Many brands that are fresh in the world of eCommerce face the same problem when exposed to the wider audience for the very first time – they lack the capacity to obtain customers through brand reputation and brand authority. It can have really negative consequences in the beginning, and that is always reflected through decreased conversion rates and low customer retention.
The main problem behind this is rather simple – people don’t tend to trust the brands they never heard of before that easily. There are literally thousands of new brands on the market each year, and many of them proved to be quite short lived due to the lack of quality. This negatively reflects on all the new ones, and they tend to suffer a lot from the distrust issues until they manage to build up solid reputation in the new markets.
Many good brands simply failed to survive this struggle and had to go back to their original market. These things happening hurt many. Of course, the company is the first to suffer, but the customers are also losing a lot, as the new quality brands tend to be very competitive, and their very presence in the market forces their competition to step up their game. Naturally, this leads to increased quality and lower prices, so whenever these new brands manage to break through, it pans out quite nicely for everybody involved.
The question is – what did these successful companies do, and how did they handle their reputation management in such a successful way?
Most of them used at least one of the proven methods that reinforce brand authority in the new markets:
• Presence through dedicated store
• 3rd party reputation management tools
• Multichannel presence
• Online reputation management campaigns
• Conservative approach – physical stores
• Omnichannel presence
The most successful ones combined all of the mentioned options, but it is a fact that the holistic approach that includes all of the mentioned channels is definitely a massive endeavour, and most companies simply can’t afford it. The steps should be applied in the order we gave them here in order to maximise the effects and minimise the expenses. Using this sequence will enable each and every brand to actually succeed, no matter how weak the odds seemed in the beginning. We will explain each and every segment in detail:
Dedicated store presence:
The first and the most important step in building strong brand authority in new markets is creating a dedicated online store. This step is extremely important and makes all the difference in the beginning. Low quality goods are usually sold through marketplaces as the owners of such enterprises do not aim to create a constant presence. Their aim is to make quick profits through the fastest and easiest means available, and marketplaces are just perfect for that. They don’t have to invest anything in web development and design, and they are able to list their goods and make quick sales solely based on the fact that they are cheap. Of course, this strategy isn’t and can’t be long lived, but that doesn’t bother them at all.
By building a dedicated store, you are able to reinforce the brand authority. People coming to your website will be able to see that you actually invested in creating a brand, and that is definitely reassuring. On top of that, in order to have a dedicated store, you need to create relations with some of the companies that already possess tons of authority. This authority is then being transferred to your brand. We are here speaking about the payment options such as Visa or Master Card, delivery options like TNT or FedEx, and all other services your store provides. These companies are not working with fraudsters, and by associating your brand to theirs, you are making solid foundations for the future.
3rd party reputation management tools:
Having a dedicated online store that is fully revolving around your brand is good enough, but giving your customers a voice is also something that should improve things a lot. Simply, it is not the same if you claim that your product is good, and when the people who actually bought it claim the same.
In order to achieve this, you should consider integrating some of the 3rd party ratings and reviews at the first convenient time. Doing so during the initial development of your web store might be the best approach, but since these services require monthly investments, it is also not a bad strategy to implement them once your online store is already live and starts getting attention. Simply, if you integrate this type of services in the beginning, there will be a short period where you will be paying for them without actually using them, as it will require some time for the shop to start selling. Both approaches are legitimate and good, and it is up to you to decide when to push this channel of brand reputation management.
The process with these tools is rather simple – once you start selling, the customers who bought your wares will be able to rate them, and to leave short comments on the quality of goods as well as the quality of service. The new visitors to your website will be able to see those ratings and reviews, and they will be able to know exactly what they are buying. The more ratings you have, the stronger your brand authority is. Of course, all of this stand ONLY if your goods are really of a good quality and if your service is good enough.
There are many tools you could use for this segment of brand reputation building, and their integration is in most cases not too expensive. We will mention Feefo, Trust Radius, Yotpo, and Social Annex here, but there are many more on the market, and the integrations are usually available for all most common eCommerce platforms.
