Building an ecommerce strategy that will help your business thrive online is tough, especially during uncertain times like these.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses to offer their products and services digitally and elevated customers’ expectations of online shopping. Without an effective ecommerce plan for how to improve online sales, companies risk losing their potential profits.
In this article, the Elogic team shares a few working tips proven by 13 years of experience working with global ecommerce brands.
You’ll learn what an ecommerce strategy is, which factors you should consider when creating an ecommerce strategy plan, what to include in it, and how we can make it work to bring the desired ROI.
Let’s start with the important question.
What is an ecommerce strategy?
Ecommerce strategy is a complex of marketing tactics and steps that an online business plans to do to reach its goals. The goals, however, may vary: increase online sales, build a solid digital presence, test product hypotheses, and so on. Usually, the ecommerce strategy is built to reach primary and secondary goals, so it’s better to choose the activities that will help you achieve them both.
Besides, that’s not the whole story.
“Implementing any tactics without a plan and defined goals is like moving into darkness,” says Oksana Yakovileva, the Head of Delivery at Elogic Commerce. “You’ll never know what results you can expect or how to measure the success of your business. A mature business is always data-driven with a clear goal ahead and plan as its guiding light.”
When planning an ecommerce strategy, a business owner should always consider three aspects of it:
- Your products/services
- Your audience
- Your business operations
Eventually, you’ll receive
Plus, you should view every activity you initiate through the prism of these aspects, asking questions like:
- What product/service do we want to keep / eliminate / redesign?
- How will innovation affect customer relationships?
- Does my team have enough resources and responsibilities to roll out this strategy?
Of course, these are just a few questions that should be answered before the strategy implementation. And there are other factors that can’t be ignored.
5 Factors to Consider When Developing Your Ecommerce Strategy
Neither the global nor the local ecommerce landscape develops in a vacuum: there are many conditions that influenced the markets and businesses before we see them as they are now.
Think about the dot.com era and the shift from land-based to virtual selling. Think about the COVID-19 pandemic and the rocket-fast uptick in delivery services and online shopping. Things surrounding us affect how we consume or produce goods or services. They also dictate the way we should sell and what we need to consider if we want to sell more to a broader audience.
Here’s what we think you should pay attention to when building an ecommerce strategy.
Availability of marketing and development team
Smart, audience-specific, and flexible marketing alongside tech innovations are the basics of any successful strategy. But before you plan them out, you need to make sure you have the designated teams to deal with marketing and IT. What if you don’t have any?
You can either hire them as your in-house specialists or outsource the tasks to marketing agencies and tech vendors. Agencies like Elogic can help you source top tech talent to optimize your website and deliver outstanding customer experience. Outsourcing is a great option if you want to keep both tech and UX in the hands of professionals that know the peculiarities of cross-functional work.
Current performance of your ecommerce website
You can’t know what upgrade or innovation you need if you don’t know your business’s current hardware and software availability and performance. You need to conduct the performance audit of your existing system, evaluate its maximum capacity, check the security of your IT infrastructure, and so on.
Understanding your tech needs to make your ecommerce business strategy work will help you to plan precise, cost-effective, and doable activities that will bring the highest ROI.
Global shifts and trends in your industry and beyond
Customers’ demands and requirements change rapidly, but are businesses always ready for every change? Hardly ever. Here’s a simple example of customer service.
Gone are the days when people call customer service the first thing they need support — now they try to research how to solve the issue independently. Here’s why the contact centers get smaller and the investment into AI-powered chatbot technologies increases.
Customers want to fix things on their own. And client-centered businesses should provide them with such an opportunity by integrating sophisticated software and optimizing tech for the customers’ needs.
Changes in customer segmentation and target audience (TA)
If you hadn’t tried to attract other groups of buyer personas than the ones you did when you first started your business, you’re missing a lot of potential customers. As your business evolves, you most likely will notice the shifts in customer behavior, demographic, and groups of people who buy from you. If you develop a new ecommerce strategy to expand business, you should always analyze who you target now, what their needs and pains are, and how your company can prevent or solve them.
Corporate culture and stakeholder buy-in
In such a changing environment, the ability to make decisions fast is crucial to maintain the company’s flexibility and the possibility to adapt quickly. The question is whether the corporate culture allows you to do it and who is in charge of the decision-making process.
If your ecommerce strategy plan presupposes a lot of novelties and the final decisions are made by top managers only, chances are you will experience troubles the centralized organizations usually face, such as:
- Communication barriers
- Collaboration difficulties
- Poor leadership
- Limited creativity
- Slower approval time
In this case, the collaboration between teams will suffer from friction, which will negatively affect not only the end result but also the relationship between the team members.
