It’s time again to revisit the various and sundry “tips and tricks” feature that serves up a reminder on how to make your online store work for you. Search engines are littered with hints from analysts, fellow ecommerce vendors, and influencers alike, all poised to help you kickstart or continue to grow your business. Peruse every hint you’re given; choose the ones that may fluidly be put into practice.
Just think! At some point you may be in a position to hand out advice. Until then, embrace the lessons learned by those whose trails were blazed before you, and those who have kept close watch on the booming commercial phenomenon of internet sales.
Here are four useful tips, in no particular order:
The Age of Ecommerce – It’s Low
Youth is wasted on the young, a pop culture proverb says. Possibly, but it’s not wasted on ecommerce sales. If you aren’t in a niche sector tailored naturally to boomers or the elderly, pay attention. The market is now dominated by under-35ers.
Estimates hold that young consumers have driven the shift to online shopping, and this escalated following the year-plus long Covid pandemic shutdowns. Keeping in mind the importance of developing broad-based marketing strategies, it’s a good bet that targeting younger consumers will pay off big, for a variety of reasons.
First, and most obvious, they compose the lion’s share of online buyers. Second, they are influencers who are often called on by older relatives, coworkers, and others for ideas and knowledge of internet shopping.
Second, those young shoppers won’t be young forever. Cultivating and currying favor among them now will build loyalty – as long as you think carefully about how to tweak your marketing along the way.
Looking at expanding your reach to multiple social media platforms is an essential way to take advantage of the younger consumer base. They populate Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and other apps that are not the standard Facebook (which, almost comically, has become a domain for the older set). Linking your online store through platforms like Shopify is a great start, although a bit of manual labor might allow you to skip that intermediary. Facebook, for example, and its affiliate Instagram continually update features to accommodate online shopping.
Make them happy
What do young shoppers want and expect from online sellers? There are a multitude of answers to that, but common answers include optimized search functions, intuitive interfaces, fresh content, a minimum of unnecessary communications (they are a busy set!) and – wait for it – splashy graphics. Visuals go a long way if they aren’t gawdy and overwhelming.
Considering younger internet users were the first to embrace social media, remember that they still congregate there frequently, even if their preferred platform choices evolve. Many will follow friends who offer inspirational input.
And don’t count out teens, a demographic increasingly gaining access to capital. Their direct buying power is a boon to your business, so treat it accordingly. Research trends and preferences, as well as which sites successfully attract them (see this Good Housekeeping piece from 2020). Respect their price-point limitations without attempting to sell them junk. They will spend more on one good item than four cheaply-made items.
Despite assumptions to the contrary, teens and younger buyers don’t demand high levels of information and an excess of graphics. They should be attractive and educational, but also simplified to capture and keep attention.
Finally, make it clear that you understand their technological savvy. Prove you want to make their buying experience as seamless as possible, leaving open channels of communication initiated by them. It’s impossible to overstate the importance of gaining trust and comfort as a way of forming permanent seller/consumer relationships.
There’s no place like home. The infamous line out of an iconic film tugs on emotional heart strings, but its practicality is inescapable. Perhaps no time in modern history have so many people around the world been reacquainted with the importance of establishing a livable, enjoyable home space as they are now doing more than a year after a global pandemic halted both outside and inside public activities.
The transition from a frightening experience in early 2020, when exterior areas that once bustled with activity were practically ghost towns, to a new hope for reopening, has been gradual and welcomed. That said, few expected the various lockdown mandates to last this long. Coping has been a struggle, between setting up remote workspaces, keeping kids entertained between online learning, and just generally curbing options for pursuits such as shopping.
But something else happened along the way. Consumers increased the already growing rate of online shopping – not just for staples, but for infrastructural home goods aimed at turning a living space into a pleasant permanent shelter. This was an unanticipated boost for merchants peddling related items. And the news gets better: estimates say up to 40 percent of customers who rarely bought online are now seriously considering it as a way of life.
Whether it’s textiles, décor, furniture, hardware, or anything else in the home goods category, shoppers have found the silver lining in COVID-19’s dark cloud by skipping annoying trips around town, in search of the right item. Spending so much time indoors has drawn attention to the living experience people want to enjoy, and this is a golden opportunity for online retailers of home-centered merchandise.
Home goods retailer Bed Bath & Beyond, for example, reported a rare uptick in 2020 sales, despite four consecutive prior years of losses. Their digital sales increased 80 percent. That’s gargantuan, and inspiring.
Your online business may not be in the league of a BB&B or a Lowe’s, Target, or other big-time entities. But you have a product to offer, and if you pay attention to strategy, you may reap the benefits of this mass conversion to digital commerce in the home goods sector.
It’s critical to strike now, while the proverbial iron is hot. Large-scale job losses have spurred government unemployment spending, including decent-sized federal subsidies. Those are slated to end in August, but they already have been extended twice. What happens next is anyone’s guess. Your job today is to meet the needs of shoppers with capital.
The lesson here is to learn how to reach this new brand of consumer. Use the standard strategies of strong marketing, updated product inventory, catchy advertising, and fiscal health checkups to be sure your mechanics are in place. Tailor your advertising (and all communications) to those who have reevaluated the state of their home centers, and pitch with provocative language geared toward making permanent the current focus on home sweet home.
For inspiration and ideas on how to make your online store work for you, hit up Shopify. They’re always good for fresh, motivating content.