building a successful e-commerce that generates profits and imposes itself on the competition is not as simple as it seems. It is not enough to build the platform, insert products, decide the prices and go online hoping to sell something.
Behind the creation of an e-commerce site there is a huge amount of work, which begins even before building the site. Also because e-commerce is not a simple online shop, but a real company.So it must be thought of and managed as such.
In Italy, the data relating to e-commerce is impressive and the sector represents a great business opportunity. In 15 years, from 2004 to 2019, the total turnover of e-commerce has increased from 1.6 billion to over 42 billion euros.
By 2022, e-commerce will generate a global turnover of over 400 billion dollars and Italy is one of the countries that has the greatest room for growth, precisely because eCommerce lags behind other countries.
Secret Key has great experience in the eCommerce field , gained by creating and leading to success several Online Shops in multiple sectors ( some of them can be found in our portfolio ). Therefore we have decided to deepen the eCommerce topic, creating a series of specific articles in which you will find all the aspects concerning this world, especially in a web marketing key.
If we imagine e-commerce as a very complex dish to make, what is the perfect recipe to create it?These below are the ingredients, each of which will become a blog post in the “eCommerce” series.
1) The starting point: know your market and define your positioning
An eCommerce project requires an initial business plan (this aspect alone would require an entire article), an in-depth analysis of the relevant business sector, a thorough benchmarking of the competition at the brand and product level.
It is therefore necessary to identify the competitors, study their marketing and customer care, and take ideas by seeing what they do well and what they do not do. Identifying weaknesses and strengths in terms of communication, service, processes and product, serves to understand how to overcome competitors and above all how to stand out from them.
It is also essential to study the target audience, building Buyer Personas with related demographic characteristics, including needs / desires / problems / interests.
It is necessary to build real archetypes of one's ideal customer , decoding the behavior of these subjects in advance, to understand which communication and marketing levers are most suitable for stimulating purchases.
Below we show an example of buyer personas that we at Secret Key have created in the analysis and strategy phase for one of our clients.
Only on the basis of these aspects will it be possible to establish your own differentiating Brand Positioning, the Value Proposition and the communication angles that you intend to use to make your brand / product perceive as the best choice for consumers.
2) Define your strategy and goals
Having a strategy and objectives defined with knowledge of the facts, serves to avoid making big mistakes, reducing the chances that you can waste resources, time, money.
The initial analysis of the market, the competition and the buyer personas determines the definition of the most important element of all: the marketing strategy . Let's talk about the plan that contains all the online / offline marketing activities necessary to make the brand / product known, as well as the channels and tools that are used to generate visibility and traffic to eCommerce, but above all to acquire customers and retain them over time.
To implement a marketing strategy you need time, but above all skills and experience, since the possibilities are many, so making confusion and wasting money is very easy. The difficulty arises from the fact that there are many digital tools available. We mention a few just to give an idea: SEO, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Native Advertising, Email, SMS, push notifications, Digital PR, Influencer Marketing, Affiliate, Chatbot, Mobile App, etc ...
To define which tools and channels to use, with what logic and hierarchy, how much to allocate in terms of advertising budget on the ad platforms, the so-called Marketing Funnel is established , which is the cornerstone of every marketing strategy.
It is important to understand that before buying online on eCommerce and even offline in stores, consumers make cross device and cross platform navigation paths. This means that before buying, people use multiple devices (desktop / tablet / smartphone), in different contexts (at home, from the office, on the subway, on vacation, etc.), getting in touch with brands through multiple channels. (search engines, marketplaces, price comparators, social networks, radio, TV, posters, magazines, etc. ..).
This fragmented Customer Journey and the related touch points between company and consumer involve the development of a Cross Channel and / or Omni Channel Marketing Funnel .
Take for example retailers , who until a few years ago only sold in physical stores, waiting passively for customers. Now they have rightly decided to invest in eCommerce, implementing omnichannel marketing strategies, with the aim of maintaining the relationship with their customer base and stimulating online and offline sales.
