E-Commerce's Future requires New Thinking & New Practices to Succeed
It’s an interesting and exciting time to be in retail.The online shopping experience, in particular, is in a stage of transformation caused in most part by the rise of technology. As consumer buying habits evolve in today’s digital world, it’s the responsibility of retailers to use technological advancements to better understand who their customer is and improve their shopping experience accordingly.To properly navigate through this constantly evolving era of e-commerce, companies must stop thinking in segmented, traditional terms, and instead, integrate technology and marketing initiatives to implement one cohesive, successful e-commerce strategy.
The concept of reducing friction to increase stickiness–or brand loyalty–is the key to a retailer’s success today and in the future
Here are fiveways to incorporate new thinking and practices to strengthen an e-commerce strategy in 2017:
First, a company that wants to implement a completely integrated strategy needs to understand where they currently stand and then prioritize what their needs are when it comes to things like reporting and analytics, e-commerce, and core operations. By focusing on their most critical needs first rather than trying to address all needs at once, businesses can better determine the proper resources and infrastructure to invest in to accomplish their goals in a timely fashion.
Second, it’s well understood that collecting data is very important for understanding customers, but identifying the right data to focus is more critical than ever. Collecting data was previously focused on measuring demographics like age and gender. However, a business needs to evolve beyond that to now study their customers’ online behaviors, interests, and buying patterns and adapt its e-commerce strategy accordingly. Additionally, a downside of data is having too much of it, so businesses need to focus on analyzing the data that has the biggest impact on sales and conversion rates.
Third, to collect customer data and utilize it in a meaningful way that improves their shopping experience, retailers must invest in new technologies, digital marketing strategies and analytics tools. It’s all about creating a seamless, smooth-flowing Omni-channel experience with an e-commerce platform that enables consumers to buy anytime, anywhere and from any device. Additionally, technology investments and hiring personnel like sales and business intelligence analysts will also help companies better evaluate how various marketing strategies are impacting business. For example, many organizations are good at using analytics for basic report writing. However, there’s an increasing need to now use analytics in more of a predictive way. Businesses still need to understand and evaluate where they’ve been, but they can now use reliable analytics to help them map out where they need to go next.
Fourth, in the past year more companies have created hybrid leadership roles, including Chief Marketing & Technology Officer, to help them navigate through the changing e-commerce landscape. The Chief Marketing and Technology Officer’s role is to blend the technology and marketing needs of the business into a strategy that works both for the company and the consumer. However, the CMTO is not the only person who needs to have a diverse knowledge of technology and marketing. All employees must be well-versed in these areas. Consider bringing onboard developers to create intelligent and useful data gathering systems. This will help the company better measure and analyze results.
Lastly, let consumers buy the way they want to buy. Some businesses struggle because they’re trying to make people buy in the way that works for them, instead of adapting their retail structure to accommodate the way that people want to buy. For example, adding a buy online, pick-up in store feature to an e-commerce site not only creates more convenience for retail and business customers, it also keeps them coming back. This concept of reducing friction to increase stickiness–or brand loyalty–is the key to a retailer’s success today and in the future.
As our data began to reveal that customers who shopped online tended to spend nearly double what our in-store shoppers did, we decided we needed to fully commit to becoming an Omni-channel retailer by enhancing our e-commerce experience and seamlessly integrating it with our stores. In July 2015, we unveiled a new mobile responsive Batteries Plus Bulbs website and have continued optimizing it to improve our customers shopping experience.
In today’s portable and digital society, consumers expect to be provided with a dynamic shopping experience on their phones and tablets. It’s a retailer’s responsibility to optimize their e-commerce mobile platform to ensure it provides the customer with the same value, efficiency, and convenience that’s offered by visiting a local store. An easy-to-navigate, mobile responsive e-commerce platform will also help a retailer to convert sales from users who shift between desktop and mobile shopping.
As we move into the future of this dynamic industry, one thing is clear: the face and format of traditional retail is changing, and all businesses must accept this and evolve core segments in order to thrive.