Summer 2021 eCommerce trends and marketing guide
Summer 2021 is here, and e-commerce shops are seeking the best new strategies to connect with their target audience. Let’s talk about this Summer’s ecommerce trends and discuss the strategies for those in a slow and in a peak season
Summer 2021 eCommerce trends
As Q3 begins, experts predict that many of the trends that we have been seeing will continue to hold steady. Consumers continue to prioritize convenience, and this is not predicted to change post-COVID.
A survey done by Linnworks agency found that 75% shoppers value convenience more than they did a year ago, and 95% of shoppers agree that convenience of delivery seriously impacts which retailers they use.
While customers were once driven primarily by the price of your product, they are now more likely to seek a “frictionless” shopping experience from start to finish.
E-commerce shoppers are seeking ease of access at each point in their consumer journey, and are increasingly likely to be enticed by third-party selling or advertising on social channels. This means that tailored advertising, influencer marketing, and affiliate marketing can reel in new customers (or “impulse” buyers) now more than ever before.
“Buy online, pick-up in store” (BOPIS), and “buy now, pay later” programs are very popular across all age groups, and two-thirds of shoppers indicate that they will continue using these options post-COVID. These options are a great addition to your online business strategy.
To succeed, it is critical to meet your customers’ expectations wherever they are in their journey and ensure that you are providing what they seek - and this increasingly seems to be convenience. An e-commerce shopping cart not optimized for mobile is a lost sale, as is a burdensome shipping minimum or return policy. As voice search consoles have become more accurate, shoppers have begun turning to programs like Google Voice or Amazon Echo for shopping as well – necessitating that your online store be optimized for voice searches in order to be competitive in the future.
In this blog post, we’ll provide strategies on how to make the most of the season for your e-commerce business, whether summer is traditionally a peak period for your online shop, or perhaps a time to catch your breath and strategize for the future. Read on for ideas to help your webstore thrive this summer.
E-commerce strategies for a successful summer season
Summer 2021 will surely see a continuation of e-commerce gains, with some experts saying that the COVID pandemic pushed e-commerce adoption to levels not anticipated until 2030. Regardless of whether summer is typically busy or slow for you, it is worth it to continue to invest in building e-commerce infrastructure and strategy, as this will only continue to grow in the future.
I. Peak season for you? Catch the wave.
If summer is a busy time for you, it’s good to try and make the most out of it. (If you need tips for the slow time, scroll down to 5 tips to thrive in your off-season)
Also, consider running a sale, and participating in Amazon Prime Day and holiday-based shopping weekends. This will allow you to entice new customers, but also to reward existing ones.
1. Make your webshop shine
Busy season means it’s not only busy for you, but also for the web shopper. With a variety of offers out there, you need to make sure your shopper is offered the best experience on your website. Here are several recommendations:
Take a critical look at your visuals. Are your product images conveying enough visual information about your products? Do you need to update them or add videos/gifs? Does your zoom in function help the shopper see all the tiny details? Consider quickly updating the visuals for your most important SKUs if your time is limited, and plan a major brush-up and a tech stack update for a slower season.
Your products need to be found, and they need to look attractive. Therefore, work on your product titles to make them both informative and searchable. This way you can ensure your visibility on marketplaces and on Google searches, as well as higher conversion rates.
- Match the structure of a product title with the search intentions of your shoppers. Think about the order of product characteristics, for example: brand, product name, type, size, color etc.
- Match the title length with the requirements from specific marketplaces.
- Make sure the title starts with the most relevant and essential information.
Shoppers have less time to look at more offers during the summer, therefore a product description becomes even more important and has more weight in making or breaking a conversion.
Here are a few tactics for updating your product descriptions:
- First and foremost, double-check a description to make sure it contains all the relevant information about the product.
- Try to get into your potential buyer’s head and tap into their emotions. Why and how does your product make the life of the shopper better or easier? What can they do with the different functionalities of your product? Make the product relate and appeal to the customer.
- Draw attention to the product’s unique selling points.
- Look at the history of customer feedback and customer service questions, and answer the most common questions right there in the description.
- If you’re on different marketplaces, customize your product descriptions in line with marketplace specifications. A product description that works for Ebay might not work for Amazon.
Convenience: checkout, shipping, customer service
When your shopper is busy and has a wealth of offers to choose from, the conversion is often won at a margin. Make sure you offer a wealth of checkout options and a clear checkout process. Aim to provide fast delivery, offer free shipping, or set a low order minimum to qualify for it.
