Search comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes these days: text, image, video, and most recently, voice—and on all kinds of platforms, too: computers, tables, phones, e-readers and more.
Ready or not, buying trends around those searches and devices are leading to more and more e-commerce purchases.
What is E-Commerce?
When you hear that term, your first thought may be an online retailer like Amazon, where users order physical products with a virtual financial transaction – and you’re partly right.
Two other forms of e-commerce may not come to mind as quickly:
- Digital downloads of ‘free’ (in exchange for an email address) or for-pay products (such as digital art or templates, whitepapers, videos, excerpts, and slide shares) and services (content writing, graphic design, resume packages, legal forms, etc).
- Digital marketplaces such as Etsy or e-Bay, which are indirect sellers, since their sites simply connect sellers and buyers.
Between those three types of conducting transactions, e-commerce definitely has sellers. And according to Statistica, there are a lot of e-buyers, too and the number is ever growing: in 2017 there were 1.66 billion digital buyers across the world. In 2021, there are 2.14 billion , a 6% increase. With approximately 7.6 billion people in existence, that’s a pretty incredible 28% of the population is buying online. This large growth is partially due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but even before the rate of online shoppers was growing all the time.
Apparently, many of us have a stake in this revolution. Let’s dig a little deeper to learn what you can do with e-commerce, no matter what kind of business you’re in.
Understand Online Search Behavior
You should have some degree of knowledge about your customer base and prospects. It may be just as important, if not more important, to also understand user behavior online before you plan a foray into e-commerce.
This interesting set of statistics from a new report by ClickZ helps illuminate the playing field.
- When consumers know what they are looking for, 50% of e-commerce journeys start with a retailer and 50% start with a search engine (often Google, Amazon, or Wal-Mart).
- When consumers do not know what they are looking for, 62% of e-commerce journeys start with a search engine and just 38% start with a retailer.
- Lastly, though 85% of purchasing activity occurs with non-Amazon retailers, only 25% of US brands say they have an e-commerce strategy.
Build An E-Commerce Strategy
If you’re in the 75% that are lagging behind, here are some ways to craft a compelling e-commerce strategy.
- Define your business goals, audience, and customer journey.
This is Marketing 101, yet many companies don’t spend the time and resources to do this pulse check. Don’t be those companies – this investment will pay off.
- Examine existing processes and be ruthless about implementing new ones with the end goal of seamless customer experience. A few examples of this are:
- Make your landing page adaptable for any kind of search – consumers who know what they want, want to be able to search and find immediately. Consumers that are browsing want to navigate among a selection of items and options.
- Be specific about delivery options from the get-go. Customers feel better about purchasing when they know how, where, and when they will receive goods or services. And if at all possible, make the process to modify a delivery simple too.
- Make sure you have a robust review system. 84% of consumers are checking reviews before purchase and will abandon a product with no reviews.
- After time and effort spent to get a customer to a checkout process, don’t leave them fumbling. Remove any distraction, keeping a clear path to placing an order, including upfront pricing/shipping costs, if any.
- Implement a cart reminder if people abandon their cart. Nearly 50% of these emails are opened and a third make a purchase once reminded of their cart.
Monitor E-Commerce Activities and Adjust As Needed
There are very few marketing mechanisms that can operate successfully by the ‘set it and forget it’ methods of the past. So watch how your e-commerce activities perform, then decide how they need to evolve.
To some degree, you must be patient, and consistently re-target. It can take up to 11 advertising exposures before a consumer will purchase. So if they don’t complete a purchase now, keep following up in whatever avenues you have available based on the information they provide. Your solution needs to remain top of mind.
When you have enough metrics to get a baseline, you’ll have a better idea of how a particular tactic is performing. If a change is needed, consider process tweaks like these:
- Test design elements such as text, color schemes, and layouts.
- Add product or service videos that anticipate prospect or customer questions.
- Add an intelligent recommendation tool to the site.
- Enlist a social media influencer to help drive awareness and conversion.
- Leverage social media, especially when it lends urgency to purchase (i.e., before a holiday or special occasion).
If you’re not already engaged in e-commerce in your business, you will be soon. Use this surefire method to ramp up your marketing routine and take advantage of all it has to offer.