NoFraud
BlogJanuary 18, 2024

How to Build an eCommerce Growth Strategy in 10 Steps

How to Build an eCommerce Growth Strategy in 10 Steps

As eCommerce continues its upward trajectory, the latest forecasts predict that sales will reach $7 trillion by 2025 — double the amount of what it was just six years prior. As more merchants enter the ecosystem and the landscape continues to expand, it’s more important than ever to make sure your eCommerce growth strategy is rock solid. It’s also important to continuously refine your strategy; use this guide, and revisit it as needed to keep your business on the growth track.

Think of every move in this all-encompassing playbook as interconnected, much like building a winning sports team where each player (i.e., component) plays a crucial role. Whether fine-tuning your website, enhancing marketing efforts, or fostering customer engagement, the strategy’s effectiveness relies on the seamless collaboration of its parts, requiring regular check-ins and adjustments to achieve long-term growth.

Step 1: Assemble the Foundational Elements

Do Market Research

Market research serves as the cornerstone for informed decision-making and strategic planning. By delving into market dynamics, consumer behaviors, and industry trends, eCommerce merchants can gain invaluable insights that shape the foundation of their growth strategy. Gain an understanding of the target audience to create tailored product offerings and personalized marketing initiatives that enhance customer satisfaction and create brand champions. 

Through the identification of market opportunities and potential challenges, businesses can proactively position themselves for success and navigate the competitive landscape with agility. Market research is necessary to effectively inform pricing strategies, optimize marketing channels, and to launch new products or go to market in new regions. Ultimately, market research empowers eCommerce businesses to make data-driven decisions, ensuring that their growth strategy is both well-informed and poised for long-term viability in today’s dynamic and ever-evolving digital marketplace.

Depending on the project, expect to spend between 6-8 weeks on research when launching a new product, and continue to frequently monitor in the months post-launch. For loyal customer bases, be sure to check-in with your research annually to keep it relevant and accurate. Even small teams and companies should be sure to conduct market research, adjusting these steps to obtain market, industry, and consumer insights with the resources available.

Choose the Right Market Research Tactics

Understand Your Target Audience

Conduct Surveys and Feedback Sessions
Directly reach out to customers using surveys and feedback sessions to gather information on preferences, satisfaction levels, and areas for improvement and innovation. Consider offering incentives for survey participation to enhance response rates. Encourage customers to provide feedback through reviews and testimonials, which provide insights into their experiences and serve as valuable social proof to use in your marketing and sales efforts.

Engage in Social Listening
Actively monitor social media platforms and online forums to listen to what your target audience is saying about your brand, products, and industry. Social listening provides real-time insights into customer sentiments, preferences, and emerging trends. Engage with your audience on social media, meeting them where they already are — participate in relevant discussions and pay attention to their feedback. Social media platforms can be powerful channels for understanding your audience’s interests, gathering feedback, and adapting your strategies accordingly.

Utilize Analytics and Data Analysis
Leverage analytics tools to gather and analyze data related to shopper behavior on your eCommerce platform. Platforms like Google Analytics offer insights into website traffic, popular products, and the customer journey. By analyzing this data, merchants can understand which pages are most visited, how users navigate the site, where they might be getting stuck, and what influences their purchasing decisions. This data-driven approach informs decisions about marketing strategies, product offerings, and user experience enhancements.

3 Ways to Increase Returning Visitors
to your eCommerce Shop

Analyze Industry Trends

Stay Informed Through Industry Publications
Many eCommerce experts and organizations maintain blogs and newsletters that regularly publish insights, analyses, and updates on industry trends and changes. These outlets can provide busy merchants with timely information on the latest happenings to help merchants evolve, ward off threats, and maintain their competitive edge. Examples of influential eCommerce blogs include Shopify’s eCommerce blog, BigCommerce blog, Practical eCommerce, and of course, the NoFraud blog. 

Industry reports and market research studies also serve as invaluable resources for eCommerce merchants seeking to understand evolving trends. Organizations such as eMarketer, Statista, and Forrester Research regularly publish comprehensive reports on eCommerce trends, consumer behavior, and emerging technologies. These reports provide data-driven insights and analysis, helping merchants stay informed about market dynamics so they can make informed decisions.

Subscription Fraud Trends

Attend eCommerce Conferences and Events
Participating in eCommerce conferences, trade shows, meetups, and industry events is an excellent way to stay updated on the latest trends. Events like Shoptalk, IRCE (Internet Retailer Conference + Exhibition), and eTail bring together industry experts, thought leaders, and merchants to discuss emerging trends, share best practices, and showcase innovative technologies. Networking at these events also provides opportunities to learn from peers and gain firsthand knowledge of market developments.

Assess Competitors

Conduct Competitor Website Analysis
Conduct a thorough analysis of your competitors’ websites. Evaluate the positioning, messaging, user experience, design, and functionality. Examine the product listings, pricing strategies, and the overall shopping journey. Identify key features and unique selling propositions (USPs) that set them apart. Assess the effectiveness of their calls-to-action, checkout process, and any value-added services. Tools like website analytics, heatmaps, and user testing can provide valuable insights into how customers interact with competitor websites.

Set Up Social Media Monitoring
Monitor your competitors’ social media channels to understand their online presence, engagement strategies, audience, and customer interactions. Analyze the type of content they share, the frequency of posts, and the level of audience engagement. Pay attention to customer reviews, comments, and feedback to gauge sentiment. Social media monitoring tools can help track competitor mentions, follower growth, use of influencer marketing, and overall social media performance, providing valuable insights into their marketing strategies and customer relationships.

