How to Expand Your Brand for the Ecommerce Explosion

How to Expand Your Brand for the Ecommerce Explosion

Prior to 2020, the retail industry was projected to continue its gradual shift toward digital and mobile-first purchasing within the next decade. Nearing year’s end, the future has already arrived…a bit earlier than anticipated.

Thanks to social distancing and stay-at-home measures, ecommerce expansion has escalated from 16% of all U.S. retail sales in February of this year to 27% by April, based on data from the Bank of America and the U.S. Department of Commerce. The way that consumers shop progressed ten years in just a couple of months. And it happened before our very eyes!

Some organizations were better prepared than others. Presently, every business – regardless of its scope or size – has the chance to revamp its ecommerce approach.

In this article, we’ll explore four ways that you can transform your brand in order to better connect people with products online:

Redefine Loyalty

While ecommerce brands are notorious for their pricing wars, customers these days are seeking more than simply a good deal – it’s the total value that they want. In a recent global survey carried out by Ipsos, two out of three respondents stated that the way businesses act in response to COVID-19 will influence their spending. Half of all participants asserted that they are inclined to pay more for a product if they can be assured of its quality and safety, according to research by Nielsen.

Having the proper approach to customers can help you further deliver that value. Nearly two-thirds of consumers surveyed assert that exceptional customer service is critical when deciding where to shop online, according to a Kantar study commissioned by Facebook. By being transparent in updating order details and shipping timelines, you can greatly enhance the customer’s experience.

Problem-solving is another great way to build loyalty with customers. Platforms that allow real-time messaging can help make transactions smoother and more personalized. In addition, your willingness to issue refunds, process reshipments, and engage one-on-one with customers can help contribute value to your brand.

Advancing the common good, through nonprofit donations and partnerships, can also help. By demonstrating to customers how their purchases give back to the community, you can foster a sense of community and positivity.

Build for Boomers

Baby Boomers aren’t generally regarded as the savviest ecommerce users. Regardless, their mobile and online purchases have increased 85% year-over-year, based on research from Facebook IQ. Given the magnitude and median income of this demographic, Boomers could very well signify your next big opportunity.

Nevertheless, 78% of respondents in that same study said that they encountered challenges while holiday shopping on mobile devices – which means you’ll have to come up with the proper user experience (UX) strategy in order to engage Boomers.

Major points of conflict include too-small fonts, slow-loading sites or apps, hard-to-understand product info, and too many screens or steps to complete transactions. UX personalization can help improve shopping experiences for these customers.

Consistently poll different groups of people who use your site or app, so you can pinpoint the main barriers to purchasing and make adjustments if necessary.

Promote Agility

In a recent survey from GlobalWebIndex, 80% of respondents report having delayed a major purchase due to the coronavirus outbreak.

You simply can’t afford to wait for the market to bounce back – you have to expedite it. But how? By capitalizing on the opportunity to embrace an agile organizational structure.

Agility allows you to bring your senior leadership team into alignment and make informed marketing decisions in real-time.

Adapt to “FOGO”

That’s “fear of going out,” for the uninitiated. Only half of the people surveyed worldwide are ready to return to stores right now, according to GlobalWebIndex data.

Ready for another marketing acronym? Okay, here we go. Compared to 2019, there has been a 208% increase in BOPIS (that’s “Buy Online, Pickup In-Store”) purchases, with over a third of them coming from first-time BOPIS shoppers, based on data from Adobe Analytics. Consumers are also more receptive to contactless shopping than ever before.

FOGO is a particularly relevant topic if your business involves a sizable brick-and-mortar presence. A number of retailers have effectively fashioned solutions that keep in-person interaction to a minimum, such as mobile payments, self-service checkouts, contactless returns, and improved browsing experiences.

Even if brands known for their large retail presence don’t run their own stores, they are beginning to take the concept of FOGO as a sign to create offerings that can be ordered exclusively on the internet

Conclusion

Don’t settle for “business as usual.” The best brands are established in times of crisis. Pursuing the questions that appear unanswerable today might lead to solutions that could essentially create new opportunities to propel your business for years to come.

If you’re looking to expand your brand by integrating ecommerce capabilities into your website and social media pages, the digital marketing experts at HighClick Media are more than happy to help you along on your journey. Give us a call at 252.814.2150 today or drop us a line here.

