The ecommerce landscape is constantly evolving. Inflation is causing a shift in consumer behavior while the cost of running a business increases.
To stay ahead of the competition, ecommerce businesses need to be agile and focus on the right strategies to adapt to new trends. Here are 10 of the most important ecommerce growth strategies to consider for the upcoming year to help your ecommerce business thrive.
1. Think mobile-first
As of July 2022, 71% of traffic to online retailers came from phones, and 61% of online orders were completed on mobile. So optimizing your customer experience for mobile is no longer a nice-to-have but necessary for ecommerce brands to stay in the game.
That means having a mobile-friendly website and mobile-focused marketing initiatives.
A mobile-friendly ecommerce site design will:
Be responsive to the user's screen size and orientation
Have large font sizes and buttons
Be quick to load
Have a streamlined layout (e.g., single-column product pages)
Mobile-focused marketing initiatives acknowledge that your customers are on their phones, so that's where you need to reach them. Use channels that are optimal for the mobile experience, like SMS marketing and social media (including organic, influencer, and social ads).
SMS messages have a high open rate of 95% within three minutes of sending, so you can reach customers quickly and encourage them to take action. Incorporate text message marketing into all of your automated flows, like your welcome series, abandoned cart sequence, and post-purchase flow, to boost sales. And improve the customer experience with order updates, automated two-way conversations for things like product recommendation quizzes, and access to customer service.
And as far as social media goes, people spend an average of nearly 2.5 hours daily on social platforms. So use organic social media to increase brand awareness and build relationships with your followers. Use influencer marketing to reach new audiences and take advantage of the trust these creators have built with their followers in regard to product recommendations. And use targeted paid ads to reach social media users who are likely to be interested in what you have to offer.
2. Help customers get to know your products
Inflation means consumers are becoming more price-conscious and are looking for the best deals. But it also means they're doing more research to make sure they're buying the right product. There are several things you can do to help customers streamline their research and nudge them toward choosing your products.
Make your website easy to navigate. Your site menu should offer clear categories so customers can find what they're looking for. Only your most loyal customers will understand what your clever seasonal collection names mean, so make sure you have clear collection names for product types as well (like shirts, backpacks, or coffee filters).
Include images of your products from different angles and images of people using your products. Consider including videos, too. This will help customers better understand what your products look like and how they can be used.
And provide detailed product descriptions on your product pages, including details like materials, size, and features. Be sure to tie it all back to tangible benefits. Shoppers won't know that your military-grade fabric is tough as steel if you just tell them your products are made of Cordura Ballistic nylon. Tying your product's features to real benefits gives customers a better understanding of what each product is capable of and how it fits into their lives.
3. Go multi-channel
Another way customers research a lot before they buy is through multiple channels. According to HBR, 73% of shoppers browse several channels before buying. And SAP reported that selling on multiple channels increases sales and customer loyalty for brands.
So consider expanding beyond your ecommerce website to sell on marketplaces like Amazon, Walmart, or Etsy, social media platforms, and even physical stores.
4. Develop a social commerce strategy
While selling across channels should be a top consideration for any online store in the coming year, social commerce deserves a particular emphasis. It's one of the biggest trends in ecommerce right now, and it will continue to be more important as younger generations come to dominate retail spending.
William Margaritis, senior VP of digital and ecommerce at Reprise Digital, told The Drum, "Younger generations find authenticity and trust in different places than older generations... Predominantly, they trust their peers and they trust influencers. As brands reduce spend and are less present in the shopping conversation, peers and influencers will rise."
So start by connecting your ecommerce store to your social media profiles. Then you can tag products in your posts, and social media users can browse your store without leaving the platform.
Consider creating live-stream shopping experiences, working with influencers, or even offering exclusive deals on social media platforms. Social commerce isn't just about making products available on social platforms. It's about developing a full-funnel strategy for social media that attracts, engages, and converts shoppers on this one channel.