We therefore list the main steps to be able to develop a correct marketing strategy:
analyze the market in which you enter (competitors, buyer personas, purchase process)
establish the USP and your brand positioning to distinguish your company and your products from competitors
establish the multichannel and / or omnichannel marketing funnel
establish the relative budgets projected over the 12 months of the year for each channel / tool of the funnel
choose a performing and scalable eCommerce platform (able to absorb traffic and customer growth)
structuring marketing campaigns by associating them with objectives and actionable KPIs
organize the eCommerce team by departments by assigning clear tasks and procedures
define the procedures to better manage prices and inventory, logistics, suppliers
set up multiple payment methods, which are above all easy, fast and intuitive on the user side
establish the rules for managing relationships with customers (customer care), especially with respect to support, payments and refunds / returns
3) Choose the right eCommerce platform
The platform is the union between software and infrastructure necessary to make the software work (hosting, database, etc…). In the E-Commerce field, the most widespread platform worldwide is WooCommerce, a stable, performing CMS that is also easy to customize and manage.
It is no coincidence that even at the global market share level, WooCommerce is the most used platform:
We at Secret Key mainly use WooCommerce for the development of eCommerce for our customers, but we also recommend Magento and Shopify , as appropriate , two other platforms that guarantee excellent performance with specific pros and cons.
Here are the points to consider at the front end and back end when choosing the platform:
stability in terms of functionality and performance (better choose a mature and widely used product)
elasticity in the customization of the front end and back end
simplicity and solidity of the purchase process (cart, check out, payment gateway)
good number of native e-commerce features (product filters, product variants, wishlist and order history, list of recently viewed products, etc.)
advanced functions for order and customer management
platforms with logic, code and SEO friendly structure to have a correct indexing on search engines
presence of good level statistics and reporting
possibility of integration with other third-party software and tools (web analytics software, email marketing, marketing automation, price comparators, warehouse management, etc ...)
intuitiveness and simplicity in the management of the platform itself
Once the platform has been chosen, it is time to create the UI / UX Design with obsessive care to make your site distinctive and recognizable.
Excellent content must also be developed (descriptions, product sheets, photos, videos), also providing a whole series of on-page elements aimed at generating trust, authority, social proof.
4) User Experience and Customer Experience
It is essential to pay attention to these two aspects, since the success of an e-commerce site is given by the number of users who visit it by making at least one purchase . For this to happen, however, it is necessary that the user's browsing experience is excellent, thanks to a graphic interface with an intuitive and captivating design, to which quality content and excellent performance in terms of speed must be added.
The User Experience is a determining element for the eCommerce sector, second only to marketing investments.
5) Personalized shopping
The user and customer experience must trigger personalized Direct Marketing processes for each individual user.
An advanced e-commerce must provide personalized content able to stimulate users based on their behavior, that is, according to the products displayed, the abandoned carts and the history of purchases made.
A 2015 RipeneCommerce study reported that the average cart abandonment rate in eCommerce was 68% . It means that out of 100 users who have put at least one product in their cart, 68 have left eCommerce without making the purchase. This resulted in $ 3.38 trillion in lost sales.
To reduce abandoned carts it is essential to resort to retargeting with Google Ads and Facebook Ads, combined with remarketing through Email Marketing Automation.
These two techniques allow, in a completely automatic way, to show users the products they had seen and / or added to the cart, with the intent of reactivating the interrupted purchase process.
For example, see one of the retargeting ads that are shown on Facebook to users who abandon their cart on the site of our customer LGR World :
6) Maximum attention to content
For every e-commerce (and not only) it is essential to have a good content strategy , which means having products on the site that are well represented on a photographic and descriptive level, but also produce content capable of attracting and involving target users: a blog, newsletter , infographics, videos, guides, FAQs, etc ...
Yours can be the most beautiful e-commerce in the world, selling the most beautiful products in the world, at the most affordable prices in the world. However, if it does not have a good organic ranking on Google it may not be able to express its full sales potential.
