This January we brought together 12 leaders from the ecommerce space for Accelerate 2021. In a series of ebooks and ask me anything sessions, we shared the top ecommerce trends you need to react to this year.
If you missed it, head over to the resources hub to check it out:
You can now watch the recording of the second AMA below (with speakers from Nosto, Skubana, Zaius and Justuno). Don’t have time? Keep reading to see all of the answers summarized.
1. Can you give some concrete examples of brands with really apparent micro-communities?
The most successful brands build micro-communities. For example, GymShark has GymShark Central and GymShark 66. These initiatives focus on supporting the community more than selling.
They moved fast when the pandemic hit. Within a couple of weeks, they built a platform where personal trainers could connect with their customers online. It is a community for trainers and people going to the gym.
Similarly, Lululemon has created a community centered around a shared interest in fitness and mindfulness. They give customers access to yoga classes and run training guides led by their brand ambassadors.
Beyond communities being lifestyle-driven they can also be more purpose-driven like Stasherbag.
2. How do mobile and desktop experiences differ when it comes to AI & personalization?
In general, it’s helpful to consider them separately as different types of experience. Let the data lead you. Go into analytics and see what percentage of shopping on your site is done on mobile versus desktop.
Mobile is a smaller space. That’s where personalization and community really comes into play. It’s about predicting what fits well in that moment. Use customers’ past mobile habits and preferences to inform the pages they are visiting at the time.
To get more specific tips on how mobile and desktop experiences differ you can look at adjacent brands and see how they’re doing it. Learn through their lens.
3. What are some of the underused tactics by marketers to best engage their customers?
Use the indicators that shoppers are giving you. Nurture them while they’re on the site and while they have items in their cart. Continue to show customers what’s new for your company. Keep reintroducing customers to the brand and build that relationship – especially as you grow your number of products or services.
Countdown timers can also be effective. For example, if you have a new collection coming out use a countdown timer to build urgency and to collect info.
The days of discounting are over. People over-leverage SMS to offer discounts. Instead, you should turn to other tactics such as using quizzes to collect data.
4. There is so much focus for brands on “putting their customers first”. What does that mean for marketers and how do we actually DO it?
A soundbite from a Harvard Business Review podcast said: “On a lifetime value basis emotionally connected customers are more than two times more valuable than highly satisfied customers”.
This is why you need to ask yourself: What is an emotional connection between a brand and a person? How do you create one? Why should people buy from you vs someone else?
Think about the questions customers ask you and turn the answers into short blog posts. Then you turn yourself into more of a resource, and not just a store. People can see your value and you can create an experience on your blog that gets them over to product pages. For a good example see Patagonia.
Think more about the individual rather than a list.
5. If I could expand to one additional channel in 2021 which should it be?
It should be specific to your customer and where they spend their time. It’s about embracing a channel where you know your customers live, shop and feel comfortable sharing information. For example, SMS could be an area of expansion for you in 2021 as long as you segment, personalize and don’t overdo it.
You should also embrace other brands. You don’t have to be a competitor with everyone. Instead, share your customer base in mutually beneficial ways.
Also, be aware of how your customers perceive your brand and ensure they are seeing what you want them to see.
6. What is the biggest difference between 2020 and 2021 for ecommerce?
2021 is about doing things differently. Everyone is on Instagram and Facebook. So maybe focus on finding customers in different ways. This could mean snail mail, pop-up shops, embracing long-tail marketplaces where there are micro-communities that can be tapped into.
Many retailers have been forced to change their strategy. Now that things have settled somewhat, we can move away from the panic mode of heavy discounting. 2021 should be about embracing more innovative strategies to increase acquisition and retention in the long term.
Mass adoption of SMS is going to become a mainstream channel of retention in 2021. It is almost as important as email because of the lower cost and ability to engage and personalize.
7. As Amazon moves to a one day Prime delivery promise, what are the ways to compete other than delivery time?
DTC is leveraging Skubana to establish a footprint. It only takes two warehouses to be able to hit 92% of the US with two-day shipping without paying two-day shipping prices. With Skubana specifically, you are getting Amazon infrastructure without paying the infrastructure price.
To be able to order expedited services at a cheap price you need to have two warehouses and typically you want them to be agnostic from the software layer.
Keep in mind that there are certain brands where consumers won’t mind if it doesn’t arrive the next day. If you can’t compete on delivery times be transparent in your communication. Explain how long it will take, your returns policy and make the customers feel in control.
8. What are the best first-party data capture techniques you’ve seen for DTC brands off-site?
We’ve seen some amazing results from athletic brands partnering with companies like Strava and building their audience through an engagement. Similarly, we’ve seen running stores that have unified their stores’ ecommerce data and their race register data. They can then marry their offline and online data and say that “this customer buys this brand and they also just ran at this event. How can we use this information effectively?”
Another great example is Hello Tushy. They make bidets. Pre-covid, in an innocuous and smart way to collect data, they had a conference called Butt-Con 2020. It sounds weird but people loved it. They enabled a change from transaction to interaction.
9. How can merchants boost customer lifetime value in 2021?
As we’ve been saying, community is important. Make sure that you can capture the appropriate information. Ensure your customers know what your brand stands for. Create a website that is familiar and organic.
Also, make sense of your data and use it in delightful ways. Acknowledge customers who have been loyal. Don’t do discounts straight away. Show them trending products, or recommendations and get them to read your blog. Play the long game.
Use your existing customer data for ads. Identify your most valuable customers and test that out for lookalike audiences on Facebook, Instagram and Google. See if you can use their massive data set to match your ads so that you can limit ad spend. Find out more ways to diversify your ad strategy in 2021 here.
10. I know everything about Retail but very little about “etail”. With so many tools available, who can I go to for recommendations on the best tools to use to make our site the best in the industry?
It helps to learn from people that are already killing it. Their experience may not always translate to your experience but you will be able to learn by doing. Join webinars and subscribe to newsletters.
Linkedin has a lot of chatter and there are Slack groups specifically dedicated to “etail”. Skubana has a Slack group called RunDTC that enables people to contribute their own thoughts and ideas about ecommerce.
Put yourself out there because it’s better to learn from other people in the space rather than reading a blog that could be clickbait. If you’re on Shopify Plus speak to your merchant success manager and get their guidance.
11. How does a startup brand build a community? Where does one start?
It’s never too early to start building a community. Identify the common and shared interests. Build on that through events and content. You should do this in a generous way. You need to give and not expect things in return because that’s the way you can build trust. Adding value into that community by creating content for them to enjoy is the starting point.
You can also pull customers in through Instagram. Photo contests are a good way of getting attention and connecting. UGC is a huge part of building a community around your brand. Even if you have a small customer base they can still spread the good word.
Ready to accelerate your growth this year?
Access all the ebooks here. Or, if you want to discuss how retention-building tactics fit into your winner’s strategy this year, book a time to speak with one of our loyalty experts now.