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A quick guide on how to optimise your online retail strategy

20 May 2020

By Drew Smith

Drew is the Director of Product Strategy at Upp and focuses on how technology can help brands and retailers deliver what their customers want.

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Optimise your online retail strategy

During the past few months, the retail industry has changed significantly. While customers used to visit brick and mortar stores for their retail goods, there has been a significant jump in the number of people who are conducting sales online. 

So now is the perfect time for retailers to optimise their online strategy to capitalise on this shift in the market which will likely outlive the current crisis. Retailers must find ways to drive revenue growth in order to weather the current storm, while still considering the long-term goal of profitability.

For example, data released by IMRG has shown that online sales in the United Kingdom grew by 22% during the first week of April when compared to the same time last year. The beauty sector saw a 140% rise during the same time period and electronics rose by around 90%. This serves to highlight the increased sales in the online retail sector and the importance of capitalising on this growth. Here, we’ll give you a brief overview of how your business can ensure its retail sales reflect this trend.

Step 1: Ensure you optimise your omnichannel presence

The first step in capitalising on the growth of online sales is to ensure your customers know that you are there. This is where omnichannel presence is vital. Consumers are deliberately seeking out information on products in the retail world, and are looking for more integrated experiences. Here are a few ways to deliver this:

  • Utilise social media for connections and referrals from peers for new products and services
  • Take advantage of influencers partnering with online brands on platforms such as Instagram
  • Expand your mobile reach. Mobile searches are going up, particularly when it comes to voice commands, and consumers are trying to compare prices across various businesses, expanding their product choices.
  • Brands need to ensure that they are doing their bit to make their listings optimised for each channel:
    • Ensure your products are fully optimised to channel requirements (remember Google, Amazon etc. all have different fields and requirements) so that they are easy to find on these channels.
    • Ensure you have clear product images and descriptions that allow consumers to fully understand the products you are selling.
  • Encourage customers to leave reviews and highlight the good customer reviews. Consumers are more likely to buy if they see previous consumers have been satisfied.

All these techniques can be managed effectively using the right software (Upp).

Consumers are looking for a more sophisticated and integrated omnichannel experience that will satisfy their needs. Therefore, your company needs to think about how you are going to adapt the journey of your customers down the sales promos. You also need to optimise your product promos in an omnichannel society. Is there a way you can use geofencing and push notifications for your shoppers? Consider these promotional techniques to help increase your reach. 

While it’s best for you to be on as many channels as possible, you also need to pick the channels your customers visit, particularly if you don’t have the resources to properly optimise them. You need to get the biggest return on your investment possible.

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Step 2: Push the right products

Right now, global shipping is being threatened. This has contributed to an increased volatility in the global supply chain. Therefore, you need to know what products you have right now, where they are, and whether or not you can ship them in a timely manner. Focus on selling products of which you have a surplus. You need to be able to clear dead stock when you can without making promises to your customers that you might not be able to keep.

Retailers should also be focusing on best achieving products where there is high demand and ease spend on products which aren't performing well or are in negative margin. The most important thing here would be that you need to start making sense of their data.

With Upp, we can provide SKU Level Google Shopping Campaign insights. It is not possible to do this on any other platform or on Google. This granularity allows retailers to have clear visibility of their products, ensuring that you are only pushing the products your consumers would want to see and helping them tweak campaigns accordingly.

Adjust according to demand

There are certain industries that are thriving while others are struggling. For example, industries that are selling essential products are performing better while industries such as fashion and apparel are having issues. While it might be hard for you to push your inventory right now, there are a few techniques you can use. These include:

  • Driving pay per click strategies to manage and optimise your digital marketing to increase results
  • Posting regularly on social media platforms to grab the attention of your customers and generate more leads
  • Offer your customers discounts on surplus items that you might need to clear

Make Delivery Times Reasonable

Try to ensure you can deliver products in a timely manner. You don’t want to lose a sale at checkout because they see the delivery time is several weeks. Prioritise and push inventory that you can deliver in a reasonable manner.

Step 3: Personalise the shopping experience of your consumers

Even in the online world, it’s possible for you to personalise the shopping experiences of your customers. Personalisation is important — it’s changing how retailers target, interact with, and leverage data from their customers. This leads to smarter marketing campaigns that have been tailored to the needs of each individual customer. This also means that shoppers today are smarter than ever before and will not settle for anything less than what they feel they deserve.

Consumers expect online retailers to know them. They expect a personalised shopping approach using their data. For example, close to 90 percent of marketers use location targeting to drive up the engagement of their customers while increasing their returns on their marketing investments. Some of the ways that a customer’s experience can be personalised include:

  • Creating recommendations for products and services that have been based on a customer’s prior search history
  • Allowing customers to customise their products to meet their needs
  • Show products and various items that match their skin tone or gender
  • Customise the content on websites to fit each customer based on a single category
  • Advertise products on a customer’s social media feed, particularly if they have viewed these products in the past

It’s also a good idea to leverage text message notifications for customers, as they have an open rate of about 98%. When compared to emails that have an open rate of only 20%, it is clear that there are multiple ways to reach customers. In order to engage with them, their shopping experiences must be personalised.

Step 4: Use your data wisely

While you may be collecting a lot of data on your customers, there is no way that you can truly use everything. You need to make sure that you are using the right data wisely. This means choosing KPIs that are going to align with your goals. In the retail world, it’s vital to think about which KPIs are truly going to reflect the growth of the company, particularly in the current climate.

Focus on short-term KPIs that drive revenue while also thinking about long-term business success metrics such as profitability. You need to be looking at revenue and sales, as well as thinking about the goals of each department and have them measure these KPIs accordingly.

It’s important to ensure that the department's objectives like ROAS, customer satisfaction, and return rates (to name a few) are aligned with business goals such as revenue and market share but ultimately the key is to ensure that these metrics drive the profitability of the business.

Step 5: Use AI tools to your advantage

You have the capability to sell to your customers online. However, in order for you to control this aspect of your business, you need to have improved visibility and control when it comes to your listings. This means that you need to understand your customers. AI technology software can help you achieve this goal. This will ensure that your product listings are uniform across all channels while also supplementing the listing with data that you collect on customers. This means that you can sell anything without missing out on important information. 

The right AI software can provide an end-to-end solution that gives you a comprehensive view of the product lifecycle, providing you with actionable insights that you can use to improve your operations. With added analytics, it’s critical for you to feed this data into AI software that can improve the efficiency of your operations. This will provide you with better visibility over your data, demonstrating the power of AI technology to help you streamline this strategy.

Align with an overarching strategy

Furthermore, this data will help you align your different departments with the entire business to work towards one overarching goal and strategy. It is a challenge for multiple departments to come together to work on the same goal — for example, while the marketing team might focus on its return on advertising spend (RoAS), the eCommerce team might look at conversion rates. 

However, AI software technology can help departments communicate. This will help departments break down silos, allowing them to collaborate and work toward one common goal. Particularly right now when communication is hard, departments need to use the right AI-driven platform that will allow departments to work together for the benefit of the entire business. This technology can help companies see where they can reduce their costs, increase their revenue and drive growth. This will lay the foundation that companies need to grow during the coming months, staying ahead of their competition for years to come.

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