In 2020, the worldwide consumer electronics market is expected to top $365 billion USD and is projected to grow to more than $450 billion USD by 2024:
Image from Statista
Electronics are perceived by many as a basic necessity in the Western world, but how and which consumers buy those electronics is changing. This poses a unique set of challenges for consumer electronics (CE) websites.
While Statista projects the industry will be worth $450 million by 2024, growth is slowing. One possible explanation for this is that consumers aren’t upgrading their smartphones as often. Even though consumers are expected to spend 20% more when upgrading to 5G smartphones, this tailwind is not enough to offset the slowdown in spending:
Image from Statista
Brands that take an omnichannel approach to commerce have an advantage: While overall sales growth is slowing, online sales of CEs are accelerating. In 2020, online CE sales in the U.S. increased by 27% year-over-year (YoY), and online CE sales now account for more than half of the industry’s sales.
Image from Statista
The global pandemic has only accelerated this trend toward ecommerce. Only CE brands with the ability to sell online were in a position to capitalize on store closures, travel bans, and stay-at-home orders that catapulted the CE segment to the second fastest growing category in ecommerce week-over-week as of mid-April (up 61%):
Image from Klaviyo
Besides being there for consumers during times of crisis, omnichannel CE brands are insulating themselves against the industry’s inherent sales seasonality. But omnichannel is just one component: Here, we evaluate how ten top consumer electronics sites increase sales by delivering highly personalized customer experiences:
- Staples: Rapid fire promotions result in record sales
- JB Hi-Fi: Executing a unified commerce strategy
- JL Audio: Buy now, pay later checkout optimization
- Cedar Electronics: DTC rounds out omnichannel strategy
- CurrentBody: Brand storytelling powers global growth
- Upscale Audio: Increase AOV with customized store design
- The Emazing Group: Spotlight product pages with SEO
- Ring: Consistent messaging across channels
- Smart Nora: From kickstarter to enterprise brand
- Nanit: Services create additional revenue stream
The renowned consumer electronics and office supply chain Staples Canada wanted to more effectively showcase its products to consumers and its business customers—so it completely transformed its online experience.. Not only did the company’s old bulky, complex, custom platform routinely crash during peak demand, it also kept Staples from running the types of sales and promotions its customers wanted.
But after replatforming in half the time it would have taken on legacy enterprise commerce platforms, Staples revamped its key category pages which optimized the company’s ability to surface key promotions, brands, and products. The ability to quickly swap out key messages has resulted in increased engagement, making the brand relevant than ever before.
Staples credits its newfound ability to schedule multiple promotions for its success. The ability to monitor performance in real time positioned Staples to instantly start, stop, and restart its most effective campaigns.
The company’s first Black Friday on Shopify Plus resulted in record sales and no downtime as the company ran 4X the number of promotions possible on its old platform. The platform’s flexibility also positioned Staples to quickly offer curbside pickup for online orders during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our move to Shopify Plus has enabled our ability to present the site on a fully responsive
platform—this has resulted in increased mobile traffic and engagement, which is directly
contributing to the increases in conversions and sales,” says Andy Lee, Staples Canada’s Senior Director, Digital Product Management. “We’ve consistently heard from users that they appreciate the overall design of our new site—whether it's from our homepage and all the way to checkout——they appreciate the easy-to-use, non-intimidating, intuitive interface.”
With annual sales topping AU$5 billion JB Hi-Fi, Australia’s largest consumer electronics retailer, realized it had to undergo a major digital transformation if it was going to continue on its trajectory for high-speed growth. To succeed with a unified commerce strategy, which merges product and customer data across the digital and physical worlds, JB Hi-Fi needed a commerce platform that would let it seamlessly integrate its business systems with its online and offline sales channels.
After migrating to Shopify Plus, JB Hi-Fi was able to connect its commerce platform to the company’s more than 200 dispatch locations as well as JB Hi-Fi’s famed and popular fulfillment options like one-hour click and collect.
The seamless integration slashed page load times by 15% and resulted in record Black Friday 2019 sales. JB Hi-Fi is also reaping operational efficiencies: For example, orders that used to take a half day to pick, pack, and fulfill are now ready for customers to pick up 10-15 minutes after the order is placed, and theclick-and-collect capability also positioned the company to thrive during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Every item of stock you see on the website is physically in a store,” says JB Hi-Fi’s CIO Simon Page. “It’s not an alternative online warehouse somewhere. It’s not just interconnected, it’s a reflection of what’s going on in bricks and mortar. We’re able to look up the stock availability in real time via API, specific to a store location.”
