The last five years have seen the barriers to ecommerce melting away with hundreds of new online businesses popping up on the Internet every single day.
With versatile, yet exceedingly simple DIY ecommerce platforms available online, setting up and rolling out your own ecommerce store has never been easier. All-in-one retail platforms such as Prestashop are providing merchants a simple and cost effective way to create their ecommerce store and start selling online in no time.
From humble beginnings in the mid-90’s, global ecommerce now accounts for $1.5 trillion in sales on an annual basis. Ecommerce companies show robust double digit growth with an average global growth rate pegged at about 20 percent year on year.
However, not everyone has tasted the same level of success with ecommerce. According to various studies, nearly 90 percent of all ecommerce businesses bite the dust within no time of launching operations.
Here we discuss three unconventional moves made by some of the best online retailers in the business to keep their customers happy and have them coming back over and over again to their sites.
1. ‘Add to cart’ through social media. Amazon, the global ecommerce leader, consistently garners a disproportionate share of users’ loyalty and spending. Its innovations, from one-click purchases to Amazon Prime to now Amazon Cart, keep this innovation machine from Seattle chugging full steam ahead.
Amazon Cart is firmly in the realm of social commerce. Amazon now allows users to add items to their Amazon shopping list by simply replying to any Amazon product tweet and tagging it with the “#AmazonCart” hashtag. The item is automatically added to the user's cart. The next time they log into Amazon, they waste no time hunting for the product that caught their eye on Twitter.
This feature works by linking users’ Amazon account to their Twitter accounts, then proceeding with the backend fulfillment. This feature, launched in early May 2014, has gained a lot of interest with more than 157,000 tweets containing #AmazonCart sent out in under two weeks.
2. Ship-to-store. Shipping costs are one of the nastiest aspects of online shopping. According to research by ComScore, nearly 61 percent of online shoppers "are at least somewhat likely'' to cancel their online orders if free shipping is not offered.
A good alternative is to eliminate shipping entirely. With exactly 50 percent of the top 10 retailers in the US having a brick-and-mortar presence, ship-to-store is an increasingly popular option that allows the user to browse and pay for an item from the convenience of their homes, then pick it up the same day (no wait times for shipping!) from their nearest store. Walmart.com, Bestbuy.com and numerous other ‘brick and click’ ecommerce brands offer this option to users.
Nordstrom pioneered this idea in 2008. They have seen an 8 percent growth in in-store sales and a 42 percent growth in revenues since then.
Related: How to Innovate in E-commerce
3. Content-based ecommerce sites. Most ecommerce retailers take the beaten path of showcasing their products on their websites exactly how they would showcase them inside a real store. Trouble is, the way users behave online is very different from how they behave while shopping in traditional stores.
For one thing, users don’t have the option of getting product reviews while shopping in a brick-and-mortar store. Nor can they hop from one store to another in the same time that it takes an online shopper to switch from one browser tab to another for comparison shopping.
Ecommerce sites like Net-a-porter and Joyus have caught on to this fundamental difference and offer a completely different online shopping experience to users. Both sites offer a content-driven approach to ecommerce. Instead of creating marketing content and promoting it on third party sites, they create lush, beautiful and useful content that users are drawn to automatically on their own websites.
Net-a-porter has its original magazine styling for showcasing its products. It also offers videos and how-to guides to cater to more interactive tastes. It sells by recommending product ‘looks’ that would suit different types of users, instead of simply rattling off the price and manufacturer specifications and delivery details like most other ecommerce sites.
Today, Net-a-porter is one of the largest luxury fashion retailers online in terms of sales, with operations across three continents and more than 3,000 employees.
Ecommerce is a fertile field for innovations. The flexibility and speed-to-market allows you to test new ideas and strategies. The upside is a brand new revenue stream, while the downside is some lost time and effort, at worst.
To get results that are different from everyone else, you need to do stuff that is different from the beaten path. Dare to be different. Dare to succeed with ecommerce.