Author: sonusomapalan

THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON ECOMMERCE

COVID-19 shifted the whole ecosystem of markets and has made an impact that can be deemed long-lasting. Consumer behaviour has seen a change, purchase decisions have seen a shift and the usual flow of businesses is left disrupted. But along with the many disruptions, this pandemic has brought about changes and enhanced technological growth. The eCommerce and marketplace sector have specifically witnessed this growth.

The pandemic has accelerated India’s e-commerce market almost threefold and sped up growth that is pegged to be around $85 billion by 2024, even with other sectors being negatively impacted. 

India has seen a rise in the number of FTUs or first-time-eCommerce-users in India, who had previously been inhibited to shop online. Some eCommerce platforms like Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal have even returned to the level of pre-COVID time. Other eCommerce players like Grofers, BigBasket, Lenskart, etc have also seen a rapid increase in various services. Many new players are entering into this marketplace noting the opportunities available. eCommerce companies can further expect: 

  1. An influx of online shopping: 

As stated with a record number of FTUs in India and brick-and-mortar and kirana stores closed and with lower footfall than usual, there is an increase in sales on eCommerce platforms.  There has been a switch from malls and supermarkets to eCommerce for everyday commodities. Companies can use this to their advantage and provide good deals. Companies like BigBasket had seen such an influx and demand of goods that they had to restrict access to their website to existing customers only, while Grofers – a rival, had faced a similar situation.

A conversation with TN Hari, Head of HR from Big Basket in April 2020 helped gain insight into changing consumer behaviour and adaptations to the new normal. As rightly predicted, the shift from offline to online in all sectors has been perceived as the need for the hour.

  1. More efficient and convenient models:

Online shopping offers the convenience of not having to go out to shop and waste time waiting in lines and scrolling through items, all it takes is just a click on a button to purchase a product that will be delivered right at your doorstep. However, eCommerce platforms should ensure efficiency in logistics and supply chain flow. Myntra’s End of Reason Sale had integrated and collaborated 400 offline stores of more than 60 brands. The items that were purchased shipped directly from the brands’ stores to the consumer’s doorsteps. Allowing for a more seamless supply chain and providing convenience to the consumers. There is also a significant rise in the number of convenient shopping models like BNPL gaining prominence among the Indian consumers.

  1. Increase in essential and corona virus-related products:

Shopping habits and consumer behaviour has seen change during the pandemic. Ecommerce companies are being required to sell essential items as a way to have an edge and meet consumer demands. Products like soaps, sanitizers and health care items have a market of its own now. ePharmacy has seen an increase in India, with numerous investors looking on ways to invest in ePharm companies. Amazon has also noticed the shift in consumer behaviour and adapting to the pandemic is said to have prioritised delivery of essential items garnering appreciation and an increase in its sales from customers. 

  1. Digital transformation: 

Kirana stores have been the crux of Indian System. But, now with the virus outbreak, people are looking out for alternatives. This has offered digitalisation and upskilling of Kirana stores to adapt to changes. Companies like Flipkart in an attempt to streamline this unorganised sector have tied up with these stores for provisions and delivery while still supporting their development. 

This pandemic has gauged a segment of shoppers that previously have not purchased online to now rely on it. Consumer buying habits are constantly changing and companies need to follow efficient ways to get FTUs hooked on while still retaining existing customers. 

With the rising adoption of Omnichannel solutions across sectors and focus on digital transformation eCommerce companies have seen and will continue to see tremendous opportunity and growth amidst COVID.

CONTENT MARKETING FOR E-COMMERCE – How Content Can Change Your eCommerce Game

eCommerce is one of the biggest platforms for businesses to rise and shine above all. It helps the business to reach every potential customer and get them going with the required goods or services. But, that is not all as people’s living standards and tastes dynamically influence the demand. Thus, they expect the best of services offered to them by the various business concerns.

eCommerce giants have developed numerous strategies to counter this issue via advertisements, discounts, incentives, SAP Hybris, Intershop, and WCS. But this isn’t sufficient to lure customers and gain their trust over the internet.