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Is Social Commerce the Future of Ecommerce?

Is Social Commerce the Future of Ecommerce?

Over the past few years, the way we use social media has evolved.

Originally, social media was designed as a way to connect with people near and far. But as platforms have progressed, they’ve begun connecting us with brands as well. Nowadays, consumers can complete a purchase on their favorite social media site – from start to finish – without ever having to exit the platform.

Social media has finally advanced enough to play a significant role in the thriving world of ecommerce.

We’ve arrived at the era of social commerce where social media platforms are quite literally becoming search engines for shoppers.

What Is Social Commerce?

Simply put, social commerce is the buying and selling of items and services through a specific social media platform. The entire shopping experience – from product promotion to after-service sales – is incorporated into interactive features available within the social networking site.

Thanks to social commerce, users can shop directly from their social media feeds.

How Is Social Commerce Different From Social Media Marketing?

Social media marketing is a technique geared towards steering qualified traffic to an external website or online store.

Social commerce, on the other hand, provides the convenience of one-stop shopping within a social media site or app – an exciting alternative for today’s on-the-go shoppers.

The Emergence of Social Commerce

Shoppers these days are impatient – maybe even a little spoiled. Our attention spans are just 10 seconds long, if that.

Our social media obsession has hardwired us to expect instant gratification in all of our digital interactions. Social commerce is the solution, by virtue of the fact that it understands and accommodates this fundamental change in our preferences.

If we were to pinpoint the primary cause for the emergence of social commerce, it would undoubtedly be the Millennial generation. Indeed, Millennials were the catalyst for the shift toward social commerce in the first place.

Due to the enormous spending power of this generation – estimated at a whopping $1.4 trillion already and projected to be $4 trillion by 2030 – businesses understand that they are duty-bound to cater their efforts towards Millennials.

Essentially, there are just two factors that significantly impact the success of a business:

  • A product or service that fulfills a genuine need in the market
  • A streamlined buying process that makes it simple for customers to make a purchase

The potentiality of social commerce lies in the latter requirement – the whole purchasing process is simplified, thanks to features such as chatbots and auto-fill payments.

Understanding this critical component of online shopping, Facebook rolled out its Shops feature with the sole intention of giving people “a place to experience the joy of shopping versus the chore of buying.”

Let’s be clear: social commerce isn’t some passing fancy that’s going to fizzle out in a matter of months – it characterizes the way online business will be conducted from now on.

For organizations that don’t wish to be caught off-guard, it’s critical that they pivot towards social commerce.

that was easy

 

What Are the Advantages of Social Commerce?

One of the key characteristics of social commerce is its seamlessness. Seamless, in this context, refers to delivering an individualized experience for each customer whenever and wherever they want.

Social commerce meets these criteria in that brands can now have an entire conversation with a customer, instead of shifting from phone to desktop and eventually to a brick-and-mortar store. 

To wit, a shopping experience targeted towards the wants and needs of each individual shopper will become the favored solution. While price and quality still matter, being regarded as a cherished customer is an enormous part of the total experience for today’s shopper.

A staggering 75% of consumers are apt to purchase from a brand if its marketing content addresses them by name and offers suggestions based on their buying history.

Brick-and-mortar retailers recognized this long ago and began installing greeters at the entrances to welcome customers. The attention showered on customers went a long way toward building brand loyalty.

Social Commerce vs. Traditional Ecommerce

Traditional ecommerce models require shoppers to go through an excessive number of steps, increasing the risk that they will abandon the entire purchasing process.

Social commerce, on the other hand, centralizes the whole customer journey in one location. Shoppers can locate the products they need, read customer reviews, make any inquiries they might have, and check out – all without leaving the platform.

With fewer steps required to complete a purchase, customers are much less likely to get confused, frustrated, abandon their carts, and leave the site.

It’s important to note that, with social commerce, you still manage your products and market the way you normally do. However, you must take the added step of linking your inventory with the platform and streamlining the journey for customers engaged via social media.

Which Social Media Platforms Have Enabled Social Commerce So Far?

With an overwhelming number of physical stores having to shut down due to government lockdown measures earlier this year, many businesses resorted to ecommerce in order to survive.

Fortunately, many of the top social media sites had already integrated social commerce capabilities into their platforms or were actively working on doing so.

