Ecommerce has seen explosive growth in recent years. Global eCommerce sales topped 3.5 trillion US dollars in 2020.
As recently as a decade ago, consumers were wary of handing over their card details when buying products and services online.
But today, electronic commerce transactions are the norm.
There are four types of eCommerce:
- Business to business (B2B)
- Business to consumer (B2C)
- Consumer to consumer (C2C)
- Consumer to business (C2B)
As the internet becomes an integral part of commerce, the adoption of eCommerce is bound to continue growing.
For the astute business person, taking full advantage of eCommerce in 2020 and beyond is a must.
What Is eCommerce?
Since it started in 1991, eCommerce has evolved over the years. For instance, today more people shop for products and services on the internet using mobile devices.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also significantly affected the eCommerce landscape. With social distancing rules and travel restrictions, most people turned to online shopping to stay safe.
According to one study, 72% of consumers today use mobile devices to shop online.
We talked to some of the most successful online store owners for an in-depth look into what eCommerce is like in 2020.
Do you have an online store or are considering launching one? Get a notebook and a pen. It’s time to learn from the experts:
1. eCommerce Is About Reinventing to Meet Changing Needs
During the pandemic, many businesses were forced to reinvent their eCommerce strategy.
“2020 feels like when I was in 7th grade and started a new school in the mid-middle of the school year,” says Annalisa DeMarta, the founder of children’s apparel brand Lone Cone.
DeMarta has spent 15 years working with major outdoor brands on Amazon.
Many of us know what the experience she’s referring to means. The rush to buy new clothes and a change of hairstyle in an attempt to fit in.
“If you had a similar experience you likely realized you were the same person. Only with new sneakers and questionable a hairstyle,” she says jokingly.
“But, it gave you a chance to think about what matters and what you want to project. After a stressful 2019, my company put out aggressive 2020 goals. But then March rolled in and made us pause and cross our fingers. We found opportunity by re-inventing ourselves to a much more attentive audience,” she adds.
For me, eCommerce is about adapting to and capitalizing on extreme change. For example, black swan type events…we all know what I’m talking about, right? 2020 is the year the system got shook in a way that reminds us black swans really do happen and you can either adapt and profit or wither and die,” says Daryl Mander, the founder of Big Flare.
Here are two major tips to help you reinvent your online commerce:
Segment Your Customers: Use various tools to gain a better understanding of your target audience. This enables you to market the right products and services to the right people at the right time.
Rethink Your Content: To create content that attracts more traffic to your online store, try the “Hero, Help, Hub” approach. “Hero” content is inspiring and entertaining. “Help” content answers search queries from your potential customers. “Hub” content promotes your products to convert website visitors into customers.
2. eCommerce Means Pivoting When the Time Is Right
Some market changes might mean that your product is no longer in demand.
This can slow down your business. In worst-case scenarios, it can even lead to the failure of any business model.
A savvy eCommerce entrepreneur knows when the right thing to do is pivot their product.
In simple language, pivoting is a strategic change in the products or services offered by a business. It can also mean a change in your business model.
For example, Twitter started as a podcast platform known as Odeo. But with the launch of iTunes, the founders knew it was time to pivot or die. That is how Twitter was born as a social media platform.
Lindsay Hagerman, the co-founder of RainCaper says that pivoting pushed her business to even greater success in 2020
“After a recent rebrand as “smart travel essentials”, RainCaper sales were taking off,” she says. “RainCaper umbrellas, gloves, and travel capes are available online and in over 1,000 retail outlets.”
But when the pandemic hit, the upward sales trajectory stalled. By the end of March, RainCaper was in a free fall.
The mother-daughter co-founding duo Jan Hartman and Lindsay Hagerman were desperate to save their online business.
They found a solution that would:
- Leverage existing sourcing,
- Keep their suppliers in business,
- Provide a lifeline to their wholesale accounts and,
- Jump-start stalled sales.
The solution: they pivoted to offer face masks!
“Jan’s keen sense of fashion and function helped us create stylish and comfortable masks,” Hagerman says.
They quickly made a collection of Fine Art face masks. The masks were available for wholesale as well as retailing on the website.
“Online sales increased instantly. Wholesale accounts couldn’t write orders fast enough,” Hagerman says.
“We had already implemented a dropship program to help stores that were closed. The masks gave them a reason to open. An appearance on Good Morning America Deals & Steals brought new customers to our website,” she explains.
RainCaper eCommerce sales are now on par with 2019. This is a dramatic turnaround from the situation in April and May.
If you’re considering product pivoting for your business to consumer model, here are some tips:
Listen to Your Customers: Feedback can guide you on whether pivoting is right for your electronic commerce business. If you receive overwhelmingly negative criticism for your product, pivoting might be a good idea.
Do It Early: Pivot as early as possible. This helps avoid wasting time, money, and effort holding onto products that aren’t selling on your online store.
