9 Marketing Challenges Online Stores Face and How to Overcome Them
Today, the world has evolved into a global internet village where everyone goes online to find products and services. This has brought a rise to the ecommerce business model as retailers and manufacturers strive to keep their business afloat by attracting and keeping clients on a global scale.
As a business, the best way to reach your clients is by having an online presence. It is estimated that at least 30% of the global population prefers to shop online in 2021. This means that more than 2 billion digital buyers are looking for the best online stores to buy from. With so many potential clients online, this is the best time for any business to set up an online store.
Types of Online Stores
If you are considering tapping into the online business model, you need to determine what kind of online store you want to operate. Generally, there are 6 main categories of online stores, namely:
* Business to Business (B2B)
* Business to consumer (B2C)
* Consumer to Consumer (C2C)
* Consumer to Business (C2B)
* Business to Administration (B2A)
* Consumer to Administration (C2A)
Businesses are classified based on the nature of their transaction. It is important to understand the category your business fits in. This way, you can think critically about the available opportunities and threats that may hold your online store back.
Business to Business (B2B) online store
B2B online business is a type of ecommerce transaction that takes place between businesses. It is two or more companies doing business together. A manufacturer selling its products to a wholesaler and the wholesaler selling to a retailer are all forms of B2B businesses. Business-to-business ecommerce uses custom platforms that connect them directly to other businesses in a closed environment. This type of business requires a lot of startup capital.
Business to Consumer (B2C)
A B2C online store is the most common type of ecommerce business. As the most common business model, B2C presents a number of unique approaches for different individuals. Generally, any online store that retails directly to a consumer is a B2C store. This includes stores such as Amazon, Shopify, Alibaba, and others.
Consumer to Consumer (C2C)
A consumer-to-consumer online store refers to an ecommerce business where one consumer sells products and services to other consumers. This business model makes it possible for people to sell cars, houses, clothes, electronics, bikes, and other stuff to other consumers. Websites such as Quicker and OLX are examples of C2C online stores.
You can trade, buy, or sell on these C2C platforms from anywhere in the world for a small commission.
Consumer to Business (C2B)
A consumer-to-business online store business model is one where the end-user or consumer supplies a service or product to a company or organization. This is a reverse to the B2C business model, where a consumer presents a product or service to a business that may interest their customer base. For instance, a web or software developer can showcase their portfolio online where companies can find it and hire their skills or buy the website or software directly from the consumer.
Business to Administration (B2A)
A B2A online store model is also commonly referred to as a B2G (Business to Government) commerce. For this type of online business, the sole buyers of products or services are governments and government entities such as public administration offices. The business owner markets different products or services directly to different levels of government.
Services can be financial, HR, legal, and others.
Consumer to Administration (C2A)
The C2A online store model is almost similar to the C2B model, where the ecommerce business sells its services or products directly to the administrative sector. For instance, making online bill payments or paying taxes and even health insurance online through the government website are types of C2A ecommerce.
While these are all different types of business models with huge potential for growth and success, they go through similar challenges when it comes to online store management. For your online store to stand out, you need to familiarize yourself with the common marketing challenges you should expect to face and learn of the best ways to overcome them and succeed in the competitive online market.
Marketing Challenges of Online Stores and Solutions
Customers’ Exploding Expectations
Every online retailer focuses on one goal: to build a stellar brand reputation and retain a sharp brand image while delivering the best experience to its clients. The ecommerce business world is becoming even more competitive as big brands like Amazon work to take the online shopping process to the next level, like the use of anticipatory shipping. This makes it difficult for smaller retailers to meet high customer expectations set by business giants.
To be able to meet customer expectations of the best experience, brands should consider monitoring their brand ecommerce trends and use this data to tailor their customer experience. This way, customers can continually feel appreciated and acknowledged from the moment they engage with a brand.