Except for these factors, every company has industry-specific factors and regulations. In this case, you should have a better understanding of general and company-wide contexts. For example, countries might have different laws that govern the use of customers’ data, like the GDPR in Europe or the data privacy network in the MENA region. Your strategies for ecommerce success should keep that in mind, especially if they include a change of software or the way your customers’ data will be stored or processed.
Now, let’s cover some of the most effective activities you can choose to develop an ecommerce digital strategy that brings the desired outcomes.
10 Must-Dos for Effective Ecommerce Strategy
The activities below are universal and will fit pretty much any ecommerce business. However, we suggest you tailor each to your specific case and business needs.
Set strategic goals and measurable KPIs
This is a step zero for every strategy you ever plan. Setting the goals and measurable KPIs will help you assess whether your activity brings the expected result and pays off. Use quantitative benchmarks and set deadlines for each goal to track your progress. You can split your goal into objectives (the end goal) and key activities (what you will do to achieve it).
- Objective: increase our ecommerce revenue by 10% during Q4 and boost high-quality leads by 3x
- Key activities: start a promo campaign for new clients; invest in paid ads and promote high-performing content across marketing channels; survey your current clients to learn what they think of our brand and what they would like to receive from us.
Setting measurable goals and preparing a transparent plan on how to reach them will help you visualize the process and correct it before you drain your budget.
Identify your USP
There’s a huge chance your service or product isn’t the most original or novel. Then, why would shoppers want to buy it from you? The answer to this question is your unique selling proposition (USP) that distinguishes you from your competitors. You’ll need to think about the value of your product or service and do a few more things.
First, carry out a competitive analysis and see what they offer and what your TA might find valuable. Second, identify the specific benefits you offer that your rivals don’t, which can change a buying decision in your favor. Third, figure out how to serve the product to your customers.
For example, if you sell books at similar prices to your competition, it’s not enough to just list the books and themes present in the online store. Helvetiq, a Swiss publishing company and Elogic client, created their narrative around the motto “Creatives at heart” and started to capitalize a hobby. To articulate their value, they had a sleek UX designed for them in line with the buyer’s journey as well as MailChimp integrated to regularly send newsletters to their registered customers.
Develop/modify your target customer and buyer personas
Business strategy for ecommerce is only possible if you understand your TA. A buyer persona represents your ideal customer within your target audience with its own needs your business can solve. They also represent your business goals, ideas, and ideals you try to reach while doing business. And each buyer persona requires its marketing and ecommerce strategy.
The tricky part is that they can also change just as your business does. For example, an eco-activists in their mid-20s you identified as your buyer persona seven years ago might now become a parent. So you can add parenthood to the eco-activism part and will get a completely new buyer persona with their unique needs.
Here’s another example of our client, an activewear company, Carbon38.
They started as a sports apparel company, but with time, they understood that they should target not only those who do sports but also those who prefer sports style in their everyday clothes. This is why they added a few buyer personas and developed a campaign for each.
Bottom line: you always need to make sure that you know your TA and buyer personas well before launching a new ecommerce strategy.
Analyze your tech and business components to integrate proper solutions
Since ecommerce strategy is all about digital, you must have the components to support your ideas. For example, if you plan to start selling overseas, you will need to manage refunds and returns. It’s easier to do with a robust order management platform that has an integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) portal.
If your strategy includes selling at online marketplaces and for different customers (B2B and B2C), your management software should have two different portals to run both independently at the same time. With Magento, for example, you can set up two different management portals and list specific pricing, discounts, shipping, and returns conditions for your business and individual clients.
Another case when you will need a thorough tech audit is when your strategy includes scaling. With an understanding of the existing tech base, the vendor or your in-house team will be able to create a solution that would work smoothly.
Optimize and improve your website performance
Having a website is not enough to be a successful ecommerce business — it needs to be easy, responsive, user-friendly, and human-centered, among many other things. Moreover, you need to keep it modern at all times. How can a website improvement affect your business performance? We have a case to illustrate.
When we built a new website for Umovis Lab, a Luxembourg-based healthcare band, and powered it with the Magento platform, Mailchimp, and a mobile-friendly version, they acquired a tech base for launching a lot of marketing campaigns both for desktop and mobile users.
For example, they started targeted marketing, which increased their mobile sales, and created a more visually memorable online presence. We achieved this by combining a feature-packed ecommerce platform with a custom brand-focused web design.
Create original and valuable content that engages leads
And we don’t mean your blog content only — we mean your whole content strategy at every stage:
- Awareness. At this stage, the content should drive interest to your products or services. You can do it with ads, blog posts, checklists, landing pages, books, and infographics. It can also show that other people already know your brand and love it by integrating user-generated content into your website or social media.
