Digital factors influence half of US retail sales, according to Forrester. This is expected to grow to 58% by 2023. In other words, whether the sale occurs online or in-store, the odds that it was influenced by digital factors are pretty high.
With more than half of purchases being digitally-inspired, more brands are betting on innovative ways to increase their competitiveness online. This trend is not exclusive to the US. Across the globe, brands are taking steps in this direction by expanding their digital storefronts – either through DTC (direct-to-consumer) routes, B2B e-commerce sites or online marketplaces. From investing in digital advertisements and analytics to creating immersive content assets, brands are exploring all possible digital technologies to boost sales.
As marketers place greater bets on digital commerce, the pressure to accelerate returns on their investments is also growing. At Netscribes, we work with a number of brands and retailers to enhance their online performance through relevant insights. Based on our experience, we’ve outlined the tactics to help you get the most from your digital commerce initiatives.
Align marketing to consumer need
As more people embrace digital technologies, their shopping behavior is also changing. They are doing more research. They seek convenience and seamless omnichannel experiences. A study by Rakuten Marketing showed that two-thirds of consumers want more choice and simplicity in their shopping experience, with millennials, in particular, having high expectations.
So for brands, it’s no longer about just exploiting digital technologies, but doing so in a manner that puts customer needs at the forefront. As a result, blending customer insight into your digital commerce strategy is imperative. Whether you need to create differentiated experiences, optimize online sales channels, or increase traffic and conversions, infusing customer insight into your activities will help you achieve better results through greater customer relevancy.
Identify strategic value gaps and address them with content
In the digital world, content is the key to product discovery and sales conversion. To get it right you need visibility of what your product means to customers. You need to know their preferences, needs, problems, and doubts – about product, pricing or services – and address them with content.
It does not end there. In order to craft content more strategically i.e. content that’s high in relevance and differentiation, it’s important to be aware of what your competitors bring to the table – where they excel and fall short. Content that aligns with customer needs and highlights your competitive strengths has a greater impact on conversions.
Use images creatively to educate customers about your products
In a world where attention spans are plummeting, visuals help your audience process key product information faster. But imagery without context does little to inform, inspire, and engage customers.
Consider a soft-drink brand selling lemonade online. Which one of these images is more likely to inspire purchases?
Customer insights can reveal the positive associations customers have with products in your category. You can then use these insights to create visuals that truly resonate with customers.
Similarly, rich media that helps customers visualize products more accurately will increase customer confidence and help you achieve stronger online performance. This includes 3D/ 360-degree product views, size or fit advice, and videos, animations or interactive images that explain specific product features. Such visually-represented product features go a long way in creating e-commerce experiences that drive conversions.
Identify digital sales channels that offer best-practice customer experiences
Allowing customers to buy your products across multiple channels besides your own website and brick-and-mortar store can be hugely beneficial to your brand. Online B2C and B2B marketplaces allow you to break into new markets, such as through cross-border trade, giving you access to more potential customers.
But not all digital sales channels are the right fit for your brand. You need to do your due-diligence to identify ones that will appeal to your audience and, more importantly, deliver the experience they expect. You’ll want to ask questions like:
- Which of my products will appeal to this channel’s audience?
- How well does the website perform in terms of traffic, ease-of-use, checkout experience and customer support?
- Does the platform offer a streamlined product onboarding process?
- Does the platform have effective policies to prevent unauthorized sellers or the sale of counterfeit goods?
- What kind of support does the platform offer to deliver a smooth online shopping experience?
- Does the platform make it easy to update and enrich product content?
Ensure a consistent brand experience across all sales channels
As brands go increasingly digital, marketers and channel managers need to offer a seamless continuum of their brand experience across all touchpoints. This means having to monitor your brand across digital channels for irregularities in product content, pricing, among others. But not all e-commerce platforms are created equal. Each platform has its unique template and content requirements, which can further vary by product category.
Many brands perform rule-based content audits as a method to this madness. Depending on the product category, you’ll need to identify which fields should be present and whether they meet the required standards. Here’s an example*.
Brand marketers can use similar checklists to assess compliance to minimum advertised pricing (MAP) policies, authorized use of trademarks, customer support standards, among others.
Continually gather insights about customer needs, industry trends, and competitor actions
As customer needs and market change, so should your digital commerce strategy. The attributes that customers seek in products change with evolving socio-economic factors, advertising, alternative products, among many other reasons. As customers embrace newer digital technologies, the way they search and engage with brands is also changing. Marketers have to constantly re-align their strategies to meet these new needs and expectations. This means product information, including visuals and copy, will have to be updated to reflect new keywords customers use to search them.
In addition, marketers will have to adopt newer technologies to keep up with new modes of product discovery and customer experience expectations.
Gathering continuous insights about evolving customer preferences, industry trends and competitor actions is therefore imperative for brands to stay competitive and relevant.
Want to understand how customers shop for your products online? With nearly two decades of experience in providing market insights to global brands and retailers, Netscribes can help you fine-tune your marketing to customer expectations.
Need to build rich content from scratch? We create rich content assets, including detailed descriptions, features, benefit statements, buying guides, videos, high-quality images, brochures, and more based on key research insights to help you attract and convert more customers.
Want to standardize your messaging across platforms? Tell us who your channel partners are – such as Amazon, eBay, or Walmart. We’ll audit them based on your specific requirements and report any irregularities to you.