8 Ways E-Commerce Companies Can Do More with Less
You’ve probably noticed the economy has been feeling a bit under the weather these days. As a result, both customers and businesses are struggling to find ways to do more with less. For online retailers, this means everything from stretching marketing dollars to making the most out of every minute. Nearly 40% of large e-commerce brands say that inflation remains a concern right now.
Despite rising costs, consumers continue to shop digitally, making it essential for e-tailers to keep up with growing customer demands while facing their own challenges. The good news? There are still lots of ways e-commerce stores can delight their customers without overextending their labor, supply chain, or budget. In this post, we’ll share some of the top recommendations to get the most out of your resources and keep shoppers happy during these turbulent times.
Challenge: Limited Budgets
Right now, many online stores are struggling to find ways to make their budgets go the extra mile. Any time the economy is in a financial funk, the best thing to do is reinvest in your brand by reallocating your spending. What does this mean exactly? Focus on the areas of your e-commerce strategy that drive higher conversions and customer satisfaction.
If you’re unsure where to begin, here are some key areas to consider that can lead you down the path to conversion (and customer retention) success:
Organic Search Engine Results
Even if you have an awesome brand, it won’t matter if nobody can see it. Today, nearly 70% of all online experiences begin with a search engine. The more you show up in those searches, the higher your visibility will jump. While there are a few online search engines, Google dominates, holding 92.58% of the total search engine market share and processing more than 40,000 search queries every second. That’s over 3.5 billion searches per day!
If you’re wondering where to begin, the best place is to identify which SEO keywords are best for your specific e-commerce store. There are plenty of available tools, such as Semrush and Ahrefs, to help you through this process. Once you have that nailed down, you can begin working on optimizing your content for search to drive organic traffic to your website. Here are some SEO To-Dos:
- Use keywords in your title, headings, content, and images.
- Ensure your keywords match product titles and descriptions, page URLs, meta descriptions, image alt tags, and web copy.
- Get engagement from others through backlinks from other websites and social media.
- Include location-based keywords in the titles, headings, and body content of your main website pages.
- Add internal links between important pages on your site.
- Keep your e-commerce site user-friendly with easy navigation and quick page load times—and don’t forget to make it mobile-friendly!
- Monitor your SEO using tools like Google Analytics.
Social media is extremely powerful in consumer purchase decisions. Nearly 70% of shoppers begin their product searches on social media, and almost half read social media comments to learn what’s being said about a brand. Even better, building a community through social media is free. Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Tik Tok are great for e-commerce retailers to connect with customers and drive traffic to their websites. To get started, utilize your social media in these three effective ways:
- Feature products and services with links that enable shoppers to buy directly or take them back to your website.
- Share upcoming events and promotions with your customers.
- Run live video feeds for product tutorials or answer inquiries from your audience.
When posting content on social sites, remember the following:
- Stick to the 80/20 rule: 80% news, helpful posts, and engaging content; 20% marketing of your web store and products.
- Always show your items being used. Remember, you’re selling an experience or solution, not a product.
- Keep a consistent brand voice throughout all platforms that reflects your website.
- Post regularly at times that align with your target audience(s).
- Create snippets from longer forms of content to create quick posts that are easier to digest.
- Don’t forget to add social buttons to your website in an easy-to-find location.
If you’re not social media savvy or simply are short on time, tools like Hootsuite, Sprout Social, and Sendible can help you manage and schedule social media content across your various platforms—saving you a lot of time in the end.
Related: 5 Reasons Why Your E-Commerce Business Should Be Using Influencers
Which platform should you use?
This depends on what you’re selling and which platforms your customers tend to use. Here’s a quick breakdown of some key players:
Instagram is the perfect platform for brands whose main objective is to increase sales. This platform can easily act as an extension of your website, simply by making your posts and stories shoppable. It will take some effort upfront to get a catalog set up on your account, but the rewards of your efforts will be worth it
TikTok has blown up over the last couple of years and is perfect for online brands catering to younger audiences. One of the coolest things about this specific platform is that you don’t need a huge following to get a lot of engagement. Instead, it uses a proprietary discovery algorithm to help videos go viral, which can really help drive more traffic to your digital store.
