This new generation of consumers is more into e-commerce than ever before. And while trends and strategies change and adapt to this new landscape, you have a unique opportunity to stand apart from your competition, increasing your ROI.
Or a unique opportunity to fail.
The difference is made by your ability to understand the current context, leveraging its advantages and challenges.
This guide will teach you five strategies – with plenty of subordinated tactics – for doing just that. Keep reading below.
What Are Consumers Looking for in 2023?
Before sharing the best strategies to win at e-commerce in 2023, let’s see what your customers want to see. Keep reading as we discuss the statistics and numbers to build a complete picture.
Customer-Centric Shopping Experience
Your prospects are looking for a customer-first relationship with your brand. In fact, 80% of customers claim that the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services. That means:
- You need to show them you share the same values: 82% of customers are more likely to purchase from brands supporting similar views.
- You must provide an interactive shopping experience: People want to try and test the products they purchase. And since you probably don’t have an offline shop to go with your e-commerce store, that means implementing interactive online tools.
- Your products and delivery must focus on solving people’s needs: There is tight competition between e-commerce brands right now. And if your products or delivery lack quality, you’re bound to lose some customers. While product quality is obvious, data suggests 80% of shoppers are convinced by same-day delivery. 58% of customers are looking for 24/7 support.
- Your sales funnel must be optimized: Studies show that 34% of potential customers don’t finalize their purchases because they are forced to create accounts, while 18% want to compare prices. That means you should work both on your checkout process and provide relevant product information in advance.
People want to use a variety of channels to purchase their products from – and they want a smooth experience on all of them.
Here’s what the 2022 PWC study discovered:
- 81% of customers shop on at least three or four channels
- 30% of respondents would try a VR shopping channel to purchase retail products or luxury goods
Tip: Think outside the traditional physical channels when planning your strategy.
Sure, you want to optimize your website for mobile and desktop use. However, you should also consider integrating social shopping into your strategy, given that so many social media have integrated online shopping features into their platforms.
But more on that in the next section.
According to the June 2022 Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey:
- 40% of customers claim that Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors affect their purchase decisions.
- 86% of respondents claim that environmental factors affect their trust in a company or brand at least part of the time, if not always
- 84% of shoppers claim that these environmental issues affect their recommendations of the brand to other people
- 87% of respondents consider these environmental factors before purchasing from a company
Note: Environmental factors are defined as “commitment to reducing carbon emissions, using recycled materials, or reducing plastic waste in its products.” As such, they represent the company’s practices, not the environmental conditions outside its control.
Besides, The Global Sustainability Study 2021 shows that:
- 85% of people have started purchasing more sustainable products during the past five years. This trend is more prominent with younger generations, such as Millennials and Zoomers.
- 60% of consumers worldwide rate sustainability as an important purchase criterion.
- 34% of respondents are willing to pay more for sustainable products.
E-commerce is digital in itself, but consumer expectations on digital experiences are constantly changing.
Studies show that:
- 60% of respondents consider that brands should offer them cutting-edge digital experiences, like the Internet of Things (IoT). Voice-activated personal assistants change the expectations of 59% of respondents and AI that of 51% of consumers.
- 59% of customers are open to brands using Artificial Intelligence to provide them with improved shopping experiences.
- 62% of respondents say they are more suspicious of stolen online data than two years ago.
So while you want to integrate new tools and technologies to improve your prospects’ shopping experiences, you also want to assure them of their data safety.
Engaging Directly with Brands
Research proves that:
- 70% of customers choose companies that practice seamless handoffs and contextualize their engagement based on previous interactions.
- 84% of customers claim that being treated like a person instead of a number affects their purchase decisions.
- Consumers are also 2.1 times more likely to view personalized offers as important versus unimportant. They are also 1.3 times more likely to want customized communication (e.g., targeted e-mails).
Other studies show that:
- 54% of customers want companies to change the way they interact with them.
- 56% of consumers say that companies are generally impersonal.
- 71% of customers expect companies to communicate with them in real-time.
As such, you can notice an increased need for personalization and customization, although most brands don’t live up to this demand.
5-Step Guide to Win at E-commerce
After understanding the current context, let’s review your solutions to the abovementioned problems.
