Mark Ballett is an ecommerce expert with more than 25 years’ experience helping retailers to grow and evolve. He was Supply Director of Cable & Wireless, and CEO of several telecoms companies at the beginning of the internet era, played a leading role in an £80M broadband start up, as well as leading Norweb Telecom's growth from £10M to £100m turnover.
Ecommerce has just become a war zone and only the fittest will survive.
The third of a four-part series of articles on how to rebuild your online sales after Lockdown.
Part 3: Remember Who You Are
In my last article, I encouraged you to reconnect with your user base.
From what we have seen over the last couple of months, retailers have had one of the following experiences:
- Near zero sales because they have been forced to close.
- Lower sales because demand has softened.
- Sales have been maintained by focusing on different products.
- Sales have increased because products have not been available from usual, often traditional ‘brick’ retailer, sources.
Over last two months, we’ve all been living in a looking glass world, where the conventional laws of business have been turned on their head. Companies that used to sell beer are making hand sanitiser, businesses that once manufactured winter coats are making PPE.
Before all this began, all successful online retailers offered something different and this influenced their customers to buy from them rather than alternative suppliers. If you can’t now articulate why they chose you in the first place, there is a high risk that your clients will not reconnect with you.
Whatever your experience, it is essential not to forget who you were before all this began.
Managing Your Difference
It was your meaningful differences that drove your business before Lockdown. Now, what makes you different to you competitors is vitally important to the future of your online store. In fact, your main task, as a business owner, is to nurture, build and protect this difference.
As the economy emerges from Lockdown, it is essential that you staff and customers remember why they choose you over your competitors.
These are the things to focus on:
- Why You? You need a very good answer to the question: 'Why do people buy from me?' For instance, these days they choose Amazon because: ubiquity; wide choice of products; ease of use; and order completion, to name but a few. They choose us because: breadth of ecommerce knowledge and expertise; our commercial focus; and we are good partners. Notice there is no single USP, but a subtle mix of things. Why do they choose you?
- Your Focus? You need to work out which is your strongest customer benefit. In our case, we focus on making you more money, not just doing stuff. Let's face it, why would you use us if we didn't? What's yours?
- Align Your Brand. You need to make sure your brand SCREAMS your strongest advantages and that you capture it in a good logo, strap line and Positioning Statement.
- Tell Everyone. Brands are promises that people rely on. Make sure you tell everyone what your promise is, at EVERY opportunity. (Have I mentioned, that we make our customers richer?) This requires considerable discipline. So, sadly, not done well by most.
- Be Consistent. Brands are about CONSISTENT delivery of your promise. This is easier to say than do, so, keep working at it. This particularly applies to how your store looks and feels, the words you use, and how you behave towards your customers.
- Filter. Only do new stuff that aligns with your business focus. Really, this is a big one; it is very easy to go off track if you don't know what track you are on. Apply this filter to new products, business development ideas, and partnerships.
- Keep Everything Up-To-Date. Post Lockdown, this means investment more than you ever have done before, in all of this. More money certainly, but, critically, much more of your time.
Yes, do all this and you will stand out from the crowd. The more your stand out, the more business you will get, provided you do all the other stuff well. Seriously, who would you go to find out where to buy an asses head costume?
Next time, it’s all about 7 above, store refurbishment.