3 Key Challenges for e-Commerce (and How to Overcome Them)

Holly Pels
Holly Pels
Senior Content Marketing Manager
Emarsys
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In the age of one-click purchases and two-day shipping, consumer expectations are constantly increasing. Not only do customers expect more from your brand post-purchase, but they expect you to wine and dine them with personalized marketing experiences prior to purchase, too.

For e-commerce marketers, this is increasingly difficult as more and more businesses are popping up in the e-commerce space offering more niche, personalized products and services.

Consumers are inundated with choices, which means e-commerce marketers are facing more competition. Not only that, but the demand for personalization is creating more data than marketers can manage. So what’s the solution? How can e-commerce marketers get ahead of the game and start managing their data to create personalized experiences that win customers over again and again?

twitter“#Ecommerce #marketing is challenging – choice, competition, #data, & the demand for #personalization are overwhelming” says @hollypels       CLICK TO TWEET

Let’s take a look at three of the most common challenges e-commerce marketers are facing right now and how they can overcome them.

1. More Data, More Choices, More Confusion

With rising customer expectations and the demand for data, e-commerce marketers are finding themselves with more data than they can handle. In an effort to engage better with existing customers (and identify new ones), brands rush to buy new technology that can collect data points about customer behavior and engagement.

Instead of achieving the intended goals with these investments, they find themselves with an accumulation of tech with siloed data that creates more work, choices, and resources. But for e-commerce marketers to be successful (and lighten their workload in the process), they need to focus more on all-encompassing solutions than fitting different pieces of technology together for their marketing needs.

Centralize Your Customer Data and Consider Tech Consolidation

It’s no secret that one of the biggest assets for e-commerce marketers is the data they collect on their prospective and active customers. But if you don’t have that data (emails, browsing and purchase history, behavior, etc.) in one central location, it can be nearly impossible to execute on it.

With the extensive amount of tools available, marketers may find themselves pulling data from several tools, trying to aggregate it and make sense of it. But too much of the wrong technology can be a burden on marketers. When you have too many tools that all have different interfaces, training requirements, and data outputs, you find yourself spending more time aggregating and analyzing data than you do working on the strategy behind your marketing plans.

Unifying your data in one centralized location not only relieves the headache of pulling data from multiple tools, but it also gives you the clearest picture of your customer.

Evaluate your current tech stack and look for opportunities to cut or consolidate tech. This can help you move many of your tasks into singular platforms, unify your data, and give you more time to focus on strategy, content, and creative.

In the market for new technology? Learn more about the dangers lurking in your tech stack in our whitepaper, here.

2.  High Traffic, Low Conversion

When it comes to e-commerce operations, an important metric for the business is driving (and increasing) traffic to a website. Without traffic, you don’t have any customers to buy your products. So many companies double down on trying to get traffic to their site, but they often lose sight of the most important part of traffic: conversion.

The average conversion rate for e-commerce websites sits at 2.86%. This means that a lot of e-commerce businesses are leaving a lot of traffic (and potential purchases) on the table.

With the landscape of e-commerce options growing, it’s becoming more difficult to convert visitors to customers. That makes it even more important to double down on the customer experience and create a customer-centric conversion strategy.

Focus on Conversion

It’s important, especially for e-commerce marketers, to focus on a conversion strategy to take advantage of the traffic to a website. Consider the following tactics for increasing your conversion rate and creating repeat customers.

Personalize the Experience

I think it’s safe to assume that as marketers, we all understand the value of personalization for our customers. That being said, many marketers are still struggling to add personalization throughout the customer journey. For website conversions, consider adding ways to show you know the customer.

ThirdLove, an e-commerce bra business in the U.S., understands the importance of personalization. As soon as you hit their website, they invite you to take a quick, 60-second quiz called the “Fit Finder” so they can recommend the ideal bra size for your body. Their final ask is to collect your email address to show you your results.

From there, they personalize their website experience based on the individual’s sizing needs (pictured below).

individual sizing

Not only are they able to personalize their site to shopper’s immediate needs, but they’re also able to capture an email address for future nurturing and conversion opportunities.

Another example of personalization is offering recommendations throughout the browsing experience. As visitors are browsing your website, collect information on their browser behavior. As they look at different products, make recommendations based on their browsing. Show you understand what they’re looking for and give them additional options for purchase.

