Gaining the Competitive Edge in E-Commerce, Part 2: Maximizing Sales Growth
This article was originally featured in ERP SoftwareBlog. You can read the original article here.
By John Pollard, Technical Writer, k-eCommerce
This is the second article in a two-part series on key online competitive differentiators. Here, we look at ways to maximize sales growth, using a success story example. If you missed our first installment, with a focus on reducing operational costs, you can view it here!
Part 2: Maximizing Sales Growth
In our last article, we talked about a young consumer electronics company who wanted to maximize their ROI when they decided to venture into the world of online business. To do so, they had to find ways to reduce their operational costs before, during, and after the order. And by making a wise choice with their e-commerce platform, they were able to do this.
But reducing costs is only half the story. After all, most businesses aren’t just looking to spend as little as possible. They want to attract more customers, make more sales, and ultimately increase their profits.
To do that, they have to grow.
While planning their long-term growth strategy, the company identified three essential objectives: expanding their market reach online, promoting recognition of their brand, and cementing the loyalty of their existing customer base.
And as with reducing their costs, the right choice in e-commerce platform made all the difference.
Capturing the Online Market
The company started out as a local business. But now that their doors were open to the whole world online, they wanted to make the most of the opportunity. As a first step, they planned to expand their operations statewide, intending to sell across the country eventually.
They solved their biggest logistical problem by choosing an e-commerce solution that integrated with major shipping companies like FedEx and UPS. Doing so meant that fully accurate shipping costs were calculated, in real-time, based on the customer’s location and the weight and dimensions of the order.
Their shipping company integration was flexible and intuitive, so that even if the customer added or removed items on the checkout page, the shipping cost adjusted automatically. Once a shipping method was selected and the order placed, the web store coordinated the logistics directly with the shipping company based on the appropriate warehouse for the customer’s location.
These calculations were just estimates, though. With enough careful testing, they were able to refine the process even further to ensure they could add a margin of 5%. This way, they were always able to cover their shipping costs, thereby bumping up their profit margin per order.
And it didn’t stop there. Using an e-commerce platform with built-in multi-language support added a whole new dimension to their growth, allowing them to reach Spanish and French-speaking customers across North America by making alternate versions of the site available in these languages with no further development effort needed.
Increasing Brand Awareness
With a profusion of online businesses, many of whom were selling the same or very similar goods, it was difficult to stand out and make a name for themselves. If they wanted to stay ahead of the competition, it was essential to define and vigorously promote their brand.
As with any online business, search engine optimization (SEO) was critical to the company’s success. Their e-commerce solution featured built-in SEO tools that allowed them to define keywords, title tags, and other site elements that would improve their ranking and enable them to target potential customers making industry and product-related searches online.
But they also realized that potential customers don’t just visit their store to buy. Smart online shoppers do research, comparing products and prices before making a decision. By providing detailed product information—including exhaustive specs, full-color images, and reviews from other customers—they made sure that visitors found all the information they needed, putting them miles ahead of competitors, who would merely stick up a product title with a price.
Further, by engaging with their customers on social media and posting regularly on their company blog, they positioned themselves as experts in their industry, cementing widespread recognition of their brand.
Fostering Customer Loyalty
By now, their customer base had grown exponentially, and it was no longer just a question of gaining more customers; it was a question of keeping them coming back.
The flexibility of their e-commerce platform allowed them to personalize web catalogs and promotions for customers based on their particular needs and interests, granting them access to deals they wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else.
They chose a smart platform that learns each customer, presenting them with past purchases as well as related item suggestions whenever they logged in. Just by implementing these complementary products, the company saw their order value increase by 20% over a 12-month period.
If a particular item happened to be out of stock, the platform recommended substitute items and gave customers the option of getting a notification by email when the product was back in inventory.
On the hunt for even more ways to keep their customers returning, they researched further and found that as much as 79% of consumers look for deals and loyalty programs before making a purchase. Armed with this knowledge, they decided to offer a loyalty point system.
Loyalty points work kind of like an e-commerce coffee card. Customers earn points on every purchase they make and can redeem their points on future purchases. This encouraged them not only to make more purchases to earn more points, but to keep coming back to the store to use the points they’ve received.
With all these strategies working in tandem, the company was able to grow their transactions by nearly 12%, skyrocketing their revenues to a 34% increase by their fourth year. Add that to their 50% slash in operational costs over the same period and their online enterprise was working like a well-oiled machine, poised to keep growing and growing.
All of it made possible by the smart, well-thought-out choice of an integrated e-commerce platform. If you’d like more information about using e-commerce solutions, please contact us.
Source(s): internal k-eCommerce data
"We met our three project goals of 100% completion of critical business requirements at Go Live, completed with 90% Best Practices or better, and GO Live done in a timely manner."