Pivot in the Direction of Growth: Make sure that the direction in which you’re pivoting presents opportunities for growth. You don’t want to hit the same roadblocks after pivoting.
Don’t Scrap Everything: Most pivoting ideas don’t require radical change. Are there elements of your existing eCommerce business that you can still use?
2020 has been a year of pivots for us. eCommerce allowed us to connect with our customers when the stores that carry our products were temporarily closed or had limited hours.
This means dogs are not suffering miserable walks just because Mom or Dad can’t currently purchase equipment in person. Since more dogs are being adopted due to the additional time people are spending at home, this is more important than ever!” says Alisha Navarro, the founder of 2 Hounds Design.
3. eCommerce Means Focusing on Your Long Term Goals
In some ways, running an eCommerce store is no different from a quintessential brick and mortar location.
To be competitive, you have to bring something unique to the table. Recognizing what makes your online business different helps you sharpen the focus on long term goals.
Suzanne Vetillart, the CEO of Boma Jewelry says that focusing on the future has helped keep the business growing.
“As a 40-year old family-owned business with over 200 employees, 2020 has been a rollercoaster ride,” Vetillart confides.
“During these unpredictable times, our company has used this year to sharpen our focus on our long-term values. We are thinking about what the next 10, 20, and 40 years of our business will look like,” she says.
For Boma Jewelry, part of this focus is recognizing what makes them different.
“I’m a second-generation owner who inherited this business from my parents. I think about how to build the company for my children to inherit 20-30 years from now,” Vetillart expounds.
To achieve their long term goals, they have had to accelerate their accounting and inventory systems.
“This forces us out of our 20+-year-old legacy system that is comfortable to use but highly inefficient. It also means quitting habits or policies that do not align with our vision,” Vetillart says.
“For example, we audit to ensure less wastage across our complete supply chain. We have reduced print catalogs and switched to renewable energy sources. It also means embracing the idea of seeing our business as a mission with a company, not a company with a mission,” she elaborates.
eCommerce in 2020 has been a lifesaver. I feel so fortunate to be an online business in this crazy Covid-19 time. We’ve never been busier – we have hired more staff than ever. But we’ve also been worried about when this might end. A roller coaster ride of emotions is the best way to sum it up,” says Susan Cooper, the founder of…
4. eCommerce Means Updating Your Customer Care
Just like brick and mortar enterprises, you need to have strong customer care to succeed in electronic commerce.
Customer care service can be particularly challenging for eCommerce businesses. This is because you don’t have face-to-face physical contact with your customers.
However, it is important to establish trust with your customers. Therefore, every eCommerce business has to constantly update its customer care services.
“We want to grow our audience. But we have to preserve the authenticity and intimacy of our communication,” says Ciaran Vipond, the CEO of My Irish Jeweller.
For My Irish Jeweller, this has meant exploring SMS marketing and Live Chat.
“We live in Ireland and most of our customers are in the US. They are placing their trust in us to deliver. They deserve to have a direct line to our friendly and knowledgeable team” he explains.
Here are some ideas to improve customer care for your online store:
Ask for Feedback: Feedback tells you what your customers think of your brand, products, or services. If you don’t ask for feedback, your customers might not leave any. So get into the habit of asking. Even negative feedback is helpful.
Adopt Interactive Services: To relate with customers closely, provide various channels of communication. You can install Live Chat software to assist customers on your website.
Enable Email and Text Push Notifications: Many eCommerce sites send notifications to customers. For example, customers might receive notifications when their order is shipped. Adopt push notifications to improve communication with your customers.
5. eCommerce Means Enjoying Work-Life Balance
Running an eCommerce store might allow you to spend more time with your family.
You have more control over your working hours. If you’re a morning person, you can wake up early to work. Then you can spend the later part of the day with your family and friends.
“To me, eCommerce means freedom for how I choose to spend my time. In the past, I’ve worked office jobs where I trade my time for money. Regardless of how hard (or not)I worked, I was paid the same.” says Chris Cole, the founder of Moto Loop
“eCommerce gives me the ability to work as hard as I want, for as long as I want, and be compensated appropriately. This also means I get to spend more time doing other things I enjoy,” he adds.
Ori Bzowski, the founder of ISNstores.com agrees. “eCommerce has been a critical factor for my businesses over the last decade. It ties into my pursuit of personal balance and happiness.”
Bonus Tip: eCommerce Means Having a Supportive Community
The selling of goods and services online is not as easy as it might sound.
Doing it all alone can weigh down an eCommerce entrepreneur.
This is where eCommerceFuel comes in!
Our goal is to build the world’s best community for eCommerce store owners.
This helps entrepreneurs to grow their business while building deep relationships with like-minded individuals.
We make this happen by offering:
- Insightful content on all aspects of eCommerce
- A private online community for eCommerce entrepreneurs
- Capital to 7-figure+ store owners
To join the eCommerceFuel Community and grow your online store, apply here.
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