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eCommerce Strategy – How to Foolproof Your Strategy for The New Abnormal

COVID changed the way we shop online and offline, and it’s time for retailers to adapt their eCommerce strategy.

In a world full of disruptors, COVID-19 has blown them all away. The virus has altered lives, upended routines, and rocked every industry imaginable. And retail has been rocked more than most.

Recent changes in shopping habits had already put retailers on unsteady ground, but the pandemic has been like an earthquake, destabilizing things further and faster. And that’s a big problem for the $4.3-trillion North American retail industry. With countless stores forced to lay off entire staff and close their doors indefinitely, the fallout is being felt far and wide: owners, staff, and customers alike are all trying to navigate the new abnormal.

For those who were relying on their brick-and-mortar stores, eCommerce is now the only channel; for those of you who were already eCommerce first, that means the competition just got a lot tougher. You might be asking yourself a few questions:

  • How do I regain my eCommerce advantage?
  • Have my customers’ expectations changed?
  • How can I make lifetime customers out of people who are shopping online for the first time?
  • How do I make up for the fact that more and more people have less and less disposable income?

This article will answer them all and help you foolproof your website now and for the future.

The Good News is: You’re Already in eCom…

The bad news? Now so is everyone else.

But there’s one thing you have that your new competition doesn’t: experience. In this new world, seasoned eCommerce teams are the best positioned for a few reasons:

  1. They’re more agile, able to pivot, and refocus quickly.
  2. They already know how to drive traffic, and have systems in place to do just that.
  3. Generally speaking, they’re more tech-savvy, having run their businesses online for some time.

The pool just shrunk, and there are a lot more fish in it. Your job now is to exploit your advantages and implement the right tools (we’ll get to that later) to help you stand out.

What Customers Want

COVID-19 has forced us to think about what’s missing from the shopping journey in a world without stores. Even if your company has never relied on brick-and-mortar, customers are used to the in-store experience, and want it replicated online. The long and short of it is this: customers are a predictable bunch who don’t like change, and it’s time to be empathetic to their situation. Once you do that, the rest is easy.

Here are the two major things that your online customers miss about in-store shopping:

Salespeople: without them, customers can’t easily get help or be pointed in the right direction; nor is there any way for them to learn about new products; when salespeople disappear, the likelihood of building brand affinity and loyalty disappears too

Product displays: without them, customers can’t touch and feel and sample your products, meaning their purchasing confidence remains low

The funny thing about that list up there is that the things that are lost in an eComm-only world are things that both customers and retailers want. It makes sense to adapt your eCommerce strategy to provide them.

How to Stand Out and Succeed

Forget what you know about personalization. It’s no longer enough to gather information on a customer solely from the ads they click. That’s like finding a crumb on a plate and thinking you know exactly what the cake looked like.

Nowadays, customers demand perfect personalization at every turn. They don’t want to see products that don’t address their needs. Google’s VP of Marketing for the Americas, Lisa Gevelber, lays it out nicely: “The sort of advice people once sought from friends, they now expect to get from their phones. (…) Marketers who can deliver answers to people’s personal needs will have an advantage.”

Your mission is as simple as the cycle is beautiful: learn about your customer, make them happy, earn their trust.

Don’t Lead with Cheap, Lead with Best

The early years of eCommerce strategy were all about being fast and cheap. These days, cheap will get you noticed…but for the wrong reasons.

As we mentioned, the competition is fierce. Everybody and their dog is in eCommerce now. The way to stand out from the madding crowd is not by appealing to the customer by being inexpensive, but by offering them the best product for them. This is where the conversion goldmine is.

When you commit to quality, word gets around.

Bring the In-Store Experience Online

Lisa Gevelber (remember her?) put it plainly when she wrote, “People expect information and advice relevant to their needs.” In store, that’s easy enough to accommodate—customers just have to walk to a salesperson for help. But online, when customers are not sure what to buy, they just bounce.

Chatbots are an integral piece of any successful eCommerce site. Unfortunately, they’re not all created equal. In order to reproduce the in-store experience that customers are craving, you need a smart chatbot, one that uses AI to make very precise product recommendations. On average, customers who get accurate personalized recommendations are 2x more likely to buy. And when they feel their needs are understood, they trust your brand, and come back again and again. When you bring the in-store experience online, the impact on revenue is undeniable.

Tools to Support Your Post-COVID eCommerce Strategy

Now more than ever is the time to invest in tools to beef up your online shopping experience. It’s hard to buy groceries right now, let alone try to figure more complex purchases. These tools will make it easier. And your customers will thank you for it.

Success in Action

The company

amika is a beauty company that describes itself as a collective of creatives, hair stylists, chemists, and product junkies who like to bend the rules.

The need

When they began looking for conversational AI technology, they had 3 simple objectives:

  1. Generate more online sales via conversations
  2. Create an intimate connection between the brand and users
  3. Address customer needs 24/7 with immediate sales experience

amika already had a live chat with which customers were engaging, but the brand didn’t have the human resources to reply instantly and offer a personalized hair care consultation to each visitor.

So they partnered with Automat.

The results

In the span of just a few months, Automat has become an integral tool in amika’s eCommerce strategy. The results speak for themselves.

  • 3x more conversion: Automat’s chatbot makes people feel understood, and the impact on sales is undeniable: once they engage, amika’s customers are 3x more likely to buy.
  • 90% customer satisfaction: A survey revealed that 9 out of 10 visitors to amika’s site were “super happy” with the chatbot experience. Even if they know it’s AI, people love talking to us.
  • 4x average revenue per customer: Automat gives customers confidence in their product selection. On average, customers who engage generate 4x more revenue for amika. That’s what happens when you feel heard and understood.

amika’s AI is in many ways one of the best out there, and there’s a lot to learn from their approach, whether you’re in beauty or not. If you want to learn more, they put together a very instructive conversational marketing case study.

Where to Start?

Customers rely on sales conversations to solve their problems. So what happens in a world where all the demand falls on your website? Businesses need to be able to handle complex online purchase conversations. The era of “yes” and “no” digital exchanges is over.

Automat’s conversational AI brings the power of in-store conversations to your eCommerce site—at scale—replicating and personalizing the shopping experience to your customer’s exact needs and putting the perfect product right in front of them.

Still have questions?  We’re fired up to help as many brands as possible to raise the bar of user and customer experience in eCommerce.  If you need help implementing website engagement tools for your brand or want to talk further about any of the tactics in this article, we should talk ASAP!

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