Study Competitor Content and Marketing Strategies
Analyze the content and marketing strategies employed by your competitors. Assess the type of content they produce — blog posts, videos, or infographics — and evaluate its quality, frequency, timing, and relevance. Examine their email marketing campaigns, promotions, and advertising strategies. Identify the channels they prioritize, whether it’s social media, search engine marketing, or influencer collaborations. Understanding how competitors position themselves in the market and promote their products can inform your own marketing strategies and help identify areas for differentiation.

Optimize Your Website

Website optimization plays a pivotal role in creating a seamless and compelling online shopping experience. A well-optimized website is not only user-friendly, it also serves as a powerful tool for conversion and customer retention. It is a foundational and necessary component of every growth strategy. By conducting thorough analyses of user behaviors, businesses can identify areas for improvement, ensuring that the website is intuitive, responsive, and aligned with customer expectations. 

Streamlining the checkout process, optimizing product pages, and enhancing overall site performance all contribute to higher conversion rates and increased customer satisfaction. Moreover, website optimization aligns with search engine optimization (SEO) practices, improving online visibility and attracting organic traffic. In the competitive eCommerce landscape, you’ll need to prioritize website optimization to create a positive first impression and foster customer trust, laying the groundwork for sustained growth.

How to Increase Conversions with
BigCommerce + NoFraud Checkout

Leverage Website Optimization Tactics

Make it Seamless and User-Friendly

Create a Clear Structure With Intuitive Navigation
Research shows that 40% of shoppers will leave a website if it fails to load within three seconds. While investing in a high-performing, well-designed website seems obvious, understanding the ROI on such an investment should put this at the top of your to-do list. Forrester Research reported that a frictionless design experience can raise conversion rates up to 400% and every dollar a company invests in UX yields a $100 return.

Make sure the navigation of your eCommerce website is intuitive and user-friendly by testing it with shoppers and collecting their feedback directly. For ongoing maintenance, perform regular heatmap analyses to ensure your website is structured clearly and well-organized with easily accessible categories and subcategories. Use descriptive labels, while avoiding unnecessary complexity. Implement a logical menu layout that helps shoppers quickly locate products. 

Also, consider Including a search bar with autocomplete functionality to further enhance navigation and help increase conversions. Studies have shown that site searchers are 2-3x more likely to convert and nearly 70% of shoppers use the search feature when it’s made available on a website.

3 Ways to Increase Returning Visitors
to Your eCommerce Shop

Streamline the Checkout Process
For merchants and shoppers alike, an abandoned cart is painful! Merchants have spent time and money creating an optimal experience for shoppers, while shoppers get excited and head to checkout — only to close out of the tab and never return again. Cart abandonment rates are currently sitting at around 69%, with shoppers citing the biggest reason for ditching checkout is getting hit with unexpected extra costs (shipping, taxes, fees, etc.). Mobile abandonment rates are even higher.

To reduce cart abandonment, simplify the checkout process by implementing a clear and concise checkout flow with minimal steps. Clearly display the total cost of the cart and payment options accepted upfront. Also, include a progress indicator so shoppers know how far along they are in the process. Optimize form fields for easy input, and include trust signals, such as secure payment icons, to instill confidence in users during the checkout process. Provide guest checkout options to avoid forcing users to create accounts before making a purchase.

NoFraud Checkout

Optimize Product Filtering and Sorting
Streamline the browsing experience by optimizing product filtering and sorting options. Allow users to filter products based on various attributes such as price range, brand, customer ratings, and availability. Implement sorting options like “New Arrivals,” “Best Sellers,” and “Price Low to High” to cater to different user preferences. Ensure that filter options are prominently displayed, easy to use, and responsive to user interactions, providing a seamless way for users to narrow down their product selections quickly.

Optimize for Mobile

Design for Mobile Responsiveness
Adobe forecasts  this holiday season will be the first in which mobile shopping overtakes desktop. And with mobile cart abandonment hitting 82%, merchants need to make sure their websites are fully responsive across various devices — especially mobile. Optimize the layout, images, and interactive elements for smaller screens. Keep accessibility in mind. Implement touch-friendly features, such as larger buttons, and ensure that the overall user experience remains seamless and consistent across devices. Google’s mobile-friendly test can help assess and optimize your site for mobile responsiveness.

Build Customer Trust

Transparent Product Information
Provide clear and transparent information about your products and services. Include detailed product descriptions, specifications, pricing, and shipping information. Transparency instills confidence in customers, prevents chargebacks, and helps them make informed purchase decisions. Additionally, offer user-generated content such as customer reviews and testimonials to provide authentic perspectives on your products. When customers trust the information you provide, they are more likely to engage with your brand and make repeat purchases.

Step 2: Build Customer Engagement

Use Content Marketing to Connect With Shoppers

Content marketing helps build customer engagement by delivering valuable and relevant content that resonates with the target audience. A content marketing strategy can include anything from YouTube videos and podcasts to case studies, infographics, or social media posts. Every type of content has its own unique benefits. 

By consistently providing a steady stream of relevant content, merchants not only capture the attention of their shoppers but also encourage ongoing interaction and participation. This engagement is further amplified when content is shareable, sparking discussions and expanding the brand’s reach through social media and other platforms. Content marketing builds a meaningful relationship with customers, keeping them informed, entertained, and connected to the brand, ultimately contributing to brand loyalty and sustained customer engagement over time.

