According to US Department of Commerce, the eCommerce market has hit yet another big quarter – web sales totaled $86.3 billion for the period till March end. The number is a 15.1% increase over the $75.0 billion in the first quarter of 2015.
In case you were wondering what the growth of eCommerce looked like in other countries, here’s a look:
And if you’re specifically looking for how much eCommerce has grown in India over the years, these numbers should say it all:
While the growth might not look as fast moving in comparison to the US and China, the eCommerce sector in India too is fast moving. And if you haven’t been living under a rock, you would have noticed how suddenly there are far too many online stores for just about everything.
For instance, when you look for a particular shoe on Google, you practically come across multiple online stores that are selling the same product – maybe at different prices. But also note here that while the big players in the industry are top listed, there are also others in the field that have the shoe we are looking for.
In simpler words, if you own an online store – no matter what is it that you sell, you have more than just a handful of competition. And if the competition comes with bigger marketing budgets than yours, you’re going to lose out on almost 69% of your sales – no matter how great your deals and sales are.
Now let’s take into account the time when Amazon was the only online store one visited to look for products in different categories. Fast forward to now, you will notice how you end up looking for the same product beyond Amazon – Flipkart, Snapdeal, Myntra and the list just keeps going till you find a deal that suits your budget.
What’s the basis of your choice? The price of the product and the reviews the store has garnered over time.
If you were a store owner – especially one that is new, this is a reason to worry. The big players are going to take away all your customers because you can’t just keep offering endless discounts just for a sale.
So how do you survive in this competitive market?
By following what Amazon does till date to maintain its reputation and sales year after year.
Hacks used by Amazon that can make your online store the next big thing
Localisation of the store
If your online store sells globally, then the very first thing you need to do is localisation. We’re not asking you to translate every aspect of your store into different languages. All we say is that identify where majority of your customers are coming from and then localise the store in terms of the products available and the pricing displayed.
For instance, when I access Amazon.com from India, the very first message that I get from them is if I’d like to switch to their Indian website. After all, no one really has the time to convert the pricing of the products they see in their currency. Imagine the amount of effort that would go into searching for the current currency rates and then doing the math.
Displaying what’s interesting first
Almost 80% of the times, online shoppers land on a store looking for something and then stray into other categories to discover interesting stuff. As an online store owner, this is your opportunity to bag a higher value sale, cross sell or upsell popular products and run other campaigns that add to your revenue.
Now Amazon knows that people love shopping online and for them, interesting is what’s not going to cost them a bomb. So they display a redirection option in the banner of their home page to a product page that lists all the interesting finds down!
When you click on ‘explore’, the store redirects you to a page where all the interesting products are listed down along with their prices and how many people have shown interest in them:
Continuing on the point above, even their most popular products are leveraging the power of social proof. Social proof is basically reviews, ratings, feedback, etc on products that add to its credibility in terms of quality and functionality. These are made by customers who have previously purchased and experienced the product.
An average online shopper completes half the sales cycle while researching on the product he is looking for. And social proof plays an important role in manoeuvring his decision.
Amazon displays the ratings and the reviews its customers have dropped on each product right below the product name. This creates a rapport of them being trustworthy by helping their customers make the right purchase decision.
Contextual up-sell and cross sell campaigns
If you could make a sale of $10 to a person like me who is interested in toys, would you or should you settle for just a $3 purchase that I am planning to make? The answer is, no. Successful eCommerce businesses understand the power of up-selling and cross selling their products because an online shopper may or may not have discovered the other options available on the store.
Amazon displays up-sell options right below the product you have shown interest in, nudging with the fact that there are others who bought the combo they are showing. They also display a section showing products related to what you’re viewing and have also been popular in their category.
Note here: They aren’t trying to push a set of t-shirts to me because I showed interest only in a toy. The up-sell and cross sell campaigns here are both highly contextual in nature.
Personalized on-site experience
Apart from suggesting more products in the range I have currently shown interest in, Amazon also makes use of my previous browsing data. It displays the products I have recently shown interest in and those that they would like to recommend based on my interests.
Now this does two things – I might not have purchased the product I previously had shown interest in and then totally forgot about; so this would remind me of it. It will also give me exposure to other interesting products in the same category that might add more value to me – in this case, these books.
Highly personalized emails
Emails are the most effective channel for eCommerce marketing. Since you can directly reach out to your customer, you have a channel to promote products that are guaranteed to bring him back to the store, nudge him towards a purchase and boost your sales.
Amazon sends me recommended products based on my previous purchases and browsing history every week. This ensures that I too don’t miss out on good deals they are running and they don’t miss out on a possible sale!
Now personalizing your emails to this extent might seem like a challenge to you, but companies like Wigzo empower you with machine learning tools. These tools are designed to track your store visitor’s online activity, help you create better customer profiles with data that enables you to strategize personalized campaigns.
In case you’re wondering why you need to focus on email personalization like Amazon, here’s the impact of this tactic on the open rates if you implement it right:
Amazon also has cart recovery campaign in place so as to remind their shoppers of the items they have left behind. This not just reminds them of the purchase they were planning to make, but also lets them know if the product is popular and might go out of stock if they take too long to make a decision.
Always ask for feedback
The only way you can build a loyal consumer base like Amazon, is to continue to deliver a great experience to your customers. And to do so, you will need to take first hand feedback from them regarding the purchases they have recently made, their on-site experience, etc.
For instance, after a week of the product being delivered to you, Amazon sends across an email asking for feedback on the product. The mail’s pretty much to the point – rate and review your purchase.
Running referral campaigns
The one tactic that most eCommerce businesses forget tapping in on are referral marketing campaigns.
Let’s face it, you’re more likely to believe a recommendation made by your best friend or family than an advertisement being run by the company. This is why referral campaigns are known to generate quality sales and boost customer loyalty.
Amazon runs a pretty simple ‘refer and earn’ campaign for its shoppers. You recommend them to a friend, earn an amount when the person makes a purchase. Then you can redeem this amount in the next purchase you’re making. You get an added discount and they get another customer – win-win situation for the both of you!
Executing retargeting campaigns
Like we mentioned before, it isn’t necessary that an online shopper makes the purchase in the first go. He could even leave without adding the product to the wish list or his cart. But this does not mean that you let him forget about it!
Amazon runs smart retargeting campaigns on social media and other digital platforms that reminds the shopper of the product he had shown interest in. This helps keep their deal at the top of the shopper’s mind for when he finally does decide to make the purchase.
Over to you
Apart from the above stated, Amazon has a considerably optimized checkout process as well. While initially they might ask for some of your data, they save it to your account for future use and make the going a matter of a few minutes – if you don’t end up browsing endlessly through products.
They also retain the items you have added to your cart for a few days so that the returning visitor doesn’t need to go over various product pages to find it again.
The idea is basically to make the online shopper’s experience as personalized as possible. The higher your level of personalization, the greater the number of sales will your business generate.