Memoirs of a Sales Rep: 5 Trends Influencing eCommerce Today

September 2, 2016 | Don Pottinger

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Everyone always has the same answer to the question, “Who is the most well-respected employee in your company?” In unison, the answer chanted aloud is always “THE SALES REP.” Right? I mean salespeople are historically known for modesty, patience, and never making promises they can’t keep so why wouldn’t that be the most common answer?

Okay, so maybe those aren’t exactly the traits most salespeople are known for. But at Kevy, I’m one of those guys – a sales rep – and while I’ll neither confirm nor deny the truth behind sales stereotypes, I can say that there is a lot going on behind the scenes in the world of tech sales. We’re out there on the frontlines gaining insights about the eCommerce industry straight from the people who know it best: the business owners and senior leaders who run those eCommerce businesses.

Based on the countless conversations the Kevy sales team and I have with eCommerce businesses every day, I’ve thrown together five of the most common trends influencing eCommerce that seem to be on every retailer’s mind.

Social Media is Not Enough

Over the past decade, we’ve watched billions of people around the world flock to social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Where people go, businesses are bound to follow. For years, marketers scrambled to find ways to engage with customers on social media and for years it was a mess.

Nowadays, many digital marketers have formulated a more robust strategy to stay on-brand and interact with customers in the places they spend so much of their time online (“Is he talking about Netflix?!? Because I definitely spend too much time on Netflix.”). But now that the dust has cleared and legitimate social media strategies are starting to mature (and often thrive), many online retailers are recognizing that there are major opportunities outside the walls of social media. The likes of SEO, email marketing, remarketing, PPC and onsite popups are beginning to draw back attention from eCommerce.

The Popup is Returning with a Vengeance

Seriously, people are excited about popups again. But it’s probably not what you’re thinking; there’s a lot more to popups than the one-size-that-hardly-fits-anyone ads these days. When I started working with eCommerce businesses, I struggled not to cringe when I would hear the word “popup” come out of someone’s mouth. But now I get it.

When you walk into a grocery store or department store, at what point are you typically looking for the assistance of a salesperson? Immediately when you walk through the sliding glass doors, right? Right? Unless it’s your first time walking into the store or you have no clue where to even begin looking for the item you’re there to buy, you probably don’t want some salesperson stopping you the second your feet touch tile.

The same is true with popups. The last thing you want to do is scare (annoy) a potential buyer away. A popup can actually be helpful if it’s showing something relevant to your visitors when they need it. So maybe hold off a few seconds (or a couple pages) on that email capture popup; give your new visitors some time to see something they’re interested in before jumping in their face and they’ll be more likely to engage with you.  With behavior-based popups like the ones in Kevy, eCommerce businesses can trigger a popup to capture an email from a new customer, offer a specific deal on shoes to a customer shopping for shoes, and offer appreciation to returning loyal customers.

Data, Data, Data

I’m an analytical guy myself so I’m excited to see data taking over. The wide array of powerful tools available to eCommerce businesses have made collecting all sorts of data about shoppers possible and now everyone is trying figure out the best way to use that data in a way that makes sense for both their team and their customers.

Between Google Analytics, your eCommerce platform, and marketing software, it can be overwhelming to know where to begin. Lots of businesses are manually aggregating their data in spreadsheets and databases to help them organise it all in one place.

While a small few of us find joy in digging through those pools of data Scrooge McDuck style, those who don’t are fortunate to have platforms like Kevy to help combine the data they collect about visitors and orders with the marketing data they’re collecting so they can more easily recognize the behaviors of their shoppers and tailor their marketing to that in real-time.

Combining Content and eCommerce is Crucial

At Kevy, we like to say that successful branding in eCommerce is about successful storytelling. You probably tell bits and pieces of your company’s story on social media but what about on your site itself? eCommerce businesses are quickly realizing that onsite content isn’t just a way to boost your SEO, it can be an outlet for you to share your brand’s story in engaging ways that a short social post can’t.

Take Etsy for example – as a business, they aim to provide a platform for men and women (okay, mostly women) to share their crafts with the world. And so on their blog, they often share the stories behind the scenes, highlighting the people and products that make their site such a special place to shop.

I’ve heard so many great stories from business owners about the reason they started their store, the creative ways they built their teams, the person or event that inspired them to take action, and the things that continue to inspire them and their brand every day. What parts of your story haven’t you told?

Rewarding Loyal Customers is Becoming a Priority

It’s becoming widely understood that keeping loyal customers happy is one of the most effective ways to keep costs low; after all, the cost of acquiring a new customer is anywhere from 5 to 25 times higher than the cost to retaining  and selling to an existing customer.

So we all know what this means we have to do, right? Give away FREE STUFF! No, that’s not quite it. While offers like discounts and free shipping can be very effective at influencing a buying decision, sometimes simply taking the time to say “thank you” can work wonders in making loyal customers feel appreciated. Try triggering a simple “thank you for purchase” email for each purchase your customers make to acknowledge that you appreciate them. For those customers who just can’t seem to live without you, maybe even consider developing a VIP program that has it’s own look and feel to make those truly loyal customers feel recognized.

Final Thoughts

While many or all of these trends may be very real opportunities for your business, I’d say the most important lesson I’ve learned in talking with eCommerce businesses is that success in the eCommerce space is not about doing every one of these things perfectly. Success in eCommerce is about formulating a strategy that gets you in front of your customer at the right time with the right message. We think we’ve done a pretty darn good job making that possible for our customers.