online eCommerce in USA

Offline + (Online) eCommerce: Bridging the gap between “then” and “now”

Welcome to the first episode of our podcast series, “Mastering the eCommerce Journey.” This video blog explores the significance of integrating an online eCommerce store into your traditional brick-and-mortar business.

We conversed with Shridhar Jagannathan, a Senior Marketing Manager at ewiz commerce, who brings two decades of experience working at India’s top advertising and marketing agencies. He manages GTM (Go-To-Market) solutions for clients at ewiz commerce and its parent company, Powerweave.  

In this podcast, Sridhar explains 

  • The challenges business owners face going digital,
  • The need for online systems integrated with offline business models, and 
  • Strategies to run an online eCommerce store successfully in the long run.  

Why most eCommerce ventures fail in the first year

Over the years, eCommerce has risen as a powerful global economic driver, offering businesses the chance to reach a global customer base and boost revenue in digital sales.

In 2023, the global eCommerce market is projected to be worth $6.5 trillion, and eCommerce users will reach 2.1 billion by 2023.

With the rise in online shopping, brands are looking forward to having their own online eCommerce stores. But, 90% of the eCommerce initiatives fail after the first four months. And only 1% of startups become unicorns like Uber, Airbnb, Slack, Stripe, and Docker 

The disconnection in mirroring foot traffic in a virtual world

In the online eCommerce world, getting website visits is just like getting foot traffic in physical stores. While offline stores employ tactics like banners, displays, and personalized advice to attract customers, these fundamentals often get overlooked when transitioning online.

While eCommerce companies succeed in making a visually appealing website, crucial elements like uniform branding, easy navigation, fast-loading pages, secure and fast payment portals, personalization, marketing, and having a strong technology stack to back daily operations,  often take a back seat.

Even big brands make this mistake. They bring in more sales in large online marketplaces but fail to focus on maintaining their distinctive brand identities. Additionally, the personalized guidance and customer service they provide in physical stores tend to be forgotten in the digital realm.

The reason behind the high failure rate of eCommerce is that businesses struggle to replicate their offline success in the online realm. 

The success of an eCommerce business could be projected by its ability to build a connection between real-world principles and digital strategies. It takes more than a good website; it needs solid branding, strong marketing, and a user-friendly online shopping experience that mirrors offline interactions. 

This concept is often referred to as “omnichannel retail,” where the distinction between online and offline shopping channels blurs, and customers can transition between them effortlessly. This connection is important to ensure customers have a consistent and memorable experience with your brand, both online and offline. 

Transitioning isn’t as complex as perceived. Challenges often arise from misunderstandings, not inherent complexities. By prioritizing key elements like keeping a strong online presence and understanding your audience, you can simplify the journey. 

Many businesses face challenges when going digital. They start with enthusiasm but often don’t put in the effort required. 

In the first year of going online, companies dump a bunch of posts on social media and run poorly targeted digital ads. They set unrealistic targets and focus on doing everything at the same time. And if quick results aren’t seen, they lose interest. Misconceptions and discord, coupled with limited budgets then lead them to believe that online eCommerce efforts just aren’t effective!

In physical stores, expenses get budgeted. But with online stores, it’s a bit different – a lot of times, eCommerce companies don’t plan their budgets ahead. That can mean overspending on ads without making enough back, and you end up losing more than you make.

Setting up an online store needs a marketing budget and a learning curve. It also requires more commitment. Understanding audience behavior, drop-offs, and cart additions is vital.

While companies hire eCommerce managers, if the senior management lacks digital knowledge, it could hold them back from conducting digital experiments. Embracing SEO and intent-based targeting requires awareness from top leadership. 

Instead of giving up, B2C and B2B businesses should pivot toward continuous learning and meticulously mapping the online landscape carefully.

The advantages of having your own online store

In today’s connected world, setting up an online store offers many benefits

The ability to reach a global audience

It is one of the most striking benefits. Unlike an offline store limited to a specific area, an online store breaks location barriers. Whether you’re in Paris or New York, anyone can buy your products from across the world.