Mobilize your customer service and prepare them for busy times. Go through the canned replies and best solutions to the most common questions, review the scripts and update them for best customer service practices. Make sure you will be able to provide fast customer service and actually solve your buyers’ problems.
2. Mobilize your affiliates
When gearing up for your busy season, it’s crucial to put your resources to work in a seamless and powerful way. Be sure to mobilize your affiliate network early, and be in regular contact with them to guide them on what products you want them to share. If you’re bringing on new affiliates, be sure they’re onboarded well ahead of time.
This is also a great opportunity to tap influencers, offering promotions, samples, or payment in exchange for a “shout-out” of your product.
Lastly, conduct market research and SEO keyword optimization to ensure your product is being regularly and reliably presented to your customers. Keep in mind that the Google algorithm is constantly changing, and poorly optimized content can really hurt you.
3. Optimize your e-commerce site for Mobile
If your site is not optimized for mobile, prioritize doing so immediately. The majority of shoppers now utilize mobile devices for online shopping, and a non-optimized ecommerce site will lead to a loss of customers and poor search results.
For SEO, focus on loading speed and effortless navigation, and avoid heavy elements and pop-ups on mobile.
For the real shopper experience, make sure all elements are displayed correctly and are usable when viewed in a mobile browser.
On a side note, top-of-the-line mobile optimization is a great investment for the future of your business as well, since Google is actively working on mobile-first indexing.
4. Make influencers part of your e-commerce strategy
Invest in an influencer marketing program to build trusted messengers for your brand who can promote you to their followers when the time comes.
Influencers can offer your ecommerce brand even more benefits than your regular affiliates. While affiliates promote your brand in exchange for a commission or freebie, influencers also add social proof to your brand and unlock a whole new audience for you.
This is a great benefit when you’re in your peak season or have a particular promotion to boost, and finding the right kind of influencers or bloggers in your market niche can skyrocket your traffic and sales.
Consider focusing on nano and micro-influencers
Luckily, you don’t need to hire a mega-influencer for your influencer marketing strategy to work. Even a nano or micro-influencer with the right audience can be a powerful ally for you.
Generally speaking, the more followers an influencer has the more they’ll charge to promote your products. Mega influencers are also usually charging for their promo up front, while with smaller influencers you can agree on a commission that you’ll pay them for driving in new sales.
Moreover, influencers with a smaller following tend to be more trusted by their audiences, so your campaign that you run with a smaller influencer is likely to have a higher conversion rate.
Find influencers in your niche and reach out to the ones that you’re interested in.
5. Don’t miss out on the year’s 2nd-largest shopping day, Prime Day
Amazon Prime Day is second only to Black Friday in terms of the year’s largest shopping days. Despite being exclusive only to Amazon, anyone can take advantage of the deals that day, making it a fantastic opportunity for your business.
In order to stand out from the crowd, prepare in advance:
- Get the word out about your Prime Day deals on social media and through your influencer and affiliate marketing partners.
- Optimize your SEO around the products you’d most like to publicize, and do some market research to ensure that those products are aligned with what potential customers are searching for.
- It may be worth it to spend a bit more on advertising during this time, or consider a referral marketing option, where your existing customers can refer people they know in exchange for a freebie or discount.
- Ensuring you have sufficient inventory is key, as well as sufficient help to process an increase in orders smoothly.
- Consider offering product bundles, or other incentives to set yourself apart from big-box retailers who may be offering products similar to yours.
Note that many of these tips can also be applied to the seasonal sales occurring during the summer, such as the 4th of July in the US.
II. 9 tips to thrive in your off-season
If summer is a slower time for you, be sure you’re using this downtime wisely.
Focus on creating new content, relationship-building with existing clients, and optimizing your website to prepare for your peak season, whenever that may be.
Brand loyalty can be built year-round, so take this opportunity to show your existing customers some love, but also strategize how to move your top of the funnel leads further down the funnel. Continuing to put effort into affiliate and referral programs can have the added bonus of attracting new customers.
1. Publicize your web shop on a new content channel
Is there a content channel that you have been intending to try or grow, but haven’t had time? Slow season is a great time to take the plunge on a new social or advertising channel.
It’s no secret YouTube is the second-largest search engine, after Google. Almost all businesses should consider having a presence on YouTube and cross-optimizing it on their website.
There are always new social media channels and advertising possibilities to explore, as well. Consider joining communities in your niche on Facebook, or running targeted advertisements on Instagram (which is thought by experts to represent the highest-ROI on digital channels).