This is why it is essential to structure an e-commerce site from an SEO perspective , right from the initial design stages, and then support it with off-site activities such as Link Building and Digital PR.
8) Online Advertising
Among the main traffic sources, Google Ads and Facebook Ads are certainly the essential ones.
Thanks to these two advertising tools you have the opportunity to make your brand and your products known, intercepting profiled users in different contexts, obviously on Google and Facebook themselves, but also on YouTube, within the App and target sites, on Instagram. , etc .. In addition, with Google Ads and Facebook Ads you can also do remarketing, that is, re-connect with users to stimulate them to buy.
Online advertising is essential to acquire customers and in fact advertising on Google (SEM) and Facebook (Social Media) are the two main investment items for eCommerce in Italy:
9) Social commerce
In addition to the significant increase in mobile purchases, purchases through social platforms are also increasing . Social networks are used to generate brand and product awareness, to build trust, to increase social proof, to maintain the relationship with one's audience and therefore they are in fact a trigger / facilitator to purchase.
Furthermore, it has long been possible to buy a product directly on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest without leaving the social network. Social Shopping is therefore a further promotional opportunity for eCommerce, which offers multiple advantages in terms of visibility, immediacy of the purchasing process and reduction of friction elements.
10) Mobile commerce
In Italy in 2018 the turnover of eCommerce deriving from purchases made through smartphones reached 34%, registering a + 7% compared to the previous year. In addition, mobile traffic has far surpassed desktop traffic.
Data like this make it necessary to think about digital marketing strategies exclusively for mobile users . It is necessary to understand how to attract mobile traffic, how to make the browsing experience as easy as possible and how to improve the purchasing processes on e-commerce.
11) Marketplace and Comparators
Marketplaces are multistore, which is a very large e-commerce store that sells on behalf of multiple other e-commerce and smaller manufacturers. To understand, eBay and Amazon are two well-known marketplaces.
However, there are also many marketplaces specialized in specific sectors and market niches, which if well used can be an excellent source of visibility and revenue, therefore they must be considered at a strategic and distribution level.
Price comparators should also be mentioned , such as find prices, kelkoo or twenga just to name a few. These portals in some cases can bring excellent volumes of traffic and sales, especially if you are selling a commodity-type product .
12) Integration between online and offline systems
This aspect is dedicated to those who have an eCommerce but also one or more physical stores.
Consumers today are divided into two behavioral segments:
showrooming: they buy something online they have seen in a store
infocommerce: they buy something they have seen online in a physical store
Over the years online purchases have sharply increased as shown by the image below taken from the observatory on multi-channel:
Against this, the two "shops" (the physical store and the eCommerce) must be connected and made to interact with each other, in order not to deprive the consumer of one choice or another.
The integration of systems is also necessary to synchronize the inventory and the availability of the products in the warehouse, but above all to create a single buyer profile , which keeps track of all purchases made both online and in physical stores (point of sales).
For example, we at Secret Key always carry out an integration between the eCommerce we create and the store / warehouse / billing management systems used by the client company. This allows you to avoid errors (sell unavailable products), streamline processes and avoid wasting time on the part of store managers.
At the same time, thanks to our experience, we use CRM systems in which we convey all the data relating to the customer base of eCommerce and points of sale.
It is much easier and more convenient to resell to a customer who has already shopped on our eCommerce site and who is probably happy with the shopping experience, rather than trying to sell to people who are unfamiliar with our brand / product.
Intercepting and re-stimulating a customer is easier, because we have their direct contacts (email, telephone, address) and we know their tastes (what they bought previously).
But how do you build customer loyalty over time in order to maximize Customer Lifetime Value and the value of the entire Customer Base?
As we said in the previous point, we at Secret Key have created a Business Intelligence, which is integrated with the funnel tools (email, sms, chatbot, adv campaigns) and with which we are able to carry out very powerful Direct Marketing and Marketing Automation activities. , since they are based on hyper profiled customer segments: top clients, low spender, one time buyer, recurring client, inactive clients, etc ...