The ecommerce landscape is changing and navigating it successfully will depend on choosing the right paths to your customers, or rather how you manage different paths which your potential customers may take to find your products.
While there are multiple ways to get your products found, not every option may fit into your ecommerce strategy. Here are some of the options that your customers have for finding and buying your products:
Your store website
Software that is the user-interface for the customer to shop and checkout on your online store. This is your store website to which your advertising drives traffic.
Some examples are Shopify, Magento, Bigcommerce, Woocommerce, 3dcart, Squarespace, Wix, PrestaShop, Volusion, Miva, Amicommerce, PrestaShop, ShopSite, Zen Cart, X-Cart (the list is endless).
Wholesale (1P or First-Party)
You are the wholesaler and the marketplace is the retailer, or you have a chain of distributors and retailers. This is great to sell in bulk with less inventory risk while allowing someone else handle fulfillment and customer service. However, you may have little to no control over your listings, have lower margins, no control over selling price, and deal with slower payments and terms.
These channels do not require constant data feeds because they are often in control of the listings and the transactions are slower and less frequent.
Marketplaces (3P or Third-Party)
Products are provided by multiple third parties and customer transactions are processed by the marketplace operator and then delivered and fulfilled by the participating retailers or wholesalers. In addition to a seller fee, a percentage of each sale is paid to the marketplace operator. This model can have monthly feeds for advanced tools, but it is primarily pay-per-action or commission based.
Some examples are Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Buy on Google, Facebook Shops, Newegg, Etsy, Houzz, Wish, etc.
Brick and mortar (POS or Point of Sale)
A brick and mortar store is a business or retail outlet that has at least one physical location. Traditional stores that you find in your local shopping mall are known as brick and mortar stores, for example.
Showrooming is when a customer comes to your shop to check out your product but purchases it whilst online at home.
This happens at people want to be able to see and feel the product first and perhaps speak to a human in the process. However, as many items are listed cheaper online they then make the purchase there. So essentially your physical store becomes a showroom for your online store.
DIGITAL MARKETING CHANNELS
A product listing ad includes product image, price, and merchant name and appears when a search is performed. You bid on ad placement through the medium provider. A click on the product listing takes the visitor to your website to complete the purchase. This model is pay-per-click.
Some examples are Google Shopping Ads, Microsoft Advertising, Yahoo (Verizon Media).
Using social media to advertise a brand, products, or services. Social media marketing allows a brand to insert itself into ongoing conversations on channels such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Best practices for social media marketing include creating interesting content that links back to your website as well as publicly replying to questions and comments. Posts can be organic, meaning you don’t pay anything to “boost” them, or they can be promoted with media dollars.
Some of the hottest innovation in retail is happening on social media platforms. While advertising and sponsored posts have been around for years, the social media platforms are rolling out new ways to shop directly on their sites, creating a new business opportunity for retailers and prominent brands.
Some examples are Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Twitter, and TikTok.
Local Inventory Ads
Local inventory ads showcase your products and store information to nearby shoppers. When shoppers click your ad, they arrive on a channel-hosted page for your store, called the local storefront. Shoppers use the local storefront to view in-store inventory, get store hours, find directions, and more.
Some examples are Google Local, Facebook In-Store.
For ecommerce merchants, price comparison shopping engines are an opportunity to put your products in front of very interested buyers. These aren’t people glancing at a virtual storefront like a window shopper at the mall. Price comparison site users typically have already made the decision to buy and are simply looking for the lowest price. With their high intent to purchase, comparison shoppers often are an ideal audience for promoting your products.
On the consumer side, price comparison sites work much like a search engine—the difference being price comparison engines will show products side-by-side and how they stack up against one another in terms of pricing. Typical search engines generally serve up straightforward results without sorting by price or showing comparisons.
On the business side, each price comparison site is a little different. Essentially, you pay a certain fee, submit the required content (product photos, URL, price, description, etc.), and list your products. Your products will then show up for relevant searches along with comparable products, ranked by price.
A marketing arrangement by which an online retailer pays a commission to an external website for traffic or sales generated from its referrals. A business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate's own marketing efforts.
Some examples are Pepperjam, CJ Affiliate (Commission Junction), Rakuten LinkShare, ShareASale, Avantlink, Google Affiliate Network, and ClixGalore.
Retargeting, also known as remarketing, serves personalized online display advertisements to consumers who have previously visited your website. Code on your store site creates a list of people that visit your site by placing anonymous retargeting "cookies" in their browser. This list allows retargeting vendors to display retargeting ads to your potential customers as they visit other sites.
Google remarketing is the technology that enables your Google Ads to follow potential customers as they move across the internet. When a user visits, a small snippet of code on your website adds them to a remarketing list. Then when they visit another website that uses the Google Ad network, they are served your ad. Google allows you to customize who sees your remarketed ads. For example, you can prioritize new or returning customers. Some examples are Google Remarketing, Adroll, Criteo, BazaarVoice, Barilliance.
The use of email to promote a business’s products and services. Email marketing can make the customers on your email list aware of new products, discounts, and other services. It can also be a softer sell to educate your audience on the value of your brand or keep them engaged between purchases. It can also be anything in between. Email marketing tools can help you design, build, and optimize your email marketing to get the best ROI.
Unlike regular campaigns, an automation is a targeted email or series of emails that you can set and forget. From a welcome email series to follow up emails after a purchase to rewarding your customers with a special incentive, automation helps you streamline your communications with customers so you have more time to focus on creating content and increasing return on investment (ROI). Plus, you can design, send, and track order notifications to update customers on purchases they made from your store.
Some examples are Mailchimp, Klaviyo, Adroll, Criteo, Bronto.
Search engine optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization (SEO) works by optimizing a website's pages, conducting keyword research, and earning inbound links. You can generally see results of SEO efforts once the webpage has been crawled and indexed by a search engine.
Organic search refers to someone conducting a search through a search engine and clicking on a non-paid result. Organic search is a search marketing channel that can be used as part of inbound marketing to increase website traffic.
SEO marketing strategy is a comprehensive plan to get more visitors to your website through search engines. Successful SEO includes on-page strategies, which use intent-based keywords; and off-page strategies, which earn inbound links from other websites.
Now that you know what channels you will be advertising or selling on, we will discuss different methods to turn your catalog into listings on these channels.