I assume you’re reading this since you sell products online — either on your own online store or via marketplaces. Here’s a question. Whenever someone asks what business you’re in, how do you typically respond?
- “I sell (name your product).”
- “I am an ecommerce merchant.”
- “Not really sure anymore.”
- “I am an online merchant.”
For many online vendors, the solution is likely”All of the above.” But many would also choose either”I am an ecommerce merchant” or”I am an internet retailer.”
As a participant in ecommerce since 2002, I have seen an evolution in how ecommerce owners describe themselves. Back then, most business owners who sold products on the internet described themselves as”ecommerce companies” or”online retailers,” to distinguish from brick-and-mortar or catalogue retailers. Most operated their own pure-play online shops. Some marketed products on eBay. Amazon’s market was largely comprised of larger retailers.
As a participant in ecommerce since 2002, I have seen an evolution in how ecommerce owners describe themselves.
Today, I hear many online sellers describe themselves as”ecommerce companies” or”online retailers.” However, in 2014, those phrases do not really apply. Whatever you sell, you’re delivering a set of goods to satisfy the needs of a particular market. “Ecommerce” or”online retailing” is only a technology and a revenue channel.
It’s time to eliminate the”e” in ecommerce. Most businesses take part in ecommerce in some manner. There’s currently no difference between”ecommerce” and”commerce.” You engage your clients in many distinct stations — your own ecommerce website, brick-and-mortar, online marketplaces. No matter you and virtually any B-to-C or B-to-B business are selling products to clients across those channels.
Make the focus of your company your clients and its value proposition, not that you market online. It’s time to just answer the question of what business you’re in with a response that’s less or more,”I’m a (distributor, merchant, reseller) of (name your merchandise ) for (name your marketplace ).”
Why Worry about Labels?
Company owners must think strategically. Part of tactical thinking is focusing on the bigger picture, such as getting the ideal products and ensuring that your buyers can locate them.
Today, trade is multichannel and extremely competitive. It is done on the internet, on the telephone, face-to-face, and on desktop, mobile, and tablet devices. Ensure that your business has an omnichannel plan, so your shoppers can find you. Make sure that the information about your business and products is consistent whatever the channel. Focus on whom your potential customers are, what they need to buy, and how much they’re willing to pay.
Consider omnichannel commerce daily. Get your brand and products in front of your target clients irrespective of where they’re shopping. To facilitate an omnichannel plan, consider the following.
- Mobile. If you don’t have a mobile strategy, you need one.
- Chat and telephone. If you don’t provide online chat or take telephone orders, think about doing this.
- Marketplaces. If you are not selling your products in marketplaces out your own online shop, consider doing this.
- Payment Choices. In case you only take credit cards for payments on your site, add alternative payments such as PayPal, Google Wallet, or Amazon Payments.
- Social media. If you don’t have a social networking presence, your market share is probably declining.
Twenty-five decades ago, if you asked a brick-and-mortar merchant or a catalogue vendor what business she was in, she would probably respond as, say,”jewelry merchant,””men’s clothing store,””a department store,” or”hardware store.” She knew her target customer market, the way to reach them, and what goods they wanted to purchase. Those companies that did the best job of (a) matching products to the customer, (b) offering low prices, and (c) using the perfect distribution probably won most of the company.
It’s time to return to that focus. It is more challenging than it was since the purchase cycles are a lot more complicated than in 2002. There isn’t any longer a direct route from identifying the need to research to buy. Now the purchasing cycle is like tangled spaghetti. Consumers typically recognize a need and purchase intent, research products, research prices, research products further, conduct social media research, and purchase a product and need instant gratification and free delivery.
To be prosperous in 2014, commerce — not only ecommerce — requires the following.
- First, be certain you understand your target clients and what problems they’re trying to solve or the requirement that you meet with your products. Know their demographics, their purchasing cycles, price tolerance, and in which they research and store.
- Execute the 4 Ps of marketing and sales –“merchandise,””price,””advertising,” and”place.”
- Know your opponents. Amazon and Walmart are far different than Fancy.com and Fab.com.
- Emphasize your value proposition. Irrespective of how a shopper finds you, make sure he can quickly learn that you’re a major retailer of goods in your market. Getting clear on what your company is will also help establish trust with your shoppers.
- Build and reinforce your brand. Invest in omnichannel branding. Present your company consistently whatever the dialogue or channel.