From Where We Sit

The viral rise of e-commerce: new strategies to employ in today’s new normal

Wendell Ganhinhin
By:
Wendell Ganhinhin
Contents

Picture this: you do a random search on Google for a nice new pair of shoes you have long decided to buy. At the top of the results page, you see a whole set of shoes, lined up along with their brand names and prices. Sometimes, you can even see products with freebies or, say, a promo code or a buy-one-get-one deal. You click on one specific pair of shoes, and you are automatically directed to a shopping site. Once you have added the shoes to your cart and typed in your payment and shipping info, there is only one thing left to do. You click the “Check Out” button.

We may not always notice it, but small ads like these constitute an effective e-commerce strategy. Gone are the days when entrepreneurs almost always need to open a physical shop and hire sales agents to sell their goods. Almost everything can be done virtually now, more so when the pandemic hit, and most consumers had to rely on online businesses to get their daily necessities.

More than a year after the pandemic struck, most businesses have now learned that investments in digital transformation should be part of their game plan. But, as aptly cited by McKinsey in one article, making the pivot towards digital transformation is just a bullet point in the list of priorities companies must consider as they strive to grow operations despite challenges. Amidst disruptions that slow down business growth, a promising solution emerged. For those in retail, and also for those who are looking at setting up their own online business, investing in e-commerce strategies is the way to go.

Many companies are already reaping the benefits of e-commerce. A separate McKinsey report showed that in 2020, sales through e-commerce in the US rose to almost 35 percent from 16 percent recorded three months prior. The same report added that businesses which used e-commerce strategies logged a 50 percent increase in their overall profit. In the Philippines, a study by the International Trade Administration (ITA), last published in September this year, revealed that e-commerce grew on the back of increased consumer spending and other analogous factors.

E-commerce solutions provider BigCommerce highlighted that new e-commerce trends will likely shape the future of business. It outlined augmented reality (AR) as a catalyst for change in online shopping, as well as artificial intelligence (AI) in terms of helping businesses track changing consumer mindset through automation. One trend that venture capital firm Loop Ventures is looking at is the use of what it refers to as voice search, a technology that can be used by shoppers who stay at home to make purchases online.

However, making the shift and incorporating e-commerce is not an easy task. One of the hurdles the pandemic posed was how businesses can shift quickly but remarkably well. It is a battlefield out there, one that is difficult to win without squeezing in necessary adjustments. The ITA, in the same report, stated that although the e-commerce industry continues to flourish in the Philippines, companies face some challenges which include slow development of digital infrastructure and low broadband penetration.

All things considered, adopting the right e-commerce platform and strategies is vital. More and more strategies are now being utilized by both established and start-up companies. One example, as described above, is the utilization of Google Shopping Ads. It works by showing relevant products when people search for items and direct them to sellers’ websites. It has been regarded as an easy and cost-efficient way of selling products virtually.

To fully benefit from the advantages of e-commerce, businesses must thus be open to implement both tried-and-tested e-commerce schemes and those that have just been recently introduced. Aside from creating an effective marketing strategy that adopts e-commerce methods, it is still vital to try a mix of other e-commerce strategies.

Improve your website

One of the first steps to take in revamping or boosting your online presence is to make sure that your main platform is working well. E-commerce brands will never go wrong in investing in a good website domain and good and interactive media content. For businesses who have yet to make their mark in the world wide web, they can start by choosing an available domain and putting up a website that matches their products and will entice their target market.

Look at the search volume of your products

Most people start their online shopping by logging online and searching for products through search engines like Google. Thus, visibility in search engines is important, more so because viewers are more likely to click on the top results of their searches. This is where Search Engine Optimization or SEO comes in. SEO refers to the process whereby owners of websites can configure the searchability and visibility of their sites and links so that they can easily be found when searched online. SEO targeting includes the careful choice of relevant keywords that can be used in articles or promotional content. There are various tools and programs that specialize in SEO optimization which can help businesses promote their products online.

Install an efficient payment processing system

Cash is definitely no longer king. Cashless payment continues to be on the rise and has become a reliable alternative to physical currency. CNBC reported last year that the pandemic has urged more consumers to shift from cash to cashless payments, making e-payment providers like Apple and PayPal kings in this arena. To add, a study by the Pew Research Center showed that almost one third of consumers in the US admitted that they can let a week pass without making purchases through cash. E-payments are now made through electronic fund transfers between banks, either through credit and debit cards or through e-checks. Companies must also ensure that transactions made via website are secure by adopting SSL encryption technology. 

Do not forget the power of social media

According to a 2021 survey of Statista, Filipinos spend four hours a day on average using social media. This figure is the highest across the Asia Pacific. Similar figures have prompted content creators to use social media as a platform for their digital content and enabled social media marketing to progress. This also bolsters the fact that social media is not just a platform where people share, like, and comment on posts; it makes an effective tool for e-commerce business. Therefore, boosting presence and engagement in Facebook and Instagram will definitely help businesses step up their game in posting higher sales. Using hashtags, engaging in paid advertising, and posting relatable visuals can do a lot in boosting engagement.

Amidst the adverse effects of the pandemic on business growth and expansion, new platforms and tools are also emerging. Experts are saying that the future of work is companies going remote in their transactions. In the same vein, as we anticipate a new reality where hybrid work arrangements and alternative forms of services replace traditional methods, being innovative and open to change will ultimately help businesses thrive and grow.

 

As published in The Manila Times, dated 03 November 2021