E-commerce has been creating waves in the world of the retail industry for quite some time. The success story of Amazon and the inevitable impact on mom-and-pop stores proved that businesses have to reinvent themselves to thrive in the age of the digital shopper. The final wake-up call came when the last year’s pandemic compelled brick- and-mortar businesses to shut shop or move online. Sadly, not many were able to make the move. According to Yelp’s data, 60% of businesses have closed permanently. As it happens, the pandemic also changed consumer behavior forever. Consumers today prefer the convenience of online shopping. So, even when stores do open again, a significant proportion of consumers is likely to continue shopping online. This means that small and medium businesses will have to rethink their eCommerce strategies move to digital options to thrive in these uncertain times. By moving online, small and mid-sized businesses can reduce their operational costs, reach a wider audience, and improve their ROI.
However, to survive in this competitive space, these businesses will have to learn how to do eCommerce like big brands. That will be necessary to stand out, build loyalty, and drive conversions.
Let’s find out how to do it.
Before we dig into how to do eCommerce like the big brands, we must understand the common challenges that small and mid-sized businesses face in the eCommerce space.
Although large brands have more capabilities and resources, they are as challenged as small and medium-sized brands regarding customer experience, supply chain, logistics, data privacy, and security, etc. However, small and medium-sized brands are as customer-centric, if not more so, than big brands. Hence, they can try to imbibe some of the best practices and strategies that big brands follow to grow their business.
Small and mid-sized businesses may not be able to compete with big brands on shipping and logistics. However, they can still have options such as discounted or free shipping for specific products or for orders that exceed the minimum price. The benefit is that customers might add more items to their cart just to get a discount or free shipping. They could partner with carriers that offer low-cost or flexible shipping options to save costs on shipping.
According to SmarterHQ, 72% of customers say that they will engage with personalized messages. Big brands are known for personalizing recommendations based on the buying behavior of customers. Small and mid-sized businesses can also implement personalization by leveraging the customer’s data collected during purchase. They can start by segmenting the customers based on their demography, characteristics, and purchasing behavior and sending customized messages to them. This will help the small and mid-sized companies acquire and retain more customers.
The first thing that businesses need to do is be present where the target customers are present. However, as more channels and customer touchpoints get added, customers may face a tough time offering a consistent experience to customers. They have to ensure consistency throughout the buyer’s lifecycle. Businesses can do that by integrating innovative options like live chat in the website and app or creating powerful product browse and search options. Making the right product information easily accessible will immediately address customer queries and drive the buyer journey forward. Personalization and a focus on experience could also mean offering refunds where possible, being transparent about delays or other issues, following up for feedback, etc. The consistent and quick experience will help the businesses earn extra brownie points.
Unlike other strategies that might be challenging to implement, content is one area that small and mid-sized businesses can ace with consistent efforts and effective strategies. They can begin by focusing on defining their purpose clearly, focusing on adding SEO- rich descriptions, and optimizing the interface to offer a seamless experience to customers. Knowing the customer’s online journey can help them create content to address each stage of that process. These businesses must also ensure that the product information and corresponding images and videos are of high-quality as that would help the buying decision.
Even if the small and mid-sized businesses do not have a lot of product data, they must consider using PIM to enrich the product experience. They can establish the best practice of creating and maintaining product descriptions and data to stay prepared when more products are added to the catalog. It will also help the businesses to ensure that all the information related to the product is available in a centralized location. They can begin by working on an implementation plan, setting up a process for collecting, managing, centralizing the data, and using PIM systems to launch the product catalogs either at one location or multiple locations. It’s the best way to future-proof the business and prepare for growth by enabling scalability.
MDM is often called the single source of truth as it manages all the data, including product data, supplier data, customer data efficiently. Given how important it is to be data-driven, small and mid-sized businesses must implement a meaningful MDM strategy to maintain the quality of data and thereby improve the business's performance. It will also simplify the process of data governance and PIM for businesses and improve business efficiency.
As big brands build their capabilities even more by experimenting with payment using cryptocurrencies and using AR and VR, small and mid-sized businesses have no choice but to reinvent their strategies and undergo digital transformation to meet the changing needs of customers.
At Blue Meteor, we help businesses to transform their digital future by developing a content-centric commerce strategy that accelerates the product information management process and improves customer experience and revenue. Blue Meteor’s Amaze PXM is industry’s first intelligence powered native cloud software that gives businesses end-to-end control of their product data, experience design and digital assets. Amaze is a comprehensive software product which converges digital technologies such as product content creation, merchandising design, product attribution design, digital asset management, syndication and advanced intelligence into one product experience platform.