- Consideration. This is where the potential buyers match your services with their needs. You can use product demos, success stories, how-to guides, tutorials, and tips.
- Conversion. After you have the customer interested and shared their contact with you, you can send them personalized emails with tailored special offers. At this point, it’s also important to have a detailed description of your product on your website page and make it easier and faster for the customer to find the information they need.
Regardless of the stage, the content should be relevant to your buyer personas and the channels you publish it on. And don’t forget to pair the most performing one with paid campaigns to maximize reach and conversion!
Create a customer experience map
A customer experience map should be one of your staples when creating an ecommerce growth strategy, especially if you also have a land-based store. The users should have the same impression of online and land-based shopping to have a holistic image of your brand. When they don’t, this mixed feeling can get in their way of buying from you (again).
Here are a few things you should do to create a customer experience map:
- Learn the customer’s tasks and actions at the awareness, consideration, and conversion stages. This will help you to create your buyer’s journey from learning about the brand to completing the purchase.
- Learn what they might think and feel along the way. Impulse purchases aren’t rare – 40% to 80%! – but it’s even more important to know what drives recurring ones. Understanding the client’s emotions can help you build your campaigns to maximize their joy and prevent frustration or disappointment.
- Consider all the touchpoints and map them. You have a certain control over how the person might react or behave while doing certain tasks. Your job here is to anticipate the possible scenarios and build an experience that matches their expectations.
- Set the stage. Some experiences rarely lead to conversions (like window shopping, in-store spontaneous pop-up, etc.) Try to answer what could possibly prevent or lead to a purchase and test your hypothesis by adding activities or removing the barriers.
Elogic has developed hundreds of such customer experience maps for global retailers. Ideally, here’s what should look like:
Tailor your upselling and cross-selling options
According to a McKinsey study, personalization can get you +40% of your regular revenue. Moreover, 71% of clients expect a personalized experience, and 76% become disappointed when they don’t get one. The bottom line? Personalization in upselling and cross-selling is a must if you want to increase your sales, convert one-time purchases into recurring ones, and retain clients’ loyalty.
You can use the ecommerce platform’s features for that or power your website with algorithm-powered plugins. Magento, for example, has Up-sell and Cross-sell sections in its admin panel, so you can choose the relevant product categories to pop up as “Recommended” or “Usually bought together”. Powered with an algorithm that analyzes what the customer has already viewed or purchased, it can offer even more personalized items.
Provide a smooth and safe mobile experience
The share of global mobile ecommerce grows annually. In 2021, 72.9% of all ecommerce retail purchases came from mobile devices. And with the number of mobile users growing every year, the mobile-first approach is what your business should follow.
Here’s what you can do to gear up your business for success in mobile ecommerce:
- Develop a mobile-friendly version of your website that would run smoothly on various platforms (iOS, Android, Windows)
- Create a mobile app (cross-platform or native)
- Invest in mobile UX and responsive mobile web design
Track and measure the performance of every new strategy
If you don’t benchmark your results against your goals, you will never know whether your chosen strategy is working or just draining your budget. We recommend tracking and measuring the performance of every newly deployed strategy to assess it and modify it when needed.
For example, if you launched content marketing and paid campaigns on social media, monitor the engagement rates and target your ad campaign in regions where this metrics is the highest.
Developing a business-level strategy for ecommerce is the first step to investing in the activities that have the highest ROI, drive leads, increase sales, and improve the overall impression of a brand. To create a working one, you need to consider a lot of factors and choose the activities that will fit your business situation.
If you don’t have a team to audit, analyze, and implement the necessary changes, the Elogic team is here for you. See what we can offer your ecommerce, and let’s discuss how we can use our expertise to build a successful ecommerce strategy for you!
Frequently asked questions
What is an ecommerce strategy?
An ecommerce strategy is a combination of marketing tactics and steps that an online business plans to do to reach its goals (increasing sales, improving conversion, etc.)
What should you consider when building an ecommerce strategy?
You should consider whether you have a team that can do tech and marketing tasks, your website’s current performance, global market trends and martech solutions, changes in your target audience, and your corporate culture.
Why does my business need an ecommerce strategy?
Your need to develop an ecommerce digital strategy to secure your business growth online, provide a seamless customer experience, improve your digital presence, and build a positive brand reputation.
Does Elogic offer ecommerce strategy building as a service?
Yes, we do. We are experienced in creating ecommerce strategies for various businesses from planning to implementation, and we’re ready to help your business grow. Contact us, and let’s talk about new opportunities!