Having a tailored approach to customer satisfaction makes it easier for a brand to stand out without necessarily meeting the same standards as the giants in the industry. For instance, you can make the shopping process as smooth as possible for your clients by including all product details on your website and browsers. Being upfront about your products, prices, and shipping costs helps build trust, optimize your ecommerce store for conversions, and deliver excellent customer service.
Lack of Instant Results
With new online stores coming up every day, the online business market has become increasingly competitive. This can become a huge roadblock for online store owners when it comes to reaping instant business outcomes through digital marketing. With online marketing, it is impossible to set deadlines for outcomes, which makes it harder for the business to deliver.
The only way around seeing results from your marketing strategy is to practice patience. In the online business world, results are not always instant. You need to come up with innovative ways to market your store while switching up ideas to come up with the best marketing strategy.
You can employ the use of analytics tools to know where your strategy is succeeding and where it may be failing. By practicing patience, using innovative marketing techniques, and delivering the best customer experience, you will start seeing results over time.
Consider finding ways to promote your online store for better exposure to reach an even larger target audience. The more visible your store is online, the better.
Consistently Creating Great Content
The ability to create consistently great content for business websites is a common challenge faced by ecommerce businesses. Having a mobile-indexable and dynamic website is only ideal if you can use the platform to offer valuable content. Apart from the SEO technicalities, you need to ensure that the content you publish on your website is highly valuable and great for your potential clients.
The best content should:
- Earn your brand the titles of a niche expert when it comes it a product or service
- Give the reader the kind of information they are looking for about your company and your experiences in the business.
- Give the reader value-adding information about your line of work while compelling them to want to try out your product pot service.
Apart from using your content to focus on your product, you can also write content about what is happening in your industry. You can also give details of upcoming events in your industry and how your brand will be participating. This way, your website will be more than just an ad page for your brand.
Increasing Ancillary Sales
To make money as an online store owner, you are sometimes forced to increase your product prices for a better profit margin. The downside to this approach is that you can become more expensive than your competition, making it difficult to close sales and even retain clients since buyers are always looking for the best value for their money.
Instead of increasing your product prices for a better profit margin at the expense of losing clients and brand credibility, most brands increase their ancillary sales. The challenge for most businesses is doing it right. If you are finding it hard to convince your clients to buy more products in addition to their purchase, you can consider discounting the ancillary product and market it as a product that can enhance the use of the main product they are buying.
To make ancillary sales work for your business, you first need to research your competition to see what they offer as ancillary products. You also need to find products that compliment your products to make them the perfect additions to any buyer’s shopping cart.
Car dealerships, restaurants, and moving companies are perfect examples of industries that have perfect the art of selling ancillary products. With ancillary products, you do not have to increase your product prices to make more money; you just need to give your clients something more to buy on top of the products they wanted to buy.
Outdated Digital Technology
To effectively market your online store, you need to keep up with changes in digital technology. Research shows that up to 26% of marketers have a hard time identifying the best digital technologies for their marketing efforts and strategies. Therefore, they end up using the same outdated methods, which end up hurting their bottom line.
Technological advancements like virtual/augmented reality, artificial intelligence, chatbots, beacon technology, and marketing automation can make it hard to figure out which advancements best suit their business model.
To overcome this challenge, online store owners need to choose the right digital technology and the right resources to be able to benefit from the new technology. With the right people, you can develop a great idea to make the tech work for your business.
Using email automation, CRM software, chatbots, and dynamic heatmaps can be a step in the right direction for any online business. It also helps ensure you keep up with the latest trends in technology to ensure you have the resources needed to reach your target audience online continually.
The use of augmented and virtual reality can also improve video marketing and make it easier for online stores to create brand stories and product campaigns appealing to their target audience.
One of the most common issues faced by ecommerce businesses is starting on the wrong ecommerce platform, which is expensive and time-consuming. When this happens, the store owner will be forced to move the store to a new platform, which is an added cost to the business.
