The retail e-commerce sales for the fourth quarter of 2013 in the US totaled a mammoth $69.2 billion. Global B2C e-commerce sales are all set to hit $1.5 trillion this year. These figures don’t just look good, they look downright amazing. But there is just one problem. You’ve taken a cold hard look at your e-commerce sales and they’re in danger of plateauing. They are leveling off.
You have a choice – sit tight, do nothing, and hope the sales are back on track or you can take the necessary steps to stop sales from getting stuck in a rut.
In the former, there are all chances that your sales might actually slip to irretrievable levels; if you are choosing the latter, you are backing your business to improve its revenue stream.
If you’ve chose to let things stand as they are, all the best; but if you’ve opted to do something about it, take a look at these 7 tips that will help you stem the danger of plateaued sales:
(1) Lack of Customer Experience Strategy
Online consumer expectations are increasing rapidly. According to Connecting with Customers Report, 83% of online visitors want some form of support on their online journey. Are you giving them this support? Do you essentially know the contours of this support? If you don’t, you probably need to define and implement a customer experience strategy, to stop plateauing sales.
So what makes for a good online shopping experience? There are myriad of things that come together to deliver a satisfying shopping experience to customers. Some of them include:
- Quick issue resolution, ideally with a single interaction.
- The journey between product selections to product purchase is minimal at best.
- Customized offers.
- Focus on personalized experiences.
- A follow up process to ensure customers were satisfied with their purchases.
- Safe, secure shopping process that facilitates informed buying decisions.
Take an in-depth look at your existing customer experience protocols and whether they need a change. The fact that your e-commerce business is not doing as well as it should, usually means a change is in order.
(2) You aren’t using Big Data
Are you using big data benefits for online conversions and to refine your sales strategies? If the answer is no, this might be the reason your business isn’t doing too well. You’ll need to start leveraging the benefit of big data to your advantage.
As an e-commerce business, it’s not just your website that is the sole point of interaction with your website. Your existing and potential consumers must be interacting with you through different channels such as social media, email etc. Every interaction produces huge amounts of data that allows you to deconstruct your consumer.
A business tracking a user’s data in the form of user engagement history, conversion activity, name and address, buying behavior, interest and preferences can push special content to them. This content could be along the lines of exclusive offers that you believe are the right choice for a particular customer, based on his/her personal interactions with your brand.
Bit data also helps you make use of dynamic pricing for revenue generation. You can use analytics to factor in the latest competitor pricing, demand and supply signals, historical sales price, future costing and come out with a unique price for a particular customer.
Other benefits of big data include micro market targeting, real time demand forecast etc. Each of them will help avoid sales stagnancy.
(3) Inability to leverage the Cloud Advantage
While you can push many of your e-commerce business’s services/processes to the Cloud, why not go one step ahead and use cloud computing to increase top line revenue and at the same time reduce operational costs. Pick a SaaS based tool that allows you to bring a degree of seamlessness to your back-office and front-office solutions to help you manage all business sales channels.
One reason why e-commerce businesses fail to gain traction after a great start is they are unable to keep pace with the growing demands of their customers. This is illustrated by their messing up of critical business aspects such as inventory management, customer management, marketing campaign and payment processing etc.
A tool based on the SaaS model that helps you manage your commercial activities, which doesn’t put pressure on your existing business architecture, can help you become competitive again.
(4) Content Marketing
If you’ve got an e-commerce business, there is no doubt you’ll have an SEO strategy in place, but does your business subscribe to a content marketing strategy ? Genuinely useful and well-written content allows you to build a list of loyal fans and followers who are also your customers. What’s more, by sharing this content across all popular social networks, you are giving this content an opportunity to go viral. The more your content is read, the more it will be shared, which in turn will attract more customers to your site.
Creating How-to Videos about your products or addressing common concerns of your target customers regarding the products you are selling is also a good idea. The idea is to also share content that is not about your products but about the niche in general. So, if its clothes you are selling and you want to target a teenage audience – styling tips, information about the latest fashion trends are just some of the different topics that you can write on.
(5) Social Activeness
A recent study states Facebook dominates social e-commerce. 85% of the e-commerce orders that were a result of clicks originating from social media come from Facebook. The question is – are you using the immense potential of social media to boost your e-commerce sales. If you aren’t, you must! A large percentage of your target audience is on social media and their friends and family are recommending plenty of products to them via their interaction on this channel. You must ensure your products are part of these recommendations.
Most consumers are looking for social proof, and they get this from their friends and family who’ve either bought and used your products, have come across them or are planning to buy them. This means you don’t need an active social media; you need a hyper active presence.
(6) Mobile Optimization
You might have a mobile friendly version of your site, but is it optimized for mobile? A substantial 10% of e-commerce dollars come from sales made from mobiles and tablets. This is why your website needs to be able to leverage the immense potential of mobile users who are more and more inclined to shop for products and services from their mobile devices. This KISSmetrics infographic is a great read if you are wondering why you need a mobile optimized site. Don’t think twice about ensuring your website offers users a satisfying mobile experience and makes shopping simpler on mobile. That could be the difference between your sales plateauing and heading northwards.
Sometimes, it’s the design that can act as a road block. Your design might be interfering in your attempts to showcase your projects in the best possible light. Your competitor’s might be doing it much better. So, take a look at your site, take feedback from customers, and if you find yourself looking at an outdated site, redesign it. You might not know it, but design might be the biggest reasons why you haven’t been able to convert all that traffic on your site.
If you are facing plateauing sales, it’s time that you did something about it. These 7 tips will help you get started in the right direction.Tags: B2C, Big Data, CRM, eCommerce, ERP, SaaS