Maintaining a successful e-commerce site is a vital part of a thriving retail business model these days. However, with the ever-changing technologies available on the Web, deciding on an e-commerce strategy can be difficult.
Brian Horakh, the founder and CEO of e-commerce software provider Zoovy, has identified the following four strategies as paramount for midsize retailers who want to increase sales, enhance customer relations and build a more profitable business.
According to a Comscore report from May 2011, 61 percent of consumers will abandon a purchase if free shipping isn’t offered. This is why it’s important for retailers to provide the best shipping rates possible, as well as work with vendors for incentives. Additionally, providing an effective return management system can improve customer satisfaction and retention, reduce costs, increase operational efficiency, maximize the value of goods sold and minimize the impact of returns on profits.
"Return management can make or break midsize retailers who are trying to grow their business," says Horakh. "Yet many retailers have not seriously evaluated their return policies and processes. With product returns costing U.S. retailers nearly $14 billion per year, it's imperative to have a clear returns plan in place as part of an overall shipping strategy."
Multiple Storefront Expansion
By expanding to multiple storefronts, retailers can increase their business by tailoring different sites to different consumers. It is imperative to determine the best set up for multiple storefronts by considering SEO, navigation, usability and shopping carts. Storefronts may have entirely separate products, brands, customer databases, checkout, payment methods and shipping options. However, one back-end system should handle the logistics of each site in order for more efficient management.
Competitive Repricing Options
In order to stay competitive, retailers should have the ability to reprice items by using an automated tool. This will allow retailers to alter the price of an item in a marketplace without guesswork, integration hassles or manual data import/export, as well as provide retailers with an advantage and an increase in sales velocity.
By having an effective reporting tool, important information is readily available to merchants and guesswork is taken out. A good reporting tool should be comprised of four components: dashboards that show performance trends, statistics and graphs; reports that provide summarized lines of a period of time; structured raw data that provides the ability to remove verifiable and actionable data; and business intelligence, which provides data about relationships and trends. An effective reporting tool will help retailers get the most out of their data and allow more intelligent business decisions to be made.
"Many retailers confuse Google Analytics with business intelligence," says Horakh. "While Google Analytics provides reports with some data, it does not provide the ability for retailers to interrogate that data. True business intelligence provides a mechanism for retails to develop consistent, data-based business decisions with operational capabilities so they can quickly take action, thus eliminating wasted spending and ultimately increasing sales."