Since the COVID-19 outbreak, digital has become a lifeline for consumers and businesses alike. Around the time of Chinese New Year, online retailer JD quadrupled its sales of household staples compared to the same time last year, showcasing how essential ecommerce has become for consumers both in Asia and around the world. While ecommerce has gained steady traction over the past couple of decades, this shows a glimpse of how the impact of quarantining has propelled it into hyperdrive. Now more than ever, brands are setting their sights on the future and building strategies that will carry them towards long-term ecommerce success.
The largest digital marketplaces—Amazon, JD, Tmall, Alibaba and more—offer easy avenues to brands in creating comprehensive shopping experiences, satiating their audiences' need for convenience in discovering, researching and purchasing online. But these platforms aren’t without challenges: brands must utilize the tools available to them to standardise and scale their offering, yet not underestimate the importance of finding solutions to stand out and differentiate at the same time.
With everything now just a click away, relevance and creative differentiation become critical for brands to stand out on a competitive marketplace.
Optimise the full journey
Ecommerce optimization is not just a templated design and a couple of nice banners. A successful digital product sales strategy starts by reaching your high value consumer on the right channels with relevant messaging, driving them down a frictionless path to purchase and closing them in an endless loop of up- and cross sell.
Optimising the full customer journey is of the essence to increase click traffic and conversion. It’s comparable to a brick and mortar store: you don’t want to spend a lot of money on out of home advertisement for a new summer campaign, but have the store display a winter sale. Online, things become more complex through the myriad of opportunities that are there to personalize at scale. When competition is just a click away, true relevance can be achieved through a combination of media, data-driven creative, analytics and optimization, with a focus on user acquisition and driving lifetime value.
Create relevancy for audiences
An important starting point to optimise your ecommerce strategy is to make sure you truly understand your audience. With proper data at your disposal, you are equipped to differentiate between customers and what brings them to the store (for example, brand loyalists versus gifters) and can accommodate them by tailoring content to their specific needs or providing a specific type of service they’re seeking. This optimised approach leads to greater effectiveness along the path to purchase.
WARC notes that for shoppers in Asia, gathering and comparing information online is critical to the customer decision journey. “At this stage of the customer journey, brands should capture visitor information around site usage and search behavior, and then use that data wisely alongside message testing to generate better results and increase customer lifetime value.”
There lies an excellent opportunity here for brands to continually optimise. By experimenting with creative using the “test and learn” approach, brands can continually test effectiveness to highlight relevant audiences and best-performing creative, offering an experience that’s personalized and responsive to shifting consumer needs. Even a small tweak can greatly improve on drop off points, making a tremendous difference to your ROI.
Differentiate the brand
Knowing your audience and creating messages that are relevant at the right place and time is not the only aspect that allows a brand to cut through the clutter and the many distractions offered by these competitive aggregator platforms. The best online businesses care about more than just metrics, wielding data to offer content that is smart, contextual and tactile, with a focus on user acquisition and driving lifetime value.
To put it simply, great UX and design cannot be underestimated. Consider this: the interface is the brand. To compare again to brick and mortar retail, a beautiful flagship store provides a meaningful experience and atmosphere to shoppers—and your ecommerce store must likewise provide a best-in-class experience to its customers. In addition to good design, storytelling builds connections with consumers, not only driving sales but also brand love. It helps people understand who you are. By integrating it throughout your full sales funnel and flow, it helps create the ultimate loyalty loop: one driven by love for the brand.
This story can be told in different ways across different touchpoints. Content needs to reflect consumer intent and evolve as they travel further down the funnel. An awareness piece will feel different from a consideration piece, which will differ from a conversion asset, but they can and should all feel like part of the same story.
Localise, but keep it consistent
Another important consideration is the differences between the regions you operate in. Customer behaviour and what impacts purchase intent can vary greatly between cultures. 40% of searches on mobile are local searches. It’s important to optimise and localize your keywords and storefront for each local market.
As you plan out your customer decision journey, including relevant messaging for each local audience, the last hurdle is ensuring brand consistency across everything you do. While each touchpoint across the CDJ serves a clear purpose and accounts for different needs, the sum of all parts needs to feel like one cohesive experience.
Not surprisingly, brand consistency is a key factor to building consumer trust—not just across regions, but also in one single market. In fact, brand consistency when done right can increase revenue up to 33%. Transcreation methods ensure you can retain global consistency while offering personalized, relevant content that extends into different languages, cultures and markets.
Prepare for the future
To thrive in the future, brands must bridge the gap between data, insight-driven storytelling and best of breed digital design and development. Seamlessly connecting frontend martech with existing or bespoke ecommerce solutions and backend CRM allow brands to build a consistent and comprehensive customer journey, helping them reach their audiences in competitive digital marketplaces. Customer lifetime value is not about the next conversion, rather the long-term relationship you are building with your audience.
Sanne Drogtrop (left) is VP of business and operations at MediaMonks APAC. Kelly Belchere is a senior producer at MediaMonks Shanghai.