The best way to avoid this issue is to ensure you set up your ecommerce store on the right platform from the start. Regardless of the size, the most successful online stores are built on platforms that support multi-channel selling and marketing. This way, sellers are able to list and market their products or services and even accept orders from other sales channels like social media platforms, eBay, and Amazon, among others.
When you are on the right ecommerce platform, your sales are managed from one system while getting more expansion opportunities to generate sales.
Apart from finding a platform that supports multi-platform selling, other features to look out for in an ideal platform for your ecommerce store include:
* Responsiveness of websites on the platform
* Integration with social media platforms and other platforms
* Low transaction fees
* Single page-checkout option
* Unlimited products
* Availability of professional reporting tools
Finding a platform that supports all these features will save you from roadblocks in the future.
Failing in Time Management
For any business, time is a critical resource. For any online business, how you spend and manage your time affects every area of your business, from operations to deliveries and even marketing. Most online businesses fail at time management for failing to automate their data entry processes.
Most businesses still use manual methods to enter data, which is costly and time-wasting. The time spent on manual data entry can be used to build brand visibility online by automating the data entry process.
Manual processes in an online store also affect your employees’ morale and productivity since they spend most of their time on repetitive processes with little time to focus on strategic forecasting and creative work.
The best way to overcome poor time management is to automate all time-consuming manual and repetitive work in your processes. To do this, you need to prioritize your task and identify the tasks that give the best ROI. Also, find processes that can be automated using online tools and software programs for efficiency and accuracy.
By automating most of your processes, you create more time to focus on your marketing efforts while having enough free time to focus on creativity. This is the best way to reap the benefits of your marketing strategies.
Gaps in the Operations of the Business
Operational gaps are most common in new businesses and can arise from several reasons. When starting, some store owners integrate numerous processes into their business operations, causing errors like cluttered order fulfillment, overstocking or understocking, marketing issues, and data leaks through inaccurate system integration.
When there are errors in the running processes of an online store, marketing strategies are impacted. This is because most resources are channeled back towards resolving these operational gaps instead of going towards customer service and marketing, not forgetting that some of these errors can be too expensive to correct.
The best way to overcome operational gaps is to ensure you start the integration processes slowly, especially for new businesses. When you integrate processes slowly, you get to perfect a process at a time, making it easier to avoid errors or the incurred cost of correcting these errors. This way, you can focus more of your resources on customer service and marketing, which have better returns on your investment.
Execution of Sales
When a brick-and-mortar store first sets up, most of the online sales result from word of mouth through the physical stores. Once the store expands into an online store, they can use multiple sales channels to improve sales.
The problem is that most store owners are confronted with the fear of trying out new opportunities, especially when the business is at the point of growth and expansion. Instead, they choose to focus on one or two sales channels, making the store lose out on consumers looking in other places for their products or services.
The fear of taking on sales executing in multiple sale channels can be costly for your businesses. It denies you the opportunity to secure more leads and conversions for your online store, which will hurt your bottom line.
To overcome this challenge, store owners should be more proactive in diversifying their sales channels to attract more customers to their online store. Consider creating business pages on different online platforms and registering on different ecommerce platforms to drive traffic to your online store. You can also collaborate with industry influencers to reach their followers. This is the best way to improve your sales execution processes and create brand visibility.
Marketing an online store is a tough job that requires more than just selling and advertising. It is about building a strong connection with the target audience and having a visible online brand. Before taking on the strategies in this article to overcome marketing challenges, take time to study your target market to understand what they want and how they want it. With this data, you can use the tips in this article to gain quality leads for your ecommerce store.
With the right strategy and attitude, you can remain on top of the competition and win in the online store space.
Lianna Arakelyan is a content writer and digital marketing expert in MuchNeeded.com, extreme with a knack for social media marketing strategy and implementation. She is extreme in her work with a deep goal of always being updated on online and offline marketing and technology news of the world.