5. Prioritize great customer service
As ecommerce continues to grow and competition increases, customer experience is more important than ever. How customers are treated during the buying process can make or break brand loyalty.
In fact, 87% of shoppers will spend less with a brand or stop shopping with a retailer altogether if they skimp on customer service. So customer service is just as crucial to your growth as any business or marketing strategy.
A great customer service experience means:
Offering several ways to contact customer service, including email, phone, live chat, social media, and SMS
Self-service options, including FAQs and the ability to initiate basic processes like returns
Responding to negative feedback in reviews or on social media
Quick response rate
You can reduce the overall cost of customer support by using a chatbot to field common questions and having a robust self-help center complete with FAQs and help docs.
6. Adopt customer-first policies
Customer-first policies not only increase customer satisfaction but also reduce the customer's perceived risk of trying your products.
Offer free shipping and returns, so the customer doesn't lose money if your products don't work out. A returns window of 30 days or more will also help customers feel at ease and give them time to decide.
Implementing a guarantee will ensure that if customers are unhappy with their purchase or the product fails, they can return it or get a replacement without hassle. This can be particularly important as customers are more selective with where and how they spend their money. And it will alleviate any concerns about product durability.
7. Amplify your retention strategy
Paid ads are expensive, and it's more costly to acquire a new customer than to get existing customers to make repeat purchases. So to balance out the increased business costs that have come with inflation, consider reducing your paid ad spend and focusing on your customer retention efforts.
Consider offering loyalty or rewards programs, where customers can earn points for engaging with your brand -- like making a purchase, referring a friend, or signing up for texts. Then let customers redeem those points for discounts or free products.
8. Boost cart values to counteract increased business costs
Another way to counteract increased business costs is to increase the value of every order that comes through.
Encourage customers to buy more by offering discounts on bulk purchases. Use cross-selling techniques or product bundling to incentivize customers to add more products to their cart. Or upsell a customer on a similar product with more advanced features, more durable materials, or other benefits.
9. Double down on owned channels
Owned channels, like your website, mobile app, email, and SMS, are less expensive to market on than other channels. And you have more access to customer data and total control over customer relationships.
So invest in improving your ecommerce website by making it visually appealing, user-friendly, and optimized for conversions.
And continue building your lists of email and SMS subscribers to send personalized campaigns that drive online sales. Subscriber lists are a great place to funnel website visitors who aren't ready to purchase but let you keep in touch, build customer relationships, and eventually drive conversions.
10. Invest in sustainability and social impact
Another growing trend to keep in mind is consumers' focus on sustainability and supporting brands with a positive social impact.
A study from GFK found that sustainability has grown to be more important to 52% of shoppers compared to before the pandemic. Furthermore, the study identified several consumer behaviors that indicate customers care about their impact on the world via the brands they purchase from. That includes things like switching to local products, buying from brands that care about animal welfare, the environment, and social equality, and stopping buying products that use too much packaging.
So when you have opportunities to change your supply chain, packaging, or brand message to align with sustainability and social impact, consider doing so. Transparency around your impact is an attractive quality to consumers, so it can bring in new customers who prioritize these values.
SMS: The backbone of ecommerce growth
The global ecommerce market may be changing, but with the right ecommerce growth strategy in place, your brand can adapt and thrive in the year to come.
Tie your growth plan together by providing a seamless customer experience. One way to do that is with SMS.
Use text message marketing to recover abandoned carts, recommend products, answer customer questions, and promote your brand. And with a 27x ROI and 4x higher open rate than email, you can be sure you're reaching customers and getting the most out of your marketing dollars.
Launch a high-ROI SMS marketing program with Emotive. Integrate with your marketing and customer service software ecosystem to streamline the customer experience. And take advantage of best-in-class features like automated two-way conversations, dynamic audience segments, and white glove services to help you craft your strategy.
Learn more and try Emotive for free today.