For retail businesses that hope to thrive, online or otherwise, ecommerce must be part of the strategy.
Ecommerce is not only the way of the future, it is the way for businesses to survive in the present day — with the right social media marketing. A year ago, when the coronavirus pandemic brought shutdowns and travel bans, almost every business became an online business. While some retailers were used to meeting their consumers online, it was a wakeup call to many. In some cases, never before had businesses sent consumers to an online marketplace. And many had never relied solely on the digital shopping cart.
So, how were retailers able to pivot from brick to blockchain? Logistically, it comes down to the right infrastructure. But ecommerce success also requires creativity, flexibility, and social media marketing. In order to be leaders, ecommerce converts had to deliver a world-class customer experience online. First, they adopted new ways of working. Then, they committed to permanent change.
As businesses and boutiques look ahead to their futures, social media and digital marketing are huge components of continuous successful ecommerce adaptation. In fact, when ecommerce platform Shopify analyzed challenges and opportunities for 2021, creative digital experiences appeared as a trend. From livestream shopping to digital versions of previously in-person events, a “blended shopping experience” combined the best of digital and physical shopping. But, while augmented reality is in play, it doesn’t always come down to investing in big tech. Small changes, personal experiences, and strong communications are always in style.
Ecommerce, Meet Social Media Marketing
The online retail world is now a crowded place. It was already busy before the pandemic. However, with the shift to a socially distant society, stores big and little found themselves sharing the same marketplace. No longer could hometown boutiques rely on passersby. Instead, it came down to digital foot traffic and mastering the art of the scroll. That’s right – ecommerce and social media marketing go hand in hand.
Even in 2019, ecommerce was poised for continued growth. At that time, online retail fulfillment company Oberlo shared that 14.1% of sales came from online purchases, meaning that more than $14 of every $100 spent was done over the internet. Since then, a variety of factors have encouraged ecommerce. We are all very attached to our devices, longing for personal experiences, and increasingly used to virtual experiences and video. Not to mention, it’s easy! According to PYMNTS.com, 52% of consumers who shifted to digital grocery shopping said they don’t plan to return to their old ways of shopping.
While it is important to keep up with technology, the soft skills involved in social media are ever helpful. Through smart and creative communications, online businesses can stand out in the ecommerce world. However, it is key to note that “thriving” can be defined differently. Does your boutique want to be a global fashion house? Maybe not. Therefore, it’s okay to concentrate on your local or niche audience. In fact, the more specialized you become, the more successful. One of our mantras for 2021 is to embrace and engage your current followers. After all, would you rather have 5,000 passionate followers or 500,000 who rarely engage?
The bottom line? Get on social and be yourself. Adapting to Facebook and Instagram shopping is a must. And even using TikTok to advertise can help small boutiques grow.
How Can Online Retailers Stand Out?
On the one hand, retail giants like Amazon primed customers to welcome a digital shopping experience. And on the other hand, they set the bar high – perhaps even too high for mom-and-pop shops. In the David and Goliath story of ecommerce, there is no clear ending. One purchase, David could win. On the next purchase, it’s Goliath’s turn. As a result, your retail business has to stay primed for a fight.
Now, that sounds pretty exhausting, especially when there is already so much stress to owning a small business. The answer: Be creative.
Consumers are used to luxuries like one-day and same-day shipping. However, this does not work for many small businesses. Yes, automated shipping and fulfillment can help brands stand out by ensuring customers receive packages quickly. But fast and free shipping carries a business cost. Is it in your retail business’ budget? If not, don’t despair. This simply means you need to look for other ways to stay nimble.
What are a few ways small businesses can adapt to improve their ecommerce experience? And how can they thrive even with roadblocks? The same way boutique businesses make a difference on Main Street – by creating a first-rate customer experience, this time online. Also, by making it easy to move from “ooo” to “bought!”
Put It In the Cart
Not too long ago, the thought of a Facebook shopping page conjured up images mainly of multilevel marketing. Friends and connections selling candles, beauty products, and even leggings. But Facebook shopping is savvier now, and social selling is in. Software like CommentSold has made the process easier (and more professional) for businesses and buyers. With it, retailers can track inventory and sell while they are live on Facebook.
This is one example of eliminating boundaries for easier experiences. In fact, ecommerce via social media is rewriting the checkout experience. With consumers no longer even needing to leave the house to shop, what else can make shopping easier? Don’t leave the app, either. One-tap checkout, “buy now, pay later” installment options, and buying directly from product pages make for faster shopping trips.
Consumers have come to expect easy, seamless experiences. In some cases, this means removing the shopping cart and keeping social profiles fresh. Don’t have VR technology? Modern capabilities and the right plugins can still be part of your retail store.
Compete Through Creativity and Connection
Beyond smart adaptations, there are many ways to focus on the consumer and keep up with ecommerce through social media marketing. If your retail shop hopes to better compete with the big stores, invest in personal experiences and establish relationships through:
- Open communications. This applies for the good days and the bad days. If your clients feel they can openly and honestly communicate with your business, you are creating a strong relationship. Whether informing shoppers about a sale, shipping delays, or special membership, clear marketing helps. Make sure your clients know how to reach you by including contact info on your website and in your enewsletters. But also keep other lines of communication open. Some people might be most comfortable with a direct message on Facebook or Instagram.
- Commitment to sustainability. Listening to your audience means listening to their likes and dislikes. Increasingly, that includes thoughtful sourcing and products. Not only are consumers looking for eco-friendly products but also eco-friendly packaging.
- Eye-catching and custom designs. It’s not just about what your organization creates on social media to promote ecommerce. With unboxing videos, influencer posts, and folks simply wanting to share their lives, your custom designs could be seen on many screens. Personalizing your products and their packaging could lead to more eyes as your biggest fans promote you on their feeds.
- Personality and personal touches. Everyone knows about the big box stores, warehouses and chains. Even though they are fast and well stocked, such businesses cannot personalize as well as a little boutique. Lean into this. Your small size could just as well be your super power when it comes to surviving and thriving in the changing world of ecommerce.
So, make not only ecommerce but also ecommerce marketing part of your current and future business plans. Even in the online world, your customers will still get a personal experience!