This blog post is recently updated on 10 July 2019.
Over the past few years, E-commerce growth has been observed in businesses everywhere. A lot of us are willing to embrace e-commerce sold products since it makes our lives so simple and a non-deniable fact is e-commerce provides you with so many options. We take stock of 20 E-commerce growth strategies checklist for 2019.
According to Business.com, the top e-commerce markets in the world are-
- China- $672 billion
- United States- $340 billion
- United Kingdom- $99 billion
- Japan- $79 billion
- Germany- $73 billion
- France- $43 billion
- South Korea- $37 billion
- Canada- $30 billion
- Russia- $20 billion
- Brazil- $19 billion
E-commerce expansion can be categorically divided into three main sections-
- Top-Tier markets– This includes countries such as the US, UK, China, Japan, Australia, South Korea, etc.
- Second layered markets– This includes countries which are enthusiastic about expanding e-commerce business and exploring newer ventures. This comprises of countries such as India, Indonesia, Sweden, Mexico, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, etc.
- Wait and see– This includes countries which have a little base over e-commerce business but would like to wait and watch the trend before making any serious investment. This comprises of countries such as Argentina, South Africa, Russia, etc.
Nevertheless, between 2012 and 2018, there have emerged several e-commerce start-ups.While the world is experiencing a growing trend of e-commerce solutions, it is equally important to incorporate the right mechanism to sustain and have long-term returns.
20 E-commerce Growth Strategies Checklist for 2019
One of the best ways to enhance your e-commerce business is by providing mobile optimization. This includes optimization of look and feels along with providing some simple features such as digital wallet integrations. So why is this so important. Well, more than 41% of online sales happen through mobiles and this number is going to see a drastic increase in 2019. Mobile device users are already toppling those who purchase stuff from desktop devices.
This allows users to buy anything from your website on the go. By integrating with digital wallets such as PayPal or Amazon Pay, you don’t have to bother your user with typing in too many information over the mobile. Friendly mobile websites almost instantaneously double your sales.
You can easily check mobile optimization for your e-commerce store by using some the below-mentioned tools:
If you still want to have some more reasons to invest in mobile optimization, just have a look at the following trend and you will surely start taking one of the most widely used e-commerce growth strategies seriously.
While it is evident that without a robust mobile presence to supplement the online experience you could be missing out on lots of conversions, you also need to make sure that mobile optimization best practices are properly implemented. These may include ensuring a fast load time, making immediately visible text, making click easy, minimizing pop-ups, among others.
Social Media Advertising
An effective way to reach out target audience is through social media advertising. This could be based on geo-targeting or behavioral-targeting. Though we still have television, radio and newspaper advertisements, social media has proved to be cost-effective and allows you to readily interact with your potential customers. It empowers you to quickly analyze whether the user received your message and reacted.
Different types of social media channels are emerging almost every year. Every year we witness newer social media network emerging with better features, marketing scopes, and longevity.
Once you create your Ad, it is equally important to monitor its performance and make changes based on traffic behavior. Some tools which will help you monitor your Ad performance are-
Here are some social media advertising best practices that you can implement.
Focus on a single social media platform at a time. Consider the platforms where you are already seeing some success and which connects with your product or service in the best possible way. For instance, BirchBox is a beauty brand and thus, it connects with Instagram naturally. Have a look at the below image.Image:https://www.business2community.com/ecommerce/social-media-best-practices-for-e-commerce-businesses-02119769
- Create and nurture a community.
- Develop a clear posting regimen depending on the social platform and your brand’s voice. See the below image to get a clear overview of what should be the frequency of posting on social media.
- Utilize social metrics to get clear insights into whether something is working.
- Enhance the quality of the posts instead of posting poor content and/or bland images, invest some effort and time (and money sometimes) to create great posts.
- Go for paid advertising if required.
- Create your product videos and post them on your social media platforms.
2019 will see more social media marketing and spread across different social media channels.
CRO With Data-Driven Optimization
CRO stands for conversion rate optimization and is one of the key e-commerce growth strategies. Average conversion rates are just about 2%. CRO allows you to determine which design, color etc. will help to increase the sales. Data-driven optimization can also help in improving the conversion with tactful analysis of behavioral data.