Content marketing for eCommerce has gained immense significance to provide exciting content to the customers. Strategies such as tips and tricks, DIYs, and much more are more important than the price competition among different sellers.

Content marketing strategies such as video descriptions for products and other related videos or images can help convert sales into revenue. Referred to as A+ pages on Amazon, content marketing for eCommerce includes the use of HD images, videos, infographics, and FAQs to attract buyers. This brings customers to finalize their decision to buy goods and thus bringing in revenues.

On the other hand, a brand store page on Amazon is also beneficial to create multiple pages for your brand and discuss your visions, business ethnic, product values and use. In short, you can create a complete nutshell for your brand online.

Integrating content and eCommerce

  • SEO optimized content to drive traffic

The best way to drive customers to your website is by using Search Engine Optimized content to highlight your website amongst other competitors. This makes your site the top most searched website and brings more customers as they tend to fall for the topmost searched website. Content marketing for eCommerce has SEO tools as the topmost priority amongst all others. SEO optimized content for eCommerce and marketplaces can refer to well laid out product descriptions, bullet points with key attributes that people are actively looking for A+ pages that act both as SEO rich branded content and an extended content piece to enhance sales by adding value.

  • Using images to bring reality

One way to attract customers is by uploading the products’ images by the business concern. It will entice customers to get attached to the business and rely on the standards of the products sold. Also, you can post about the best products to buy in a particular season. Good images with well thought out cataloging and direction can enhance the buyer’s decision by highlighting key features and attributes that make the product unique.

  • Amazon Ad copies.

eCommerce can be a thriving option when you partner with other eCommerce giants such as Amazon by selling the products using their platforms. One of the ways to follow such a path is Amazon Ad copies wherein you can pay for the advertisement section when someone types a related keyword.

This is similar to using SEO optimized content for being the topmost website. There are two options for the advertisements – headline ads and sponsored ads. Amazon content strategies help eCommerce businesses gain advantages over others.

Final Word

eCommerce uplifts the company and helps gain a competitive advantage over the vast market. Also, the eCommerce websites following serious content marketing strategies differentiate them from mediocre pages. Certain websites lay focus on providing services to the customers, thereby neglecting on luring customers and enhancing their customer-business relations.

Content marketing is the major difference between a product page and a mediocre page and has immense significance while extending vision towards the growth and development of eCommerce. Also, the product pages use rich content such as images, videos, and quotes to stabilize the customer’s interest and provide them with the best products and information.

WHATSAPP & ECOMMERCE – A duo to watch out for

There’s hardly anyone who hasn’t used WhatsApp. With a massive userbase of over 400 million active users, India is one of the biggest markets for the Facebook-owned business messaging app.  The eCommerce industry has been quick to evolve with technological advancements and WhatsApp has seen this as an opportunity to jump on to the eCommerce bandwagon. 

Companies have started actively incorporating WhatsApp into their eCommerce strategy. WhatsApp Business has become the go-to messaging channel for customer care.

Small businesses have started using the catalog feature to share information like product photos, addresses, map locations, etc. Whenever a customer enquires about a product, a catalog can be shared to help view products and get information for a particular item. 

A Nielsen report on FMCG consumption during COVID-19 has mentioned that consumers have started using WhatsApp to place orders due to the social distancing norms.

According to sources, WhatsApp Business will experience unprecedented growth of more than 5,400% among medium and large businesses looking to use its API. The findings are based on research involving all the major omnichannel messaging providers.

Mobilesquared believes 5.25 million small and micro businesses were using the free WhatsApp Business app at the end of 2019, and it expects this number to rise to almost 7 million by 2024.

