How can growing businesses build a successful small business ecommerce strategy with limited time, budget, and resources? [AleksandarNakic / Getty Images]
The internet is a loud, busy place - especially if you're a small- or medium-sized business (SMB) competing with big players for your share of the market. And the market is big: In 2021, the number of digital buyers is expected to reach an incredible 2.14 billionacross the globe - the largest audience recorded. SMBs are up against enterprise brands, and they face an age-old challenge: How do you build a successful small business ecommerce strategy with limited time, budget, and resources?
Here's a few practical tips to help your quest for small business ecommerce growth.
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Track metrics and adjust accordingly
Your business plan might evolve over time, but the metrics to measure your ecommerce success will stay the same. Stay on top of these metrics to uncover actionable insights about where there's room for improvement and how to adjust your ecommerce strategy:
Understand the traffic you're driving to your website or channel. Determine how shoppers typically find your site - organic search, paid advertising, or social? Once you know which types of traffic bring in the most shoppers, you can focus on behaviors that will drive more. For example, if most shoppers find you through organic search, you can double-down on your SEO strategy or supplement it with a paid campaign.
Know your conversion rate. How many visitors place an order? Compare this number against your industry average to determine whether your products or services are competitive. Track your conversion rate over time to help you identify trends and act on them quickly. For example, if your conversion rate drops suddenly, this may indicate an issue with your checkout workflow or site performance.
Know the average number of units per transaction (UPT). Aim to increase this number to help boost your bottom line. To improve your UPT, recommend lower-value items that compliment a shopper's primary purchase.
Track the total number of successful orders placed on your channels. Understand this number and the trends that change over time to help with inventory planning. Tracking total orders over time will allow you to plan for seasons of high and low demand. For accuracy, don't count post-sale adjustments such as returns.
When you understand the performance of your business, it's easier to find opportunities and strengths, and to budget for continued success.
Create searchable, engaging content on all channels
It's estimated that Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second - that's 3.5 billion searches per day. Simply put, people are looking for products and services. To capture their clicks and get buyers in your small business ecommerce pipeline, create relevant content through the lens of search trends, keywords, and search intent. This will help you attract the right customers to your website and drive conversion.
Live commerce - hosting live virtual events with shopping opportunities - blurs the line between entertainment and shopping, and it can be an especially lucrative channel for small businesses.
If you have a limited budget, consider free, open-source tools such as Google Trends and AnswerThePublic to help you understand emerging keywords and how to incorporate them successfully into your content. Don't forget to regularly review the results and make updates to improve performance.
As social channels become a larger piece of the ecommerce puzzle, pursue opportunities on Instagram and Facebook. Live commerce - hosting live virtual events with shopping opportunities - blurs the line between entertainment and shopping, and it can be an especially lucrative channel for small businesses. Even if your audience size starts small, each event is a chance to communicate with hot leads in real-time, answer live questions about your products and services, and demonstrate features.
For example, the Body Shop in Brazil launched a Cyber Monday live shopping event complete with product demonstrations, skincare routines, and tips. According to the brand, this event helped The Body Shop exceed its expected conversion rate by 100% and provided a unique, innovative experience to their customers.
Simplify product discovery
It's not enough to simply drive traffic to your site - you also need shoppers to convert. The best place to start? Reduce unnecessary steps in your customer journey to help ensure a smooth shopping experience and drive high conversion and revenue. Dive into metrics for insights about what needs to be improved for conversion.
Create guided selling techniques like assessments or quizzes to encourage product discovery and help customers find what they're looking for. Engaging and creative content will help your customers better visualize your products and spend more time on your site. Celebrate customers by featuring user-generated content from social media on your commerce site.
Create guided selling techniques like assessments or quizzes to encourage product discovery and help customers find what they're looking for. Engaging and creative content will help your customers better visualize your products and spend more time on your site.
Artificial intelligence (AI) tools can make a huge impact on product discovery - especially for small businesses who may not have the resources to manually mine data for actionable insights. AI takes the guesswork out of product recommendations and has the power to automate merchandising. Customers overwhelmingly appreciate it: 60% are open to the use of AI in customer engagement, including 66% of Millennials.
Streamline your cart and checkout workflow
The customer journey doesn't end at "add-to-cart" - in fact, the cart is an entire experience in itself. Optimize your cart by updating items as they're added, allowing customers to create a wish list. Include an easy-to-see "remove" button. This button is critical to a seamless checkout experience and it usually has some of the highest interaction rates on the cart page.
Don't forget to offer a variety of payment methods to contribute to a better customer experience. Enable all major global digital payment methods. Include credit cards and mobile wallets such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal.
Delivery channels are currently strained due to supply-chain issues and huge demand, so consider the best method for getting your products to your customer. A connected in-store and digital inventory order management system can help you offer buy-online-pick-up-in-store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup at your local shop. Customers always appreciate small business ecommerce methods that provide the most options.
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