take advantage of higher profit margins, because again, the tangible product is only a component of the shopping journey.
This is why e-commerce platforms need to move past their traditional connotation of “transaction-oriented website” and became “experience-enhancing websites”.
There is so much that can be done to achieve this goal. Just make sure you’re designing an experience that is well-aligned with your brand values. For instance:
- Look into gamification to help your customers learn how to perfectly navigate the platform.
- Use social sharing and communities to create conversations on products and designers.
- Engage your customers with relevant causes that can help them feel part of a bigger call (more about this later).
If you’d like to look more into some of the design and user experience strategies to build a highly converting e-commerce platform we’ve got you covered: here’s a resource that covers the subject in depth: Use Mobile Commerce UX Design to Grow Your Business.
Great! Let’s not forget that for as much as we can work on providing a mass experience, we also need to cater to the individual. This is why e-commerce managers need to find a middle ground between the mass and the individual and to explore this topic we’re going to look into personalization next.
3. Personalisation is Key
Personalization is an essential element of your business strategy if you want to connect to newer generations, who see fashion clothing as a way to express their uniqueness.
This is why your e-commerce business needs to be able to develop strategies designed to make each customer feel special. How can this be done you ask? Well here are some options:
- Personalise each user’s homepage\dashboard based on his\her latest interest.
- Build product categories and tags that explore different avenues for upselling or cross-selling items. Make the autocomplete suggestions feel like you actually know your user.
- Celebrate successful customers and customer heroes who respond to the mission and vision of your platform.
- Or simply create personalisation tools in the ecommerce itself - write a note in the box, add your name, make changes\alterations to the product.
Always make sure you’re keeping in mind the unique value proposition your brand is looking to deliver, this way you’ll be better able to choose between various alternative services, the ones which are more brand-building.
Let’s look into this further, shall we? We’ll focus on this in the next paragraph.
4. Save time\Save Money
Before making things more complicated, let’s remember that e-commerce platforms are a form of efficiency innovation. Efficiency innovation is about two main values: saving time and saving money.
If you can’t get your customers to save time and save money, then you should not focus on anything else until these values are well delivered.
This is because time and money savings are considered points of parity for any e-commerce business, or elements that are required by the market to compete with the other players of the same industry.
Make sure that these elements are well addressed in your platform and make sure you can use financial incentives whenever possible to reinforce successful and profitable online behaviors. An example of this is to provide a discount upon enrolling in the site’s newsletter, but many more strategies can be found.
Saving time and money does not mean that products need to be cheap, the more a product costs, the more customers need to be supported to overcome some of the hesitations that can be experienced at checkout.
Buying a physical product, through an entirely digital journey can provide some challenges and it is important to support the process as much as possible.
This is such an important point that we’re actually dedicating a full paragraph to the matter: the next one.
5. Reinforce Support
It’s out there, and everybody knows that customer support is the new marketing. Don’t bother spending thousands of euros on advertising campaigns if customer support is not on point. That’s where your investment should be directed, as customer support is the human component of what is otherwise a completely mechanized experience.
In many cases, as we look at the customer journey and at the popular ‘conversion funnel’ we’re always somehow leaning towards increasing the number of people who enter the funnel, so that - statistically - more are likely to convert at the end.
If on the other hand, some of the challenges of your funnel lie at the purchase stage, spending money on ads to increase the number of people who enter the funnel is not only unprofitable, it’s damaging to your brand. What you are doing is increasing awareness that your funnel doesn’t work.
The way to smoothen your customer journey is to start from the purchase stage and use your customer service to help your users overcome their natural hesitations. Studies show that in reality, if customer service is able to recoup a customer who has experienced a problem, the likelihood of establishing retention and loyalty for the unhappy customer increases and surpasses the retention of a customer who had no issue at all. This is called the service recovery paradox and more information about this can be found here.
That’s why investing in customer service is very often a good idea.
By the way, what is more expensive in terms of customer acquisition cost: acquiring a customer or retaining a customer? We’ll find out in the next paragraph.
6. Retention and Loyalty
And the solution to the question posed just above is: retaining a customer. Many people know that keeping a customer is cheaper than getting a new one, but few people really know why. The reason is that customers who are currently served by another brand\provider are more unlikely to switch (unless they’re unhappy with their current service). This is why, as a brand focused on acquiring a new customer you may need to spend twice the money to get a customer: once to get him\her interested and again to steal the customer away from a previous service.
In the context of technology we don’t even have a soft lock (or simple preference) but often a hard lock, connected to the idea that using an online platform requires customers to go through a fairly steep learning curve.
Ecommerce platforms are complex, and it can take time for customers to find out where everything is: from your own dashboard to your customer service pages.
This is why working on retention is a key element of running a successful business. What are you doing to increase retention? Here are some ideas:
- Get customers to receive special discounts connected to reaching a certain volume of purchases.
- Get customers who have been showing retention patterns to access exclusive deals, or exclusive products which are not sold to everybody.
- Get loyal customers to show up with loyal customers badges in communities and forums, maybe go as far as to create VIP status special treats, both online and offline.
You get it, there’s a lot that can be done. Again, the only limit is your brand scope, make sure you’re fostering relationships that are connected with the values of your company and your overall business vision.
But isn’t there anything else that can be done? Isn’t there anything else that can be used to build a strong bond with your audience? So that a bunch of code ends up serving a bigger purpose?
You guessed it. Yes, there are ways. Find out how in the next paragraph.
7. Connect to A Cause
In order to foster a stronger relationship with your customers you need to provide evidence that profits are not the only - and most important - the goal of your business.
Of course, don’t get us wrong, profits are necessary and very important, but what if you could also show a commitment to a goal that is not-for-profit?
This is what cause marketing is all about. It’s about acknowledging that the goals of contemporary business have changed, and private organizations are required to do their part in tackling global issues in sustainability.
Of course, not all companies can approach this orientation in the same way, there are different approaches to pursuing social impact, and we discuss them in-depth in this article:
A note needs to be added. Pursuing social and environmental goals requires true commitment, one that can potentially jeopardize profits, but that can make your brand really stand out and defy some of the traditional rules of business, as we discuss in this source: Creating a No-Budget Marketing Campaign: How Cause Marketing Can Get You There.
Many companies have been using these strategies for communication goals, not actually committed to change, like in the case of greenwashing. It’s necessary for private entities to change their role in society and become agents of change in the pursuit of global goals.
Inspired? Hopefully yes! Let’s now go ahead and draw some conclusive remarks.
There you have it. These are our 7 top tips to help you focus your efforts and build a strong and profitable e-commerce platform. As discussed when managing an online presence, there are simply 1000s of things one can do, but it’s important to remember that in fact not all of your initiatives convert in profits or even affect your customer.
This is why in this post we’ve provided a list of 7 items to focus on, to make sure your hard work is making a difference.
If you’re interested in fashion marketing and fashion management, take a look at our blog, we’ve got plenty of resources to help you out in your journey! Enjoy!