Data-Driven optimization analysis involving more critical information such as-
- Top entry/exit pages
- Actual paths to conversion
- Visitors likely to convert using desktop/mobile or based on geographical location
- Some typical actions which might lead to conversions such as product comparison
- Previous or repeat customer
- Analysis around the website display such as headers, colors etc
- Visitors profile data such as demographic data
- Appealing voice of customer support based on qualitative analysis
- Reasons for abandonment using mechanism such as session replay
- The average amount of time spent on each page
This can be made easy by using some of the below services. The advantage is that these companies do end to end optimization. So you don’t need to worry about the entire process:
Other tools include- Google Analytics, Crazyegg. This is an iterative process and requires improving your e-commerce store to be more functional, accessible, usable and make customers more intuitive by being persuasive.
Here are some tried-and-true CRO best practices that you can try to accelerate your e-commerce business’s growth.
- Identify potential customers like who belongs to the target market and who don’t.
- Ask your users to participate in polls or surveys. Remember to avoid boring or repetitive questions.
- Collect and analyze the captured data.
Run A/B tests to identify what works best for you and what doesn’t.
- Create the perfect page based on the insights gained from A/B testing.
- Map the exact journey visitors usually take through your site.
- Guide your customers by incorporating directional indicators and CTAs.
Customer Engagement and CRM
CRM stands for Customer relationship management. A common example is Sales force. It is the process of capturing data about your customers and utilizing it to strengthen relationships with them. It can cover the former, current, and future customers. Customer engagement involves detailed analysis of customer trends and can be effectively done using CRM tools. Some of the important data points include-
- Customer’s last purchase
- Whom did the customer chat with
- Average LTV of the customer
- Maximum product category searches done by the customer
- Is the customer constantly looking for discounts?
- The last email sent to the customer
This requires pulling in information from various sources such as chats, Facebook messenger, email, SMS, order status, loyalty program, referral program, customer groups etc.
2019 will see a rise in this trend since in the past it has been proved to be one of the most effective e-commerce growth strategies to reach the target audience. This helps in generating leads by providing some advanced analytics and logistics. Nevertheless, you need a CRM platform which can provide this seamlessly.
Once you have implemented CRM strategy effectively, here are the things you can do to increase your conversion rate.
- Improve customer loyalty.
- Boost customer service.
- Convert visitors into loyal customers.
- Create loyalty programs.
Customer relationship management best practices include identifying your goals and pain points, understanding how users work, making sure you can customize and personalize, providing proper training and support. automating processes to let service and sales representatives focus on engaging customers, among others.
SEO or search engine optimization is one of the most crucial e-commerce growth strategies and it becomes extremely difficult for any e-commerce business to sustain without an effective SEO strategy in place. It is a fact that most number of conversions happens through organic traffic. So you definitely need at least 50% of your website traffic to be organic traffic driven. The advantage is, you do not have to pay for Ads and can rely on main keywords and other SEO best practices.
Over the past, we have seen e-commerce stores get to market and start to backtrace and optimize their SEO hits. Well, though this works, it is still a very time-consuming solution. So the right way is to start SEO optimization from the very beginning. The goal is to improve your rank between 0 to 5 for any keyword search.
Fundamentally, SEO for e-commerce businesses makes the site convenient to crawl, exhibit keywords you want to rank for, and demonstrate authority through backlinks and content. Let’s have a look at some key SEO best practices for e-commerce businesses.
- Use important keywords.
- Design with customers in mind. It should provide them with the ultimate shopping experience instead of detracting them.
- Avoid complicated and cluttered URLs. They have to be as clear as possible and contain keywords relevant to things appear on the resulting page.
- Allow customer reviews to boost conversions on the product pages. It is a fact that customers tend to buy products or services that have reviews.
- Say ‘No’ to duplicate content.
- Write for humans instead of search engines. Everything you do to your e-commerce store should be for the benefit of your customers ultimately. Ideally, you should hire an experienced copywriter to do this job on your behalf.
- Optimize and tweak category pages with keywords. You can use a keyword planner to make this job a bit easier.
- Add rich snippets to your product pages by implementing schema markup to increase the visibility of the products.
In 2019, we can expect to see more focus on targeting optimization of long-tailed keywords before moving to short-tailed keywords. Beyond keywords, there are multiple other SEO optimizations techniques.
