Once built published, the eCommerce websites are often considered as finished projects, but that stance can’t be more wrong! Without upgrading your digital commerce operations with 3rd party services, your online business is almost certainly doomed and will definitely go under the ice in a very short time.
Why this happens, and how to tackle these issues? The answer has several layers to it, and we will explain every single one of them in this article. Basically, the problems occur and the profitability of running online business as it is lies in these factors:
• Technology advancements
• Customer habits evolution
This is the first and the most obvious reason why the websites which don’t receive updates tend to fail. Simply, the technological advancements are speeding up on an exponential level. Just 10 years ago it was impossible to predict how many changes will happen in the world of technology in just one year time. What we once covered in decades is now getting developed in years, and in some cases even months.
This reflects on the world of eCommerce as well, as the technological advancements are enforcing new options to be applied for your online store. The recent emergence of multichannel and omnichannel options have moved digital commerce so much forward that many influential people think that prefix digital is becoming obsolete. Online and offline experiences are getting intertwined on such a level that there is no clear border between the two.
Of course, the omnichannel presence is not possible without implementing various technological and software improvements on the online side of your business. Without improving, you will lose pace and will not be able to provide everything your customers are looking for.
Customer’s habits evolution
Customer’s habits change. Once they were more than happy to come to the store and pick things for hours. Nowadays, they are more prone to impulsive purchases, mostly carried out via mobile devices. It is a completely new approach to online trade and requires customer engagement on various levels. Also, it demands from your business to adapt and apply the best solutions out there, and those solutions are almost always in hands of 3rd party service providers. Implementing those innovations to approach your potential customers in an interactive way they demand can only result in revenue increase, so the investments made based on these requirements usually pay of almost instantaneously. The bottom line is – if you don’t engage your potential customers in the way they demand, you will not be able to retain them.
This brings us to the most important segment, and that is the competition. Back in the day, only the most advanced companies were able to afford online presence. The eCommerce platforms were rather expensive, and starting your own business online was a costly endeavor. Nowadays, the availability of various eCommerce platforms and the minimized requirements and costs of launching online business have caused competition to soar upwards.
This means that the market grew much less forgiving towards those who like to apply conservative approach in their online business. It became a sort of a Blitzkrieg, as the mobility became of a paramount importance. If you don’t move fast enough, and if you don’t manage to keep the pace with the market, your faster moving competitors will easily put you out of the business.
This is why you should always be on the edge, ready to react and respond, in order to survive.
There are several segments of upgrades with 3rd party services that are absolutely essential for successful online operations:
• Payment processing
• Brand authority building
Although every single web store relies on the payment processing services, and they get integrated prior to the store launch, this is not a segment that needs to be overlooked.
There are new paying options popping up every year, and this definitely represents a big change in the world of digital commerce. Some of these payment options that appear become so popular that it is absolutely impossible to avoid them. The best example for this was appearance of Pay Pal and BitCoin in the recent years, and of course, the web shops had to adapt and incorporate these options into their systems.
With the emergence of multichannel approach to the eCommerce, it became important combining payment processing options through various channels, as not every option was always available for all of the channels. It added a level of complexity to the entire ordeal.
Finally, once the omnichannel started becoming increasingly important, POS services also became essential. It meant that yet another layer of payment processing had to be added.
It is unlikely that the innovations in this segment will slow down, as there are more and more new services that make purchases faster, safer, and more convenient, and these options will require integration. The best way to do it is through payment gateways that actually combine various services into a unique functional system that can produce fast updates with minimal investments in further integrations.
Brand authority building
This segment is extremely important for everybody operating in the eCommerce realm, but the most significant impact it makes on startups and new brands.
Simply, new products on the market have no reputation at all, and relying on word to mouth is definitely a good expansion and brand authority building strategy. Also, paid advertising where you claim that your products are good is not a good option either. The best impact is created through brand advocates.
We already wrote an article that deals with these issues in detail, but it is important to repeat some of the most important things here again. Brand advocates add reliability of the information source. It is not perceived in the same way if you claim one thing and if the same thing is claimed by dozens of your happy customers.
