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Expert Advice
For Success in Ecommerce
  Our team of ecommerce experts outline an effective strategy for increasing and optimising your sales!
For a while ecommerce grew around online shops exclusively, able to obtain more and more transactions and reassure customers sufficiently so that buying online today has become a completely “normal” thing to do. Technology and habit help, etailers have seen new kinds of customer relationships develop little by little, and have been able to extend their catchment areas and traffic, expanding into what is known as multi-channel.

Being an etailer today - like yourself - implies knowing and being present on several of the channels available to you: marketplaces, price comparison sites, mobiles, tablets and computers as well as using social networks and effective email marketing. These channels have a real and direct impact on your turnover: “24% of our orders are made through Amazon alone, and another 5% on the mobile version of our site,” explains Christine Naysmith from Brolliesgalore.

Multi-channel sales is no longer optional in 2014. Consumers access your catalogues (or want to access them) from different screens and in different ways throughout the shopping process. Research, comparing prices, information obtained from customer reviews, conversations with friends on social networks, putting together a basket and transformation are no longer individual “compact” moments in customers’ lives but opportunities that give you more chances to convince them to buy from you!

This is just the beginning, become a multi-channel pro with our ecommerce experts’ advice!
Understand multi-channel and increase your sales!
01 Learn to play the game and use different channels
Whether you come from a bricks-and-mortar store or a pure ecommerce site, multi-channel represents a real opportunity: reach more customers, diversify your “traditional” customer base, develop your catalogue, improve your profitability, and boost your marketing efforts. In reality it’s all about of having more than one trick up your sleeve, so you can continue to develop and grow your shop…or shops!
Moving to multi-channel means knowing which channels we’re talking about…here’s a brief overview.

  • Mobile and tablet: what’s at stake

    Maybe you’ve already noticed this in your statistics or in your own use of such devices when shopping…In just a few months’ time mobiles and tablets will represent more than half of online surfing. And ecommerce is no exception: 72 percent of UK consumers own a smartphone (1) and sales made on mobile devices now make up 23% of online sales (2).

    Better quality smartphones and tablets with larger and better quality resolution screens, responsive technology, more and more widespread 4G, nothing seems to be slowing down this trend and mobiles are rapidly becoming ingrained in our way of life. It’s important then that your site offer a pleasant and efficient experience (test it out!) so that, on the go or simply on the sofa, customers won’t have to boot up a computer to finish shopping.


  • Build your presence outside of your own shops: marketplace and price comparison strategies

    You’ve heard it before: multi-channel means stepping outside of your own ecommerce website. The name of the game is to benefit from the masses of traffic and potential customers (25 million buyers on the two lead marketplaces eBay and Amazon) that look at sites other than your own. Marketplaces and price comparison sites are two ideal strategies for developing your audience.

    In both cases, it’s up to you to carefully select your products, then automatise the push of your traffic on a maximum number of platforms – while keeping an eye on profitability and competition.

    For marketplaces the stakes are high and growth is fast: in the last trimester in 2013, sales increased by 42% compared to the same period the year before. Distributing your products is one of the keys of growing your turnover and Amazon, eBay and Twenga should be your partners of choice.


  • Social networks, with a focus on Facebook
    If Facebook shopping has been slow to take off, there are a lot of things on the social network for etailers, especially in terms of building customer loyalty, and bringing traffic back to your website (some etailers gain 60% of their visitors from Facebook!)

    As we mentioned in a previous expert advice, Facebook is great for creating links with potential customers and engaging in conversation with them before leading them to other channels to confirm their purchases. With 24 million Britons logging into Facebook every day (3), it represents a huge ecommerce opportunity.


  • Don’t forget “traditional” channels: Skype, video conferences, call-back, phone, chat…
    Multi-channel also means, for consumers, that they can easily contact the etailer. You can reassure them, give them more information about stock availability for example, or clear up any uncertainties. Direct telephone contact (even easier if customers surf the web on their smartphones!) or chat, whether vocal, text or video, are excellent opportunities to improve you conversion rate and to offer quality service that will set you apart from your competitors.

Tips
-Understanding that purchasing is not always “linear” is essential: customers look for things, compare, buy and pick up their purchases in many different ways! Don’t hesitate to ask your customers what they want to find out how they see your online shop, for example, send them a short questionnaire in exchange for a voucher for their next purchase. This will also help build customer loyalty!

-Learn how to manage price comparison sites – this would bring new traffic and customers to your site, which you can then work on converting into loyal customers. With Actinic SmartFeeds export your catalogue to these sites in a matter of minutes!

