2017 is a brand new year, and if you didn’t reach your business goals last year, perhaps it’s time to evaluate existing practices and see how you can make improvements. Multi-channel selling is hard and only becoming more competitive. Smart retailers should start making changes now before it’s too late.
Here are some resolutions to consider when planning this year’s business strategy.
Go Beyond Amazon and Find New Sales Channels
Amazon may be the first place consumers go to when shopping online, but it has become extremely competitive over the years. Last year’s policy changes not only banned incentivized reviews, but also introduced brand gating fees, making it more difficult for resellers and arbitrage sellers.
Third-party sellers will only be able to get reviews through Amazon’s Vine Review program, which would likely favor established and trusted retailers. To compete for the impressions, newer sellers may have to pay for sponsored product ads.
Similarly, the Buy Box favors the more established retailers and those using FBA. Even if your prices are cheaper, you may not get the Buy Box if there’s an FBA seller offering the same product. Amazon is becoming a pay-to-play environment, so it may be wise to diversify your revenue stream.
Sellers should understand that selling on Amazon is not a business; it’s just a sales channel. There are many consumers looking for the best deals, comparing prices across channels. If you’ve only been selling on Amazon and eBay, try selling on Jet and Walmart. See if it would make sense to sell some of your products on niche and community-driven marketplaces.
Update Your Product Content
According to a study, 90% of shopping cart abandonment happens because consumers feel they don’t have enough product information. The report also found that 40% of online orders are returned because consumers didn’t have the right information when ordering.
Since online traffic is generally lower at the end of the holiday shopping season, now is the best time to review and update your product descriptions and images. But before making any significant changes, it’s important to reevaluate your unique selling proposition. Ask yourself, what makes your product different from your competitors?
Once you determine your value props, you can start creating better content. Online shoppers want to understand the benefits of buying your products, so you should provide those details clearly through words, pictures and videos. If possible, provide multiple views and high quality photos of your products for a better customer experience.
Artificial intelligence is also becoming more prevalent in marketplaces, visual search and organic search, so online sellers should make sure they provide adequate information regarding their products.
Build a Compelling Social Media Presence
Marketplaces are not the only sites where people discover products; shoppers are increasingly finding stuff to buy on social media. In fact, a recent study found that 60% of Instagram users discovered products through the app, while 75% of respondents reported that a sponsored post inspired them to take action.
Social commerce is becoming more of a necessity than a luxury for online sellers of consumer products. Early adopters will be rewarded as social media catered to millennials become more ecommerce-centric. Consumers expect brands to be on social media, especially if they deal with cosmetics, apparel and electronics.
For many online sellers, Pinterest has been an effective platform for marketing products. At least 55% of Pinterest users find or shop products on the app. The most pinned products are shown to customers, and Pinterest continues to release better ecommerce features.
Social media is a great way for retailers to connect with consumers. Sponsored ads can be used to target specific segments of the market, and beautiful visuals can tell brand stories that are both memorable and compelling. It’s only a matter of time before mobile checkout is implemented on social media.
Optimize Your Website for Mobile
Since mobile now accounts for more than half of all web traffic, Google establishing a mobile-first index. If you want your website to rank well in organic search, you’ll have to optimize your website for mobile, making sure it loads fast and displays responsively on all devices.
Consumers are increasingly becoming omnichannel shoppers, spending a day or longer researching an item before making a purchase. In fact, only 21% of consumers would buy a product they saw within the first day of discovery. Most consumers check their phones to research a product, then go to a retail store or desktop computer to learn more.
If you don’t have a mobile-optimized website, it’s likely that you’re losing customers. Most smartphone users expect a site to load in less than 4 seconds, and 40% of shoppers have turned to a competitor’s site for a better mobile experience.
Provide More Flexible Shipping Options
Price and convenience are two significant factors that influence purchasing decisions. Some customers want the convenience of same day delivery, and many are willing to pay for it. Other customers might prefer not to pay for shipping fees by buying online and picking-up in-store.
Shipping flexibility has become a huge differentiator when it comes to online shopping. As a retailer, you may want to consider utilizing on-demand delivery networks such as UberRush and Postmates, to provide same day delivery.
Similarly, if you own a physical retail store, you may want to consider offering Buy Online Pick-up In-Store (BOPIS) or Buy Online Return In-Store (BORIS) options to create a seamless omnichannel experience. This trend will only grow with increasing customer demand.
Free shipping may be another thing to consider, but you should only offer it after a certain price threshold has been reached, otherwise you may see a drop in your profit margins. While most people expect free shipping to be an option, most consumers pay for shipping on about 2 in 5 online orders.
Invest in the Customer Experience
When it comes to ecommerce, smart retailers understand that the customer is king. To succeed in today’s competitive market, sellers must deliver a customer experience that meets all their high expectations in regards to pricing, convenience and relevance.
Intelligent automation is key to achieving these goals, from managing product content across multiple marketplaces, to optimizing order fulfillment and delighting your customers. You need a solution like Jazva, built to help retailers like you sell effectively on multiple channels.
If you’re still managing your operations through rigid, antiquated systems, now is the time to shed old clothes and invest in your business’ future.