Side note: You already know that winning at e-commerce entails devising a plan that starts with goals, KPIs, understanding your audience, etc.
So we won’t treat you like a first-year marketing student. This part of our guide will discuss unique, actionable strategies that you can start implementing today.
1. Omnichannel Tools
The omnichannel experience is essential for today’s customers. That means you should offer them a personalized and consistent shopping experience on all channels.
Here’s what you should be focusing on:
Your store should be accessible from all devices:
You ideally want your customers to access your online store from different devices, like phones, tablets, laptops, or desktops. Each of these tools has different screen dimensions, colors, and operations.
So, make sure that:
- Your brand’s colors look the same on all these devices.
- People can get to and from different pages doing the same actions. Otherwise, their shopping experience can be confusing.
- Your content adjusts automatically to different screen sizes; you don’t want people to zoom in or out to read the information they’re after.
- The pages load fast.
Your online store should be easy to read and intuitive:
- You want a clear design that directs people to the product pages or blog articles you want them to go to. Consider the subconscious effect of colors on visitors’ behaviors and the principles of design.
- Provide relevant information without clogging the web pages’ overall look. You want prospects to understand the needs your products solve, so detail your products’ main features starting from your customers’ needs.
- Focus on SEO. Optimize your entire website to make sure a) people find your website and b) the right content on your website. You will need to mind all SEO aspects, from long-tail keywords to images, meta-titles, and loading speed.
As you can see, you will have to focus on user experience.
Warning: Don’t forget to make your website safe for your prospects.
You don’t want their information stolen, and you also don’t want to spam them with ads. Here’s what you can do:
- Pick a reliable host
- Pick a robust content management system (CMS) platform
- Minimize your add-ons and plugins
- Create different logins and access levels for your employees
- Set two-factor authentication
- Choose a reliable security subscription
- Implement secure sockets layer (SSL) certificates and HTTPS addresses
2. Automated Technology
You want to make your customers’ shopping experience seamless, safe, and personalized. That’s why you should tap into automated technology.
These tools help with the following:
- Tracking orders: Tracking orders ensures that your products get to your customers on time. As you’ve seen from the above statistics, receiving late orders is a deal-breaker for most shoppers. Besides, you can implement a blockchain algorithm to monitor your products’ journey from your warehouses to the consumers, updating them in real-time where the packages are.
- Customer loyalty programs: You ideally want to reward the best customers through various programs. Of course, manually keeping track of those rewards can be almost impossible for any e-commerce store with more than ten customers. Automated tools can make the entire process more seamless.
- Communicating with customers: The above statistics show that 71% of people expect real-time communication. And while it may be impossible to have physical people in your support team answer everyone’s queries in real-time, you can implement a high-quality chatbot to help. These chatbots can solve easy problems themselves and direct customers to the right operators depending on the issues they face.
- Communicating with in-house teams: Your marketing team should keep a close relationship with your prospects. That means sending the right messages to the right people at the right times. That’s why people in your marketing team should a) communicate well with each other and b) know their responsibilities. Automated tools help you implement approval processes, schedule activities, and streamline feedback between different teams.
3. User Experience
Recent research tells us that people want a streamlined, customized user experience. They are also open to brands using the newest technological innovations to ensure a smooth UX.
Here’s what you should be focusing on:
3.1. Use high-quality photographs
Potential customers can’t touch or try on the items they’re considering purchasing, so high-quality photos are the next best thing. They need to be clear, well-lit, and detailed enough that shoppers can get a good idea of what they’re looking at.
Otherwise, they’ll keep scrolling.
In fact, studies have shown that poor product photos are one of the main reasons people abandon their shopping carts. On the other hand, stores with beautiful photography are more likely to convert window shoppers into paying customers.
3.2. Write effective product descriptions
A good product description tells the user everything they need to know about the product clearly and concisely. It should also be engaging and easy to read.
Remember: Optimize the product description for search engines so potential customers can easily find the product online.
Deux Par Deux offers an excellent example on their Snowsuits webpage. Notice the use of keywords (“affordable,” “well-insulated,” “quality insulation,” or “one or two-piece snowsuits”).
Also, notice the FAQ that allows them to focus on more customer needs and use additional keywords. And, of course, the high-quality photos are specifically persuasive because they use UGC from real customers.