In case you do not have the required expertise to implement SEO effectively, you can always hire an SEO expert through-
Alternatively, you can also use some of the well-known SEO tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights, Keywordtool.io, Google Analytics, Google keyword planner, etc.
Credit Cards and Debit cards are present in every e-commerce stores payment options. Over the past few years, this trend shifted and more e-commerce stores started integrating with digital wallets. Every year new digital wallets are emerging, so your website needs to check the usability of these popular digital wallets and try to incorporate it.
It is one of those e-commerce growth strategies that need some additional knowledge and expertise. Effective implementation of payment solutions requires an understanding of the popular digital wallets used in a specific geographical location. Some e-commerce stores such as Overstock.com, Expedia, eGifter, Newegg allow bitcoins.
You can add bitcoins to the popular payment gateways such as Stripe, Coinbase, CoinGate, BitPay, etc. Most of these not only accept bitcoins, but also other altcoins such as ethers, litecoins, etc.
It can be overwhelming when it comes to choosing your best payment solutions from so many different ones. Here are the critical aspects that you need to focus on.
- Type of payment solution
- Integrated versus hosted
- Transaction processing time
- Customer experience
- Fraud protection policy
Branding AND Rebranding
Branding just does not end with the logo. There are so many other things which we need to consider while branding any e-commerce store. Some of the greatest mistakes e-commerce stores do is, by not investing much into branding.
Branding could include something as simple as changing the theme color, adding a video, sharing success stories, customer experience, testimonials, word of mouth, and most importantly not over-committing. This also implies rebranding to existing e-commerce stores to get started in a newer way. Popular brands such as eBay, Snapdeal have also gone through rounds of rebranding.
If required, you can always hire a branding strategist such as-
- DesignStudio- https://design.studio/
- Design Pickle – https://designpickle.com/
- Juno – https://www.junowebdesign.com/
It is worth noting how some start-ups such as Dollar Shave Club, Hired, Zumper, etc. have employed branding to their advantage.
Here are simple yet highly effective ways you can use to do branding for your e-commerce business.
- Develop a brand slogan that comprises some impactful and memorable words.
- Identify the target audience of your brand to understand its wants and needs.
- Promote the key benefits of using your brand to help it stand out of the huge number of competitors out there.
- Share the story of your business to create an emotional connection with the audience. Include things like why you started the business, what you stand for, what you care about, among others.
- Be consistent. Your e-commerce site should be developed in accordance with your brand’s brand standards guide. If you don’t have one, it is the first place you should start.
Technology plays a key role in the success of e-commerce business as well as in the effective implementation of all e-commerce growth strategies. The right blend of technology helps to cater to several problems in a very simplified way. This can be a major differentiator.
Some of the key technology trends to watch out for in 2019 are-
- Shoppable videos
- Artificial Intelligence
- Big Data
- Mobile commerce
- Cross-channel integration
- Blockchains and Cryptocurrency
- Direct social media purchase
- Voice assistants
Some of the tools, apps, and technologies include- MailChimp, Facebook Ads extension, BuyButtons, Shipstation, Yotpo, Smile.io, PixelPop, InStockNotify, Shippo, Soundest, etc.
One could easily embed these technologies to provide specific discounts based on shopping patterns to selected customers, notify once stock is available, compare two products or simply track transactions using blockchain. Some additional things that can be done using high-end technologies include:
- Power personalization
- Boosting brand advocacy
- Automating email marketing
- Optimizing the on-site search experience
- Enhancing ERP (enterprise resource planning) integration with full-scale automation
Some simple tricks to incorporate the right technology is as used by Lenskart.com
Their Try in 3D option, allows you to check the glasses over your face. This is virtual reality, which helps to easily shop for a product.
Pay Per Click
Pay per click is pretty much a traditional way to attract potential customers. So, how will this be incorporated in 2019? Enhancing the existing approach for pay per click is the way forward. PPC requires minute detail evaluation about-
- Keyword analysis
- Channel Strategy
- Constant Monitoring
- Competitive Analysis
- Negative match
- A/B Testing
PPC requires expertise and constant alterations. You can very well employ a PPC management company to do this work for you. Some of these include:
- VJG- https://www.vjginteractive.com/
- JumpFly- http://www.jumpfly.com/
- 1SEO Digital Agency- https://1seo.com/
- WebpageFX- https://www.webpagefx.com/
Some of the tools you can use are- Google Adwords, Bing Ads Editor, WordStream Advisor, AdWords performance grader, SEMrush, AdEspresso, etc.
