According to the business data platform Statista, the ecommerce market grew significantly last year. However, not all sites will feel the effect of this rising tide equally.
As big players like Amazon continue to corner markets, competition for new customers online is hotter than ever. If you run a growth-orientated ecommerce business, you probably already know this.
You also know that running a growing ecommerce business isn’t easy. From product management to customer service, modern ecommerce businesses need to excel across a wide range of areas. Online, customers rarely give second chances.
Growth changes things, too. What worked when you had ten products and one channel doesn’t always do the job when you have more products than you can count and more channels than satellite radio.
So, with plenty of challenges and opportunities for growing ecommerce sites out there, how can merchants stay ahead of the game and grow sustainably? Well, the best way to succeed in most things is to have the right tools for the job. Ecommerce is no exception, and fortunately, digital tools for ecommerce sites aren’t in short supply.
In this post, we take a look at some of the critical areas where growing ecommerce businesses can benefit from digital tools and share the latest trends in each.
Product management is one of the core challenges that ecommerce businesses face. In-store and online customer orders now come from different places. Yet customers expect their experience to remain the same regardless of how they choose to buy your products or services.
For growing ecommerce businesses, coordinating different SKUs, customer requirements, and processes across channels can be extremely difficult. In this case, finding a way to manage stock across multiple sales channels is vital. An omnichannel product manager can tie all of the different channels you have into one interface, making it a lot easier to grow your inventory.
However, it’s crucial that you get this kind of integration right.
Research by PWC shows that 1 in 3 customers will leave a brand they love after just one bad experience with a product.
At the enterprise level, the complexity of product-related content you manage can grow exponentially. At this point, coordinating the CMS with consumer preferences and marketing channel requirements can become a serious challenge. The CMS traditionally forces you to determine how you want your content displayed at the point you enter it into the system. That makes getting omnichannel content marketing right a difficult exercise. When your content is being displayed and consumed in a myriad of different ways, essential features can sometimes get lost in translation.
What if instead of having to change your content to fit different methods of consumption (i.e., mobile, voice search, etc.), your CMS was able to modify your content to the way that you wanted to present it or the way that its viewer wanted to see it?
That’s the idea behind “headless CMS,” which separates how content is managed from how it’s displayed. Headless CMS also do away with clunky interfaces that force you to mix code, text, and images without really knowing how the result will turn out. They work by delivering the content in a platform-agnostic fashion through API. Plus, this kind of CMS enables strategic content marketing and reusable content pools that can scale with you.
Growing pains can be felt most acutely in your finance department. As the number of invoices you send and receive multiplies, a situation involving a call from an angry supplier wondering why their three-month-old invoice that never left your printer hasn’t been paid isn’t hard to imagine.
For growing ecommerce sites, the number one tool to have is automation. By automating aspects of your accounting, you can ensure that these unpleasant situations never actually happen — and save money too. According to Business Insider, automating payments could save you as much as 81% on your accounting costs. That is a pretty big claim, but the reasons for it are fairly straightforward.
Automation cuts out the slack for sending and receiving invoices by removing paperwork, complex processes, and human error from your accounts payable systems. Additionally, automation can capture data from your accounts’ process, providing you with valuable insights.
When combined with AI, automation can also reduce errors in your accounting systems.
Moreover, automation in accounting saves time. Automating aspects of your accounts could save 30% of a finance employee’s time. For future proof growth, investing in finance automation can pay dividends.
Growth, in its simplest sense, means increasing the number and value of customers your business has. Without effective marketing, continued growth is almost impossible. But marketing today isn’t just about putting out the right kind of content you think your customers might like. These days you need to be able to cut through the endless streams of noise that consumers are subjected to daily. The way to do this is through personalization.
Ecommerce personalization tools help you bridge the gap between visitors and customers. Personalization tools can track how your site’s visitors behave and target them with deals, offers, and relevant content at critical moments in their journey through your website. For example, you could use a personalization tool to create an exit-intent pop up which appears when visitors who were considering a purchase look like they’re about to abandon your site. If you catch the right visitor at the right moment, converting them into a customer is a lot easier.
Personalization can improve your email marketing efforts, too. While the majority of small and midsize businesses say that email is their number one channel for acquiring new and retaining old customers, only 39% of retailers send personalized product recommendations via email.
That’s a problem. Just look at the stats. Emails that boast personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened (including emojis isn’t a bad idea, either). Segmented campaigns see a 760% (no, that’s not a typo) increase in email revenue. And, birthday emails generate a 342% higher revenue per email when compared to normal promotional emails. Worst of all? If you fail to personalize your emails, over 50% of customers say they’ll switch brands.
Nowadays, almost every email marketing tool gives you the option to segment your customers based on information such as browsing activity, purchasing history, and demographics. You can even create your own workflows to send timely emails to your customers at the right time.
According to recently published research, the way that customers want to talk to you is changing. Gone are the days when, prompted by a question or complaint about your products or services, a customer would fire off an email or even pick up the phone to give you a call.
These days, customers want to talk to you directly via live chat. The good news? Using a live chat tool can also increase your profit. When used correctly, live chat can increase the likelihood of a successful sale by at least 15%.
There are a lot of options for live chat tools out there. To help you choose what chat tool to use, Hubspot has a great roundup of live chat digital tools on their blog.
Product management, finance, marketing, and customer service are key parts of any growing ecommerce business. Using the right digital tools in these areas will not only help your business keep up with the competition but will also push it onto the next level. The ecommerce landscape is continually changing. A great digital toolstack helps you change too.