3.3. Personalize the home page
Customize your home page by using your customers’ location and previous purchases. This more tailored experience is more likely to result in a sale. Besides, personalized webpages can also help to build brand loyalty and encourage repeat business.
You can customize the home page through user-generated content from other customers and informal words. Those strategies help you build rapport and humanize your brand.
Here’s a worthwhile example:
The e-commerce website Yotti created different web pages with different content for different countries. As a result, they can leverage their customers’ values according to the location:
Yotti New Zealand is more detailed and focused on sustainability: Source
Yotti UK is more straightforward, showcasing its collection featuring discounted products: Source
3.4. Optimize shopping cart functionality
When shoppers add items to their online shopping carts, they expect a hassle-free experience. But all too often, retailers fail to optimize their shopping cart functionality, resulting in a frustrating user experience. This problem can lead to abandoned carts and lost sales.
Here’s how to solve that problem:
- Make the checkout process simple and streamlined.
- Provide multiple payment options.
- Offer discounts or free shipping to encourage shoppers to complete their transactions.
3.5. Include UGC in your Marketing e-mails
User-generated content (UGC) is any content created by users of a product or service rather than by the company itself. UGC can include online reviews, forum posts, social media comments, and more.
Adding UGC to marketing e-mails improves UX because:
- UGC creates a sense of community around the store. If customers see that other people are using and enjoying the products, they will be more likely to check out the store themselves.
- UGC provides valuable feedback about your products. Customers who take the time to write reviews or post comments are obviously passionate about the store and its products. This kind of social proof reduces people’s worries, especially because they can see your products used by another real-world person.
An example of including UGC in your marketing e-mails: Source
3.6. Create Relevant Content
When you visit a website, what makes you stay? What keeps you coming back? For many people, it’s the content. A website with relevant, well-written content is more likely to engage and retain visitors.
And for e-commerce stores, the main goal is to convert visitors into customers. Here’s why:
- Good content builds trust and credibility with your potential customers.
- Effective content helps you promote your products in an informative and persuasive way.
Basically, when your e-commerce store provides visitors with the information they need, they’re more likely to stick around – and that’s good for business.
3.7. Streamline Navigation
If visitors can easily find their way around the site, they’re likelier to stick around and browse the products on offer. In contrast, if the navigation is confusing or cluttered, they’re likely to give up and look elsewhere.
Therefore, intuitive navigation can be the difference between making a sale and losing a customer.
4. Social Commerce
Social commerce allows you to build rapport with your audience, address a wider market and build your reputation. All those factors ultimately lead to increased sales.
Here are two ways to leverage social commerce:
4.1. Open Social Media Stores
To diversify your customers’ shopping experience by implementing a multi-channel approach, you want to focus on different social media stores:
Why is that important?
- Your prospects can purchase directly from social media without visiting your website. Basically, you’re addressing a captive audience who wants to watch ads, view your products, and shop. Sending them to a different platform (i.e., your website) may disrupt their shopping process.
- Your social media channels allow you to produce UGC-like ads and product images. Studies show that reviews convince up to 92% of people, and UGC is 42% more effective than branded content at driving sales. On social media, you can make branded content resemble user-created content. Besides, you can introduce other forms of social proof (tagged images, reviews, comments from your fans, and more).
Platforms that have implemented shopping features include:
- Instagram Shops: You can create a shoppable storefront on Instagram, uploading your product images and features like on any other e-commerce website. Your visitors will click to open new product pages to read more detailed descriptions and purchase within the Instagram app.
- Pinterest buyable pins: You can create product pins and tag them as shoppable to ensure your audience buys the products they’re inspired by.
- Pro tip: Upload high-quality photos because Pinterest users are visual creatures.
- Facebook Shops: Facebook Marketplace has been around since 2018, so take advantage of this platform’s free services. One benefit is having a customized storefront, but the real win is access to Facebook Messenger, a customer favorite. Besides, Facebook allows you to better understand your customers’ shopping behaviors.
- Snapchat: Snapchat’s social commerce features include realistic AI filters that allow your customers to try the products you’re retailing. Besides, people can purchase the products you’ve tagged in your stories. Even better, your customers’ friends can also see and click on your links.
