The growth of online sales as a percentage of all retail continues to grow, but ecommerce itself is beginning to mature — and that online retailers were having to change their business models to reflect that. Whereas a novel concept or a low price was once enough to get customers to visit the site, the maturity of the channel meant that companies needed to shift their focus towards more sophisticated analysis that examines more fragmented ways visitors find their site and the rate at which those visits convert to sales.
Current data indicates that retail brands are prioritizing customer acquisition over retention and it shows in the performance of customer loyalty programs. Accenture notes that less than half of retailers say their loyalty programs get C-Suite support. It's evident in further research that indicates that the majority of loyalty customers are inactive and receive product offers that they are not interested in.
No More "Spray and Pray"
As ecommerce evolves, shoppers have an expectation that businesses will be marketing to them with relevant and often personalized messages, so "spray and pray" marketing is falling on deaf ears. Consumers are looking for the shopping experience itself to add value, and it's up to the brands to deliver. However, with the rapid advance of technology, shifts in consumer tastes and changing habits in multichannel shopping, it is difficult for companies to provide such an experience. Consumer acquisition has become a moving target. To hit their mark, marketers need to think and act in different ways to capture new business.
Doing this means taking a closer look at the whole of the customer journey, from the first interaction to end-stage nurtured brand advocacy. Episerver attempted to quantify consumer shopping and the expectations people have of their favorite brands. They found that the first time a customer visits a website does not always result in a purchase. Around 25 percent are just comparing prices, and over 10 percent are only looking for a deal. These visitors may not be represented in consumer surveys, but their experiences are valid. “While not every consumer visiting a brand’s website is there to make a purchase, brands must consider how the experience of their websites — from navigation to checkout — supports engagement,” explains Episerver Chief Marketing Officer James Norwood. “The content customers see and the experiences they have while interacting with a brand online are crucial to shaping their purchasing behavior.”
Tribulations of Trial
Brands must coordinate an online and offline strategy across this spectrum in order to present a seamless, unified presence from which to engage customers from the first visit. Effective acquisition depends on embracing new outreach strategies that look at the strength of website content, how relevant it is to the user, and the accuracy of the information. It's the professional representation that gives customers the confidence to trial new products and invest in new brands.
Onestop is a full-service ecommerce solutions provider, delivering ecommerce technology development, creative design, performance marketing, photography, customer service and fulfillment for more than 130 brands. Based on this expereince, the company has recently released a free eBook that examines some of the more innovative ways ecommerce brands are acquiring new customers.