Facebook Shops

The world’s largest social media platform’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic came in the form of Facebook Shops. This new feature gives businesses the ability to advertise and sell products directly from the Facebook platform.

Brands already utilizing an ecommerce platform on their website, such as Shopify, can integrate it seamlessly with Facebook to sell to their social media followers.

Facebook Messenger

While email boasts the highest return on investment of all traditional digital marketing strategies, social media messaging app sales have now greatly outpaced email.

Open rates and click-through rates of ecommerce emails are, for the most part, relatively low: 15%-25% and 2.5%, respectively. By comparison, Facebook Messenger chatbots generate an astounding 80% open rate and 20% click-through rates on average.

Facebook Messenger’s chatbots come equipped with a number of potent features, including:

  • Greeting capabilities and assisting customers to “Get Started”
  • Allowing brands to send and receive text/images with customized calls-to-action
  • Templates letting customers interact with chatbots with the help of interactive visuals

Facebook “Buy” Buttons

Until recently, brands used call-to-action buttons on social media posts to divert users to a third-party site in order to complete their purchase.

Now, when brands include “Buy” buttons on their social media channel, customers can buy their products easily and then continue on Facebook right where they left off.

Instagram

Thus far, Instagram has primarily been used for brand discovery – the most recent data indicates that 70% of consumers use the platform to find out about new products. However, Instagram has laid the groundwork towards becoming an ecommerce hub – a smart move considering that more than 200 million users frequent at least one business profile each day.

The Instagram Checkout feature enables shoppers to browse through images and videos of products in their feed. Once they find an item they’re interested in buying, they can click on the post, select the dimensions or colors as applicable, and then pay for their purchase – all without leaving Instagram!

With Instagram’s shoppable posts and Stories features, brands can tag images or videos with the name, price, and description of catalog items that users can then click on to learn more about the product.

Pinterest

With more than 416 million active monthly users worldwide, Pinterest is another powerhouse channel for social commerce.

Brands can use Rich Pins to sell their products within the platform. Rich Pins are an organic format providing additional up-to-date information about the Pin itself, including the product’s price and availability.

Buyable Pins allow customers to purchase products directly on Pinterest without the platform redirecting them elsewhere. These Pins are distinctive thanks to the big blue “Buy It” button positioned next to the iconic “Pin It” button.

Buyable Pins allow users to see the product’s price, its seller, and read the descriptions. Once shoppers click on the “Buy It” button, they’re automatically directed to the Checkout page within the platform.

Snapchat

It might be surprising to find Snapchat in this list – but after a number of updates, this Gen-Z-favorite platform is making a pass at social commerce as well.

The most interesting – but not necessarily astonishing – thing about Snapchat’s attempt at competing with larger social platforms is the fact that it’s using augmented reality.

Snapchat’s 238 million users will soon be able to use the app’s lens-altering selfies to digitally try on shoes – whimsically dubbed as “shoefies.”

This is a crucial step in the platform’s ultimate goal of enabling users to virtually “try on” a complete wardrobe.

Given that reality-altering lenses are integral to the app and the fact that its users are predominantly Millennials and Gen Zers – the principal drivers of social commerce – Snapchat figures to become one of the leading social commerce channels in the coming years.

Augmented reality (AR) is a powerful tool that ecommerce companies can’t afford to shrug off. Consider that:

  • 61% of consumers prefer to shop sites that offer augmented reality
  • 49% of online shoppers are willing to pay more for an item if they can preview it in AR
  • 45% of consumers state that AR reduces the amount of time spent on making a purchasing decision

TikTok

The fastest-growing social media site around, especially among younger users, TikTok is also integrating social commerce capabilities into its platform. TikTok recently partnered with ecommerce giant Shopify to integrate in-app shopping features. Thanks to this partnership, brands can create and manage their TikTok marketing campaigns from the Shopify dashboard after installing the TikTok channel app through the Shopify app store.

Brands can create a TikTok Pixel to track actions – such as users visiting their site, adding an item to their cart, and completing their order. Using ad templates designed specifically for ecommerce, brands can also create in-feed shoppable video ads.

YouTube

Even YouTube, the stalwart video-based platform, is elevating their ecommerce game by implementing a more shoppable ad format. By expanding the call-to-action buttons on video ads, brands are able to drive more traffic to specific product pages. Businesses can sync their Google Merchant Center feed to the video ads to create a browsable display of featured products.