Simple Ad strategies, as shown above, including adding a registered trademark symbol, adding offers to the Ad. These types of strategies boost ad performance.
Here are some effective tips to ramp up your PPC campaign.
- Consider where to advertise
- Optimize your shopping ads
- Focus on quality content
- Exclude underperforming keywords
- Include long tail keywords
- Use demographic targeting
- Set up proper e-commerce tracking. You can add Analytics ecommerce tracking to get all the essential data about your e-commerce business.
Using Reddit is one of those e-commerce growth strategies that help you spread the word about your business. Reddit has several discussion forums which can be used to share some useful information relevant to your e-commerce store. Once you find a suitable subreddit forum, you can start a conversation to spread your business ideas.
Reddit can be used to share ideas and know more about different products as well as pitch in your products. This is a great platform to know similar e-commerce ventures. This is not a forum to advertise, but you can effectively put your thoughts and opinion about different products. Based on what you post, you get ranked as upvotes and down votes. Top ranking implies more people will read it through.
Because most businesses overlook the power of Reddit and focus on Twitter or Facebook instead, it is one of the most useful platforms to use because of huge opportunity and low competition. Here are the things you should keep in mind when using this platform.
- Make sure your content is valuable and is relevant to the discussion
- Provide immediate value in the post
- Stay away from underhanded tactics, tricks, or gimmicks
Shipping and Fulfillment Optimization
E-commerce stores tie up with vendors for shipping and fulfillment. Most of the e-commerce stores rely on more than one vendor. This involves-
- Timely delivery
- Appropriate packaging
- Acknowledgments through emails/SMS
- Easy tracking of products by customer
- International shipping
- Invoice generation
Fortunately, we have some software available to do this inventory management.
- 3PL Warehouse Manager by 3PL Central – https://3plcentral.com/products/3pl-warehouse-manager/
- Royal 4 Systems WISE – http://royal4.com/3pl-and-logistics/royal-4-wise-3pl-warehousing-and-logistics/
- 3PLink by Camelot 3PL – https://www.3plsoftware.com/
So how do we use this to our advantage in 2019? Well, by using more predictive shipping analysis. With effective shipping analysis, you can-
- Monitor carrier performance and build strong customer relationships
- Managing shipping costs
- Managing distributions zones
- Right packaging solutions based on weight
- Use geographical trends to manage shipping
- Based on customer density manage shipping vendors
- Effectively monitor expenses
Here are some key tips that can help you implement and maintain an effective shipping and fulfillment strategy.
- Be clear with the order fulfillment policies to influence buyers’ decisions
- Focus on the packaging to provide your customers with an ‘experience’ instead of offering them just a functional object
- Mention shipping information clearly on all the product pages
For any e-commerce business, pricing a product is very crucial. Profit earned depends on the pricing. Some points to think are- What would be the minimum price benchmark, what percentage will be the profit and so on. A lot of e-commerce stores come up with random pricing models without prior analysis. This either ends in a loss of sales or loss of profits.
Something worth noting is, the price keeps varying throughout the year. This can be classified as-
- Peak demand drives pricing
- New arrival pricing
- Time-based pricing
- Value-based pricing
- Dynamic pricing
Some of the widely used pricing strategies include retail price, the manufacturer suggested retail price, keystone pricing, discount pricing, multiple pricing, competitive pricing, premium pricing, etc.
Very few e-commerce stores use advanced analytics into pricing models. Well, there are tools which simplify this for you. These tools gather different analytics across products based on geographical locations, demand, time of the year, stock constraint with a competitor, etc. and provide the right pricing model. Some tools are-
These tools allow you to automatically reflect price changes across different channels.
PR is one of those e-commerce growth strategies that provide cutting-edge options to reach out to the market for B2B and B2C business. Digital PR along with media can be used as a catalyst for the growth of your business. PR domain involves various strategies based on your business domain and market trends.