Pick Proven Content Marketing Tactics

Create Valuable Content

Address Customer Pain Points
Identify the challenges and pain points your customers face, and create content that directly addresses these issues. Whether through blog posts, videos, or how-to guides, providing solutions to common problems demonstrates your understanding of customer needs and establishes your brand as a valuable resource. By offering practical advice and actionable insights, you not only help your audience but also encourage them to engage with your content and share it with others facing similar challenges.

Death Wish Coffee connects with their audience by using humor to address pain points and market their products.

Offer Interactive Content and Quizzes
Interactive content, such as quizzes, surveys, and polls, is an engaging way to involve your audience and gather valuable insights. Create quizzes that relate to your industry or products, allowing users to test their knowledge or discover something new. Interactive content captures attention, educates, and encourages social sharing and discussions. This type of engagement builds a sense of community around your brand and keeps customers coming back for more.

Warby Parker allows shoppers to try on frames at home before they decide to keep them. This quiz attracts shoppers to take the first step of their journey, while Warby Parker curates a selection of options for the customer.

Run User-Generated Content Campaigns
Encourage your customers to become part of your content creation process by running user-generated content campaigns. Ask them to share their experiences, testimonials, unboxing videos, how-tos, or creative use of your products and showcase this content on your website and social media platforms. User-generated content not only serves as authentic endorsements but also fosters a sense of community and trust. Create branded hashtags to make it easy for customers to participate and share their content, amplifying your reach and engagement.

GoPro has established their brand so well that customers eagerly share their products on Instagram and other social channels.
Build Brand Authority

Collaborate With Influencers and Brands
Partner with influencers or collaborate with brands in your industry that align with your brand values. Influencers and partner brands often have established authority and a dedicated following. Their endorsement or collaboration with your brand can enhance your credibility and attract their audience’s attention. Both types of partnerships can help create content, participate in events, or share their positive experiences with your products, contributing to the perception of your brand as an authoritative and trustworthy entity.

The famous Airbnb x LEGO House collaboration has brought in hundreds of thousands of guests over the years.

Solicit Customer Reviews and Testimonials
Encourage and prominently display customer reviews and testimonials on your eCommerce shop. Genuine feedback from satisfied customers adds credibility to your brand and builds trust among potential buyers. Actively seek customer reviews, and consider implementing a review system that allows users to share their experiences. Positive reviews serve as social proof of your brand’s authority, influencing purchasing decisions and driving customer engagement. Time review requests for moments after customers have received your product and had a chance to experience it, yet before their experience with your brand is no longer top of mind. This ensures they will have something meaningful to say to help guide other shoppers.

Produce Detailed Product Descriptions and Guides
Provide comprehensive and detailed product descriptions for your eCommerce offerings. Include accurate photos, specifications, use cases, and any relevant information that helps customers make informed purchasing decisions. Additionally, create product guides, how-to videos, or tutorials that showcase your expertise or product quality. By positioning your eCommerce site as a go-to resource for product information, you assist customers in their buying journey and establish your brand as the authoritative source within your niche.

Use SEO to Attract Shoppers

Search Engine Optimization is a powerhouse for attracting new customers and building engagement. Consider this:

  • 87% of shoppers begin their product searches online
  • Less than 1% of shoppers click on second page search results
  • SEO drives 1000% more traffic than organic social media

SEO helps to enhance a brand’s online visibility by ensuring its content is easily discoverable by new shoppers. When a website ranks higher in search engine results, it becomes more accessible to customers actively seeking relevant information or products. SEO practices, such as optimizing content with relevant keywords, improving site structure, and enhancing user experience, contribute to a more seamless online journey. As shoppers find the information they’re looking for efficiently, they are more likely to engage with the content, spend more time on the site, and explore additional offerings. Moreover, SEO encourages the creation of high-quality and valuable content, aligning with shopper intent and preferences. By consistently delivering content that addresses customer needs, SEO both drives organic traffic and cultivates meaningful engagement, building trust and establishing a strong online presence.

Take Advantage of SEO Tactics

Do Keyword Research

Analyze Competitor Keywords
Study the keywords that your competitors are targeting. Analyze their websites, product descriptions, and meta tags to identify the keywords they emphasize. This can provide valuable insights into the terms that are driving traffic to their sites. While you don’t want to copy your competitors directly, when you share an audience, understanding their keyword strategy can help you identify gaps or opportunities in your own approach. Tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs also offer features for competitor analysis.

Utilize Customer Feedback and Reviews
Tap into the language used by your customers by analyzing feedback, reviews, and comments. Pay attention to the phrases and terms customers use when describing your products. These insights can reveal not only potential keywords but also the language that resonates with your target audience. Implementing customer-driven keywords not only improves your SEO but also ensures that your website speaks directly to the language your customers understand and use. Look for the absence of terms or features you would expect them to mention, too, as it may indicate a lack of awareness about your products or a misperception you can correct.

Pay Attention to On-Page Optimization

Optimize Product Pages

  • Keyword Optimization: Incorporate relevant keywords naturally into product titles, meta titles, meta descriptions, and product descriptions. Use long-tail keywords that reflect specific product attributes, benefits, and use cases.
  • High-Quality Product Descriptions: Craft unique, compelling, and informative product descriptions that highlight key features, benefits, and use cases. Avoid using duplicate content, as this can negatively impact SEO. Detailed product descriptions can also help reduce chargebacks; see 5 Ways to Prevent Chargebacks.
  • Image Optimization: Optimize product images by using descriptive file names and adding alt text. Compress images to ensure fast loading times without compromising quality.