  • Enhance customer service & support 
  • Take advantage of broadcasting & alerts 
  • Ease of delivery & communication
  • Distribute content 
  • Brand authenticity 

As the pricing of mobile data stays low, and smartphones become affordable, penetration of WhatsApp would boost in the coming time and make it the most convenient platform for consumers to interact directly with brands.

Rethink Omnichannel Marketing

The consumer of today is truly omnichannel driven. With multiple devices at an arm’s reach, they’re interacting with brands and continuously navigating through different platforms parallelly. As consumer behavior evolves by the day, brands and marketers need to quickly adapt to cater to their needs and pursue one holistic omnichannel approach, so that when the customer shops online from a desktop, a mobile device, by telephone or in a brick and mortar store, the experience would be seamless.

The idea is that in omnichannel, every customer interaction changes their overall experience of your product and brand.


A recent study by Harvard Business Review surveying over 40,000 shoppers found that

  • 7% shopped online exclusively
  • 20% were store-only shoppers
  • 73% used multiple channels


BRANDS EMBRACING THE OMNICHANNEL APPROACH

Lenskart is an excellent example of an omnichannel brand. Known for providing an excellent buying experience. The brand uses a cohesive strategy to create a fully integrated experience for the user.  If you like to compare different looks before you buy your frame, their 3D try on lets you try from 1000+ frames & styles before you buy.


If you’re a bit apprehensive to buy frames online, no problem. Their eyewear specialist will visit your home for a free trial.


Pepperfry, an eCommerce shopping website that initially started selling furniture online realized that the category does not naturally lend itself to online buying. And the start-up decided to take the omnichannel route to boost sales. This Mumbai based company has launched its studios in Tier 1& Tier 2 cities.  The company has targeted a GMV of 1 Billion by 2021.

Companies with omnichannel retail strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers from channel to channel as opposed to the 33% retained by brands with a weak omnichannel strategy

Omnichannel retail is pitched as the future of eCommerce. Just like other brands, Titan has recently adopted the hybrid approach. The main aim is to work with online platforms like Facebook, Amazon as well as their own website and drive sales through an omnichannel model. 

FRAMEWORK TO STRATEGIZE FOR YOUR OMNICHANNEL RETAIL BRAND:

  • Identify your customer and their needs
  • Find the right tool and methods that will help you connect with your customers 
  • Segment your audience 
  • Create unique personas 
  • Personalize the customer experience 
  • Communicate the same personalization across channels
  • Get an expert to roadmap your omnichannel strategy  

In times like these, one of the major challenges faced by brands today is making that shift from single to channel to omnichannel. The goal is to create an experience that isn’t limited to a single platform but one that can be completed and repeated on each.

Mistakes that could be affecting your Omnichannel retail efforts

Mistakes that could be affecting your Omnichannel retail efforts

Omnichannel is the buzzword in the retail industry space today. But with stringent competition, newer technologies, every retailer is struggling to keep up their game. While some are succeeding, some end up making mistakes, costing them valuable resources.

Here are a few pertinent mistakes retailers can avoid, to boost their Omnichannel efforts:

An overdose of engagement

Customer engagement is a slow process and meant to be immersive. Overwhelming them with brand messaging and ads everywhere they go is no less than stalking. In the process of focusing on the channels, sellers often forget about the people. The idea is to focus not on the number of channels to explore but to explore the customer journey on specific channels that they are loyal to. Giving them enough space and targeting them on the right channel through the right messaging is the key.

Unfriendly Mobile experience

Mobile and smart device usage is seeing a radical growth and it will be in the near future. But there is still a big gap between the number of people using mobiles for shopping and retailers offering the best shopping experience on the mobile interface. This largely affects conversions.

A few things to consider to enhance the mobile experience-

  • Check if the site is loading slower than usual
  • Check your site’s user experience on 3rd-party platforms
  • Do a test shopping for your products on different mobile devices and assess the navigation on each
  • Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to check the mobile-friendliness of your site.