Multichannel trade is a logical step forward when looking to expand in any market. It is not a very good starting point as pushing your goods through marketplaces prior to having a dedicated store can raise some suspicions, as we mentioned before. Still, going the other way around is definitely something you MUST do if you really want to succeed and make your brand widely known.
Once you have created a dedicated store, the marketplace listings become a good way to extend your reach, and being present there is also showing your customers that you are serious about your business. Listings on the marketplaces for new brands mean in many cases that the brand name will be mentioned and visible to more people. They can easily then look up for it on the internet, and your dedicated store will pop up. In this way, they will make purchases, and whether they opt for marketplace listings or for dedicated store really does not matter that much.
Additionally, the marketplaces such as eBay or Rakuten allow actual custom store design, so you are able to extend your branding to those channels as well. It can only have positive effects on your business, no matter which path you decide to take.
Online reputation management campaigns:
Investing in online reputation management campaigns can prove to be quite an effective way to improve brand reputation. Making guest posts on the major online portals is definitely something that could help spread the word and enhance both brand awareness and brand authority.
Of course, this approach is not available that easily, and creating good contacts or paying for publishing is something that will be required. The rewards are still worth the effort and the investment, as it will boost your business in a really massive way. Once the word starts circulating, your products will not be an unknown category, and the conversion rates will improve significantly.
There are various ways to get there, from already mentioned paid options, to posting via good contacts, or through curated content. There are specialised businesses which curate content related to the certain segments of the market, so it is not impossible that your posts that go viral on social media might end up in these curated media. Of course, this is not something that is guaranteed to happen, but with a good marketing team, it is a real possibility.
Conventional approach – physical stores:
Although it may seem that the brick and mortar stores don’t have much in common with the online business, this is quite far from the truth, and we will explain that in the next segment.
Considering strict brand awareness and brand reputation, having physical stores in the area which will be targeted through online sales is a pure golden nugget. It is easy to explain why this is a fact. Simply, having a physical store allows your potential customers to come, touch, and feel the actual products. Seeing those online is one thing, but being able to see them live, touch them and smell them is an entirely different thing.
Being present with actual points of sale containing actual items completely removes any doubt in customers, and they are completely clear on what they are buying and can make a decision that is not based on second hand experience.
Of course, the downside of this approach is that having actual physical stores is quite costly, so it is reserved only for later stages of branding as the investment should be continuous and uninterrupted, and that requires a sustainable budget.
Another downside of physical stores is the limited storage capacity, so it is possible that the customer won’t be able to find the exact item he or she is looking for. This is easily covered with the last step of this journey.
The very last step down the road is establishing an omnichannel presence, and it combines everything we mentioned before in a single system. It involves marketplaces, dedicated store, and physical stores, all in one system.
By applying this method, there is not a single chance to lose a single serious prospect. As it is a very customer centric approach, it eliminates all the obstacles you might have and allows you to convert almost every single potentially interested visitor into a customer.
This approach allows combination of good features of every single channel. The customers visiting marketplaces or dedicated store are able to draw all the information from those channels, and combine it with the personal impressions gathered in physical stores. Also, this excludes problems caused by the stock limitations. Simply, if a customer is interested in an item that is not in the store at that moment, your sellers can order it online and get it delivered either in store or directly to the customers address.
Furthermore, this approach allows payments in physical stores, and not only payments online, and that is the factor that still plays a major role. Some people are still very reluctant to use their credit cards online, but they have no problems whatsoever sweeping them in physical stores, and they do it on a daily basis. Also, some simply prefer cash payments, and the omnichannel approach allows it to happen without a need to let the customer go out of the store. This reduces the risks that come with reconsidering the purchase, and greatly increase impulsive purchases throughout the channels.
If you apply these steps in the given order, the chances that you will face failure with your online business due to the lack of brand authority and weak brand reputation are minimal. The only thing that could hurt you if you follow these steps is not providing quality goods, and losing customers for those reasons.
We at Studioworx will be more than happy to consult you and lead you through the entire process, and we know exactly how to do it! Feel free to give us a call whenever it suits you!