Retail marketing expenditures have been lowered since the start of the COVID-19 epidemic, but revenue objectives have not been trimmed in the same way.

With fewer resources, independent merchants are obliged to undertake more marketing. At the same time, they are dealing with changing income structures and learning eCommerce digital marketing basics.

This year has witnessed remarkable development in several industries. For example, according to McKinsey, since the start of the coronavirus epidemic, online sales in clothes, department shops, and beauty items have grown by roughly ten percentage points on average.

Others have had a more difficult time.

Even though most retail establishments will open in the summer of 2020, many people will still prefer to buy online.

So, how will this shift in customer behavior affect how small businesses go to market?

Will these businesses adopt new revenue-generating strategies?

This article aims to answer these and other questions for small merchants.

Ecommerce Digital Marketing is on the Rise

The impacts of a dramatic shift in consumer behavior have been felt by brick and mortar shops during the last few years. According to eMarketer’s US eCommerce 2020 Study, yearly US eCommerce sales are expected to reach $710 billion in 2020, up 18% from 2019 and up 54% from 2017. As a result, purchasing things through the internet is fast becoming an everyday activity.

So, what does this imply for small businesses?

The function of a physical shop was changing even before the coronavirus outbreak. Retail shops are no longer just a route for product distribution; they also allow customers to try out products before purchasing.

According to behavioral research, consumers will continue to visit physical stores for professional advice, socializing, and product testing.

To boost online sales, retail marketers will need to adopt new digital marketing techniques and approaches swiftly. Customers can purchase items outside of a physical store in one of two ways:

  1. Direct to Consumer
  2. Click and Collect

We will examine each of these purchase models in the sections below.

Direct to Consumer Presents a Challenge

Direct to consumer (also known as DTC or D2C) refers to businesses that offer their products directly to customers rather than through third-party retailers, wholesalers, or other intermediaries. However, several merchants have developed their product delivery techniques to provide consumers with the direct shipment. Independent merchants, on the other hand, may find it challenging to compete in this market.

Consumers are used to buying goods and services from firms like Amazon online. They’ve gotten to enjoy tailored consumer experiences based on sophisticated platforms and technology. Personal information is likewise treated like cash by buyers. Fifty-seven percent of internet consumers are willing to provide personal information if it is beneficial to them.

This informative currency will be traded by retailers who can offer value to the pre-purchase experience. In addition, marketers may present their businesses as trustworthy and reliable to online customers by providing an exceptional website user experience, high-value content, and an active social media presence.

With more competition online, ad costs have risen on sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, potentially inflating marketing spend if not appropriately handled. Learning the ins and outs of running advertising on various platforms may be pricey. Platform specialists with access to content and creative resources may be a good option for independent merchants who outsource paid marketing skills.

Traditional retail marketing strategies are pretty different from eCommerce digital marketing. For example, half of the consumers would go to a brand’s website rather than a retailer’s because brand websites provide more detailed information about their items. This means that merchants seeking to compete in this sector may need to spend significant money on content marketing to meet consumer demand for product information.

Click-and-Collect Shows Growth Potential

Sales of items or services bought online for pickup at a store, pickup hub site, or curbside collection are called click-and-collect. According to the same eMarketer report, ‘click-and-collect sales in the United States are expected to increase by more than 60% in 2020.

It’s impossible to predict how long coronavirus will affect consumer behavior. However, for specific shoppers, click-and-collect buying techniques may be the way of the future.

Doug Stephens, a self-described “retail futurist” and subject-matter expert, claims in an interview with Retail Dive that “by as early as 2033, the majority of our everyday consumption would be transacted online.”

Today’s buyers frequently converse with Amazon’s Alexa and place orders using a touchscreen device. So for retail marketers that are courageous — and imaginative — enough to take on the challenge, the atmosphere for this type of eCommerce digital marketing approach is ripe.

Consumer behavior, on the other hand, differs significantly by region. There have been notable variations in behavior in various states in the United States alone. These variations in behavior are caused by disparities in emergency mandates, community responses to the epidemic, and population density. When developing and executing an eCommerce digital marketing plan, retailers who understand their respective marketplaces and customer behavior will have an advantage.

Creativity Remains Essential for Retail Marketers

The pandemic’s edge circumstances have prompted marketers to be more creative in their approach and adapt to this new customer behavior, creating an ideal setting for innovation. Here are a few instances of independent merchants who used innovative marketing techniques.

Mattress Warehouse goes out of its way to make its clients feel at ease in their locations. Employees not only supply masks and gloves and maintain a 6-foot space within stores, but they also allow consumers to schedule an exclusive in-store appointment. This type of experience instills confidence and trust in clients, allowing them to purchase as important as a mattress online.

 On game days, Sports World, an independent store located directly across from Wrigley Field in Chicago, attracts an average of 40,000 customers. Still, in 2020, they were compelled to sell all of their sports memorabilia on their website. They utilized a mix of direct-to-consumer and click-and-collect techniques to make their purchases. These activities kept the firm afloat during the critical months of the epidemic, which would typically be the first half of a regular MLB season. In addition, investing in these digital eCommerce platforms has prepared the shop for a surge in online orders when baseball is in high demand.

Ecommerce Digital Marketing Should Be Measured Differently

Independent shops must now, more than ever, drive more sales with smaller marketing expenditures. It is possible, but accurate assessment and a demonstrable return on marketing expenditure are required.

It’s still challenging to link advertising spend to in-store foot traffic and revenue, whether traditional or digital. It can be quantified, but it necessitates a significant amount of ad expenditure. Even yet, there is no way to show that an advertisement led a client to make a purchase in-store.

It’s also easy for marketers who are just getting their feet wet in the eCommerce world to get caught up in worthless conversion numbers. The essential thing is to generate actual revenue.

Next steps for your e-commerce marketing strategy

You should already be aware of the significance of UX, as it seems to reason that a smooth, easy, and enjoyable experience on your site is more likely to result in a good lead, sales, or conversion outcome.

Reviews are a straightforward approach to improve the perception of your website and items. If you’re currently collecting reviews from sites like TrustPilot, you can easily pipe these ratings into your website to give legitimacy and reinforce trustworthiness.

Pay attention to any pinch spots your site may have during loading and navigating as a straightforward approach to enhancing the user experience. The Google Lighthouse audit, which is free and available through the Chrome browser, is an excellent method to obtain an overview of any faults your site may have. For example, if your site loads quickly for desktop visitors but is slow and small for mobile users, you can bet they won’t convert as well.

Fixes range from the simple, such as defining picture sizes inside the HTML, to the more resource-intensive, such as eliminating JavaScript bloat.

In light of this study, it is apparent that now, more than ever is time to devote resources to improve the functioning of your mobile site – both as a conversion channel and as an essential element of the purchase process.

That concludes my description of our most recent E-commerce User Experience study. I hope you found it informative and that you now have some ideas for how to improve your digital channels and platforms.

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