Pinterest functions more like a search engine because it focuses on user searches. What makes this so great is that your older posts can resurface later on, resulting in more traffic to your website long after you originally pinned it. Plus, with all of the SEO knowledge you learned from the previous tip, you have the potential to have your And Pins seen by an abundance of potential customers without ever paying a dime.
Tip: Don’t feel like you have to use every social media platform available. It’s better to have 1-2 you can manage effectively than an abundance that gets neglected.
Email marketing is a highly effective and cost-efficient way for e-commerce brands to drive sales and build a loyal community of customers. When done right, the ROI can be as high as 4200%, or in dollars, $36 for every $1 spent. The objective is to send content your customers find valuable. The more personalized, the better—especially in building trust. If that’s not good enough news, how about this: Nearly 60% of consumers say marketing emails influence their purchase decisions. Get your emails right, and this could be a game changer that doesn’t cost a fortune.
To get started, remember to always include the following components:
- Provide value through incentives like exclusive offers and discounts, newsletter insights, and personalized content.
- Always include images and links back to your website.
- Make sure your subject lines are clear yet creative. Boring doesn’t sell, but too much fluff may turn your recipients off.
- Run A/B tests to see what copy and offers resonate with your customers most.
Email marketing platforms such as Mailchimp, Drip, and ActiveCampaign are wonderful tools that automate emails to save you time, and can be used to send targeted emails about everything from product recommendations to abandoned cart reminders.
User-generated content (UGC) is a fantastic way to create genuine, engaging content without worrying about your marketing budget. By encouraging customers to share their experiences, online shops can increase sales without spending money on advertising.
However, while UGC is free, it requires persistence on your end to ensure customers are sharing their ratings, reviews, and recommendations on social platforms and your website’s product pages. These types of social proof are vital to establishing credibility, which goes a long way to gaining loyalty and achieving more sales.
In fact, research finds that 79% of people say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions. This means more revenue coming your way, plus the ability to save an average of because you won’t have to invest any money to see results.
These days, people are always on the go, which makes shopping much different than in the past. Today, 73% of consumers shop across multiple channels. Because of this, having a strong omnichannel engagement is essential—and can help you retain 89% of your customers.
Omnichannel retailing combines online and offline channels to provide a seamless, hyper-convenient shopping experience that gets your products in front of more people. To create a sound omnichannel strategy, the first thing you’ll need is a comprehensive understanding of your customer’s expectations and needs. Start by observing shopper interactions with your website, social platforms, and other channels to identify their buying behavior while shopping. To truly deliver a multichannel experience, consider platforms like BigCommerce or Shopify, which enable you to sell everywhere your customers are and through one simple system.
Tip: If you have a brick & mortar or another pick-up location, include BOPIS options, which allow shoppers to buy items online and then pick them up in person. Customers appreciate it, and you’ll save on delivery costs and help the environment at the same time.
Challenge: Limited Human Resources
If you’re finding that you’re thin on staff but unable to add to the team, or simply looking for ways to boost productivity, here are four ways to cut down time and increase efficiency.
Even the tightest of ships can sink if there’s too much work on board. If you find that your e-commerce business is making you feel anchored down (in a bad way), figuring out how to prioritize your tasks could help.
The best way to approach organizing your online store’s responsibilities is to place the ones with the highest importance at the top of the list. This will ensure that your employees focus on what matters most instead of working on things that can wait. To manage your tasks in the best way possible, consider a time-tracking tool, like Hubstaff. Software like this is great for increasing productivity and reducing the need to hire more staff.
Besides improving workflow visibility, time tracking offers valuable insights that can help you make impactful business decisions. It also allows you to track how your workers spend company time and monitor project progress and performance. This can help you spot problems that may have not otherwise been obvious.
