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Expedia case study – 5 ways to thrive in the competitive world of Ecommerce

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 19 Jan, 2017
Essential Essential topic

Expedia give their top strategies for growing new Ecommerce stores

Expedia launched in 1996. That makes us ancient by internet standards. But the benefit of having been around so long is that our team witnessed the rise of e-commerce, and we learned some priceless lessons in the process.

Twenty years after Expedia opened its virtual doors, e-commerce is now booming. Global e-commerce revenue reached nearly $1.2 billion in August, and experts predict more than 10 percent growth annually. Billion-dollar projections are usually cause for celebration, but not everyone sees it that way.

Some people view e-commerce’s explosion negatively because competition is stiff and getting stiffer. Everyone wants in on this lucrative industry, but more than 90 percent of online startups fail within four months. With nothing but growth on the e-commerce horizon, the rate of launches and failures can only increase.

Ecommerce stats

But don’t let the numbers discourage you. Succeeding in e-commerce isn’t impossible. Failure rates are high because most startups get hung up on price. Unless you sell truly unique products (we’ll get to that a bit later), you’ll find yourself in a race to the bottom when you focus on costs alone.

Betting your company on price-based strategies requires constant attention to market fluctuations and competitors’ behaviors. While new tools automate such data collection and analysis, you’ll still struggle to differentiate your brand and generate real growth.

Instead of falling into the traps that doomed other startups, use these strategies to ride the e-commerce wave to prosperity:

1. Establish a niche.

When you launch an e-commerce company, it’s tempting to sell everything. The internet is infinite, so shouldn’t your offerings be, too? No. Positioning your company as a general retailer makes it difficult to compete with recognized brands that sell their already sought-after goods online.

Instead, identify a niche, and get to know it really well. Create customer profiles by drilling into your audience’s interests, fears, aspirations, lifestyles, and needs. Then, you’ll be able to create products and services that suit them perfectly, and you’ll capture the market in your field. The customer component is crucial, however. It doesn’t matter how great your product is if you don’t understand your consumers.

2. Engage your audience through content.

High-quality content is essential to earning your audience’s attention and trust. I’m not just talking about blog posts and guest articles, either. The crowded e-commerce arena demands spectacular, top-of-the-line content.

Polished videos, quirky social media campaigns, and industry-leading whitepapers are all great ways to gain traction. Although established retailers devote entire teams to their content marketing strategies, small companies can excel in this area as well.

Refer to your customer profiles when developing content plans. Are they more likely to watch a short animated video or read a long-form analysis? How active are they on social media, and which platforms do they favor? What questions or concerns keep them awake at night? Once you’re able to think like your audience members, you can develop content that keeps them coming back for more of your insights.

But don’t create content for its own sake. People are inundated with messages from friends, media, and brands, and their appetite for vacuous content is growing small. It’s more important than ever to deliver relevance and value instead of adding to the din.

3. Invest in retention strategies for high-value customers.

High-value customers comprise a small portion of your overall user base, but they deserve the most love and investment. Even if they represent only 8 percent of your traffic, they might generate as much profit as the other 92 percent. These are the people you need to woo.

Implement incentives like loyalty programs and VIP bonuses. People are reluctant to switch brands once they’ve accumulated a certain amount of rewards points because they don’t want those opportunities to go to waste. If you can enroll customers in these programs early in the relationship, there’s a good chance you’ll retain them long term.

4. Evolve with your audience.

I’ll add a caveat to my last point. You can only retain customers if you’re willing to grow with them. Millennials grew up online, and every generation after them will be increasingly tech savvy.

But that know-how isn’t exclusive to youth. Baby Boomers and seniors are also becoming more adept at using digital devices to shop online. Retailers around the world expect to see 75 percent of their sales influenced by online transactions as of 2018, so you can’t afford to lag behind.

Track customer behavior on every purchase. Are customers using their laptops or smartphones when they reach the checkout process? Conduct surveys, and ask consumers about their preferences directly when possible to ensure you’re delivering the optimum experience. If the majority of your audience members are moving to mobile (and they almost certainly are), you need to go with them.

5. Stay educated and ahead of the trends.

Take note of what your competitors are doing and which new technologies hold relevance for your company. The average consumer has become more critical of slow or outdated websites, and the expectation now is that all platforms will be fast, sleek, and intuitive. That’s not just a matter of aesthetics. Would you feel comfortable inputting your credit card information on a site that looks like it was built in 2005? Probably not.

Take a critical eye to your online presence and overhaul elements as necessary. Then, do the same with your offerings. Same-day shipping policies from Google and Amazon are changing people’s expectations, so make sure you can keep pace. Even if you’re unable to offer same-day services, you should offer other benefits and guarantees that keep audiences from navigating away.

The appropriate response to e-commerce heating up isn’t to fret about increased competition; it’s to blow your audience and competitors away with smart, creative marketing and excellent products and services. E-commerce is going to grow whether you want it to or not. The question is how will you respond?

 

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