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In part one of our Achieving Ecommerce Excellence series, Digital Blueprints’s Director James Davey speaks to Joanne Jong of Yulan Creative about building a successful ecommerce strategy

How do you create a successful ecommerce strategy?

First up, you need to decide what success looks like for you. A lot of ecommerce and retail businesses don’t do this. They’ll say that they want a successful ecommerce business, but that’s too vague.

You have to start at the bottom. Look at what you’re trying to sell, the margins available and how much you need to make out of the business.

From there you can reverse engineer a business model.

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What’s the basis of a successful ecommerce strategy?

We have an Ecommerce Excellence Model, which looks at seven core areas. Voice of the Customer and Operational Excellence are the core two, which are supported by five others: Customer Acquisition, Online Trading, On-Site Conversion, Customer Retention and Analytics & Reporting.

Voice of Customer refers back to what your customers are telling you about your business. This could be by Net Promoter Score® or customer satisfaction ratings.

Operational Excellence, on the other hand, runs through your business and refers to your processes. It covers elements including packaging, delivery and so on.

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Online Trading looks at the sale in particular. For instance, do you include online finance for items with high price points? Are there ratings and reviews on the site to build trust?

Customer Acquisition sits at the top of the funnel and refers to how you attract customers to your site, whether that’s PPC or social media. On-Site Conversion then outlines how to turn them into customers, while Customer Retention explores how you keep them. Obviously, Analytics & Reporting are core to all of this, because they tell you if you’re plan is working.

It’s not any one of those things that makes a difference. You have to look at them all in the round.

If small brands are finding it hard to get traction, what’s the lowest their conversion rate can be? 

I’ve seen big brands with conversion rates as low as 0.5%, while I’ve seen the conversion rate in very small brands of 3.5% to 5%. Although a 5% conversion rate is pretty good, they’re still losing 95% of people. 

Conversion is, by far, the most important thing to focus on. It allows you to play in spaces that otherwise don’t make financial sense. 

How do small brands compete with the standards set by Amazon and John Lewis? 

There are a number of ways; most large brands struggle to develop a level of service that is customer-orientated because they’re so big. 

A new brand entering the market on Shopify can launch a gift card within five minutes. They can set up click-and-collect or talk to Pass My Parcel. You don’t have to be big to offer those services.

However, you must think about them and whether your customer needs them. Same-day delivery, for instance, is pointless for 90% of brands. Unless it’s a commodity you’ve lost, and you need it tomorrow – like your phone – then customers probably aren’t going to use same-day delivery.

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What are your three don’ts when it comes to ecommerce? 

1. Don’t ignore your customer. Unfortunately, there are still some rands that don’t focus on customer service.  

2. Don’t think that throwing a load of money into paid media will deliver success.

3. Don’t think your ecommerce store is a shop window. It’s not, it’s a store. It’s important that you make sales.

What is your one pearl of wisdom for brands building their business online? 

Focus on conversion. It will allow you to spend more money on the other areas of the Ecommerce Excellence Model.

Got questions about ecommerce strategy and building a successful ecommerce brand? Speak to The Commerce Collective about the Ecommerce Excellence Model using our live chat app in the bottom right of the screen.