Follow Up on Other Channels

Outside of adding conversion opportunities on your website, make sure you’re executing on an omnichannel level. For e-commerce companies, it’s incredibly important to utilize every channel your online shopper uses to convert.

Did a known visitor add something to her cart and then abandon it? Utilize abandon cart emails to remind them of the product they left behind, like Hydro Flask does:

abandon cart email

Do you have an unknown visitor who was browsing a certain product but left without converting? Use cookies to retarget the visitor on other sites as a way to entice them to come back for the item.

retarget the visitor

Offer Incentives to Purchase

Another great way to increase conversion is by offering incentives to purchase a product. You can do that through price drops, coupon codes, and promoting limited stock items.

Has it been a while since an existing customer made a purchase, or are you trying to convert a first-time buyer? Offer an incentive to entice a repeat customer or a new customer to convert.

offer incentive

Looking to convert shoppers and increase spend? Create an incentive that offers a discount on a certain threshold of spend. This often pushes customers to buy more than their original intention.

discount

Not all incentives have to involve marking down your products. Consider creating scarcity around your products to increase conversions by encouraging customers to purchase them before you run out.

These are just a few ways you can capitalize on traffic and better convert your customers. Check out this list of 33 tips for optimizing your e-commerce conversion rate.

3. One-Time Buyers Are the Majority of Your Sales

If one-time buyers make up most of the sales your business does on a regular basis, you’re leaving a lot of money on the table. The cost of acquisition is much higher than the cost of retaining customers, five times as expensive in fact. For marketers, this means it’s important to not only acquire customers, but to turn those first-time buyers into repeat, loyal customers.

Make Retention a Core Strategy

Acquiring customers is an important part of any business, but one could argue that retaining customers is MORE important. Businesses that increase their customer retention rates by just 5% could increase their profits anywhere from 25% to 95%. By focusing on a customer retention strategy, you’ll not only improve your customer base, but you’ll start bringing in more revenue to the business.

Focus on personalization

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: personalization should be at the core of your marketing strategy. As consumers, we’re demanding personalization. If a brand can’t give us a personalized experience, we’re quick to find another brand we like that can. Make sure any communication you send to customers is personalized, not a batch-and-blast campaign, to ensure you’re showing customers you understand their wants and needs and value them as a customer.

Use Retention Campaigns to Win Back Defectors

Worried a customer is on the verge of leaving? Or looking to encourage a first-time buyer to purchase again? Create and deploy automated win-back and conversion campaigns that will entice a customer to follow through with another purchase.

retention campaign

These campaigns can help convert customers who are on the fence and by using an incentive, you can entice them to spend more than they may have originally intended.

Set Up a Loyalty Program

Looking to build an active, loyal customer base? Loyalty programs are a great way to keep customers coming back to your brand again and again. You can set up a program that works for your business and the way your customers buy. The most common programs are based on three models:

  • Points – customers earn points through spend and other activities and then can cash them in for rewards.
  • Spend – customers spend a certain amount and reach different tier levels with different rewards.
  • Subscriptions – customers pay a monthly or yearly fee for benefits like free shipping.

Loyalty programs are a great way to increase your retention rate by enticing customers to come back again and again.

Final Thoughts

E-commerce marketers face a lot of challenges, including the three main obstacles presented here:

  • More, more, more. Channel proliferation, data explosion, and more can create more confusion.
  • Turning all of your website traffic into conversions and sales.
  • Encouraging first-time buyers to become second-time buyers.

The answers here are data centralization and consolidation, personalization, and focusing on retention. The key is to control what you can to optimize and enrich the CX along the way. ◾

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Holly Pels

About the Author


Holly Pels is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at Emarsys where she heads up the website marketing and SEO strategy. In previous roles with RICS Software and Relevance, Holly created and executed content strategies for Fortune 500 clients. Holly is a proud alumni of Marian University.

Connect with Holly: LinkedIn@hollypels

Holly Pels
Holly Pels
Senior Content Marketing Manager
Emarsys
Yes, I would like to receive Emarsys email updates on products, services, news, and events. I can unsubscribe by using the "unsubscribe" link at the bottom of each email, or by emailing unsubscribe@emarsys.com.

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