A month ago, the shift to an ecommerce-first economy was steady and predictable. As our economy collides head on with the effects of COVID-19, dramatic changes in consumer behavior have accelerated the shift. Ecommerce-first is no longer a likely future, it’s the present reality. Strategic changes businesses were planning to address over years have quickly become immediate priorities. Now what? Do you need to re-evaluate your strategy? Here are three questions you should be asking yourself about your ecommerce strategy:
1. Do customers know your brand name?
Customers buying your products off brick and mortar shelves doesn’t necessarily mean that customer knows or is loyal to your brand. Rather, brick and mortar sales are often an indicator that your product was well merchandised within a store the consumer knows and is loyal to. Similarly, high brick and mortar sales don’t necessarily imply strong brand recognition. As more traditional retailers launch online and continue to grow their presence, brand recognition and equity has become central to the long-term success of products online. The days of customers walking through stores and stumbling upon your product are fleeting. When shopping online for a chainsaw, the likelihood of a customer purchasing your product exponentially decreases if they search “chainsaw” rather than “[insert brand name] chainsaw”; and let’s not forget voice recognition ordering (Alexa, Siri, Google Asst.) If your customers aren’t searching for your brand by name, your brand is at the mercy of the search algorithms and is subject to the perils of a race-to-the-bottom pricing.
2. Are you paying attention to how your brand looks online?
Your customers are now interacting with your brand in a completely virtual setting, up until the product arrives at their door. All the information they need to make a purchase must be communicated clearly. Are you maximizing your content by marketplace? Ensuring your customers can find and ultimately decide to buy your products over your competitor’s products starts with optimizing your branded content by marketplace. This includes understanding product picture requirements, product description word count restrictions, on site SEO optimization, proper titling, and enhanced product listing content. Being ecommerce-first ready means having a strategy to ensure that your brand looks as good and converts as efficiently on the dozens of essential non-Amazon online marketplaces (e.g. Target.com, Walmart.com, Lowes.com, etc.) as it does on Amazon and in your brick and mortar retail locations.
3. Who is selling your products and where are they selling them?
“Stack it high and watch it fly” were once words of wisdom. More products to more retailers meant more revenue for your brand. Saturating the market with product made sense in a brick and mortar world. In the ecommerce world, however, over saturation of retailers can be extremely damaging. Knowing exactly who is selling your products and where they are selling them is key for controlling price integrity and maintaining a high-quality brand image. Generally speaking, it is beneficial in brick-and-mortar to have your product on the shelves of more retailers. This applies even if they are all lining the same street, as you want your product in front of customers regardless of which retailer they choose. Think about the difference. Online, retailers aren’t selling on their own shelves in their own stores. Rather, all the retailers are in the same store selling your products to the same customers, competing against each other rather than against your competition – for a customer who already decided to purchase your product – with few levers to pull other than price. In ecommerce, approach marketplaces as you would your brick and mortar retail locations. You want your products on as many relevant marketplaces as possible. However, limit your online retailers on each marketplace to those who will help you compete against your competitors rather than compete against each other for your product’s sales. In an ideal situation, find one ecommerce partner who will help you compete on all of your top marketplaces.