Final Thoughts

Social media platforms are perpetually coming up with innovative ways to simplify the purchasing process. Social commerce is but the latest in these continuing efforts.

If your brand is willing to invest the time and resources now to get up to speed on the fundamentals of social commerce while the trend is still in its infancy, you’ll be able to provide superior service to your customers for years to come.

Need help getting started with social commerce on one or more social media platforms? HighClick Media is here to help! Give us a call at 252.814.2150 today to find out how we can help elevate your brand!

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Practical Tips for Integrating Digital Technology Into Your Ecommerce Business

Practical Tips for Integrating Digital Technology Into Your Ecommerce Business

Today’s consumers are more connected than ever before. They expect to have access to information, services, and products wherever they are, whenever they want them, and at the lowest price.

To remain competitive in today’s ecommerce market, you must integrate digital technology into all areas of your business.

Fortunately, integrating digital technology into your ecommerce business doesn’t have to be a huge hassle. In this article, we’ll take a look at several tips that will help put you on the path to success!

Create a Customer Engagement Strategy

Once you’ve got your customers’ attention, you need to get them to take action. Constructing a customer engagement strategy is all about converting your website visitors into paying customers.

Of course, you can’t expect every visitor to eventually become a customer just because you want them to. Instead, you should focus your efforts on converting the most relevant and interested visitors into paying customers.

You can do this by creating and executing a customer engagement strategy. Customer engagement strategies range from seeking email subscribers to building and nurturing a repeat buyer base.

Build Automated Marketing Campaigns

Now that you’ve got a solid customer engagement strategy in place, you can integrate digital marketing techniques and ecommerce capabilities. The key to any successful digital marketing strategy is to automate as much as you can.

This can be done through email marketing automation and lead generation campaigns. As marketing guru Neil Patel notes, automation helps you create and execute your digital marketing strategy more quickly and effectively.

Digital Tech Trends to Try Today

When it comes to digital technology, there are countless options to choose from. For ecommerce businesses, the following technologies are likely to prove particularly beneficial:

Integrate Mobile Payments

While you may already have an existing mobile app, if there isn’t an option for customers to make online payments, you’re truly missing out. Before you integrate any payment feature, always make sure to first add API authentication.

API authentication allows clients to verify their bank account and routing number instantly via ACH. What’s more, your app will work seamlessly with other mobile payment options like Swipe and Dwolla. Your customers will appreciate the convenience and ease of use that come part and parcel with a mobile payment option.

Implement Remote Work

Letting some employees work remotely is an excellent start. However, you need to take additional steps to always ensure effective communication. Collaboration is key when working remotely, so be sure to make use of a process map template.

With process mapping in place, you and your remote team will find that it’s easier than ever to work together. You’ll be more organized and productivity will increase dramatically.

Initiate Data Analysis

Data analysis can be used to further improve the processes of your organization. Here, it’s important to differentiate process mining vs. process discovery. Process discovery – which essentially creates an optimized map of what a process should look like – is a part of process mining. Moreover, Harvard Business Review explains that process mining uses data to find, validate, and improve your ecommerce business’s workflows. As a result, your entire company will benefit.

This means greater efficiency, increased sales and revenue, better risk management, and hidden opportunities. To achieve all this, you’ll need to start by finding potential data sources and mapping out a timeline. Then, you can determine key stakeholders.

Final Thoughts

Whether it’s cloud computing, digital marketing, machine learning, process mining, or any other digital technology, there’s a wealth of resources available to use. The key is finding the ones that will work best for your business and your customers. When you find the right technologies, you will notice profound improvements in your ecommerce business.

HighClick Media helps grow businesses of all shapes and sizes by implementing comprehensive marketing solutions, such as website design, paid advertising, and other creative services. Contact us today at 252.814.2150 or drop us a line here to see how we can help #elevateyourbrand!

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Guest blogger Alyssa Strickland created millennial-parents.com for all the new parents on the block. Alyssa believes the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child, but she also thinks it takes a village to raise a parent! Millennial-Parents is that village. Today’s parents can be more connected than ever and she hopes her site will enrich those connections. On Millennial-Parents, she shares tips and advice she learns through experience and from other young parents in three key areas – Education, Relationships, and Community.

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