A study released by the US Census Bureau on July 14, 2017 states that non-store retail sales in June were up 9.2% from this time last year. For comparison, food and retail growth only rose 2.8% in June, and actually fell the previous month.
So just how are these online retailers succeeding—and what can eCommerce companies be doing to maximize this trend?
To unpack that question, I spoke with William Harris, Ecommerce Consultant and CEO of Elumynt, and a noted authority in ecommerce content marketing.
Because of his ground-floor-to-boardroom journey, William has a unique vantage point. He has built the marketing arm of ecommerce companies from within—and now he leads them.
Failing to Go Multichannel
One of the most common mistakes that eCommerce companies make is failing to go multichannel with their marketing and advertising efforts.
Harris warns that eCommerce companies should not hesitate to expand their marketing to multiple channels or they could be missing out on untapped revenue or connecting with their customers.
In a recent study by the Euro IT group, it was found that multichannel shoppers spend up to 3 times as much as single channel shoppers.
However, some eCommerce companies are still not keen on expanding. Harris explains that fear may be the reason.
“Most arguments against creating a presence on all the major outlets are usually rooted in risk aversion,” he says. It takes significant energy to adopt a new platform and manage it, much less create your own.
The one legit eCommerce concern, he adds, is inventory management—or not being able to keep your products in stock when advertising aggressively.
“If you’re selling to multiple outlets and you grow too quickly, even the idea of going dry is so scary to most companies that they don’t see it as a solvable problem.”
Harris adds, “Scaling can be a challenge for every company, but they shouldn’t play hard to get with their customers. They need a presence where their customers shop.”
Inventory management shouldn’t be a challenge in today’s modern times as there are digital tools available that help you automatically track and manage your inventory.
Instead of managing your inventory by uploading a CSV feed to each platform, Harris recommends investing in an inventory management tool like Sellbrite that will do all the work for you, tracking and updating continuously throughout the day. Disclaimer: Harris works with the Sellbrite team.
Purchasing a marketing tool ensures you don’t sell out on eBay or get dinged for trying to sell an out of stock product on Amazon.
Making Your Dev Team Handle SEO
Organic rankings and the traffic that comes with strong search rankings should be a top priority for eCommerce companies—particularly in today’s competitive marketplace.
Unfortunately, many companies put their SEO trust in the wrong hands.
While the development team’s job is to enhance company process, they are not typically trained in the technical intricacies of search engine optimization.
“I’ve seen companies lean on the wrong people, especially when migrating to a new platform, and the results are traffic loss and ineffectual redirects that create a bad customer experience. In other words, their SEO is a rat’s nest that still requires an expert help to untangle.”
Harris recommends that eCommerce companies hire SEO pros who understand how to develop a healthy SEO “diet” and have a track record of success in eCommerce.
Ignoring Facebook Advertising
The Facebook advertising trend shows no sign of slowing down, yet some companies haven’t jumped into it yet—a surprise to Harris.
“We worked with a Shopify client in June who hadn’t done any Facebook advertising!”
But that quickly changed.
“In one month, we were able to earn 5,601% ROAS (Return On Ad Spend). Basically, our client made $56 for every $1 she spent. What makes this even crazier is that while we were scaling up her spend we just couldn’t find a ceiling.”
In short, Harris’ client had been missing out on thousands of dollars in sales every month because she didn’t have Facebook ads up—and all because she “didn’t know how to get started.”
Whether you know what you are doing or not, Harris adds, “When you consider how much money you could be losing, it’s a no-brainer to invest in an expert and let them do it for you while you focus on running your business.”
Working with a Facebook advertising consultant or agency means that an expert will manage your product ads and sell your inventory for you—and you can simply concentrate on production.
Neglecting Google Shopping Feeds
Speaking of growth, Google Shopping Product Listing Ads (PLAs) grew 52% year-over-year in the first quarter.
“Even Amazon has started buying into PLAs on Google Shopping,” Harris points out.
“Most people just use the basic shopping feed that their website generates, but there are so many ways that you can improve that feed.”
For example, you could place bids at the SKU level to make sure that you are profitable on every product—or you could remove the products from your feed that aren’t relevant to Google Shopping (like the $2 product that costs you $3 every time you sell it).
Miscategorization in the shopping feed is a really common challenge also. If you’re having this problem, that means your products are not showing up in searches.
Keep an eye out for this challenge and optimize as soon as possible.
Overlooking Bing Advertising
Did you know that the default search engine on spotlight or Siri for iPhone is Bing?
That’s a lot of very qualified customers looking for your products and if you’re not there, you’re basically refusing to show up for them.
In Harris’ experience, Bing typically only has about a fifth the search volume of Google Adwords, but it often converts slightly higher, which makes it a great place to advertise profitably.
Let’s say that you spend $20,000/mo on advertising. One-fifth of that would give you a budget of $4,000/mo on Bing.
If you can get a 500% ROAS or more on Bing, which is not uncommon, you could be missing out on $10,000 – $20,000/mo in sales because you are not allocating enough of your budget to the better performing platform.
That’s enough return to make most companies reconsider the power of Bing.
Do you have any questions regarding eCommerce advertising or search engine optimization? Have you experienced any of these challenges first hand? Share your experiences and any feedback that you have in the comments section below?