Improve Category Pages

  • Keyword-Driven Headings and Titles: Optimize category page titles and headings with relevant keywords. This helps search engines understand the content and purpose of each category.
  • Clear Navigation and User-Friendly URLs: Ensure that category pages are easily navigable, and use clean, user-friendly URLs. A clear URL structure improves both user experience and search engine readability.
  • Unique Content: Provide unique and valuable content on category pages, summarizing the types of products available. Avoid duplicating content from product pages, and instead, focus on unique content that adds value to the category.

Enhance Site Speed and Mobile Optimization

  • Fast Loading Times: Your page should load in under three seconds; anything higher will significantly increase bounce rates as 40% of shoppers will abandon the site if it goes beyond this threshold. The faster the better; the average load time for results showing on Google’s first page is 1.65 seconds. Optimize your eCommerce website for speed by compressing images, leveraging browser caching, and minimizing unnecessary scripts. 
  • Mobile-Friendly Design: Make sure your site is fully responsive and offers an optimal experience on mobile devices. Google considers mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor, so a mobile-optimized site is crucial for both user experience and SEO.
  • User-Friendly Navigation: Simplify navigation for mobile users, ensuring that menus are easy to access and buttons are touch-friendly. Streamline the checkout process on mobile to reduce friction and increase conversions.

Amplify Organic Traffic

Link Building

  • Build High-Quality Backlinks: Earn backlinks from reputable and relevant websites in your industry. Focus on quality rather than quantity, as authoritative backlinks can significantly boost your website’s credibility in the eyes of search engines.
  • Focus on Internal Linking: Implement a strategic internal linking structure within your website. Link relevant pages to each other to guide users and search engines through your content. Internal linking helps distribute page authority and enhances the overall SEO of your site.
  • Create Video Content: Consider creating product videos, how-to guides, or informative videos related to your niche. Video content is not only engaging but also has the potential to appear in search engine results and on platforms like YouTube.
  • Use Social Media Integrations: Share your content on social media platforms to increase its reach and encourage sharing. Social signals, such as likes, shares, and comments, can indirectly impact your website’s SEO.

Maintain Shopper Interest With Email Marketing

Email marketing serves as a direct and personalized channel of communication that tailors content to individual preferences, showcasing relevant products, promotions, and exclusive offers. Automated workflows, such as drip campaigns and behavioral triggers, ensure timely and contextually appropriate messages, keeping the brand consistently on its audiences’ radar. The ability to share engaging or interactive content and regular updates on new arrivals or curated selections helps maintain a dynamic and ongoing relationship with shoppers. Additionally, email campaigns provide an opportunity to convey the brand’s story, values, and unique selling propositions, fostering a sense of connection and loyalty over time.

Get Familiar with Email Marketing Tactics

  • Personalization and Segmentation
    • Personalized Content: Tailor email content based on individual customer preferences, purchase history, or behaviors. Address recipients by their names, recommend products related to their previous purchases, and create personalized offers.
    • Segmentation: Divide your email list into segments based on demographic information, purchase history, or engagement levels. Send targeted messages to each segment, ensuring that the content is relevant and resonates with the specific interests of that group.
  • Interactive Content
    • Interactive Elements: Incorporate interactive elements from your content marketing efforts — polls, quizzes, surveys, or clickable images in your emails. Interactive content captures attention and encourages engagement by providing a two-way communication channel.
    • Gamification: Introduce gamification elements, like contests or challenges, to make the email experience more enjoyable. Offering rewards or incentives for participation can motivate customers to actively engage with your emails.
  • Automated Workflows and Drip Campaigns
    • Drip Campaigns: Set up automated drip campaigns that deliver a series of targeted emails over time. These campaigns can be triggered by specific actions or milestones, such as a new subscriber, a recent purchase, or an abandoned cart. Drip campaigns keep your brand top-of-mind and nurture customer relationships.
    • Behavioral Triggers: Utilize behavioral triggers to send emails based on customer actions, such as clicks, opens, or website visits. For example, if a customer browses a particular product category, you can send them relevant recommendations or promotions based on their expressed interests.

Step 3: Make Decision-Making Data-Driven

Through the analysis of vast sets of data, organizations can uncover patterns, trends, and correlations that may not be apparent without deep analyses. A data-driven approach enables informed decision-making by reducing uncertainties and highlighting areas of opportunity or concern. Decision-makers can then gain a comprehensive understanding of customer behavior, market trends, and operational efficiency to form strategic plans with targeted solutions. Whether optimizing marketing strategies, refining product offerings, or enhancing operational processes, data analytics empower decision-makers with actionable intelligence, fostering more accurate, efficient, and successful business outcomes. These evidence-based choices also help merchants fine-tune their growth strategies and stay agile in the dynamic and competitive online retail landscape.

Try Data-Driven Tactics

Track Customer Behavior

Website Analytics Tools
Utilize website analytics tools like Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics to track customer behavior on your eCommerce site. These tools offer a wealth of information, including page views, time spent on pages, and the flow of visitors through the site. Analyze conversion funnels to understand where users drop off in the purchasing process. Track popular products, entry points, and exit points to identify trends and areas for improvement. Additionally, use eCommerce tracking features to gain insights into specific transaction details and revenue sources.

