5 Tips for Improving Your Ecommerce Revenues

Online shopping has created an efficient and enjoyable shopping experience for its users, and now, brick-and-mortar shops are trying to do just the same — by moving the online experience offline.

Kate Spade Saturday, an innovative retailer in Tokyo’s fashion-forward Harajuku district, blends its online and offline worlds with in-store technology that emphasizes social sharing. Stroll through the flagship store in Tokyo, touch any of the oversized iPads embedded into the architecture and you’ll get a bottomless pool of product information, including clothing price, availability, design details and styling ideas. You can point at a coveted item, share with your social networks and ask your friends what they think about the dress that caught your eye. This kind of immersive shopping experience is exactly what the market — and the time-pressed, tech-savvy consumer — demands.

“Companies need to think beyond the desktop,” says Shane Ginsberg, president of San Francisco-based advertising agency Evolution Bureau, which counts JC Penney among its clients.

“Ecommerce is not a singular experience anymore — it’s part of a shopping continuum.”

A recent MIT study says that consumers approach shopping from multiple angles, with 80% of store shoppers checking prices online and one-third accessing price information on their mobile devices while they are in the stores.

Some people are “webrooming,” the opposite of showrooming, where they scour websites for product details, then head to physical stores to buy. And others want to see their online choices in the flesh before making the ultimate call, giving rise to pop-up shops and brick-and-mortar versions of popular websites. Meanwhile, some disruptive retail models loom, like the online-only Dollar Shave Club and BarkBox, which provide carefully curated goods based on consumers’ tastes, along with some likely-to-please surprises.

To get a read on this fast-moving industry, Mashable spoke to a number of marketing mavens about what businesses should be doing to keep up with the evolving ecommerce trends.

1. Blur the line between real and virtual worlds

In other words, treat consumers like the multitasking, multi-channel shoppers that they are. Macy’s, a heritage brand with more than 150 years in business, has taken this contemporary fact to heart, now calling itself “an omni-channel retail organization operating stores and websites.”

Retailers will have a leg up if they can blend their online and retail experiences, making it simpler for consumers to find what they want and easier for sellers to close their deals. Additionally, customers should be able to order clothes online and pick up in store. And vice versa: If something isn’t available in-store, it should be fetched online and shipped to the customer’s home.

These and other nimble moves “deliver on our ongoing expectation of having everything at our fingertips,” says Erin Matts, chief marketing officer at Annalect, the marketing technology division of Omnicom Media Group. “Retailers have traditionally been very conservative in their approaches, but they’re getting better at incorporating digital elements into their stores.”

The tactics need to go beyond “pushing coupons and quick offers in the aisle,” Ginsberg says. Rather, companies must strive for “seamless and manageable consumer profiles that will help translate the personalized online experience to the physical. Businesses have to go further into shopping behaviors.”

2. Target the right consumer with the right product

Matts, like many women, is awfully tired of getting sales pitches for Viagra. Instead, she’d like to see some ads for a pair of jeans she scouted on Net-a-Porter that takes into account her searches on other sites and related items that might strike her fancy.

The goal is to help the consumer wade through the vast amounts of products available and get to the heart of the matter. Busy customers want to browse less and find more, which is where “guided discovery” and thoughtful, relevant recommendations come in.

See also: Boost Your Small Business With These 12 Free Ecommerce Tools

3. Dig into data, stay on top of technology

Want to pull a customer away from your competitor before she has a chance to whip out her credit card? Study up on geoconquesting, where location-based technology will tell you where your shopper is and enable you to send her an attractive offer while she’s still mulling another retailer’s goods. Use transaction history and social data to tailor offers to specific consumers, a la Amazon’s model.

“The beauty of technology, when it’s applied best, is that the user doesn’t know that his experience is being driven by it,” says West Stringfellow, chief product officer at Bigcommerce and a veteran executive of PayPal and Amazon. “All he knows is that it’s an enhanced, smooth, painless experience.”

4. Go mobile

Tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices are quickly replacing the home computer as go-to shopping tools, and 40% of online shopping during Black Friday 2013 was done on mobile devices, according to the Custora High-Growth Ecommerce Index.

It presents a challenge to retailers, Stringfellow says, to come up with optimal designs that consumers can view on any device, and soon: Smartwatches. “In general, these are small screens that people look at for a few seconds and then bail,” he adds. “Because it’s so ephemeral, it needs to have a high level of utility or engagement.”

Apps that encourage sharing will continue to be valuable, allowing consumers to validate their purchases with their friends and family or show off their adventures in retail therapy.

5. Make customization a priority

Failing to personalize the shopping experience, especially for a high-end consumer or a big-ticket purchase, is “a waste of time, money and energy,” Matts says.

A trip to the Burberry store in London, for instance, could reveal to iPad-wielding sales associates that Matts is a longtime fan of the brand. She can skip those conversations about what she’s bought in the past because the store already knows, and she can dive right into what she might want to add to her wardrobe now.

“If I’m a huge Burberry buyer, the last thing they should do is treat me like a total stranger when I walk in. They have more information, based on a customer’s permission, and they can get down that purchase funnel much faster.”

Consumers also want unique, original products that they may even design or modify themselves. 3D printing technology, though not widely in use yet, will be an important cog in the wheel of custom-made goods.

How has your business driven ecommerce sales? Tell us in the comments.

Source: mashable.com