Your products are accessible to anyone with an internet connection, expanding your potential customer base.

Convenience

Physical stores have operating hours, but an online store is available 24/7. An online store provides the convenience and flexibility that modern consumers crave – people can browse and purchase your products from anywhere, at any time.

Customers can browse and buy at their convenience, whether it’s at midnight or during their lunch breaks. This flexibility enhances customer satisfaction and encourages more sales.

Better customer retention

Imagine you’re a food and beverage brand selling energy milkshakes. In physical retail stores, your products are one among many. And once a customer buys your product, that’s often the end of the story.

This is a key advantage of online retail – truly knowing your customer. This could not happen with your physical store. You might only know the customer based on what they like and buy from you, but outside your store you know nothing about them. 

Online interactions like website visits, clicks, and purchases give valuable insights into customers’ preferences and behaviors. By tracking browsing habits, product interests, and responses to marketing efforts, you build a detailed profile.  

With your online store, you can use the data gathered to engage with your customers on a deeper level. You can collect valuable customer data and use Artificial Intelligence (AI) in eCommerce to 

  • Personalize their online shopping experience
  • Learn customer preferences
  • Offer tailored product recommendations
  • Build meaningful and long-term relationships with your customers

Moreover, an online store enables powerful insights that guide your decisions. It lets you identify which regions are your strongest markets, adjust pricing based on customer behavior, and even offer subscriptions to loyal customers.

Omnichannel setup

To have an omnichannel setup, you can combine your online and offline stores. You can even drive customers to your brick-and-mortar store and offer your customers a memorable hands-on experience.

6 benefits of using artificial intelligence for omnichannel personalization
Source

Imagine you’re shopping for furniture or clothes online. Concerns about fit and feel arise for bigger purchases. Here’s the solution: Explore an online eCommerce store, then visit a physical store nearby. See, feel, and try products before deciding.

This kind of smooth transition is possible thanks to an omnichannel approach—where my online and offline stores work together. And this approach goes beyond just convenience. It creates a personalized connection, enhances customer loyalty, and offers special perks, like a one-year subscription, which is typically only available online.

A notable example of a US-based company that transitioned from offline to online is “Warby Parker.” Originally a brick-and-mortar eyewear retailer, Warby Parker shifted its business model to include online sales. 

Read how Warby Parker entirely disrupted the traditional retail model with its D2C model.

Marketplaces like Amazon and eBay are good for brands starting out their eCommerce journey as there are several benefits such as exposure to a wider audience and reduced inventory needs. 

But, you need to remember the trade-offs. 

Marketplaces often charge hefty fees that can significantly cut into your earnings. While it might seem like marking up for distributors and retailers is necessary, it can inflate the price for customers.

You also have no control over your brand’s originality and pricing, as you share space with competitors. With your own store, customers trust they’re getting the real deal– sealed, genuine, and including an authentication certification if needed. Having your online store allows you to set the rules, maintain branding, and offer genuine products.

Have complete control 

Imagine you’re a cloud kitchen owner in the US deciding where to sell your dishes. While platform aggregators like Uber Eats and Grubhub have their appeal, they come with limits. 

These platforms often dictate discount policies, which might not align with your strategy. But what if you could have more control? That’s where having your own online store shines. 

With your own eCommerce platform, you regain autonomy. No mandatory “special offers” that don’t match your vision. No more feeling the “FOMO” because everyone else’s is selling at discounted prices, and you’re not. You don’t have to slash prices because a third party wants you to. You set prices that are in line with your business goals. Plus, you get to build a direct connection with your customers.

Having your online store isn’t about control—it’s about safeguarding your brand’s authenticity. In an era where trust matters, your store ensures your products are showcased as intended. An online eCommerce store is about setting prices as you want and boosting your business.

To sum up, an online store isn’t just about digital sales. It’s for building relationships, learning, and being in charge. Personalization, data-driven choices, and maintaining authenticity give you endless possibilities beyond physical stores or marketplaces.

Key considerations for brands taking the leap to online eCommerce 

1. Know who your audience is

Know your target audience. Who is your product for? Is it for the corporate crowd or the creative lot? Different folks, different strokes. 