Example of Adobe Analytics dashboard.

Heatmaps and Session Recording
Implement heatmaps and session recording tools to visualize how users interact with your website. Heatmaps provide a visual representation of where users click, move, and scroll on a webpage. Session recording allows you to watch a playback of individual user sessions, providing insights into their navigation and interactions. These tools help identify areas of high engagement, user preferences, and potential usability issues. By understanding how customers interact with — or ignore — specific elements, merchants can optimize the website for a more intuitive and user-friendly experience.

Example of three types of heatmaps from Hotjar.

Customer Journey Analysis
Employ customer journey analysis by integrating data from various touchpoints, including social media, email campaigns, and customer support interactions. Analyze the entire customer journey from awareness to conversion and beyond. This holistic approach helps merchants understand the sequence of interactions that lead to a purchase or other desired actions. By mapping the customer journey, merchants can tailor marketing strategies, optimize messaging, and enhance touchpoints at each stage of the customer lifecycle.

Conversion Funnel Analysis
Utilize data analysis to assess the efficiency of your conversion funnel – the step-by-step process that a shopper goes through, from entering your site to completing a purchase. Identify and analyze conversion rates at each stage of the funnel, including searches, product views, cart additions, and checkout. Pinpoint areas with high drop-off rates to understand potential obstacles or friction points in the customer journey. This analysis enables you to implement targeted optimizations to improve conversion rates and overall website performance.

Evaluate Marketing Effectiveness

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) and Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)
Evaluate the cost-effectiveness of your marketing efforts by calculating the Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) and Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). CAC measures the average cost to acquire a new customer, considering expenses related to advertising, campaigns, and promotions. ROAS measures the revenue generated for every dollar spent on advertising. By analyzing these metrics, eCommerce merchants can assess the efficiency and efficacy of their marketing spend, identify high-performing channels, and allocate resources strategically to maximize returns.

Attribution Modeling
Implement attribution modeling to understand the contribution of each marketing touchpoint in the customer journey. Analyze the paths customers take from the first interaction to conversion, considering various marketing channels and touchpoints. This helps attribute value to each touchpoint and provides a more comprehensive view of the customer journey. By identifying the most influential touchpoints, eCommerce merchants can optimize their marketing mix, allocate budgets effectively, and enhance the overall impact of their marketing strategies.

Step 4: Expand into New Markets

Start Multichannel Selling

Multichannel selling is a key strategy for eCommerce merchants seeking to expand their markets by diversifying their sales channels beyond a single online platform. In 2020, multichannel online retailers generated more than $350 billion in eCommerce sales in the United States. This year, multichannel sales have increased by 17% since last year.

By simultaneously leveraging various channels such as third-party marketplaces, social media platforms, and even brick-and-mortar stores, merchants can reach a broader audience and tap into new customer segments. Multichannel selling not only increases the visibility of products but also enhances the customer’s overall shopping experience by providing multiple touchpoints for interaction. This approach enables merchants to adapt to changing consumer preferences, target specific demographics, and capitalize on the strengths of different platforms. 

Here are some best practices to consider as you expand into multichannel selling:

  • Unified Inventory Management
    Maintain a centralized and synchronized inventory management system across all your multichannel selling platforms. This ensures accurate product availability information and reduces the risk of overselling or underselling. Make sure your inventory management software seamlessly integrates with your eCommerce platform and other sales channels, allowing real-time updates and centralized control over stock levels.
  • Consistent Branding and Messaging
    Maintain a consistent brand identity and messaging across all your channels. From your website to third-party marketplaces and social media platforms, your brand’s visual elements, tone, and messaging need to align cohesively. Consistency builds trust and recognition. Implementing a unified brand presence helps strengthen your brand’s image and fosters a seamless experience for customers as they navigate across different platforms.

Expand Internationally

Conduct thorough market research to identify countries with untapped demand for your products, consider local regulations and cultural nuances, and adapt your marketing strategies accordingly. Consider establishing partnerships with local distributors to facilitate seamless entry into new markets. Offering multiple language options, local currency support, and personalized customer experiences can enhance your international expansion efforts.

Diversify Product Offerings

Use all the data you’ve collected up until this point — customer preferences and market trends — to identify complementary or related products that align with your brand. Introducing new product lines or variations can attract a broader audience and cater to different customer needs. Consider bundling products or creating curated collections to provide value and encourage additional purchases. Diversification allows you to tap into new market segments while leveraging your existing customer base.

Step 5: Optimize the Customer Experience

Customer experience optimized products have 1.6x higher brand awareness, 1.7x higher customer retention, 1.9x return on spend, and 1.6x higher customer satisfaction rates. In the highly competitive online retail landscape, providing a seamless and positive experience at every touchpoint is paramount, from website navigation to checkout and post-purchase support. By focusing on intuitive website design, personalized interactions, and efficient order fulfillment, merchants not only enhance customer satisfaction but also foster brand loyalty and positive reviews. A positive customer experience helps drive repeat business and amplifies word-of-mouth marketing to attract new customers. Prioritizing the customer experience — and continuing to optimize it — is a strategic investment that pays dividends by differentiating the brand, encouraging customer retention, and ultimately fueling sustainable, long-term growth.

