How to Prepare Your eCommerce Business Strategy

eCommerce has become an essential extension of any business. Especially so in recent years, even traditional businesses like manufacturing have been forced to adopt digital at light speed to stay in the business and keep up with ever-evolving buyer expectations. In the current realities, embracing digital has become critical for survival and future prosperity. For anyone still looking into digital expansion, it’s essential to understand the steps involved in adopting digital channels and creating a successful ecommerce strategy.

Indeed, developing an ecommerce digital strategy is one of the most important things you can do for your online store. A well-thought-out strategy will help you focus your efforts and achieve your goals. In this blog post, we will discuss the different types of ecommerce strategies, and how to go about creating a roadmap for your business. We'll also take a look at some common ecommerce marketing strategies that you may want to consider using in your own business.

Definition of an eCommerce Business Strategy

An ecommerce business strategy is a plan that describes how you’ll run your online store. It should include your business goals, target market, and the methods you will use to reach your objectives. Your ecommerce strategy will evolve over time as you learn more about your customers and what they want.

Definition of an eCommerce Marketing Strategy

An ecommerce marketing strategy is the tactics you plan to use to promote your online store and increase sales. It can be both online and offline. For example, you can buy a media ad in an offline publication to promote your store. An online marketing strategy is commonly referred to as a digital marketing strategy and includes an action plan for online promotion. A sound ecommerce marketing strategy should be based on comprehensive market research including research into the target audience and competitor analysis.

Types of eCommerce Business Strategies

There are many different types of ecommerce strategies that businesses can use. Some common ones include dropshipping, private label, and affiliate marketing. You will need to decide which business model and type of strategy are right for your business, based on your goals and resources.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide on business models, then you may want to look at our previous blog post on Best eCommerce Business Models, where we discussed the differences and benefits of digital business models in greater detail. For the purposes of this article, we’ll brush over a few of those that are most common in digital commerce.

There are six major eCommerce business models:

  • B2C [Business to Consumer] is a business model where a company markets its products and services to consumers rather than businesses (Example: Amazon).
  • B2B [Business to Business] is a business model where a company markets its products and services to consumers rather than consumers (Example: Amazon Business).
  • B2G [Business to Government] is a business model where a company markets its products and services directly to a government agency (Example: Senseware).
  • D2C [Direct to Consumer] is a business model where a company markets its products and services directly to customers, bypassing any middlemen (such as third-party retailers and so on) (Example: Dollar Shave Club).
  • C2C [Consumer to Consumer] is a business model where consumers market their products and services directly to other consumers (Example: Etsy).

Now, let’s look at a few common ecommerce business strategies:

  • Dropshipping

Dropshipping is a type of ecommerce business strategy where you sell products that are sourced from a supplier. When a customer orders from your store, you will then place an order with the supplier who will ship the product directly to the customer. Dropshipping is a popular option for new businesses because it does not require you to carry any inventory.

In dropshipping, it’s important to carefully choose your suppliers. Another thing to keep in mind is that dropshipping can be a very competitive business. You will need to find ways to differentiate your store from the competition.

To learn more about dropshipping, read the article: What Is Dropshipping?

  • Private label

A private label is a type of ecommerce business strategy where your products are manufactured by a third-party manufacturer (or sourced from a supplier) but sold under your brand name. Private label products are typically cheaper than branded products and can be a great way to build your own brand.

  • Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is a type of ecommerce business strategy where you promote other businesses' products on your own website or blog. When a customer clicks on one of your affiliate links and makes a purchase, you earn a commission.

In affiliate marketing, it’s important to choose your partners wisely: they should be related to your niche and offer products relevant to your target audience.

A marketplace is a type of ecommerce business where product or service information is provided by multiple third parties.

Marketplaces are different from traditional ecommerce businesses in a few key ways. First, marketplaces typically don't sell products directly. Instead, they provide a platform for other businesses to sell their products. This means that marketplaces usually have a much wider selection of products than traditional ecommerce stores.

Second, marketplaces tend to be much more hands-off than traditional ecommerce businesses. They typically don't manage inventory or fulfil orders. Instead, they leave these tasks to the businesses that sell on their platform.