Some of the PR strategies could include-
- Adding the start-up story
- Adding the growth story
- Product detailing and differentiators
- Any major event story
- Customer feedback/story
- Videos showing customer testimonials
- Stats and growth trends story
- Expansion story
- Employee stories
You can also choose to outsource your PR to a professional PR agency such as-
- PR Agency One- http://www.pragencyone.co.uk
- Crenshaw communications- https://crenshawcomm.com/industry/retail-ecommerce/
- Spark PR- https://sparkpr.com/
As you start your search for a PR agency, it is important to look for one that offers core capabilities – which are crucial components in a complete PR strategy. These include thought leadership, innovative research, speaking engagements, proactive social media campaigns, content marketing, etc.
An online product catalog creates immersive and information-rich content which builds interest among users. It is also an effective way to convert potential customers into loyal shoppers. A non-deniable fact is that with online shopping customers do not get the opportunity to feel the products. So the onus of attracting customers completely lies in the e-commerce store.
This not only includes images but also persuasive communication techniques with information-rich content. With a growing business, you need more automation and hence a product catalog management. Some simple and free extensions, allow you to automate your catalog creation. Some of these include-
- WP Catalog
- WooCommerce Product Table
- Ultimate Product Catalog
- Ecwid E-commerce Shopping Cart
- Posts Table Pro
An example of a perfect catalog is as shown below which has different images, video, different colors available list- with visuals, size, and photos of customers who have purchased it. It is worth noting that 2019 will see an increase in the number of e-commerce businesses starting to add videos and customers who have explored the product photos –
With plugins, many e-commerce stores are also trying out various Product information management system such as-
While the successful implementation of catalog management strategy brings a multitude of benefits including enriched customer experience, assured business growth etc, you also need to take care of some crucial aspects. These include continuous updating of product information, expansion of product catalog, multichannel listing, implementing a centralized product catalog management system, etc.
While FAQs have been an integral part of any e-commerce store, creating the right FAQ is a challenge. FAQ has several advantages such as-
- Frees up time for the customer support since most of the basic questions are answered
- Creates trust between customer and seller, since you have taken the extra effort to guide them
- Since information is available readily, more people are likely to buy without hesitation
- Search engines value FAQ pages as high information resources. This helps to improve your SEO.
This is one of the areas which will see an increasing number of e-commerce stores adding FAQs in 2018. This requires a domain and business understanding along with some points to be considered such as-
- Logically group each question
- Precision while answering a question
- Don’t add too many or too fewer FAQs
- Add links for additional information
- Bullet points to answer
- Maintain the focus by not resulting in information overload
- Regularly update the page
A simple yet highly effective FAQ is as shown below-
Customer Lifetime Value
CLV is one of the crucial e-commerce growth strategies that determine the net profit prediction attributed to a future relationship with a customer. This requires some extensive analysis to determine customer behavior and building towards nurturing it. Some of the key attributes are-
- Creating brand loyalties
- Upsell and Cross-sell products
- Choose the right rewards to encourage customers to buy products
- Use multiple touch points to provide best in class customer service
- Build long-term relationships
CLV has been a very underestimated metrics, however, the trend is changing. More online stores are employing various CLV strategies. CLV combined with other metrics such as net profit, churn rate, customer acquisition cost, retention rate etc can provide excellent sales benchmarks. This is more important in domains having high market competition. For any e-commerce business, getting new customers is only the first step. The real work lies in developing a strong customer community. Have a look at the below image to understand e-commerce customer lifecycle.
This also includes-
- Diversifying investments to channelize right use of CLV
- Choosing the best acquisition channel to suit your business
- Constantly benchmarking your efforts
- Deciding where to invest for CLV growth
- Discovering the most profitable customer base
- Effectively handling customer complaints
- Categorizing geographical locations to increase CLV
- Providing incentives such as rewards, cash backs etc
- Providing special discounts with greater shopping cart values
- Offering free products to promote specific consumption behaviors
- Establishing a free shipping threshold
- Bundling similar or complementary products
- Offering financing facility on high-priced items
- Clearly stating a painless and easy return policy
Some of the readily available tools include- Kissmetrics, Countly, Mixpanel, Heap, etc.