-If you don’t already offer your products on marketplaces you should! Go over the basics and test out Amazon and eBay: this could lead to a 10% increase in sales. Actinic is there to help with the feature MarketPlace Manager.

-Play the game and work on your Facebook presence and start conversations, and sharing, around your products: start with a dedicated page, make it dynamic, and post your product catalogue on the number one social network.
02 The importance of a unique customer experience
For you, multi-channels are different channels that allow you to reach more consumers, sell more, and build brand loyalty. For your customers multi-channels change the form of their interaction with the retailer. They want to have – no matter which channel they use—one relationship with the retailer, for a better shopping experience and access to advice, reassurance and quality after-sales service.

  • Visually –communicate your brand logo in the same way everywhere.Visitors to your site should feel like they’re in your store, no matter which screen they use or where on the web they come across your offers, even if it’s on a marketplace. This means you’ll have to polish your layout and design as well as your product images: the idea is to standardise the customer experience as much as possible to eliminate any potential obstacles to confirming purchases…and make them want to come back!


  • Lead them to other channels. Having several sales channels to generate traffic also means that you can play around with the links between them – keeping in mind customer behaviour and profile of course. Announcing on your site that you have a mobile online store, or a Facebook page, is a good start: this strengthens your brand image and lets your customers and prospects know that they can access your site catalogue through their favourite way of surfing. You can also, for example, favour using the phone if customers have a question concerning a specific product.


  • Email: a central element for all customers! Whichever channels you choose, email should be used to support these choices. 88% of internet users consult their email regularly on a mobile device (smartphone or tablet). Odds are then that your email campaigns are likely to trigger visits…mobile ones. It’s a key element to keep in mind and one that you should take advantage of, as you’re able to retrieve emails from Facebook or from a mobile form, in a way that’s very easy for the user. If we inverse this logic, it’s also a good idea to promote your Facebook and Twitter presence by email, for example. Or to offer special deals to mobile users with a dedicated landing page.

Tips
-Reassure your customers constantly by offering them the point of contact they prefer: on your website, on the mobile/tablet version of your site, on Facebook, via Twitter customer support, or by personalising your marketplace pages.

- Set up a special multi-channel loyalty card: why not, for example, offer extra points or special offers to your customers who use more than one channel? This will help customer satisfaction and increase your activity in each channel…with the bonus of added virality of social networks.
03 Make sure you’re properly equipped in terms of CRM and analytics, this way you’ll be able to benefit from lasting advantages of multi-channel
Multiplying channels means multiplying analytics, metrics and statistics that you can add to your customer portfolio. It’s important when using multiple channels to be able to centralise your analytics and CRM as much as possible (completely is ideal). Equipped with tools to analyse performance, you can then be more specific and divide up your prospects and customers, with the goal of improving your sales and increasing your sales efficiency.

  • One unique CRM for all of your channels = good marketing strategy!Centralising all of your customer data (what they bought, where, if they opened emails, liked a page) is a long-term goal that will allow you to compete with multi-channel giants.


  • Compare the effectiveness of channels to optimise your activity.Here we get into “analytics,” the data that will allow you to really know what’s going on with your site. As with any good strategy, you need relevant information to see what works and what can be improved. You have everything to gain by keeping a close eye on the figures for each of your channels, and working on improving or replicating what works well: a particularly high conversion rate on a Facebook offer, the ability to create additional sales on mobiles and to improve the average shopping cart, a spike in traffic (and sales!) thanks to a price comparison site or being present on a new marketplace.


  • Once you’re equipped: Target each of your sales channels with specific offers.Following your statistics isn’t everything: you also have to use them…to sell more! This is where sales come in – retailers’ secret weapon. And you can get creative by targeting each of your sales channels in a different way. You can, for example, unload stock on a marketplace without showing strike through prices on your main website. Or use limited-time offers to inspire spontaneous purchases thanks to the power of communication social networks offer – while simultaneously increasing the virality of your “good deals.”


Tips
-Each channel has its own reactivity: keep this in mind when offering sales and try to keep a “calendar of offers” that will be coherent for all of your channels. During certain rush periods (Christmas, January sales, Valentine’s Day) require good organisation to coordinate and standardise your efforts.

-Take advantage a multi-channels system to try “private sales” on one channel that you want to boost for a while, for example, if you’ve just launched your Facebook page.

-Allow yourself a margin for error by testing each channel before making your marketing action systematic. And above all, don’t hesitate to be creative and innovative throughout your different channels.
Sources: (1) The MediaBriefing - July 2013 (2) Econsultancy - Sept. 2013 (3) The Guardian - Feb. 2014