Marin Software's official blog

Navigating the E-Commerce Winter

Elizabeth Kennedy
|
August 27, 2022

E-commerce has had a long hot summer, but some experts say that winter has finally arrived. We’ve seen stock valuations for major retailers plummet and layoffs increasing in frequency, leaving businesses wondering if pandemic-era predictions for permanently changed consumer behavior might just fall flat.

The e-commerce expansion initially came as a necessity in 2020 during the onset of the pandemic: retail locations closed or reduced hours, bread-winners spent more time at home, and everyone spent more time on their devices. E-commerce businesses saw unprecedented growth, and those that cashed in without dedicating time to a long-term game plan saw subsequent declines the following year.

A recent study by store equipment supplier Raydiant showed that 48% of customers prefer to shop in-store when given the choice between in-store and online. And 51% said that they spent most of their money in physical store locations. Now as we navigate surging inflation and economic uncertainty, businesses must adapt yet again to a changing landscape.

TL;DR: In-store shopping isn’t dead, and e-commerce businesses need to adapt to survive.

If you’re looking for adaptation inspiration, here are a few ideas:

Retain your Current Customers

One of the first things I look for in an advertising audit is some kind of retention strategy. While often overlooked in advertising, customer retention can be incredibly valuable. 

If you’re on the fence, consider these stats from Outbound Engine:

  • Acquiring a new customer can cost up to five times more than it does to retain a current customer.
  • Increasing customer retention by 5% can increase profits from 25-95%
  • The success rate for selling to a customer you already have is 60-70%, while the success rate of selling to a net new customer is 5-20%

Implementing a customer retention strategy can be simple and impactful. Some examples include:

  • Reminding customers about upcoming product releases
  • Implementing some cornerstones of Social Commerce such as engaging with customer content and creating high quality content
  • Exclusive offers for current customers

Don’t Leave Money on the Table

Did you know that 73% of shopping carts are abandoned on desktop and 86% on mobile? Your business could be missing out on a lot of cash in those carts.

Some options to address cart abandonment include:

  • Retarget these users in digital advertising, email automation, or even SMS. Your customers added these items to their carts for a reason, sometimes they just need an extra nudge.
  • Consider your shipping options. Multiple studies show that offering free shipping is a win for retailers, even if that shipping cost needs to be baked into your product pricing. If you have a brick and mortar location, consider offering free in-store pickup for online orders (Also referred to as BOPIS). 

Add Value (Outside of your Product Offering)

This may sound counterintuitive, but in today’s highly competitive e-commerce environment brands are expected to deliver more than just goods. Consider alternative on-brand ways to drive value for your customers (and be sure to capture their emails along the way).

For example, a cookware brand might email recipes that can be made using their products. An apparel brand might offer a quiz for new customers to find their perfect fit. An outdoors company might host an adventure giveaway. All of these examples serve the dual purpose of customer engagement and the opportunity to capture a contact.

The work isn’t done once you receive that email address though. Consider leveraging customer emails for digital retargeting strategies, email lifecycle marketing, and additional ways to add value to continue tending to your customer relationships.

Optimize your Ads 

Lastly, make sure the ads that you are running are driving conversions. There are many ways to do this, so we’ll list a few here:

  • A/B testing - try out some different creative and messaging options to see what resonates with your customers.
  •  Audience targeting - keep good records on your customers in your CRM system and use your first party data to retarget current customers while finding new customers with lookalike audiences.
  • Cross-channel bid optimization - where are your customers finding you? Google? Amazon? Social channels? Analyze your performance data to see which channels are working best for you and you may want to allocate more of your budget to those platforms. 

An ad tech platform like MarinOne can help you to integrate your data, analyze your performance, and optimize your ad spend for the best possible results. Reach out for a free consultation and we’ll show you how!

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