Five principles. One powerful approach. A new face for your digital shopfront.

Before you make your next step in your approach to online retail, let’s cast our minds back a year or two. Potentially to a time you’d rather forget.

Businesses were shutting up shop left, right, and centre, and high streets were deserted. Covid had the world in its grip.

But we’re a resilient bunch, us Brits. We swapped our daily commute for a short stroll from the bedroom to the kitchen table, and even though our social lives were curtailed, we managed to scratch that shopping itch by heading online in droves. 2021 saw us spend a whopping $359.32 billion on m-commerce - a 15.2% increase on the previous year.

Now, let's skip forward to 2023, where we're still in the midst of a pretty unpredictable world. If you're a brand looking to boost your market share, there are a whole host of challenges to contend with - think inflation, supply chain woes, energy costs, changing consumer habits, and dwindling disposable incomes.

But there are plenty of opportunities to be had too.

By 2025, m-commerce is set to reach an enormous $728.28 billion in the US alone, accounting for a massive 44.2% of retail e-commerce sales. In the UK, we're predicted to hit £100 billion by 2024.

Of course, with great opportunities come great responsibilities. Shopping used to be so simple. You'd walk into a shop, pick something up, give it a whiff, and decide to buy it. Easy peasy! But online shopping is a whole different ball game. It's less personal, less tactile, and sometimes feels a bit meh. In fact, a huge 54% of shoppers say they'd ditch a brand after just one bad online experience. Ouch.

So, what's a digital marketer to do? How do you make people feel connected and motivated to buy without the sensory advantages of a physical retail environment? We believe that it all starts with getting the basics right. When times are tough, CFOs need to rejig their marketing budgets and strategies to boost sales, keep customers loyal, and cut down on returns. It's a tough ask, but we're confident it can be done.

If we look at Amazon Prime's "Try Before You Buy" initiative, shoppers can basically choose up to six clothing items from various departments, including women's, men's, kids', and baby clothing. You can even select up to six activewear pieces like running shoes and workout clothes. Then, once your items arrive, you have up to seven days to decide if you want to keep them or send them back. You won't be charged until you decide to keep the items you want.

Now, if you're a brand with products listed on Amazon, you know how important it is to meet consumer needs and expectations to drive sales. And that's where Amazon's "Try Before You Buy" initiative comes in. Allowing people to try products before committing to a purchase breaks the mold and challenges traditional e‑commerce expectations.

By providing reassurance and building trust with people, Amazon is setting a new standard for innovation in e‑commerce. The program removes the uncertainty that's often associated with online shopping, improving the customer experience and increasing sales. It's a game-changer for Amazon and a prime example of the company's commitment to meeting consumer needs.

Plus, it's a win-win situation: Amazon benefits from the publicity and brand recognition associated with partnering with well-known apparel brands, while customers get more options and a wider selection of fashion labels.

That said, things aren't all rosy. Brands must navigate historic inflation rates, supply chain disruptions, surging energy costs, changing market needs, unpredictable consumer habits, and increasing uncertainty to succeed in the dynamic marketplace. By focusing on resilience rather than just robustness, brands can adapt and thrive in the ever-changing world of e‑commerce.

The return of the online shopper

You know what they say: "if you love something, set it free… and it will probably come back as a return". Okay, maybe that's not quite how the saying goes, but it might as well be when it comes to e-commerce. With online sales skyrocketing during the pandemic, so did the number of returns. Some estimates put the increase as high as 40%. And to make matters worse, returns are growing faster than revenue.

What's the problem? A lack of education and engagement at the point of purchase.

More and more consumers are shopping online but want the same brand experience they get in-store. And if they don't get it, they won't hesitate to take their business elsewhere. As mentioned, over half of shoppers (54%) say they'll stop using a brand after just one bad experience. So, it's crucial to make sure your online shopping experience is fast, seamless, and engaging.

We've recently helped Pentland Brands tackle this issue head-on. Our brief? To fix bland imagery, poor product descriptions, and a lack of engaging videos. And trust us, this isn't just a problem with Amazon. Consumers expect a top-notch experience no matter where they shop.

Consumer Chemistry: How to connect with your customers online

According to DataReportal, the average hours spent online daily is slightly decreasing, signaling the need for brands selling online to continue to battle for consumer attention into 2024.

In today's digital age, it's more important than ever for brands to establish an emotional connection with their customers, even when there's no physical storefront. But how can you ensure your online store creates an authentic and consistent brand experience? It all comes down to consumer chemistry.

First off, you need to make a good first impression. If your online store doesn't greet your customers with an attractive and cohesive design, you risk turning them off from your brand. Not only that, but a lack of commitment to your brand values could damage your reputation.

Secondly, a poorly designed online store can make it difficult for customers to find and purchase the right products. This can lead to increased returns and lower customer satisfaction.

Finally, an inconsistent brand experience can make it hard for customers to differentiate your brand from competitors and even unauthorised sellers. This could harm customer retention and loyalty.

So, how can you ensure your brand makes the right impression online? Follow these five principles:

1. Establish a strong brand identity. Pay attention to art direction, set design, model selection, graphics, and editing style to create a cohesive brand identity that customers will instantly recognise

2. Maintain a consistent brand personality. Use the same language, tone, and style that you would in other communications to help customers understand your unique selling propositions (USPs) and to break down any confusing jargon

3. Engage and educate your customers. Short video content can be a great way to help online shoppers make informed decisions when touch is unavailable. Break down your products' advantages, specifications, sizing, and fit to encourage confident purchases and reduce returns

4. Don't sacrifice quality for quantity. High-quality assets can create a more memorable and inviting experience for your shoppers. Work with a creative agency to plan and produce assets that maximise quality and quantity

5. Stand out from the competition. Experiment with motion graphics, alternative product information, and benefit-led copy to make your product more memorable and attractive to customers

By following these principles, you can create an online shopping experience that connects with your audience on an emotional level and encourages their loyalty. Read our case study with Pentland Brands to see how these basic principles can produce phenomenal results, just click here.

Brand competition is hotter than a fresh brew. And with the trend of commoditisation, relying on loyalty alone just won’t cut it anymore. Nowadays, customers are comparison-focused and care more about getting the best price and features rather than just the brand name.

They don't just blindly trust the big brand names anymore. It's super easy for them to compare the prices and features of different products. They hop on YouTube to watch demos before making a decision. More focused on the practical, people care about what they're getting for their hard-earned cash.

New Era, New Customers

To succeed, brands must get creative with their marketing and show commitment to their customers’ desires. And creating impactful and effective content for your digital shopfront is an absolute must. But sadly, too many direct-to-consumer websites are letting the side down with their dull and uninspiring shopfronts. We're here to help with that.

And customers are ready and willing, too. If you're selling on Amazon and have no brand consistency, note that 89% of Amazon UK customers are loyal to the shopping platform. As e‑retailers continue to partner with brands to create e‑concessions, now is the time to intensify your brand's digital presence.

"With Amazon's convenient shopping experience, fast delivery, great offers and deals, as well as instalments and other payment options for eligible customers, we hope to further Peloton's mission by providing customers with high quality, innovative products to take their health and fitness to the next level." - Neil Sentance, Director of EU Sports at Amazon

In 2023, brands that don't enhance their e-commerce strategy face serious risks. Consumer demand and buying behaviours are changing, and with our team on hand, you don't have to face this challenge alone. From ideation to implementation, we appreciate the time and resource it takes to create content that performs, and we'll help simplify the process.

To chat further, contact Rod Taylor E: [email protected] or T: +44 020 7485 0100.

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