If you’re aiming at tech-savvy young adults then you’re all good because they’re used to online shopping. For the seasoned ones, like those above 45, it’s trickier. They play it safe. 

Don’t just stop at age; industry, style, preferences, and even musical taste play into understanding your customers. Digital platforms allow precise segmentation, tailoring products to specific niches. This level of detail wasn’t possible with traditional advertising. 

The challenge now lies in staying current with trends and continually catering to evolving consumer behavior. It’s a more complex but rewarding landscape for marketers.

2. Get your product-market fit right 

Product-market fit is like finding the perfect match between what you’re selling and what people really want. It’s when your product hits the sweet spot by solving a problem or meeting a need that customers have. Like offering a cold drink on a hot day—it’s exactly what people are craving, and they love it.

product-market fit

In the digital era, you can hit the bullseye with strategic targeting. Thanks to social media and search engines, you can read minds. Well, not quite, but you get the drift. So knowing what your customer wants, when they want it, and how they want is very important.

Customer segmentation and getting the right product-market fit is very important. You need to ask yourself some questions regarding your product such as

  • Who are the people who are going to buy it?
  • When do they want it?
  • When should I talk to them about it?
  • When do I know they have buying intent? 

Unlike a physical store, you lack control over foot traffic. But online, you can actively draw customers in.

3. Understanding search engines is key

They should easily find your store when searching for products online. This involves using the right words on your website to show up in search results.

Run online ads targeting specific keywords 

You can also run ads on Google to appear when people search for certain things. This leads them to your product page. Local searches, like “pizza place nearby,” matter a lot.

Make the most out of local searches 

Google My Business is useful for local businesses. It helps you show up on Google Maps and search results when people look for products nearby. Share store details like hours, photos, and reviews. Being online boosts visibility. So, tools like these help locals find you.

Think about it: Someone in one place might want something from another place. Your aim is to be their trusted source.

Integrate your offline store with your mobile shopping app

Linking your offline store with your online store and mobile apps is smart. It boosts your presence for local searches. 

Imagine searching for things nearby, like a “bookstore nearby.” If your online and offline efforts work together, your business shows up in search results. It’s like putting a spotlight on your store when people are looking for it. 

When people look for items nearby, your business shows up. This would guide them to your physical store. Imagine someone passing by, checking your app, and finding a deal. They might visit! 

Integrate your offline store with your mobile shopping app

Ewiz Commerce is your pathway to digital success

We empower high-growth businesses with our comprehensive suite of services to drive your eCommerce empire forward. 

As seasoned business consultants, we offer tailored solutions to streamline processes, enhance efficiency, and drive growth across diverse industries to strategic success. 

Ewiz Commerce specializes in assisting small, mid-sized, and large enterprises that excel offline but need digital prowess. 

Here’s how we work our magic:

  • Step into our thorough discovery call, where we dive deep into your pain points and unearth valuable insights. Our meticulous pre-work involves dissecting every facet of your brand, setting the stage for our expert analysis.
  • Following our detailed scrutiny, we present a comprehensive plan that addresses immediate concerns and paves the way for long-term and sustainable growth.
  • Our expertise spans market analysis, strategic blueprinting, and precise implementation, ensuring your business confidently navigates challenges and seizes opportunities in the digital landscape.

We cover everything, to manage your online eCommerce, encompassing both front-end and back-end integrations like CRM, ERP, and other third-party interfaces. Our goal isn’t just an eCommerce website but a complete platform.

With our array of AI capabilities, data analysis, and software services, including multilingual support, voice, image, and text search capabilities, personalization, content creation, automated catalog management, AI chatbots, immersive AR/VR experiences, and more, we’ll fine-tune your online presence to perfection. 

Prioritizing security, we seamlessly align your payment gateways while integrating SSL certificates and updating systems to ward off potential cyber threats.

We’re not just about a website; we’re your full-stack partner. Our journey doesn’t stop at launch. It’s a continuous ride toward your goals with our expert team. Let’s talk. Book a free consultation here.

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