Four tips for building your online retail presence

Covid-19 has forced shoppers to make their purchases online. How do you compete for a spot within the online retail space alongside the established brands?

The past year has been tough for bricks-and-mortar retailers. Pandemic restrictions majorly impacted profits, with shop closures and social-distancing measures directly affecting business performance. Even some of the largest, most successful businesses such as Seafolly, PAC Group and Collette closed stores, made staff redundant and went into administration.

According to iMedia and Croud’s recent nationwide survey in Australia, almost two-thirds of people now do at least 50% of their shopping online. As this shift in shopping behaviour is expected to continue for at least another six months, online brand awareness, visibility and performance is key. 

Some 49% start their e-commerce journey on a specific retailer’s website, according to our research, with the big brands dominating. However, any business, no matter their size, can increase their chances of becoming a go-to site for shoppers by following the four tips below.

1. Drive digital discovery via a marketplace

Marketplaces have changed the way people shop, and Amazon is undoubtedly the world’s leading online marketplace. Despite Croud’s research showing that almost 50% of consumers start their online shopping journey with a specific retailer, around 40% choose eBay and 24% Amazon to start their retail journey. Amazon Marketplace in Australia is growing in popularity, and this creates a great business opportunity.

You know where the consumers are heading, so follow them. This, of course, sounds simple but such sites are oversaturated. To make the most of a digital marketplace, you need to remain competitive which can be hard to do with the platform constantly evolving.

It is important to regularly review and optimise performance at the most granular level in order to ensure you stay relevant and discoverable. By conducting periodic reviews of your account, from placement and search term reports, to the performance of individual teams, you can help boost your visibility. Consistently testing new products, approaches and third-party tools will allow you to make the most of the platform.

It sounds simple, but always keep your customer front of mind. Your listing’s copy should be written for both Amazon’s algorithm and for your consumers. To ensure Amazon’s system picks up your listing, include the most important keywords in the title. Fill your bullet points, description and back-end keywords with other relevant terms, while including sales-inducing language that appeals to the shopper.

Finally, align your messaging, descriptions and brand voice and ensuring consistency across all of your platforms. In order to compete with the established brands, you need to show reliability and consistency to consumers, as well as being visible.

Implementing these best practice tips on Amazon Marketplace will help drive success, just like Croud did, when they helped Whyte & Mackay, drive a 323% uplift in revenue on Amazon last year.

2. Focus on niche products and services

It’s tempting to try and mirror the scope of big brands, but mapping out a clear understanding of your business, and developing a clear proposition, is a better way of competing with marketplaces and large retailers. Specialising in a particular area provides a service that big brands may struggle to compete with.

Being recognised as an expert lends credibility to your brand, which can lead to you becoming a go-to site. In terms of marketing, too, it’s much easier, and cheaper, to develop targeted strategies. You’re unlikely to appeal to everybody, so focus on what you do best and target specific group of people. 
Aligning closely with your audience allows you to better understand them and as a result, build trust. Claiming to be an expert in multiple things can dilute your message, creating doubt. Garden of Vegan, for example, a ready-meal delivery service in Australia, carved out a niche by focusing exclusively on vegan meal options. If the company had also offered foods containing meat or dairy, this would have confused their purpose, and run the risk of looking inauthentic.

3. Deliver personalised marketing

Personalisation can be a powerful tool. Research from Econsultancy stated that 74% of marketers say targeted personalisation increases customer engagement. Yet, despite this, 70% fail to personalise marketing emails. What’s more, according to MarketingProfs, businesses that personalise web experiences see a 19% average increase in sales, yet 70% do not personalise their websites, says Dynamic Yield

Give your company identity. As a small business, you have a great advantage here. It’s far more difficult for a marketplace or big brand to appear “human”. But if you’re starting out, put a face to the name; include a reply-to address in newsletters; chat to your customers on social media. Be approachable. Most importantly, avoid looking corporate. 

Amid the pandemic, social media and email marketing can also be used to reassure your customers, informing them of your safety protocols. Our survey found that one of the main reasons Australians are shopping online is because of health and safety concerns (17%). Equally, you could send a newsletter asking if your customers are OK.

4. Offer speed and convenience

Customers want their products as quickly as possible. After all, Croud’s survey found that 28% of Australian customers prioritise convenience and saving time. 

This is one of many reasons why Amazon is so successful. Their global Prime feature ensures consumers receive packages the following day, if not the same day. 

The concept is extremely simple but can be difficult to implement; you’ll need to take on the storing, picking, packing and shipping. 

You can, however, handle shipping externally; pay for a distribution centre, or choose to sell via Amazon. This should increase the likelihood of landing a sale. Providing multiple payment options is also another way to speed up the checkout process.

Summary

So there you have it, our four tips for building your online retail presence. Much of your success will be driven by your audience research and understanding which products you need to focus on, whilst ongoing success will be driven by constantly refreshing your product listings, and sharing custom content designed to attract both new and existing clients. Don’t be afraid to test and learn on the go!

If you have any questions about building your online presence, or would like to talk to one of the team about your Amazon Marketplace store, get in touch.

by Croud
15 March 2021

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