Three E-Commerce Hacks To Stay At The Top Of The Game

Here's how going offbeat in online retail can give competitors a run for their money.

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E-commerce is massively competitive, with so many different marketing tactics out there nowadays- it’s a confusing landscape. And it’s hard to know what’s right- and what’s a waste of your time and money. No problem.

Here are three smart hacks to let your business etch a mark and have your customers coming back for more: 

  • Focus on delivery
  • Invest in AI
  • Work on product display

1. Offer more delivery options 

Today’s omni-channel consumer wants speed, flexibility and plenty of choice. Consumers expect to buy now, receive tomorrow. Or buy now, collect from the store tomorrow. Or even buy now and collect at 4:00 am when they finish the night shift. Consider:

  • 50% of online shoppers have used ship-to-store
  • 41% have ordered a product for same-day delivery
  • 23% of all online orders have two-day shipping
  • 66% are interested in shipping to alternative locations with extended hours for reduced fees

 If you don’t offer fast, flexible delivery to your customers might go elsewhere.

  • 45% of consumers say the ability to pick-up your product somewhere convenient is important when choosing between products
  • 63% say delivery speed is important when choosing between products

Consumers today have more choice than ever- and if your shipping isn’t top-notch, they’ll go elsewhere. Fast, flexible, convenient delivery is an absolute must-have to compete. You might not have the resources of Amazon Prime, but the halo effect means consumers expect Prime-like service everywhere. And the bar is getting higher every day as the likes of Amazon and UPS test drones for faster, cheaper delivery. Almost inconceivably faster– Amazon Prime Air would be able to deliver 90% of its products in 30-minutes or less. You might not compete on those terms, but every e-commerce business can improve, augment and streamline the shipping process.

  • The real-time shipping cost calculator
  • Variable costs based on location, size, and weight
  • Multiple speed and price options
  • Multiple courier options
  • Shipping to multiple addresses in one order
  • Shipping to alternative locations with extended hours
  • Gift order options like hiding revealing info and gift notes
  • Ship-to-store and local pick-up options

You don’t have to be an Amazon shipping label, but delivering a seamless and painless experience for your customers should be a priority. Because they won’t be ready to settle for anything less.

Related: Debate Time: Noon, Mohamed Alabbar, And The MENA E-Commerce Landscape

2. Embed artificial intelligence 

If you’ve been sitting on the fence, waiting to see how the AI trend played out, now is the time to step off. Artificial intelligence is touching almost every aspect of e-retail and completely transforming how online businesses serve consumers.

  • Global retail technology spending will grow 3.6% to reach over USD 200bn in 2019
  • At least 5% of digital commerce orders will be predicted and initiated by AI by 2022

Talking about conversational commerce: customers increasingly want to navigate their online shopping experience through dialogue– using voice and text conversations to explore brands and buy products and to keep up with this trend, online retailers must invest into chatbots, or perhaps will risk losing customers. AI-powered product recommendation is also somewhere to look at this year. With product recommendation based on data analytics, Amazon has been rumored to increase sales by 29%. Investing here is a win-win, because not only does it appeal to the consumer in an experience-driven economy, but also drives up cross-sales.

Here is a look at how embedding AI at your back-end processes can help to better understand customers to help make better decisions about how to serve them:

  • Better segment and profile customers
  • Serve personalized (and so more effective) content
  • Detect and prevent frauds
  • Automatically optimize prices against key competitors
  • Track and predict customer behavior so you can act accordingly
  • Improve search functionality for customers
  • Identify new markets and channels to target

Investment into AI, and the tools and technologies AI powers means you can give your customers what they want. So they’re more likely to buy from you, keep buying from you, and tell all their friends to buy from you as well. And although AI is maturing quickly, it’s still an area of differentiation for SME e-commerce businesses as long as you move fast. Right now, leveraging AI is an opportunity, but it won’t be long until not leveraging AI means you’re dead in the water.

Related: AI To Disrupt The E-Commerce Scene (And Facebook Has A Competitive Advantage)

3. Bring your products to life 

The best online product experience mimics offline experience. It allows consumers to experience your product how they would in a physical store, so they have more confidence in your product. It’s about trust. If you instill greater trust in your products than your competitor does, consumers will buy from you.

Let’s re-assess product display and design with a few questions that are worth asking:

  • How good is your product copy? Does the description tell the consumer everything they need to know? Does it help the consumer desire the product?
  • Do you include photos from every angle? Are they good quality? Can the consumer make out all important information? Is there a scale for context? Can users zoom-in?
  • Could you include a video that shows your product in use? Can you create a story around your product that consumers can see themselves fitting into?

A more advanced way to bring products to life is interactive product visualization, IPV which creates a 3D experience of your products that customers can interact with and customize. It’s the next level of e-commerce product display, offering customers a rich, personal experience that’s deeply engaging.

Related: Design Matters: Enabling Experiences For Your Customers

All with the same goal. Standing out from competitors -even if your product offering is similar- to offer a better experience for consumers. So they become and stay, customers. In a fast-paced e-commerce industry, innovating new strategies helps you keep yourself at the top of the gear. These quick marketing tactics will cut downtime, allowing greater attention to your customers. And in this game of ‘survival of the fittest’ those who make customer experience their top priority will be here to stay!

Related: All Set For Growth: The E-Commerce Landscape In The Middle East