Explore Customer Experience Optimization Tactics

Enhance Touchpoints

Personalization
Implement personalized touchpoints throughout the customer journey. Utilize data analytics to understand customer preferences, purchase history, and behavior. Tailor product recommendations, marketing communications, and even website content based on individual customer profiles. Personalization creates a more engaging and relevant experience, making customers feel valued and understood. Implement personalized email campaigns, product recommendations on the website, and targeted promotions to enhance touchpoints and drive customer satisfaction.

Seamless Multichannel Integration
Ensure a seamless and integrated experience across various touchpoints and channels. Whether customers interact with your brand through your website, social media, mobile apps, or in-store, maintain consistency in branding, messaging, and user experience. Implement technologies that enable a unified customer view, allowing seamless transitions between channels without loss of information. This ensures that customers can start their journey on one platform and continue it seamlessly on another, creating a cohesive and positive experience.

Efficient Customer Support
Enhance touchpoints related to customer support and service. Implement efficient and responsive customer support channels, such as live chat, email, and phone support, to address inquiries and resolve issues promptly. Utilize chatbots for instant assistance and implement self-service options, such as comprehensive FAQs and tutorials. A positive experience with customer support can significantly impact overall satisfaction, and quick, helpful responses contribute to building trust and loyalty.

Provide Excellent Customer Service

Responsive Communication
Respond promptly to inquiries, emails, and messages across all channels. Implement live chat support on your website to offer real-time assistance. Clearly communicate order updates, shipping information, and any potential delays. An emphasis on responsive communication builds trust and reassures customers that their concerns are being addressed in a timely manner.

Efficient Order Fulfillment
Part of great customer service is making sure to clearly communicate shipping timelines and setting realistic expectations for delivery. Provide tracking information so customers can monitor the progress of their orders. Implement robust inventory management systems to minimize the risk of stockouts or order discrepancies. Quick and reliable order fulfillment contributes significantly to customer satisfaction and positive reviews.

Comprehensive Self-Service Options
Empower customers with self-service options to find information and resolve common queries independently. Create a comprehensive FAQ section on your website that addresses frequently asked questions about products, shipping, returns, and policies. Providing self-service options not only enhances the customer experience but also reduces the burden on customer support teams.

Build Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty

Implement a Loyalty Program
Research shows that the top loyalty leaders grow revenue 2.5x faster than their peers. If you’re thinking about launching a customer loyalty program, make the call-to-action strong — 63% of shoppers are motivated to join a loyalty program when they can receive instant discounts. Reward customers for their loyalty through points, discounts, exclusive access to promotions, or other perks. A well-designed loyalty program not only encourages customers to continue shopping but also fosters a sense of appreciation and exclusivity. Regularly communicate with program members to keep them engaged and informed about available rewards because most (56%) will not complete a purchase if their points or rewards have expired.

Collect and Act on Customer Feedback
Actively seek feedback from customers through surveys, reviews, and social media. Analyze this feedback to identify areas for improvement and address any issues raised by customers. Demonstrate a commitment to continuous improvement based on customer input. Publicly acknowledge positive — and negative — reviews and testimonials to showcase customer satisfaction and show that you are addressing concerns. By involving customers in the improvement process, merchants can build trust, show responsiveness, and enhance overall satisfaction and loyalty.

Step 6: Improve Operational Efficiency

Once merchants have their workflows running, it’s time to explore ways to improve operational efficiency. Doing so helps to streamline the collective processes that ultimately end up affecting the customer experience, which includes inventory management, order fulfillment, logistics, and customer support to ensure that resources are utilized efficiently and costs are minimized. An operationally efficient eCommerce operation is characterized by smooth workflows, reduced processing times, accurate inventory control, and minimal errors in order fulfillment. This efficiency not only leads to cost savings but also contributes to an improved customer experience by ensuring timely deliveries, effective communication, and overall reliability.

Here are the primary platforms that will help improve operational efficiency:

  • Inventory management
  • Shipping and logistics
  • Customer relationship management
  • Project management and collaboration
  • Analytics and business intelligence
  • Fraud prevention

Across all platforms, there are some key considerations to keep top of mind when you shop for a new solution:

  • Customizability: Map your specific business needs to each platform. Look for platforms that can support your product variations, industry requirements, and growth goals. For example, for a CRM, how robust do you need features like contact management, lead tracking, and sales automation to be?
  • Integrations: Each platform needs to be able to integrate with other tools in your technology stack. Make sure these integrations are strong and connect to the platforms they need to in order to improve the overall customer experience as well as operational efficiency. As an example, your CRM should bi-directionally integrate with other communication channels and marketing tools in your technology stack so you’re not duplicating communication efforts or sending irrelevant or conflicting communications.
  • Scalability: Plan for business growth and the platform’s ability to accommodate changing needs. It can be challenging to select a platform that eventually needs to be swapped out because it can’t effectively manage the increased volume or changes to your business as you grow.
  • Automation: The more we can lean on technology to automate, the better. Look for solutions that provide trigger functionality — immediately prompting the next action when applicable after one is completed. This helps keep business moving quickly and your customers will reap the benefits of a speedy process.
  • Analytics: Each tool should provide robust reporting and analytics to provide insights into the performance of your processes. For each solution, insights will present opportunities to improve strategies and workflows that ultimately impact the customer experience.
  • Fraud prevention: Fraudulent transactions can undercut growth with costs that start to add up (fees, resources, time). Poor fraud prevention solutions can even block good orders, so it’s important to have a well-rounded, full-service fraud prevention solution that can thoroughly vet risky orders, while accelerating good shoppers to complete purchases.