Is JL Audio’s website overflows with content to prove the value of its premium marine, auto, and home audio products. To combat price sensitivity, JL Audio uses its digital storefront to educate and persuade shoppers by aggregating informative technical specifications, detailed technical information, and user reviews.
The company’s omnichannel strategy—home theatre items costing thousands of dollars are only available through a retail dealer network—makes buying online more affordable. Specifically, JL Audio integrates buy now, pay later functionality in its checkout which allows customers to pay in installments.
Qualifying customers can pay for the $569 car audio subwoofer above over three, six, or 12 months. Besides reducing abandoned cart rates and increasing sales for brands, buy now pay later satisfies two competing consumer demands: the desire for instant gratification and the inability to pay upfront.
Cedar Electronics, a leading manufacturer of electronics for professional and enthusiast drivers, launched fifty years ago and currently builds connected automotive experiences into their products like car dash cameras and radar detectors. Historically sold through an international retail distribution foundation, the company recently launched an ecommerce storefront and began selling direct to consumer (DTC) to make its products more available.
In just two years, Cedar Electronics has doubled its DTC sales.
“Selling direct to consumer is very critical for the business, and with Shopify Plus we’re scaling this channel rapidly,” says Igor Kart, Cedar’s Senior Ecommerce Manager. “As we continue to build out services for our customers, via connected apps built for our products, it is becoming more important than ever for us to have control of our brand and customer experience, and Shopify Plus makes it possible.”
In addition to launching its customized DTC initiative, Cedar Electronics easily integrated with the Amazon, Walmart, and eBay marketplaces to sell across channels. Connecting each of the channels with its back-end system Netsuite, Cedar Electronics can define and control its brand and buying experience, ship products quickly, and build actionable insights from the platform’s reporting.
Beloved by both manufacturers and consumers for its premium content, CurrentBody, a global health and beauty device band, is riding its brand storytelling to international success. From neck wrinkles to back hair and acne, CurrentBody offers consumers an extensive catalogue of home beauty devices as well as expert advice.
It’s how that expert advice is packaged that’s fueling CurrentBody’s global ambitions.
As the only niche beauty brand focused exclusively on electronic beauty devices, the CurrentBody Editorial uses video, blog content, customer reviews, and interactive multimedia to educate consumers. It offers step-by-step use instructions, demonstrations, and opportunities to ask questions of the device manufacturer.
If shoppers still have questions, CurrentBody invites consumers to call, email, or live chat with its beauty device experts. Likewise, the brand storytelling doesn’t end with the purchase. After a sale, CurrentBody continues educating by emailing usage tips and illustrating how other customers are using the same product.
CurrentBody credits Shopify Plus with allowing it to focus on its global growth strategy rather than the technology underpinning it. It recently expanded to Germany, Italy, Australia, and Sweden and credits Shop Pay, which expedites the checkout process by removing steps, with allowing its customers to checkout in seconds.
“Our first Shopify Plus site launched in 2018 and since then we’ve gone from two sites to ten localized sites across the world with more planned for this year,” says Andrew Showman, Co-founder and COO. “Our sales have grown 200%.”
With an average order value (AOV) of $1,300, customers expect a sophisticated online experience of Upscale Audio, one of the world’s leading providers of high-end home audio equipment. Reliability and security issues combined with the inability to automate and schedule promotions made it clear that Upscale needed a new digital storefront to match its customer-centric reputation as “your friend in the high-end audio business.”
After migrating to Shopify Plus, Upscale Audio built a customized storefront with personalized content bymelding user data, powerful email marketing tools, and rich media content to drive consumers directly to the relevant product page.
Since launching its customized storefront, Upscale Audio has grown sales from $3 million to $20 million. The accelerated growth is powered, in part, by a 300% increase in conversions and a 122% increase in AOV.
“Shopify Plus allows us to have a direct relationship with our customers,” says Craig Hoffman, Upscale’s Vice President. “We’re able to build journeys into our store, allowing customers to explore a category, learn more about our products, ask questions, and buy with confidence.”
The Emazing Group began as a single product that founder Brian Lim sold out of the trunk of his car, LED-embedded gloves. Today, the group encompasses three brands that span verticals like consumer electronics, lifestyle, and fashion: EmazingLights, iHeartRaves, and INTO THE AM.
