As our economy increasingly shifts to a digital one, e-commerce continues to be a pressing factor for businesses. With at least 64 percent of Americans using a smartphone, retailers need to consider how that is impacting their customers’ behavior—even for shoppers who do not have a smart phone, as 78 percent of shoppers reported using the Internet for research during the 2014 holiday shopping season.
What would an e-commerce program mean to your business? The number of companies that offer assistance in developing e-commerce programs is growing. Birdzi Inc., Center for Advancing Retail & Technology (CART), reach | influence, FutureProof Retail, ProLogic, Webstop, Rosie, and SelfPoint are just a few. Recently, the executives from a couple of these technology companies spoke at the 2016 National Grocers Association Show. Eric Green, CEO of reach | influence, spoke in a workshop on digital coupons. The workshop focused on the options of online list-making and coupon-clipping and how they help engage both new and current customers. A customer of reach | influence was part of the panel discussion at this workshop. She explained that the process was easy and, using a 360-degree approach (digital, print, and merchandise), her business was able to reach a broader customer base than before using digital coupons.
A good e-commerce program should be tailored to your business. It could be digital coupons or, in the case of grocery stores, it could be a digital way for consumers to make grocery lists. The key to remember is that it depends on your customers’ preferences. And a nice thing about e-commerce programs is that they are incredibly customizable.
Many retailers consider an e-commerce program an opportunity to personalize their customers’ experience, something that has been increasing with the large amounts of data and digital options available. Part of your e-commerce program may be to collect data on your customers’ preferences and shopping patterns so you can better customize sales and programs for your consumer segments. One good way to track your customers’ purchases is through a rewards program. Another way to gather data is through a geo-fencing or beacon system. If customers have downloaded your e-commerce application for their phones (a phone application can be part of your e-commerce program), you can see what areas and aisles of the store they spend their time in, see where they don’t go, and use this information to help you personalize their customer experience. For example, a shopper who consistently buys a particular item or goes to a specific area in your store may benefit from or use a coupon for a coordinating or complimentary product.
With how easy it is in today’s world to start an e-commerce program, you really can’t afford not to have one. If you do your research and customize a program that not only fits your business model, but also fits your customers, you will see the benefits in no time. We would love to hear if any of you are already running an e-commerce program and if it has been successful for you! Please let us know in the comments.