According to Yotpo’s Survey, 31.7% of respondents are shifting to buying online more than in physical stores; Statista claims that the number of eCommerce users is expected to hit 4.6 billion by 2024. These stats are staggering and both point to the same thing - eCommerce is booming.
So, will eCommerce dominate physical stores? Should companies create new eCommerce businesses to survive?
If you’re thinking about creating an eCommerce platform, keep reading and learn more about which steps you need to take.
1. Analyse pros and cons of eCommerce
Using a simple "pros" and "cons" list enables to approach decisions objectively, without letting biases influence the final outcome.
As a starting point, I’ve identified some potential benefits and drawbacks of eCommerce platforms and listed them below.
- Obtaining higher margins in the long term. In fact, eCommerce enables companies to leverage their inventory according to the demand, while selling 24/7, to a large, international audience.
- Total control of the brand from the first moment companies engage with the customers, to the moment the product enters their house.
- Selling the products directly to consumers is the best way to know their preferences and shopping behaviours and to then refine the products accordingly.
- eCommerce allows companies to launch products quickly and test consumers’ appetite on a smaller scale, reducing the risks.
- Consumers’ concerns about security and privacy when it comes to sharing their credit cards and other details online.
- Building an eCommerce platform has a cost which needs to be considered upfront. However, it’s important to bear in mind that maintenance costs for eCommerce are relatively low and that the long term revenues are likely to cover and surpass the initial cost.
- Some customers prefer the in-store experience. In order to entice them, companies often have to rely on additional marketing efforts or on providing tools that deliver a more “real” experience: for example, some companies are offering virtual shop assistants’ help online that make their clients feel like they are shopping in a physical store.
- Consumers’ concerns around having too many online accounts related to different eCommerce platforms.
2. Understand if you need an eCommerce
Considering the statistics and data we have at the moment, it is sensible to think that many corporates will shift from the Business to Business Model (B2B) to a Direct to Consumer Model (D2C) in the upcoming months.
It doesn’t mean that your business will need an eCommerce platform to survive and thrive. In fact, before starting to implement a D2C strategy, you should ask yourself: what value will it add to your business and customers? and how you are going to communicate this value to your clients?
A good way to get the answers you need is to talk to your clients and test their appetite about a D2C solution; identify a good number of clients and run a survey to understand their opinions.
3. Put emotions and clients at the core
If the results of your survey are positive and you know that your clients see the value of eCommerce related to your business, you need to start thinking about how to forge your digital strategy around it.
eCommerce can make the human aspect more difficult and you need to make sure that you still grow your emotional connection with your clients.
So, put your brand proposition first and the product offering second. What is your promise to your clients? What experience are you providing to them? What is your mission? By communicating these values and purposes, you’ll engage them on a personal level.
Also, make it easy for them to buy. You need to understand how the different segments of your clientbase act when it comes to online purchases and what they might need you to do in order to make their shopping more enjoyable. Ease of purchase is a crucial aspect for an online store and modifying your platform according to shopping dynamics is a key ingredient for your success.
4. Reward your clients
Especially as a new entrant to the eCommerce market, boosting your customers’ loyalty is something you need to pay attention to. Rewarding and engaging them is a great way to do so.
There are a few options to consider when it comes to rewarding and engaging consumers.
It's the application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to encourage engagement with a product or a brand.
A great example of gamification comes from Starbucks. Their “My Starbucks Rewards” adds a playful element for their loyal consumers by giving stars with every purchase that can be used later for free drinks and food. Their programs transform the traditional card loyalty program and offer three levels of loyalty. The concept is simple and gives consumers material rewards.
It allows the eCommerce store to offer regular purchases of a product.
For example, Smol Detergent sends concentrated cleaning fluid for clothes or dishes through the post, enabling the customers to save up to 50% on normal brand prices.
Loyalty Programmes and rewards
Especially in this troubling time, you might want to ask your customers to convert the points they collected into donations to a charity or hospital close to your headquarters. You can even reward your customers with more loyalty points if they donate.
At the beginning of this article, we asked: “Should companies create new eCommerce businesses to survive?”. It’s important to remember that every company is different, every customer is different, and every market is different. If there is a valuable business need to add a new eCommerce business, consider rewarding your consumers with gamified loyalty programs, subscription purchase options, and exciting them with an eCommerce that they can connect with emotionally.