Step 7: Uplevel the Customer Experience

After improving operational efficiency with technology, it’s time to look at tools that can uplevel the customer experience to unlock new possibilities for customer engagement. Integrations with artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analytics platforms help to empower merchants with valuable insights from customer behaviors and market trends. These tools are focused on offering features like personalized recommendations, chatbots for instant customer support, and streamlined checkout processes. 

Here are some examples of tools that help to enhance different areas of the shopper experience:

  • Yotpo: Yotpo is a customer content marketing platform that helps eCommerce businesses collect and leverage user-generated content. It allows customers to leave reviews, share photos, and ask questions, creating a more engaging and trustworthy shopping experience.
  • Optimizely: Optimizely is an experimentation platform that allows eCommerce businesses to run A/B tests and experiments on their websites. By testing different layouts, features, and messaging, businesses can optimize their sites for a better user experience and increased conversion rates.
  • Zendesk Chat: Real-time customer support is crucial for enhancing the shopping experience. Zendesk Chat is a live chat tool that enables businesses to provide instant assistance to customers. It can help answer questions, address concerns, and guide users through the purchasing process.
  • Hotjar: Hotjar is a website analytics and feedback tool that provides insights into user behavior. It allows businesses to see how users interact with their site through heatmaps, session recordings, and surveys. Understanding user behavior helps in making informed decisions to improve the overall shopping experience.
  • Nosto: Nosto is a personalization platform that uses artificial intelligence to deliver personalized shopping experiences. It analyzes user behavior and provides personalized product recommendations, content, and offers, creating a more tailored and engaging experience for each visitor.
  • NoFraud Checkout: NoFraud Checkout creates a streamlined checkout process that accelerates transactions for good customers while thoroughly vetting risky ones. NoFraud’s purchase process shows only the necessary fields needed to ultimately decrease false declines and increase approvals, only passing legitimate customers while blocking fraudsters.

These tools are just a snapshot, and the choice of tools should align with specific business goals, customer demographics, and the features needed to enhance the shopping experience on a particular eCommerce platform. Always check for the latest features and integrations when selecting tools for your business, as the landscape is continually evolving.

Step 8: Retain More Customers

Studies have shown that it can cost up to seven times more to acquire new customers than to retain existing customers. Customer retention is a cost-effective growth strategy, as satisfied and loyal customers are more likely to make repeat purchases, increasing the lifetime value of each shopper. Loyal customers also often act as brand advocates, contributing to positive word-of-mouth and attracting new customers through referrals, which help to create flywheel momentum for your business. Establishing a strong and loyal customer base enhances a brand’s reputation, fosters trust, and positions the merchant competitively in a crowded marketplace. Continuous engagement, personalized experiences, and responsive customer service are crucial components of customer retention, fostering a strong connection between the brand and its customers, ultimately leading to sustained business growth.

Develop Customer Retention Strategies

Loyalty Programs
Customer loyalty programs help improve customer retention by incentivizing repeat purchases and fostering a sense of exclusivity. These programs offer tangible rewards, such as discounts, points, or exclusive access to promotions, which not only encourage customers to make additional purchases but also create a positive association with the brand. By providing ongoing value and recognition to loyal customers, loyalty programs strengthen the emotional connection between the customer and the brand, increasing the likelihood that customers will choose the brand over competitors. Moreover, these programs contribute to customer engagement and data collection, allowing businesses to tailor marketing strategies based on individual preferences and behaviors, further enhancing the overall customer experience and solidifying long-term relationships.

Personalized Marketing
Personalized marketing tailors promotional efforts and customer experiences to individual preferences and behaviors, helping to delight and retain shoppers. By leveraging customer data and analytics, eCommerce businesses can create targeted campaigns that speak directly to the unique needs and interests of each customer. Personalization is not only a best practice, but has come to be expected by 71% of shoppers — and 76% of consumers will be frustrated when they don’t get this experience. According to MicKinsey & Company, “Personalization drives performance and better customer outcomes. Companies that grow faster drive 40% more of their revenue from personalization than their slower-growing counterparts.”

It’s important to look at personalization as a whole and make it consistent for each of your shopper segments across all channels like:

  • Live chat
  • SMS text messaging
  • Emails
  • Mobile apps
  • Websites
  • Social media
  • In-store interactions
  • Call centers or customer support

The impact of personalization makes customers feel a sense of recognition and value, which helps to foster a deeper connection with your brand. This individualized approach enhances the overall shopping experience and increases the likelihood of repeat purchases and larger average order values, as customers are more likely to engage with and respond positively to marketing messages that resonate with their specific interests and buying history. 

Here are some personalization practices to consider: 

  • Personalized Rewards: Use each individual shopper’s known interests and preferences to incentivize repeat purchases.
  • Product Recommendations: Leverage purchase history data to identify related products that might be of interest to shoppers.
  • Subscriptions: Bundle products into curated monthly subscription packages that generate interest from individual shopper segments. 
  • Mobile Apps: Personalize mobile push notifications to provide personal product recommendations.

Excellent Customer Service
To integrate customer service seamlessly into a retention strategy, it’s essential to prioritize responsiveness, empathy, and problem resolution. Providing prompt and helpful assistance to customer inquiries, concerns, or issues fosters a positive customer experience. Here are some ways to improve retention with great customer service:

  • Implement a multi-channel support system that makes it easy and convenient for shoppers to access, using live chat, email, and SMS. 
  • Proactively seek feedback and incorporate it into service improvements. This demonstrates your commitment to continuous enhancement and shows customers you’re eager to exceed their expectations.

