The Future Of Ecommerce

September 18, 2021

Meeting your customer where and when they want you (and your products).

It’s not a secret that 2020 changed the world as we know it. “Sense of normalcy” became a constant catchphrase in every conversation from healthcare to education. But perhaps the biggest shift occurred in the retail world. Widespread shut downs meant the end to many brick and mortar giants, and the already popular e-commerce world saw a boom–online interactions jumped to nearly 60% in 2020 compared to 42% in 2019. And that’s a trend you can expect to continue to grow. So now the question isn’t should you be looking to e-commerce, but instead how can you take advantage of e-commerce to increase your ROI over the next three quarters?

Rethink Your Customer Experience

Your new motto should be “convenience and support.” Shoppers have literally millions of retail options at the tips of their fingers. And 2020 showed that the brands that endured were the ones that paid attention to creating seamless ecommerce experiences. That means faster shipping times, buy-online-pickup-in-store options, and contactless payments.

One stand out example is Target. In January of 2021, the retail giant announced a nearly 200% increase in the same-day shipping services (this includes curbside pick up). Using their already built-in location services, Target was able to create a fast and safe drive-up option for customers without negatively impacting their in-store shoppers. 

In order to mimic Target’s approach, brands need to think about meeting their customers’ need for convenience. Imagine an online selection process coupled with an in-person pick up option. Not only will you be able to drive continued online sales, but you might be able to also entice them to come back in-store in the future. 

Define How You Show Up

The word “essential” has become part of our day-to-day language. Although hard to define, “essential” helped usher in the age of categories, specifically in retail. Brands need to think about what category they fall into and how to market to that. The pandemic saw four big categories emerge as leaders in the marketplace: grocery, essential goods, at-home entertainment, and home projects (this include home office supplies).

The challenge for brands is to branch out into multiple categories instead of just sticking to one. Think of how you can partner grocery with at-home entertainment, because nothing says a fun night at home like popcorn and a movie. Look for partnerships either in the marketplace–sponsored products on Amazon– or by bundling your own products together as a themed purchase. 

This also gives brands a clear picture of how to market their products on social media and display. Categories answer the hardest questions that marketers face: who are we and what do we represent? 

Remember, you are not the only option anymore. Brands are fighting for marketplace dominance and it starts with brand recognition. You have to think about selling yourself just as much as you are selling your products. That means creating a distinct online presence through curated user reviews on your site, rewarding loyal customers with digital coupons, and creating constant touchpoints like weekly email newsletters. 

No Longer Socially (Media) Distant

The power of social media has been an open secret for years, but many brands are still struggling to get in on the action. 2020 proved that was no longer an option. If you’re not selling on social media, then you can’t say you’re selling your products online anymore. In 2020, ads on Instagram Stories generated nearly 30% of Instagram ad spend for brands. And for good reason. It’s estimated that the platform has over 1 billion active users. But it’s not just business- to-consumer who are getting in on the action as business-to-business is also on the rise.

Look to create thoughtful and genuine experiences on social media. You can start with Stories Ads that link directly to your site or take advantage of Instagram Shop for an even faster and smoother checkout process. 

Programmed For Success

Programmatic display has been a staple in online advertising for years, but is expected to grow to $80 billion by the end of 2021. Programmatic display gives brands the chance to create hyper-targeted messaging in front of your customers, but how can you take advantage of it in order to drive sales?

Think about timing and location. What is your customer doing when they see your ad? Where are they? Look to real-time AI-driven bid adjustments to help you push out ads during peak times or create programmatic ad campaigns to serve ads only to customers who are proven to have the highest intent to purchase. That way you can make sure you are getting the most out of your ad buy.

E-commerce is anyone’s game. But only the brands that are thinking about their customers’ deeper needs and goals will come out on top. In a post-pandemic world, customers want speed, service, and safety, and smart e-commerce can provide all three. Look for ways to integrate yourself seamlessly into your customers’ lives without causing a disruption. The goal is to make your product a necessary part of their everyday lives whether or not you’re labeled “essential.”

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