In the last couple of years, we’ve seen a major shift in focus among eCommerce merchandising sites. Up until about the year 2011, most sites focused on new customer acquisition. Now, the focus has been diverted towards retaining their customers.
A major reason for this change is the recession in the late ’00s, which prompted many companies to make dramatic cuts to their marketing budget. Without an appropriate marketing budget needed to reach out to new customers, retail companies developed ways to keep the customers they already had. Additionally, the recession highlighted the frivolous method of trying to keep up with fly-by-night market trends and put more value on existing customers.
Despite the focus on retention, however, eCommerce management should not discount the value of acquisition. Here are several eMerchandising strategies that are beneficial for both acquisition and retention alike.
- Research current market situations
It should be a no-brainer, but the ability to keep up with trends can make or break your business. Become acquainted with the many social media platforms, and find out who or what the major influencers are in your field. Fostering a community that welcomes your target demographic is a good way to acquire new customers.
- Discover who your “ideal customer” is
It would be nice if your product was universally used and loved by the general populace, but we’re moving away from a monoculture, and even ubiquitous objects—e.g. toothpaste, food, etc.—are marketed to specific groups. Create a fake profile of who your target customer is to see through their eyes. This will provide a focus on how you market to them.
- Be clear on what you’re selling
It’s an understatement to say that eCommerce merchandising faces a lot of competition since the whole world is on the Internet. Because of this, you need to be as clear and concise about what you’re selling. Learn how to search engine optimize your product so it will show up high in a Google search. Define what a customer is searching for, and you’ll be more willing to acquire them.
- Ask for referrals
This is a highly effective way to gain new customers. In the digital age, this could mean setting up a rating and reward system for people that recommend your site. Offering coupons through Yelp is one of the merchandising tools utilized by eCommerce sites.
- Develop a robust customer service department
Customers want to feel cared for, and providing a personal customer service department is a great step in that direction. Create Twitter and Facebook accounts where customers can interact directly with someone at the company—this fosters a caring community, one that existing customers will want to keep.
- Acknowledge complaints and praise publicly
Quickly address complaints and concerns by providing ways that you plan to improve the customer’s experience. Or, be sure to thank people who praise your goods and services. Existing customers want to feel like they’re interacting with a person, not a company. Customer care and community engagement are among the most important merchandising tools in retaining customers.
header image courtesy of Fede Cook