This is why this segment deserves all attention you can give it. With a proper investment in brand advocates, you will build up the reputation that will eliminate uncertainty from the decision making process of your potential customers.
Still, it is important that this segment is also evolving rapidly in the past few years, and that brand advocating and brand reputation building went far and beyond simple reviews. The more advanced and financially potent companies are already switching to systems that allow multimedia approach to this issue. Now the customers are able to actually present the product they bought and remove any doubt in truthfulness of their reviews. Naturally, this can have a huge impact on conversion rates, and proactive and successful retailers recognized this fact, so they are rapidly improving their websites in that segment.
The good thing is that the 3rd party service providers in this segment are also rather competitive so they are developing their products rather quickly, adding new features every now and then. It prevents the need of changing the provider at all costs. Although some of the best and most effective products in this segment are actually not too expensive for integration, the more advanced ones can actually put a pretty hefty price tag on your web store in terms of additional development. The best way to avoid overspending in the future for such operations is to consult your web agency, as they could give you the insight in the level of services and general movement tendencies of each of those providers.
Marketing is definitely the most impactful segment of online presence. It is easy to overcome some deficiencies your company might have with a proper marketing strategy. Still, in order to succeed in all of this, you definitely need to combine several marketing channels. Pushing things in a single direction will not produce satisfactory results. On the other hand, pushing things through multiple channels can create a confusion, and that confusion often results in inadequate conclusions drawn from the wrong premises.
These wrong premises are always the result of the bad data management. If you can’t track the effects of your marketing efforts in a right way, you won’t be able to come up with the appropriate response, and that will always cause unnecessary losses.
Bad data are most often the result of too many data sources being processed separately. Just think of it – if you are running each and every marketing campaign through a separate channel and if the reports are coming in separately as well, you will face some serious problems processing all those data and identifying trends. This is amplified with the fact that different marketing channels sometimes react differently on the very same marketing content.
The only way to solve this problem is to look for unified marketing platforms that are able to collect data feed from various sources and present you with the unified set of data, with as much as cross comparisons as possible.
In the beginning, when you are still running a limited number of channels it is possible to carry out everything dealing with the data separately, but as your business grows, you will need as much of a help as you can get.
Luckily, the market in this segment is teeming with good options, and they all get improved on a constant basis. Integrating one of those is definitely something you will need to look into when the time comes.
Personalization is maybe the fastest growing segment of the market and there is a very good reason to it. As the customers start switching to mobile devices as main means of making online purchases, the physical space for presenting your offer shrinks. While the desktops can easily display several items at once, mobile devices have much smaller displays and there is not too much room for showcasing much of your inventory.
The second important thing to consider in this case is a rapid increase of compulsive shopping actions. This is again closely connected to the emergence of mobile devices, as the people often simply stumble upon something they like and buy it in situations when they wouldn’t normally even consider being on your website. You have all seen people looking into their mobile phones in public transportation, while waiting for their turn in public offices, and similar situations. Well, a lot of those people actually made purchases at that very moment!
Personalization tools are there to help the customers actually come across the items they might be willing to buy. The engine behind these personalization tools is usually based on machine learning software which is able to pick up the tendencies people show while browsing the internet in general, and present exactly the products that might be interesting to the people browsing.
The financial potential behind using these personalization tools is immense, and having one employed to work for you is more than a great idea.
Again, the market is very competitive in this segment, which is a very good thing for the sellers. It allows you to choose an option from a whole myriad of potential providers. That of course reduces the exploitation of these services, and allows you to pick the provider that is ideally suited for your needs and your budget.
If you follow all these steps as explained, and if you employ as much upgrades as your business could sustainably afford, you will have the edge over your competitors. It is important to remember that this is an ongoing process that never really stops, and that the constant optimization of your web presence is required if you wish to remain relevant. Of course, we at Studioworx have quite a lot of experience in this segment, and we will be more than happy to help you with picking the right providers and implementing their services into your system.