Too many channels, too little focus

Remember, your business has to omnichannel, not omnipresent. You cannot and should not be everywhere. And not all strategy work for every retail business. Depending on where your customers are you can choose your target platform/s. And spreading yourself too thin across the market will dilute your brand experience. For instance, if you have your audience majorly on YouTube and Instagram, you do not need to be on Reddit or Twitter.

The same goes for marketplace presence. If you are exploring one leading marketplace, maximize that platform, rather than being present on every possible marketplace and splitting your marketing strategy.

Opportunities in Omnichannel Retail Marketing

Opportunities in Omnichannel Retail Marketing

As our lives get deeper into digital integration, customers, especially in the retail segment, are merging their online and ‘in-store’ experiences. Shoppers make themselves well-informed about their prospective store/brand through extensive online research before they visit the physical store. And if customers are to have an all-encompassing experience, their service providers (read retailers) need to offer the same and utilize this opportunity to make their presence felt.

Breaking the barriers between digital and in-store

A smart omnichannel strategy helps retailers to connect their in-store commerce with all of their digital touch points and create a seamless user journey for their customers. This allows customers and shoppers to connect their online research with the actual in-store experience.

This is where tech tools like store-visit analytics programs and others help create a new kind of interface between offline and online commerce. By adopting such innovative ideas, retailers can turn their physical stores as a field for innovation and experiments with newer sales techniques and means to improve the customer’s experience at every turn.

More channels for sales

Omnichannel marketing is all about exploring your customer’s footprints and enhancing all possible avenues where your customer is. This lets you be flexible and agile as per your customer needs and integrate methods like ship-to-store, ship-from-store, buy-online-pickup-in-store, endless aisles, social commerce etc. The idea is to reinvent the tried-and-tested wheel and introduce new experiences every time.

Hassle-free payment

Easy and simple payment processes enable faster purchases. With mobile payments, digital wallets, and payment options offered by brands themselves, customers enjoy better shopping experiences. Digital systems like Amazon’s ‘One-click Pay’ and similar others, further simplifies the omnichannel journey for the customer and drives sales for the retailer.

Summarizing

Gone are the days when a brick-and-mortar store and its respective e-commerce site would be a world apart. The future of retail is all about bringing all interfaces and building a holistic experience. While this redefines shopper’s journey, it also enhances your business approach and improves your marketing strategy.

To be able to successfully adopt the best-in-class omnichannel retail trends, you can seek the support of an omnichannel expert and take your business to the next level and boost your brand.

The future of Omnichannel Marketing

With e-commerce landscape on the upswing, the retail industry continues to devise innovative formats to ensure their presence. As an increased number of consumers remain always connected, omnichannel marketing opens up opportunities for the evolving retail businesses to connect with the audience through various touch points. This interconnectedness of a brand creates endless scope for your business to maximize your sales potential.

Consumers have long evolved from only tangible product-driven shopping to experience-driven shopping, both online and offline. Omnichannel is evolving with the core thought of providing the same experience to its consumers across channels, when they want, what they want, and the way they want it.

The way market experts see this trend growing is through creating a ‘phygital’ marketplace where the physical and digital touchpoints of the brand are merged to give the exact same experience to the buyer. What does it mean for retail enterprises?

For creating such transcendental experience, the best omnichannel retail strategy boils down to engagement across platforms by developing a constant and consistent brand communication. This will help in influencing the customer consideration about your brand so that you become the first thing that they can think of while making the purchase decision. For example, if you have a video that talks about your brand/product/industry space, you can target your ads to play before the video so your audience learns about your brand even before they know more about it.

To be able to successfully deliver omnichannel services, it is essential for marketers and retail businesses to understand the difference between omnichannel marketing and multi-channel marketing. While multi-channel marketing can still work in silos and yield results, a holistic omnichannel strategy will need integration of all the nodes and take on a cohesive approach. Going forward with the uber-connected generation of buyers, it will be important for enterprises to build a unique infrastructure which collaborates the different arms of omnichannel marketing. And constantly upgrade to new technologies to support the marketing efforts and reach out to the consumers at their convenience.

