The new year is here; however, the market challenges of 2022 didn’t evaporate with the turning of the calendar. Supply chain issues, inflation and other economic headwinds that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine are still present for merchants. The current economic environment has driven consumers to be more budget conscious and price sensitive as inflation pushes up the cost of living and products’ prices. In fact, inflation is causing American households to spend about $450 more per month buying the exact same items they did a year ago.
The good news is that retailers can use this time of market instability to double down on their online stores. Here are ways SMBs can create new revenue-increasing opportunities, maneuver through tricky market conditions and grow their online business throughout 2023.
Create a Seamless, Positive Experience for Online Customers
- Make it easy for buyers to understand the products. The simpler it is for a buyer to understand exactly what’s available to purchase, the better. Product information and pictures are important to 85% of shoppers when deciding which brand or retailer to buy from. Publish detailed product pages with images and descriptions so shoppers can buy with confidence and there aren’t any surprises when they receive the product.
- Have a simple checkout process. Powerful marketing initiatives and detailed product pages don’t mean anything if the buyer bails because the checkout process is too complicated. In fact, that’s the reason one out of every five shoppers abandon their carts. Simple and easy checkout processes are needed to seal the deal. Merchants should offer various payment options such as traditional credit card methods, buy now pay later options, Apple Pay, PayPal and other trending local payment options to let customers pick their preferred method of payment.
- Be mobile-friendly. The majority (59%) of shoppers say that being able to shop on mobile is important when deciding which brand or retailer to buy from, and mobile sales drove almost half (44%) of all online shopping revenue this holiday season.
Be Creative and Smart About Driving Traffic to Your Site
- Use an omnichannel approach. This can increase brand awareness, customer reach and sales. Merchants can sell their products and sync catalogs across all branded online stores, physical stores, social media and marketplaces to create a consistent and holistic brand experience. Approximately 73% of consumers are omnichannel shoppers, so it’s a smart strategy to be in more than one place. And keep in mind that shoppers who use four or more channels spend about 9% more than those who use only a single channel.
- Be social. Social media touch points are a big piece of the customer journey. The major social platforms (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok) have shopping features and capabilities to integrate store catalogs, and customers are using them. The majority of consumers (65%) say they use social media for purchase inspiration, and 60% said they shop from content posted by brands they follow on social media. The merging of social media platforms and shopping capabilities will only continue to advance and become more seamless and frictionless.
Some Important Priorities Might be Out of Sight, but they Shouldn’t be Out of Mind
- Think about inventory options. It’s essential to have the proper fulfillment and inventory flows in place to protect your brand from overselling, late shipments and other costly mishaps. Drop shipping and print-on-demand are good options for smaller stores to avoid inventory issues. Drop shipping eliminates the guesswork of how much inventory to stock, and print-on-demand adds a layer of customization. Offering pre-order options is another strategic way to understand how much inventory is needed for a new product, especially since approximately 28% of all pre-orders are placed on the first day of pre-order availability.
- Make customer service a priority. Excellent customer service can go a long way in promoting organic marketing and repeat customers. In fact, 80% of customers say experiences created by a brand are just as important as the products and services. Merchants can set themselves apart by going the extra mile with top-notch customer service. Beyond answering phone calls, have a live chat and FAQ on your store’s website, and be proactive when engaging with customers.
- Remember what buyers need with the current state of the market. With inflation causing record-high prices, consumers are hunting for ways to save, and 78% of customers are looking for discounts. Gift cards are a creative and strong option when there are tricky market conditions. In 2021, consumers sidestepped the supply chain crunch by turning to gift cards in record numbers, driving a 114% increase in sales year over year. Another great way to offer discounts is through loyalty programs, which enable retailers to provide special discounts, promotions and rewards to buyers who sign up and incentivize buyers to return.
Despite inflation and the current economic uncertainties, SMBs can double down on their online stores to turn traffic into sales to grow their business and kick off 2023 strong. The key is to be prepared, smart and strategic, and focus on customers.
Yael Weiss Ayalon is an entrepreneur and an established leader in sales management and development for ecommerce businesses. Yael currently works in User Relations for Wix Ecommerce, providing partnership and unique solutions that pave the way to success for online stores worldwide.