Why go eCommerce?

    What model makes sense for eCommerce? Do you really want to go into it? Do people really want to buy what they can’t touch & feel first? All good questions. Here are some strategic answers for eCommerce models:

    • We often think about digital marketing as the means to promote traditional products and services for traditional points-of-sale (brick-and-mortar).
    • However digital marketing can even define and drive the product for eCommerce.
    • How? People search online for what product they want to purchase.
    • Every year people grow more comfortable with online purchasing, but if consumers can find exactly what they’re looking for online, and don’t find it physically available nearby, they will purchase online.
    • So what do the people want? Keyword research tells us (search volume, competitiveness, etc.).
    • And all of this makes “niche” product models (what search marketers call “long tail”) work best (especially when starting an eCommerce business or site).
    • For example I had a client with an eCommerce furniture site.
    • Furniture is an industry, like fashion for example, which is less commoditized and less brand dominant. Sure there are major brands and even common stores, but there are is a huge market for the less commoditized, less utilitarian products.
    • The client site was based on ‘rustic cabin furniture’ – something people searched for, but not largely enough to be a common product ‘category.’
    • Therefore when consumers searched for this term previously there was not heavy competition (nor heavy search marketing implementation for other sites).
    • Fashion would be similar (take for example alternative fashion movements such as Steampunk).
    • Which is why we see successful eCommerce sites for these industries, despite the misconception that people ‘won’t buy furniture or clothes that they can’t see or feel.’
    • Of course eCommerce models work well for more rare products also; I have had eCommerce clients selling unique products direct-to-consumers such as CPAPs (medical and snoring oxygen face masks), and CNC (builder/maker machines).
    • Alternatively, just as with traditional marketing, it’s going to be hard to sell commoditized or even brand-specific/brand-loyal products which already have heavily established customer purchase opportunities.
    • For example, it’s going to be hard to sell non-Macintosh computers to Mac customers (a very loyal customer base; and there are already many opportunities for Mac purchasing).
    • And it’s going to be difficult to break into the market selling red T-shirts online (due to commoditization).
    • So again, just as with traditional marketing, it comes down to demand, differentiated positioning, USP (unique sales proposition), etc.
    • The difference is that the eCommerce model offers minimal cost; you can work out arrangements to re-sell vendor products without upfront purchasing.
    • In other words, you can pay the manufacturer once an end-customer buys on your website.
    • And at that point route info to the manufacturer to do the product direct shipping.
    • And without paying for brick-and-mortar facilities, location or warehousing space, the amount of your profit growth comes down to the effectiveness of your promotion for increased purchasing.
    • What’s more, you can also obtain revenue from ads on your eCommerce site; such as special banner ads for specific manufacturers (if they wish to heavily promote or give you a discount on your cost for their products) or even Google ads shown on your site (I have an eCommerce client who allows Google ads to appear on his site).
    • In traditional marketing we talk about “The 4 Ps” being the foundation for marketing planning: Product (or service), Place (distribution), Promotion and Price.
    • But in digital marketing we talk about a fifth P; “Participation.” Meaning the participation element of social media; the potential for multi-way information and communications between consumers and the marketer.
    • Social media not only gives us additional ways to promote, but also ways to identify consumer demand (and ever-important reviews, complaints, word-of-mouth, etc.).
    • So how many consumers are talking about ‘rustic cabin furniture’ that they can’t find in stores? How many in social media groups are talking about ‘Steampunk fashion’ they can’t find a wide enough selection of? All of this is identifiable via online research.
    • What used to require years of industry experience and awareness of customer buying patterns and competitors can now be identified more quickly via online consumer research.
    Thanks for reading – Jake Aull, Zen Fires Digital Marketing