With better management of consumers and their needs, omnichannel marketing can help exceed customer expectation every time at every interaction.

10 things to consider if you want to elevate your Omnichannel game

With the increased practice of omnichannel marketing, retail businesses are developing innovative ways to customer engagement and conversions. If you are new to the exploding retail landscape, here are a few things you might want to consider if you want to boost your omnichannel services and make yourself discovered.

Choose your audience wisely
Use the power of AI-driven micro-targeting tools to narrow down and segment your audience based on geography, device, browser, campaign or other variables and assess their preferred method of interaction.

Be consistent
Exploit the ‘micro-moments’ of your consumer through consistent messaging to align messaging, goals, objectives, and design of your brand across each channel and device.

Influence your customer’s decision
Position yourself as the most preferred option for your customer by making yourself visible even before your audience searches for you.

Choose the right cross-channel journey
Map your consumer’s journey so it flows smoothly across various channels and feels like a natural addition to their presence on different platforms.

Make each channel utility-driven
Determine if your interactive and responsive site offers the same thing as your mobile application. Everything that you offer should be free of redundancy to increase utility

Adopt new technologies
Be in sync with the always-on consumer and upgrade yourself to match up to their tech consumption.

Be contextual but content-rich
Focus on quality content using the right context to create value for your business and present yourself as an expert in your field. Reuse, recycle, repurpose your core content and maximize its use across formats and platforms.

Leverage data
Test your customer experiences across online and offline destinations and measure all data. Use this data comprehensively to understand your customer’s responses, behaviors, changes in consumption etc.

Be omnipresent but choose your channels wisely
Target destinations where your customers are but choose your channels wisely.

Don’t ignore your offline presence
Creating a brand presence across all both offline and online channels can prove to be successful in the long run and help you optimize your online presence.

There is no magic wand that can bring overnight success to your omnichannel marketing efforts. The key is to be subtle, consistent, and contextual and create a micro world of your world that surround your audience.

Omnichannel myths debunked

The constant developments in technology intertwined with enterprise operations are changing the face of the modern business landscape. And, to be present around the ‘always-on’ customer, businesses need to be omnipresent, in order to meet their audience anytime, anywhere. However, most often than not, business owners tend to confuse ‘multichannel’ with ‘omnichannel’ when it comes to services, which leaves them oblivious to the benefits omnichannel experience. Thus, it still remains a sparsely adopted business practice today. The reasons for omnichannel service not being widely accepted can be largely pegged on the myths that surround the concept. This article will help you debunk the popular misconceptions of omnichannel service.

Myth #1: Each service channel needs to be separate
In reality, it is the other way round. Treating your customers and their experiences in silos is a recipe for disaster. As the consumer behavior continues to change and evolve, an omnichannel communication is in tandem with the customer’s journey. By integrating multiple channels into a cohesive strategy can build an exceptional consumer experience, thus yielding positive results.

Myth #2: Being omnipresent is about hovering around your users
Omnichannel service is not about overwhelming your customers. By using it as a one-way channel of communication and pitching your business to them round-the-clock, you can lose out on prospective business. The key to effectively harnessing the power of multiple channels is to engage and learn more about each customer and their online behavior. By focusing on the data that you gather from such observations can help you build well-informed communication matrices.

Myth #3: Omnichannel helps in the faster decision-making of customers
The truth is that customers want effortless engagement. And once they are wowed by the customer experience you provide and find their answers, only then they take the decision to interact with you and your business. This may or may not be at your expected timeline.

Myth #4: Multiple channels mean multiple messages
This is probably one of the biggest mistakes businesses make when they consider an omnichannel presence. Research shows that 90% customers expect consistency of brand messaging across all platforms. Irrespective of how many places you spread yourself to, your brand should have one common, the underlying message that resonates with your audience, wherever they go and allow them to have the same experience across all channels.

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