- TikTok: TikTok has replaced Google as a search engine. As such, TikTok advertising can help more people find your products and company. And while this channel doesn’t allow you to create a shoppable storefront, it can help your brand go viral – like Chipotle did through its “flip the lid” challenge.
Chipotle Lid Flip Challenge: Source
4.2. Leverage Influencers
There are many benefits of working with influencers:
- Content creators can reach a large audience with their message. The result is increased brand awareness and exposure for the store.
- Influencers tend to be more trusted by their followers than traditional advertising. Influencers are authentic, relatable, and perceived as experts in their fields. Besides, smaller influencers are shown to have more direct conversations with their followers about the products they promote. So, their endorsements convince more people to make buying decisions.
- This strategy can help you build relationships with potential customers. By connecting with an influencer, e-commerce stores can create a rapport with their followers that could lead to future sales.
Phone Loops leverages influencers to create social proof for their innovative smartphone loops: Source
Bonus tip: Influencers help you emphasize the values you and your customers share. Whether those relate to sustainability, body positivity, or hard work, it’s essential to choose influencers that can express those values.
Creator Andy Neal promotes the values that Every Man Jack stands for: quality and sustainability. Source
When you shortlist content creators:
- Ensure their engagement rates are at least around your chosen platform’s averages.
- Check their profiles to ensure they’re legit; some creators purchase fake profiles, which can pose a significant obstacle to reaching your goals.
5. Interactive Retail Experiences
Customers claim they’re open to brands implementing the newest technological advances to provide them with high-quality retail experiences.
Interactive shopping is an effective strategy because it’s uniquely personalized to each customer and helps your social listening efforts.
Here’s what works best:
5.1. AR and VR
AR allows users to overlay digital content on top of the real world, while VR transports users to a completely simulated environment. Here’s how they can help your store:
Customers can try your products before they buy them. For example, a customer considering purchasing furniture can use AR to test how it would look in their home. This allows them to make a more informed purchase decision and reduces the risk of returns.
Sephora Virtual Artist: Source
You can create simulated environments, such as a virtual showroom. This gives customers a realistic preview of what it would be like to use the product and helps them visualize how it would fit into their life.
You can make shopping more fun and engaging for customers. These types of immersive experiences are fun and even a bit addictive. They can become your unique selling point and hook customers. As such, you will get increased sales and referrals.
Ecommerce stores are increasingly using chatbots to create interactive experiences for their customers. Leverage chatbots to:
- Create personalized experiences for your customers. These can lead to increased sales and customer loyalty.
- Reduce customer support costs by automating customer inquiries and order fulfillment tasks.
- Collect customer feedback and data. Then, use this information to improve the store’s services.
Results that the Maybelline chatbot brought the company: Source
E-commerce stores that leverage quizzes can create interactive experiences that engage and educate their customers:
- You can make the shopping experience more relevant to each customer. Ask customers questions about their preferences, history, and interests.
- Use quizzes to generate leads and collect valuable market research data. By offering customers a chance to win a prize or discount in exchange for taking a quiz, e-commerce stores can encourage more people to participate.
Global Homegoods’ quiz created awareness about its products and revealed customers’ preferences: Source
Pro tip: Take quizzes to the next level by incorporating polls in your social media channels.
5.4. Virtual makeovers
- Decrease shopping cart abandonment. Allow customers to see how products look on them before making a purchase. As you offer all the information people need to choose, they will be less likely to change their minds right before finalizing the purchase.
- Reduce returns. Customers can see how products will look on them before they purchase. As a result, they are less likely to make a wrong decision.
Farfetch partnered with Snapchat for virtual try-ons: Source
Baume & Mercier watch company also uses virtual try-ons to help their prospects make the right buying decisions: Source
Wrap-Up: Your 2023 e-commerce Solutions
e-Commerce will be on a roll in 2023, so it’s wise to assess your market and pick the best solutions according to your audience’s profile. Remember that customers are more likely to purchase from sustainable brands that offer prompt, personalized, and consumer-centric shopping experiences.
So whether you’re incorporating VR or UGC in your marketing e-mails, that matters less than providing that rounded, customer-focused approach.
Remember that no strategy is infallible; try, test, and implement what works for your company.