With the recent pandemic and more people not wanting to leave their houses to shop than ever, eCommerce has boomed in 2021. The rise in share prices of Shopify (SHOP) and Amazon (AMZN) in the last 18 months is certainly proof of that. That trend is set to continue.
Because more shoppers are demanding online service, the industry has grown more and more competitive. That means standards of service and experience are constantly increasing and store owners are jostling for the one-up over their competitors. Independent eCommerce store owners are also having to compete with the likes of Amazon, with their Prime offering and free 2-day shipping.
This has all given rise to the need for innovation in eCommerce. This post breaks down why you should be placing efforts on innovation, and then 5 example innovation strategies that you can use for your online business.
Right into it.
Why You Need to Continuously Innovate
Innovation as a business strategy is not a new phenomenon.
You can trace the roots of innovation back to the 1920s. However, in the last 10 years it has grown exponentially. In the last decade alone, companies that followed an innovation strategy have seen their total market capitalization increase by an average of 78%.
This is a huge increase in value, and one that eCommerce owners cannot afford not to be a part of. If you think that as an eCommerce store owner you can’t compete with the likes of Walmart or Amazon, then think again.
Amazon and Walmart are huge companies that started with one product range and have grown their business over time. You on the other hand may have a smaller business but the fact that you are online means that you have the potential to be incredibly innovative and to scale your business at a much quicker rate than a traditional brick and mortar business.
The reason for that is because traditional brick and mortar businesses have massive infrastructural costs. This means that they have to follow a slow and steady growth model, as opposed to an online business, which can grow very quickly.
On the other side of this equation, because starting an ecommerce business is so easy, and online stores have the potential to grow so rapidly, you have more competition. That means you must constantly innovate to stay ahead.
Luckily for you, we’ve got 5 ways you can do just that.
1: Guerilla Marketing
When talking about innovation, people often think about technological innovation. However, the truth is that innovation is everywhere.
You can innovate in what you sell, how you sell it and how you deliver it.
The first way to innovate is to use Guerilla Marketing techniques. These are techniques that are low cost, and that you can use to gain a significant amount of media exposure.
You have probably heard of Guerilla Marketing before. It was a marketing strategy that was popularised by the likes of Malcolm Gladwell.
To illustrate what it is, we will use an example from Zappos.
Zappos is a shoe retailer. They sell both online and in their locations in the US. For their Black Friday sale, they decided to put on a shoe sale. To promote the sale, they decided to hire a bunch of people to walk around in Zappos branded shoes. They also handed out flyers.
The result? Zappos sold over $1.6 million worth of shoes.
That is an incredible ROI.
For Guerilla Marketing to be successful, you have to do something unique and outlandish. Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries.
2: Social Proof
The next way to innovate is to use Social Proof.
Social Proof is defined as follows: “any phenomenon whereby a person’s decision to accept or follow a particular course of action is influenced by the actions of others who have already accepted or followed that course of action.”
Social proof is a very powerful tool, as it allows you to leverage the actions of others in order to increase your conversion rates. In other words, if someone else is doing something, then you are more likely to do it too.
The reason for this is because we have a natural tendency to want to fit in with the group.
There are tools for online store owners which are specifically made to use the Social Proof strategy to increase online sales. If you’ve ever seen a popup that says something like “Person X from Illinois just bought Product Y” – that’s social proof at work.
One tool is called Proof, which plugs right into your Shopify store. They claim that using social proof can increase your per-page conversion by between 10% and 15%.
3: Shifting the Focus from Product to Service
The third way to be innovative is to shift the focus from product to service.
This is a tactic that works particularly well for eCommerce store owners because it allows them to differentiate themselves from the competition.
This is a strategy that allows you to focus on the customer experience and to create a great level of service for your customers.
Selling the product is only half the battle. You have to sell the service too. The more you can focus on the service, the better.
You can use the following tactics to do this:
Creating a great buying experience. This means that you need to offer a great buying experience that is convenient and intuitive. For example, you can allow customers to buy online. This is a great way to create a great customer experience.
Providing great support. You need to have a support team that is always there for the customer. You want to be able to handle any customer queries, no matter what time of the day it is.
Delivering on time. If you are selling a physical product, then you need to be able to deliver it quickly. You need to provide the customer with a sense of urgency. If you are an eCommerce store owner, then you need to keep this in mind when you are working out what products you are going to sell.
4: Augmented Reality
The fourth way to be innovative is to use Augmented Reality.
Augmented Reality allows you to bring a product to life. It allows you to make a product look as though it is alive. You can see this in action in the video below.
This is a great way to innovate, as it allows you to differentiate yourself from the competition. It allows you to stand out from the crowd.
It is a great way to use Social Proof too because it allows you to show off your product in a way that is easy for the customer to make a decision.
5: Live Social Shopping
The final way to innovate is to use live social shopping.
This is a very powerful innovation strategy that allows you to leverage the power of the community.
Live social shopping is a new way for eCommerce store owners to sell. It is a tool that is becoming increasingly popular, as it allows you to sell to your customers in real time.
For example, you can have a live social shopping experience in which you:
- Demonstrate your product live on your social media feeds
- Answer questions from your audience.
- Show how to use the product.
This is a great way to engage with your customers, as you can get them involved in your live shopping experience.
The above 5 innovation strategies are just some of the ways that you can be innovative and get ahead of your competitors.
The truth is that innovation is everywhere. You can use it in any aspect of your business. It is all about taking an existing concept and applying it in a different way.
So go give them a try, you might be surprised at how effective these strategies are.