As e-commerce sales take off in the wake of the pandemic, brands are having to rethink how they sell to consumers. Platforms like Shopify can help, but there is a knock-on effect for marketing strategy.

For some companies, marketplaces like Amazon and Shopee are preferred for their massive scale, despite losing out on some data and margin. For others, meeting the consumer on social media is the quickest route.

But for many companies, says Nate Shurilla, global director of commerce at iProspect, the longer-term investment of building their own platform makes the most sense.

Writing for WARC, he explains why: “You don’t have to compete with other listed products, you don’t have a platform scraping profitability off the top, and, perhaps most importantly, you get direct contact with your consumers and the data they bring.”

But when a brand turns to a hosted e-commerce platform builder like Shopify it also has to rethink its marketing approach and look at two things in particular:

• a customer acquisition strategy

• a platform optimisation strategy

Web shops are not like retail stores in the offline world, where a brand could, pre-COVID at least, expect a good amount of foot traffic just from the location. “You need to bring people out of their daily routine, away from Netflix, Instagram, YouTube and The New York Times,” says Shurilla.

“And once you have, you need to give them a reason to stay. Unlike a retail location, there are no eyes on you when browsing a net shop, making it incredibly simple to jump right back to whatever you were doing. That’s where the platform optimisation strategy comes in.”

An important consideration when choosing an e-commerce platform – and one that affects both strategies – is page load time. Slow load times frustrate consumers, increase bounce rates and are penalised by Google’s search algorithm.

Shurilla illustrates the business difference this can make: when Rhone Apparel began using Shopify’s Storefront Renderer feature (which claims to increase server-side performance by 2.5-5x), it reported a 12% decrease to average page load time and an increase of 15% to revenue.

“The bottom-line is you need your site to load fast,” he says, “and Shopify makes this easy.”

For more on what Shopify means for marketing strategy, read Nate Shurilla’s article in full: An introduction to Shopify for marketers.

Sourced from WARC