A lot has changed in the world of technology over the past decade and it’s hard to find a sector more affected by all this than the ecommerce industry. Widespread internet penetration, higher smartphone usage and simplified checkout processes have made the online buying process far more mobile and streamlined.
Today, businesses must be able to leverages sales through an online store, third-party marketplaces and directly within various social media platforms to be truly successful. And when marketing to new audiences, it’s increasingly imperative to tap into specific micro-moments when shoppers are searching for items “on-the-go”.
Underlying all this is also the need to build a strategy around a strong customer experience and consistent look and feel across all consumer touchpoints. The best approach focuses on creating a unique balance of discovery and familiarity for consumers at every stage of the buying process.
But fundamentally, a modern ecommerce strategy is about creating a future proof plan that provides the flexibility to meet requirements you haven't even thought of yet.
The companies that sit atop their respective industries are there because they've taken the time to create a strategy that is forward-thinking and adaptable. They know that their future depends on being able to pivot quickly and integrate new technologies as soon as they arrive.
Developing an ecommerce strategy isn't easy but here are three questions every brand should ask themselves when selling online today.
How Will You Differentiate Your Products and Services?
How will your business stand out from competitors? Are lower prices your major value offering or are you able to offer a superior user experience? The reality is that businesses competing on price alone will find it hard to avoid the race to the bottom.
With marketplaces like Amazon showing listings side-by-side, you will often be placed directly next to your competitors. And if you’re slightly more expensive than similar products, it’s unlikely that shoppers will choose your brand unless you have something else to offer too.
Industry leaders know this and focus on building their brands and customer experiences to offer more value and worth to shoppers, justifying a higher price point. With this in mind, you want to be sure that your ecommerce strategy showcases the true power of your brand and customer experience offerings.
Consider how your platforms can be modified to offer an engaging and appealing customer experience to all who visit your channels, whether that’s your Instagram page or your branded online shop – you’ll need to build a flawless customer experience right through from your brand visuals and product descriptions to your checkout page and transaction processes.
How Adaptable Is Your Ecommerce Strategy?
We continue to see the rise of disruptive business models in today’s digital economy. Depending on which side of the disruption you're on, you may need to pivot and adapt.
If your business exists in a space that's likely to be disrupted, then an open, flexible, API-based commerce platform is your best bet for building a platform. API-based commerce allows you to easily connect a wide range of front-end marketing solutions with virtually any backend or legacy system.
This means your business can rapidly swap out customer-facing platforms and add new technology without the need to completely reinvent your order, fulfilment, and logistics backend systems. It also provides a simpler way to add new consumer touchpoints, such as wearables, to your business as they become more widely available.
Does Your Business Need to Move to the Cloud?
There’s a key reason why it's important to consider the cloud in your ecommerce strategy and that's the rise of 'Thing Commerce'. The internet of things (IoT) continues to grow rapidly and in the coming years, the number of commerce touchpoints is set to grow exponentially.
As your business continues to build customer experiences into more touchpoints, you'll need additional computing power to keep up. Cloud-based solutions are currently the best option for meeting those needs and can provide on-demand computing power during standard and peak demand.
For the majority of organisations, moving to a cloud-based computing solution will dramatically reduce computing costs. While cost reductions may be a compelling argument, unfortunately, technical or regulatory constraints may limit the use of cloud-based solutions for some businesses.
If that's the case for your ecommerce brand, make sure you choose a robust ecommerce platform solution that provides the flexibility to move to the cloud when it's more possible and practical in the future.
Are there any key questions you think we missed? Did you ask yourself anything else when building your own ecommerce strategy? Be sure to let us know in the comments below, and if you're looking for more great content, be sure to check out more posts on the Amazon Payment Services blog!