Online shopping is now a natural and integral part of our daily lives, with 79% of Americans who make purchases on the Internet.
A majority of Americans now shop online because it is a faster and more convenient alternative to traditional brick and mortar retail store shopping. Consequently, the ecommerce market is expected to make up 17% of all US retail sales by 2022.
In the ever-changing technological landscape, it is becoming increasingly challenging for Ecommerce businesses to keep up with the major online players. More than 90% of all Internet business start-ups end in failure within the first 120 days. The fight for the consumer's share of wallet has become brutal as Amazon continues to grow its stranglehold in the ecommerce market. According to eMarketer, Amazon owns 44 cents out of every ecommerce dollar spent in the United States. In 2016, Amazon accounted for 53% of all the incremental growth of online shopping, showing that their growth is not slowing any time soon.
How can ecommerce businesses survive and thrive in the age of Amazon?
Stellar Customer Experience
There are over 85 million Americans that use Amazon Prime. Customers love Amazon because of their extremely quick delivery, multiple delivery options, time slots to deliver, supplier feedback, shipment tracking and other personalized consumer options. Ecommerce retailers must adopt foolproof technology to offer a similar customer experience. By implementing quicker deliveries, distinct shipping options and providing more shipping information, consumers will feel more inclined to give your company a chance. The goal is not to "out-Amazon" Amazon, but at least bring your online experience close to par. The larger the gap, the less likely an Amazon customer will decide to use your site.
Generous Return Policy
Most customers refrain from buying online because they fear the outcome of a defective product or one that wasn't what they were expecting. By clearly communicating a detailed return policy, you are assuring the consumer that you are confident in the quality of your product and guarantee a worry-free return if needed. Zappos used this strategy to create a loyal brand for online shoe shopping when no one else thought it was possible. Now, almost all successful ecommerce businesses let shoppers return if it's not quite right. Make sure the return policy is visible on your website and you will be able to win customer confidence.
Plenty of Information
Transparency in shipping charges, fees and important product information will facilitate the completion of a sales session. Over $18 billion is lost on sales every year when customers decide to abandon their online cart. Reduce the possibility of cart abandonment by providing all relevant information about your product to potential customers. Add multiple product photos from different angles or in different colors. Also consider including lifestyle shots of people enjoying your product. Video demonstrations are another proven way to increase engagement and reduce cart abandons. Other information such as the shipping weight, the product dimensions, manufacturing date, expiration date and other necessary details should be displayed upfront.
Strong Loyalty Program
Customer retention is the most important factor for a successful online retail business. A study by Invesp Consulting found that existing customers are 50% more likely to try new products and spend 31% more compared to new customers. The creation of a compelling loyalty program is a key component to encourage repeat purchases. Create an email subscription service for customers to receive special offers, birthday discounts and updated news. Offer exclusive discount codes during special holidays to incentivize customers to return with the promise of potential gifts or free shipping.
One of the most effective strategies Amazon used early in its history when it was primarily a book e-retailer was related recommended products that shoppers might be interested in. Now, it's a staple strategy for all successful online businesses. The best time to encourage further purchases is during the sale. If you sell shoes, suggest shoe polish or insoles. If you sell car accessories, suggest other accessories for that particular car model. Test cross-selling at both the point of purchase as well as on the thank you page or email receipt.
Focused Social Media
It takes time to build a brand and stick in the consumer's mind. Social media is one channel where consumers can be attracted to consume valuable content and interact with the brand directly. With more than 81% of the United States population having a social media profile, it has become more accessible than ever to market to the prospects. Social media increases visibility for your company, which in turn drives customers to your website and increases potential sales. A wide range of marketing tools are readily available through social media, such as: influencer marketing, giveaway contests, social media analytics and promoted posts.
Following these six secrets can help any ecommerce business go toe to toe with Amazon.