Jamie Walsh, Copywriter & Content Support
All merchants, retailers and distributors today face increasing pressures in the complex and competitive world of commerce. With more transactions being carried out online, merchants face a tough juggling act trying to manage budgets and cover overheads, sustain regular growth and retain customer loyalty – all while staying one step ahead of the competition.
Advances in technology over the last decade or so have had the side effect of increasing shoppers’ expectations further. As a result, today’s customers not only demand quick and easy access to the best deals, but also a smooth and seamless shopping experience that crosses multiple channels.
It’s become extremely important for ecommerce merchants to keep up with the latest growing trends in order to remain as competitive as possible. Meeting these customer needs and demands is key to outgrowing and outperforming rival retailers.
The challenges may be daunting, but they offer merchants the opportunity to provide innovative services bringing customers and shopping experiences to the foreground. There are three fundamental categories to focus on when thinking about how to get the best out of ecommerce, optimising the customer journey and competing with other businesses more efficiently and effectively.
The right customer experience
More than 8 out of 10 online shoppers currently expect retailers to provide robust and engaging experiences across various channels and different devices. Whether shoppers access your store using phones, tablets, laptops or desktops, many people will take different routes to reach you, from social media to adverts in web searches.
All aspects of the browsing and buying process should ideally include numerous options, especially for payment and delivery at the checkout stage. Alternative payment methods, such as PayPal, make things easier for customers. Meanwhile, a click-and-collect option allows them to collect delivered items from a local bricks-and-mortar store. Having a smooth and simple returns procedure can also be a massive benefit to both you and your customers.
How you ultimately manage the customer experience is up to you. By identifying the touch points of your target consumers and how they approach your brand online, you can deliver tailored experiences to suit them best. Not only will this give your brand’s reputation a boost among your audience, it will also help you to gain a competitive edge against your main rivals.
Seeing off the competition
As the technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, devices are becoming more easily affordable and accessible. While having so many people able to reach you online is a significant positive, more consumers means more competition in the market. Not only that, improving technologies can also enable smaller independent retailers to compete with you as well.
Since your next big competitor could come from anywhere – whether a small start-up or a merger between to medium-sized rivals – it’s extremely difficult to predict who or what may pose as a major threat in the future. Ultimately, the shape of the ecommerce landscape is decided by the consumer, leaving them to choose which brands to favour and which ones to ignore.
Staying ahead of the pack depends on giving your customers what they want in a fast-paced world with constantly changing habits. As situations and circumstances can change rapidly, one element of edging out the competition looks at how quickly and effectively retailers are able to respond to shifts in expectations.
Adapting to change
As the ecommerce landscape can be pretty unpredictable, it’s extremely difficult to guess what the next big trend may be. One of the best ways to combat this is simply to be prepared for almost any eventuality, as this will help you to quickly adapt your strategies and processes in case of any future changes.
This could involve getting together promotional content and deals ready to share at any time or utilising your social channels to attract attention around special events or seasons. The ability to be agile and flexible is vital for meeting consumer and market demands, whichever way the wind blows.
Your attention to detail will be vital to securing your successes both now and in the future. From how your online store presently performs to potential shifts in the world of commerce, your business will flourish by spending more time on developing campaigns and processes that make life easier for your customers.
All in all, the customer’s shopping experience is where they get to form an impression of you and your brand. This will largely be based on your ability to engage with them and provide a smooth experience, as well as how much you stay ahead of the competition and adapt to sudden shifts in shopping habits.
Maximising on your competitive potential, you’ll be able to deliver better shopping experiences to your customers. Through improvements to your efficiency, you’ll see this reflected in your total conversions, sales figures and bottom line.
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