2. Get more active on social media
Post more content on your brand’s existing social media to stay top-of-the-mind with your audience and be the first choice when they’re ready to buy.
Start a conversation, experiment with different content formats (video, images, text, gifs, guides, polls, etc.), and try creating viral content.
This will help you connect with your customers, get a better understanding of your audience and reinforce your brand.
3. Turn abandoning visitors into potential customers through remarketing
Quite often, visitors to an e-commerce site who left without moving further down the conversion funnel are getting neglected. Most businesses focus on visitors who are already showing some interest in their products or brand, have performed a certain action etc. There’s also a term, ghost leads, that suggests that these visitors are slipping away unnoticed, while they should actually be conceptualized as an opportunity that hasn’t been lost yet.
Off-season time is a good moment to dig deeper into your website data and try to understand why your visitors are leaving at different points of their journey through the buying process.
Strategize around how to lessen your number of ghost leads, so that similar customers will be actionable leads by the time your next busy season comes.
One of the solutions would be remarketing to them through different platforms (Google Ads/YouTube, but also Facebook/Instagram are big on remarketing).
4. Reward your customers for their loyalty
While it’s certainly worth investigating potential leads, existing customers provide the real value to most businesses, with studies suggesting that loyal customers can be worth up to 10 times the amount of their first purchase from your business.
While sales to new customers hover around the 5-20% mark on average, this metric skyrockets to up to 70% with existing customers. Dedicate time to rewarding these customers through a loyalty program, send them a discount or a free gift for their birthday, or prepare to offer early access to new collections or programs.
Think of something to get them on your website, and take the pressure off and worry less about obtaining new customers.
5. If you’re hosting a sale on your webshop, do it right
Hosting a sale and offering discounts is a great way to reward existing customers and entice new ones to try your product or service. However, sales can be tricky, and can backfire if not planned carefully.
There are a few general rules of thumb to remember.
Experts discourage discounting new products in a seasonal sale, as this can cheapen your brand and train your customers to expect even your newest items at a discounted rate.
If you do decide to discount a new product, consider only doing so with long-running customers or members of a loyalty program.
Consider displaying stock quantities or a timer on a banner to create a sense of urgency
Offer free shipping or a low shipping minimum to entice customers who may be on the fence.
6. Focus on building an email list and running email marketing campaigns
COVID has led to customers being more receptive to newsletter marketing. Utilize this to your advantage.
Focus on improving your lead email capture and building up your email list, so that you have an easy & effective way to contact your potential customers.
Besides sending email marketing campaigns, if your email list is big enough, you can also use it to create custom audience Facebook ad campaigns.
7. Brush up the visual side of your store
Slow time is a good time to dig deeper into the analytics and customer feedback you have and try to discover patterns in your aesthetic. Learn what kind of visuals make your products stand out or fall behind.
Think of updating product photos, adding videos or gifs, zoom views or show how your products work/look in combination with other products you offer.
For example, a clothes store might list an item along with other pieces that compliment it. A skincare line selling a cleanser might also suggest a moisturizer.
8. Invest in eCommerce tech
Ecommerce tech is moving fast, and you can use the slow times to re-assess your tech stack and where you can put more technology that works to your advantage.
From optimizing your web store for mobile devices, to checking it against Core Web Vitals and improving site performance, and getting your web shop ready for voice search - there are always technical improvements your web shop will thank you for.
9. Connect with your team and invest in it
Take a step back to see which parts of your business are running smoothly and what your teams’ improvement areas are.
How is the communication between you, your staff, and your clients? Is everyone thriving in their roles and communicating effectively?
Strategy sessions can be a time for simple whiteboard brainstorming, or an overhaul of things that haven’t been working for you.
It is also a good idea to use quiet months to train your team on relevant new software and recent industry advancements.
Look at the big picture, and refocus on your reputation and offering excellent customer experience
Don’t be afraid to use your quiet time for reputation management, with an eye toward complaints or negative feedback you’ve received from customers.
Look for ways to fix the most common problems and avoid repeatedly negative experiences with your web shop, shipping and delivery, customer service and other aspects of your ecommerce business.
Summer slowdowns and peaks are predictable year after year, but they still leave eCommerce marketers and owners wondering how to reach more customers and either survive the slowdown, or catch the peak season wave.
With the above strategies it should be easier for your e-commerce business to achieve short term sales goals and lay strategic foundations for scaling your business as soon as the Summer is over.
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