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The five simple rules of success in ecommerce

The five simple rules of success in ecommerce
Summary: As we move towards an "online first" experience in many categories, what do we need to be thinking about…

Back in the day, ecommerce was just a secondary channel for retailers to satisfy demand for certain customer types and product… it was the problem child for retailers, but in the fullness of time and with the accelerator of COVID, what was a minor disruptor has taken over as the primary channel for many retailers and product categories.

The UK is leading the way in this shift (both before and during COVID) – UK ecommerce spending in Q1 grew by 54% YoY, reaching £28bn in spend. This is considerably faster than the global average – for comparison, US online sales grew 39% YoY, and the global average growth figure was 38%.

The realities of eCommerce and the new direction they have paved for retailers mean businesses need to consider the optimum channel for their products and services in the future. For most brands, eCommerce is a necessity.

Rule 1 – Put the Right Platform in Place

eCommerce platforms on which brands can build and launch their online offering have grown in functionality and reduced in price significantly.

On one hand, eCommerce platforms have made incredible functional advancements in an extremely short period of time, which bodes well for companies looking to get started, the obverse of this is it can be a lot of information to process, and thus a difficult decision for companies to actually choose the eCommerce technology that best suits their needs.

When it comes down to it, nobody can tell you which is the correct eCommerce platform because you know your business best. But some things to consider are responsiveness, scalability, usability and, most importantly, how much you’ll be able to customize and mould the technology to do what you need it to and to balance off the benefit of customising the customer experience with additional cost and maintainability.

Rule 2 – Know Your Audience

The Golden Rule for eCommerce is don’t build your store if you don’t know your audience, analyse their personas, check out your current website’s analytics to see who they are… and don’t just believe what the sales team says – prove it.

Once you’ve figured out your audience, now you need to put in more work to understand them; their likes, dislikes, and tendencies are just as important as who they are.

From here – everything is easier, and you’ll be on path destined for success.

Rule 3 – Optimize for Conversion

The great thing about eCommerce platforms and the speed at which they’ve grown and improved is that they’re conversion oriented out-of-the-box. Most eCommerce platforms have evolved and been developed for the sales process so they’re already optimized to sell, sell, and sell some more – you just have to tweak the settings.

Be aware, this is not a one time event – you must monitor this as your most important KPI all the time in the UK the average is 1.88% (compared to 0.99% in Italy for example) but this also varies wildly by product category.


Rule 4 – Your Customer’s Experience MUST be outstanding

The customer experience you deliver is the core of your proposition whether its online or offline.

Customers know when you are off the pace – so be aware of this when designing and delivering the customer experience –

The good news is there are many ways to ensure your online store offers an outstanding customer experience, it isn’t magic, but it isn’t easy either – implement your standards and stick to them. If you’re not sure where to start, give us a call.

On this point, last but definitely not least – This year sales on phones in the UK will outpace sales on conventional computers – so stop designing on the big screen and then worrying how to fit it on a phone…. Start with the phone and build a responsive site from there.


Rule 5 – Listen, Learn and Improve

Your best route to differentiation from the competition is to constantly analyse and review your shop and to learn from the competition if they are beating you. We aren’t talking huge changes – its all about making small, incremental improvements that have meaningful impact.

Something as simple as adding decent search functionality to your website can have a huge impact on your conversions and sales.

Remember, the average rate of shopping cart abandonment is around 70% – but too few retailers follow this up – in fact in a recent survey by Optilead they surveyed 100 top online retailers in the US and UK to see how they responded to cart abandonment – in fact only 24% of the UK retailers tested did ANYTHING to try to recover those carts, and in terms of all the tests carried out only Currys, Matalan, Sony, Stylebop and Virgin Wines contacted every one of those “customers” so a big shout out to them.

As our partners at SiteTuners emphasise, If you can hone in on why customers might be abandoning their carts and decrease the rate by just a few percent, you’ll not only deliver a better experience to your customers, you’ll also increase your bottom line.


Hope you’ve enjoyed this – if you want a chat, reach out to us – we’ve all been in the ecommerce game for many more years than we can really admit.

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