Influencer marketing is a growing trend to improve conversions since customers trust other customer reviews. The key thing about this strategy is that influencers share the same interests and values as their audience and hence are perceived as reliable and honest. In short, influencer marketing is not annoying, native, and corresponding with the audience’s values. Word of mouth plays a very crucial role in marketing your products. This also includes-
- Product or service reviews
- Promotional contents
- Offer discounts
- Offer limited time additional freebies
- Content featuring your products
- Video with customer feedback
- Pre-video advertisements on YouTube
Reviews are important since almost 20% to 50% purchasing decisions are made through reviews. Ninety-two percent of internet users rely on online reviews for the local business.
There are some paid tools for reviews available such as-
- TRUSTist – https://www.trustistreviewer.com/
- Bazaarvoice – http://www.bazaarvoice.com/uk/
- Feefo – https://www.feefo.com/business/gb_en
- Powerreviews – https://www.powerreviews.com/
A good example of using influencer marketing is as shown below-
To reap maximum benefit out of this strategy, you should try to stay away from doing the following things.
- Providing stringent guidelines on how to act and what to say
- Limiting the number of photos and/or videos
- Asking to talk heavily about the product/service and its unique selling proposition
- Focusing on the product’s features rather than its value
Spreading any e-commerce business internationally has become simpler over the past few years. Till 2017, many e-commerce start-ups were restricting their business grounds to one country. Now the trend has begun to change and e-commerce businesses are looking to diversify geographically.
Some points to be checked before taking your business to the next level-
- Identify the potential audience
- Payment processing
- Shipping and fulfillment capacity
- Return policies
- Taxes or any customs duties
- Facts and figures of your business domain in the country
- Legal requirements. Every country has a different law
- Predictable profit margins
- Geographical conditions such as climate, political conditions, any unrest conditions etc
- Insurance costs for shipments
If with all your analysis the ROI is not very high, then it’s better to rethink about the location.
While internationalization sounds exciting: growth, revenue, opportunities etc, there are mistakes that happen frequently. Here are some of them which you should try to avoid for attaining growth.
- Lack of local insider knowledge
- Everyone may not be as enthusiastic as you
- Launching all the products at once in the international market
- A shortage of development resources
- A lack of adequate manpower at customer service
- Profits and losses are not divided per country
Localization, Personalization and CX
User experience is pretty much older stuff and is a common element of many e-commerce growth strategies. So, what is different in 2019? Well, using concepts of localization to your user experience is new. With localization, you can show more popular products based on geographical locations. A number of e-commerce sites have come with an option to enable location tracking. With this, they can improve your search and show only relevant products.
In the below website, you can see how automatically the location is being tracked.
While localization is important, equally important is personalization. Personalization allows users to customize what they want to see. Some e-commerce sites do a quick survey before providing the search results.
Something which the below website provides-
Here are some aspects that you need to focus on when implementing this strategy.
- Product recommendations
- Content recommendations
- Targeted banners
- Targeted opt-in forms
- Personalized best-selling product recommendations. Have a look at the below image where Thrive does an excellent job.
- Personalized social notifications
- Personalized triggered emails
Email Marketing and Automation
Email marketing is one of the easiest yet highly effective e-commerce growth strategies to incorporate since most of this is automated. Once an email is sent you can easily track the email and decipher huge analytics from this. It requires identifying the right customer base, developing strategies, being open and transparent about services.
Email marketing combined with analytics around-
- Specific times of the year require more promotional emails
- Certain customer base requires offers related emails
- For some customer base, you need to provide offers about new ventures
- Mails about discounts or offers and/or cash backs
- Different geographical locations will have different behavioral patterns
- This could be even a simple greeting or a thank you message
Email Marketing also helps to build customer trust and brand loyalty. Showcase products wherever you can. Several tools are available such as-
While the effective implementation of email marketing can bring a multitude of benefits to your e-commerce business, you also need to avoid the following mistakes.
- Absence of a clear call to action
- Fail to meet the reader’s expectations
- Lack of a professional look
- Use of sales-heavy and cliché language
- Relying too much on images
- Forgetting about mobile users
- Sending generic emails from addresses like ‘noreply’ or ‘admin’
- Missing out on the power of plain text
- Sending emails inconsistently
- Requiring login to unsubscribe
Let me conclude with this. We have seen a detailed review of what the e-commerce growth strategies are that you need to watch out for in 2019. These include some existing strategies blended with new trends and newer ways to approach it. Try to implement them based on your business requirements and goals.