The company hemorrhaged losses month after month because of SEO-related problems, but eventually moved all of its online businesses onto Shopify.
“The impact that Shopify had on our SEO strategies was ground-breaking,” says Katie Knoll, Digital Marketing Manager at The Emazing Group. “We could have never achieved such results with Magento. We were able to lock down top spots for some of our most valuable keywords, bringing in new customers and more revenue than ever before.”
Once they replatformed, they saw an increase of 31% year-over-year in organic traffic for EmazingLights, while iHeartRaves saw a 130% YoY increase, not to mention a 22.59% conversion equalling a 227% increase in revenue in one single month.
All told, the company’s brands have grown annual revenue from $15 million during 2016 to $20 million in 2017 and are on-track to break $30 million this year.
No matter your business, SEO for product descriptions need to be locked down. Building backlinks and internal linking is all well and good, but you need to ensure those links don’t break.
What’s more, SEO-friendly URLs, enticing meta descriptions and page titles that match up with search queries, and clean coding on the back-end are all vital.
From video doorbells to motion-detecting security cameras with spotlights, Ring Inc., a leading smart home automation and security brand, relies on message consistency to reiterate its value proposition. Promising to “protect your home and watch over what's important,” Ring, like it’s parent company Amazon, relies on simple but consistent messaging across channels to move consumers through its sales funnel.
Ring, which relies on Shopify Plus to power its online DTC storefront, uses branded and user generated content (UGC) to amplify its peace of mind messaging. To complement its library of highly produced educational videos illustrating how its products work and help consumers protect their homes from their smartphones, Ring also showcases “caught on video moments” in what it calls Neighborhood Stories.
The series highlights the second part of Ring’s value proposition; watch over what matters. Video doorbells regularly capture moments like surprise marriage proposals, farm animals on the loose, and pets behaving badly. It’s social proof Ring uses to magnify the value it provides, earn media attention, and visually reinforce its cross-channel messaging.
Long before it was an internationally known enterprise touted by Oprah Winfrey, Smart Nora, creator of a contact-free snoring solution, was simply worried about creating a great Kickstarter video to explain its product and earn media attention. The video and the product worked wonders. Smart Nora quickly generated $1 million USD in Kickstarter and pre-orders, a foundation that would ultimately grow into a multimillion dollar brand on a mission to help tens of thousands of couples sleep better.
Smart Nora brilliantly uses its digital storefront to reduce skepticism and make the purchasing decision risk free. Besides its 100% money back guarantee, Smart Nora weaves user generated content (UGC) like reviews and testimonials to persuade consumers. It’s also using its storefront to turn its best customers into some of its most credible salespeople.
The brand’s affiliate program invites doctors, media publishers, and happy customers to spread the word and earn rewards for purchases made based on their influence. For Smart Nora, those referrals lead to more sales.
Nanit, a leading smart baby monitoring system brand, has expanded beyond smartphone connected cameras and swaddles that monitor baby breathing. Nanit Insights is a service that offers parents deep insight about their baby’s sleep and provides the company with an additional revenue stream.
The service includes a dashboard showing how efficiently a baby has slept, sleep trends showing whether progress is being made, personalized sleeping tips, and a daily time lapse video highlight reel that allows parents to see everything that happened over night.
Nanit Insights are free for one year with certain bundled purchases, after which parents pay between $50-$300 a year depending on the number of users desiring access.
What do the best consumer electronics sites have in common?
The demands on CE brands has never been greater. From pandemic-related challenges to increased competition, never before has it been so crucial to have a strong online storefront. Here, some of the world’s largest and most successful CE brands have generously revealed exactly how they’ve digitally transformed themselves.
It’s a blueprint you can use to:
- Launch an online DTC initiative to sell wherever customers are
- Offer local delivery, curbside pickup, and BOPIS to ensure fulfillment in any environment
- Emphasize brand storytelling and consistent messaging across channels
- Customize your site and use data to personalize the customer experience
- Optimize and accelerate the checkout process to expand globally
The individual strategies may differ but a single theme underpins each of the CE brands featured here; their omnichannel strategy puts the customer at the center of the universe. Everything revolves around this idea. Omnichannel success requires a commerce platform that can grow, evolve, and innovate with you.
We hope you’ll share your success with us so we can feature it here in our next update.
This article originally appeared in the Shopify Plus blog and has been published here with permission.