According to the McKinsey Global Institute, businesses can automate half of the activities they currently have their employees doing. This can be particularly helpful for online retailers finding themselves short on staff or in need of more free time for high-priority tasks a computer can’t execute.
What kind of tasks, you ask?
Implementing automated order processing software like ShipBob optimizes your supply chain and significantly increases order management efficiencies by:
- Securing sales order data processing
- Collecting customer data like client contact information, order history, and frequent delivery locations
- Streamlining order tracking
- Improving accuracy and eliminating errors that manual inputting can cause
- Providing faster shipment times by processing orders automatically (and from anywhere)
- Decreasing order fulfillment costs by reducing the amount of labor needed to get an order out the door
Managing inventory is an essential part of an e-commerce business. When done manually, this can be extremely time-consuming and can potentially lead to unwanted mistakes that can cause stockouts, unhappy customers, and lost sales. An automated inventory management system like Fishbowl Inventory can help you keep track of your stock levels without the need for much assistance from your employees.
By offering real-time tracking across all sales channels and locations, and automatically updating information, you’ll be able to ensure there’s enough inventory to fulfill every order. This can help reduce costs by maintaining optimal stock levels and keep your customers happy by always having what you need.
Automated support systems have come a long way and can provide additional assistance to your customers when they need it. The chatbot industry is already valued at nearly $137 million, thanks to how significantly higher it can increase customer support interactions. Translate this to time saved, and chatbots can save businesses up to 2.5 billion hours every year! Beyond chatbots, automated support systems like Zendesk offer a wide range of benefits, including:
- Assisting your customer support team by handling simple, repetitive tasks and directing tickets to the appropriate departments
- Greatly reducing response times in customer inquiries
- Enabling omnichannel support across all of your channels.
- Empowering customers to handle simple tasks on their own (which many shoppers prefer)
- Providing proactive support that resolves problems before your customer even notices them
Knowing what each of your customers wants and the best way to present what they’re looking for would require a lot of time and effort that you could be dedicating to other areas of your business. Personalization tools like Granify do the work for you by gathering valuable shopper insights to create recommendations that appeal to each shopper’s specific preferences. By doing so, your customers can receive tailored content at the right moments in their shopping journeys, without any effort required from your team. This can lead to:
- Increased conversions
- Higher revenue
- Decreased cart abandonment
- A better user experience
- More customer loyal customers
Sometimes, there are certain tasks that take up time that technology simply cannot handle for you. Rather than overloading your staff by trying to squeeze in these extra responsibilities, consider outsourcing them to third-party companies or individuals who specialize in these areas. This is especially great for specific tasks like photography, triggered emails, and data analysis.
If you’re questioning whether this will save you time and/or money, think of it this way: You’ll be gaining access to expertise when you need it, without having to hire permanent staff members you may not need full-time or year-round. This saves you money, provides you with exceptional work, and allows your employees to focus on other important jobs to keep your e-commerce business operating at its best.
Tip: When outsourcing, look for a trustworthy partner that is reliable, has a good reputation, and can scale up or down as needed—all at a reasonable price that meets your budget. Make sure to ask for samples of their work, along with any references or other verifications you may require.
Get More, Spend Less
It may feel impossible to find your way out of this economic slump, but the world of online shopping isn’t slowing down any time soon, so neither should your business. With the right combination of budget-friendly marketing strategies and e-commerce tools, you’ll be able to save money, streamline your workflows, and meet customer demands. Try some of our recommendations out and remember, delighting your customers all starts with a smart plan, some ingenuity, and having the right support to keep your business moving forward.
More Personalization, More Conversions
Looking for ways to boost your revenue, delight your customers, and do it without having to take on more work? Granify’s innovative machine-learning technology and experienced team deliver the personalized experiences your customers want, right when they want it. The only thing you need to do is get in touch with us. Book your free consultation today to find out how we can give your e-commerce business a lot more for a lot less than you’d expect.
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