Step 9: Devote Time to Financial Planning

Financial planning provides a roadmap for resource allocation, investment decisions, and risk management. By establishing clear budgetary guidelines and financial goals, merchants can optimize their spending, ensuring that funds are directed toward activities that drive growth and profitability. Financial planning allows for strategic decision-making, such as expanding product lines, entering new markets, or investing in marketing initiatives. It also helps in anticipating and managing potential financial challenges, ensuring the business remains resilient. Moreover, a well-executed financial plan provides a basis for attracting investors or securing loans, facilitating the capital infusion necessary for scaling operations, technology upgrades, and other initiatives that contribute to long-term success and expansion.

Design Your Financial Planning for Growth

A financial plan is not a one-and-done exercise; it’s important to regularly revisit and make updates or adjustments as needed to allow the business to stay agile and responsive to changing circumstances. 

Here are steps for an effective financial planning process:

  1. Clear Financial Goals: Clearly define short-term and long-term financial objectives. This could include revenue targets, profit margins, and specific financial milestones aligned with the business’s growth strategy.
  2. Budgeting: Develop a detailed budget that outlines expected revenue, expenses, and investments. Allocate resources strategically, considering areas such as marketing, technology, inventory, and customer service.
  3. Sales Forecasting: Utilize historical data and market trends to forecast sales accurately. Break down sales projections by product categories, customer segments, and sales channels to identify growth opportunities.
  4. Expense Analysis: Conduct a thorough analysis of fixed and variable expenses. Evaluate each expense category to identify areas where cost savings can be achieved without compromising operational efficiency.
  5. Cash Flow Management: Monitor and manage cash flow effectively to ensure the business has enough liquidity to cover operational expenses and investment requirements. Identify peak cash flow periods and plan for potential fluctuations.
  6. Investment Planning: Determine where strategic investments are needed for business growth. This may include technology upgrades, marketing campaigns, expansion into new markets, or improving logistics and fulfillment processes.
  7. Risk Assessment: Identify potential financial risks and develop contingency plans to mitigate them. This could involve assessing market volatility, supply chain disruptions, or changes in consumer behavior.
  8. Regular Financial Monitoring and Reporting: Implement systems for ongoing financial monitoring and reporting. Regularly review financial statements, key performance indicators, and budget versus actuals to track the business’s financial health.
  9. Tax Planning: Work with tax professionals to optimize tax strategies, ensuring compliance with tax regulations and taking advantage of available deductions and credits.
  10. Scenario Planning: Develop different financial scenarios to anticipate the impact of various factors on the business. This proactive approach helps in making informed decisions in response to changing market conditions.
  11. Review and Adjust: Regularly review the financial plan, comparing actual performance against projections. Adjust the plan as needed based on evolving business conditions, market trends, and the achievement of financial goals.

Step 10: Stay Adaptable and Keep Growing

The final step is all about staying relevant, competitive, and responsive to evolving consumer preferences and market dynamics. The work you’ve done up to this point on building a growth strategy is to set a roadmap in place — one that is a living, breathing document — that will naturally change and evolve as you adapt to new challenges and opportunities. The online retail landscape is dynamic, with shifts in technology, consumer behavior, and industry trends occurring rapidly. By embracing adaptability, eCommerce businesses can identify emerging opportunities, swiftly integrate new technologies, and align their products and services with current market demands. Staying ahead of trends not only enhances customer satisfaction by offering innovative solutions but also fosters agility in responding to challenges and disruptions. Businesses that prioritize adaptability are better positioned to navigate the complexities of the digital marketplace, seize growth opportunities, and build a sustainable and resilient presence in the ever-changing eCommerce ecosystem.

The Secret to a Great Growth Strategy: Always Measure Success

Measurement is a paramount part of any plan — it’s the only way to know if what you’re doing is working. By quantifying the outcomes of growth strategies, businesses can identify what works well and what needs adjustment, fostering a culture of continuous improvement. Regular measurement not only validates the strategic direction but also aids in the allocation of resources, ensuring that investments align with the areas driving the most significant impact.

Here are some ways to measure your growth strategy outcomes:

  • Revenue Growth: One of the primary indicators of a successful growth strategy is an increase in revenue. Measure the percentage growth in sales over a specific period, comparing it to baseline figures before implementing the growth strategy.
  • Customer Acquisition and Retention: Assess the success of a growth strategy by evaluating customer acquisition rates and retention metrics. A successful strategy should attract new customers while retaining existing ones. Metrics such as customer lifetime value and customer churn rates can provide insights into these aspects.
  • Market Share Expansion: Monitoring changes in market share is crucial for assessing the effectiveness of a growth strategy. An expanding market share indicates that the business is gaining a larger portion of the target market, a key indicator of successful growth.
  • Return on Investment (ROI): Evaluate the financial performance of the growth strategy by calculating the return on investment. Compare the costs associated with the strategy implementation to the revenue generated or other predefined success metrics to ensure that the investment yields positive returns.
  • Operational Efficiency and Scalability: Assess the impact of the growth strategy on operational efficiency and scalability. Successful strategies should enable the business to handle increased demand, optimize internal processes, and adapt to changing market conditions without sacrificing efficiency.

Regularly reviewing and analyzing these key performance indicators will provide valuable insights into the success of a growth strategy and help businesses make informed decisions for future planning and adjustments.

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