The total sale of merchandise sold online in the U.S. was more than $294 billion in 2015 and is anticipated to surpass $485 billion by 2021. Though this lucrative industry continues to thrive, it becomes more and more difficult for individual e-commerce retailers to stand out in this cyber market. What tactics work best for funneling more of that online action to individual commercial websites? Here is a diverse compilation of promotional strategies designed to help online retailers drive growth and keep from sinking in the ever-more-crowded cyber seas.
Promote the Experience
First and foremost, an online retailer needs to promote the site as a shopping experience that is enjoyable and easy; this experience is at the core of customer service and can often give sellers a competitive edge even if they do not boast the lowest product price. It is a matter of quality.
This experience can be the experience of using the website, which means hi-res photos, quality graphics, readable text on the content pages, the fewest amount of clicks to get from A to B and a simplified checkout process that accepts as many forms of payment as the business can feasibly get away with. Or it can be the experience that transcends the online transaction and continues on in real life. Cabela’s is a brand known for creating a buying experience that doesn’t end with the sale by offering personalized customer seminars with hands-on product training, which can come in handy with high-tech devices like Sonar/GPS combos. This experience makes customers feel that they get more than their money’s worth, as they are able to forge a relationship with the merchant.
To enhance that positive online shopping experience, merchants must offer their site visitors a unique encounter that caters to their interests and needs. Sites like Amazon have perfected this technique, automatically generating lists of other products a customer might like based on the products they view and the history of other users who purchased that same product in the past. It is the same concept that Netflix uses to recommend new selections to users. Tech tools that catch and memorize individual shopper’s preferences are readily available, so why not tailor each experience to the specific user having it?
Boast a Mobile Platform
The natural evolution of internet buying and selling is internet buying and selling on the go, so without a comprehensive mobile commerce platform, online businesses will suffer. A contender in e-commerce sales will be sure to offer at least a few mobile compatible, smartphone accessible services for their customers like product information, delivery status inquiries, click-to-contact and real-time notifications.
Market to Micro-groups
Don’t try to please everyone. Focus promotions on one narrow target audience at a time, and be aware of current demographics. Any modern merchant not catering to the millennial sub-sect is missing out on one of the most willing buyer groups to date. Colors, fonts and the context in which the product is presented is nearly as important as the product itself.
Create Exclusivity and Urgency
To make exclusive products means to limit the quantity available and the methods of obtaining a certain product or service. Making merchandise available only online through one site increases the perceived value of the merchandise. Add the sense of urgency by associating it with an expiration date. Often consumers are responsive to incentives that link limited-time special offers to products that are limited-edition, or even financial incentives like free shipping for those who order within the first hour.
With online sales being the billion dollar industry it is, cyber merchants can’t afford to not pull out all the stops. In a market this big, sellers need to employ strategies for smart promotion to make their marks and stake their claims.