Third, marketplaces usually take a commission on each sale. This means that they make money by charging a fee to the businesses that sell on their platform. The commission can vary depending on the marketplace and the product being sold.

If you're considering starting an ecommerce business, a marketplace could be a good option. Just be sure to weigh the pros and cons carefully before making a decision.

To learn more about marketplaces, check out the article: Marketplace Revolution.

eCommerce Business Strategy Planning Process

There are a few steps involved in the eCommerce business strategy planning process.
The first step is to research your target market and find out what their needs are. You can do this by conducting surveys, interviews, and focus groups. Once you have a good understanding of your target market, you can start to develop your ecommerce strategy.

The next step is to create a roadmap for your business. This will help you map out the steps you need to take to reach your goals. It can also be helpful to create milestones and deadlines to keep yourself on track.

eCommerce Strategy Roadmap

eCommerce strategy roadmap is a visual communication tool that aligns various marketing, design, sales, and development initiatives involved in sustaining and growing an ecommerce business.

Creating a roadmap for your ecommerce business strategy is a good way to get started. This will help you map out the steps you need to take to reach your goals. It can also be helpful to create milestones and deadlines to keep yourself on track.

Here are four common steps that can help you create a digital roadmap for your business:

  1. Research your target audience, including challenges your customers face, values they care about, keywords they use for research, content they are looking for, and so on.
  2. Outline your buyer’s journey and define your brand’s purpose.
  3. Assess your current benchmarks and create future milestones.
  4. Devise strategies to reach your goals, including a marketing campaign, content strategy, budget, and KPIs.

eCommerce Business Marketing Strategy

Once you have a plan in place, it's time to start thinking about how you will execute it. There are a number of different ecommerce marketing strategies that you can use to reach your target market. Some common ones include search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and social media marketing.

You will need to experiment with different ecommerce marketing strategies to find the ones that work best for your business. It's important to track your results so that you can see what is working and what isn't. Be sure to adjust your strategy as needed to ensure that you are always making progress towards your goals.

Best marketing strategies for ecommerce

Below are the most effective digital marketing strategies for an ecommerce business:

Content marketing

Content marketing is a type of ecommerce marketing strategy that focuses on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience.

Content marketing can be used to achieve a number of different goals, such as increasing brand awareness, generating leads, educating customers, and boosting sales. It's an effective way to reach your target market because it allows you to provide your existing and prospective buyers with the information they are looking for and might be interested in.

To get started with content marketing, you'll need to create a content strategy. This will involve planning what kind of content you want to create, who your target audience is, and how you're going to distribute it. Once you have a plan in place, you can start creating and sharing your content.

There are a number of different ways to distribute your content. You can post it on your website, share it on social media, or submit it to directories and publications. The important thing is to ensure that it reaches your target audience.

Email marketing

Email marketing is another effective ecommerce marketing strategy with an average return on investment (ROI) of 44% and a relatively cheap and easy way to reach your target market. Despite decreasing popularity, email marketing is still said to outperform other digital marketing strategies, such as pay-per-click (PPC) or content marketing. What’s undoubtedly the case is that email marketing is one of the most cost-effective strategies. To reap most of its benefits, however, it’s important to follow the best practices of email marketing. If you're not sure where to start, there are plenty of resources and tutorials available online. Just be sure to do your research and create a plan that's right for your business.

Social media marketing

Social media marketing is an ecommerce marketing strategy that involves creating and sharing content on social media platforms. There are a number of different social media platforms that you can use for your ecommerce business, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Each platform has its own strengths and weaknesses, so it's important to choose the one that's right for your business.

To get started with social media marketing, you'll need to create a profile for your business on each platform that you're interested in. Once you have a profile set up and develop your content strategy, you can start sharing content.

Below are a few tips for the type of content to share on social media:

  • Reposts from your corporate blog with a social media preview (teaser text),
  • Educational content including how-tos and quick tips,
  • Data and market insights,
  • Polls, questions, surveys, contests,
  • Announcements, updates, releases.

All of the above should be in a variety of formats that utilize social media tools and include images, stories, videos, live streams, etc.

You can also promote your content on social media with the various advertising tools available on social media platforms.

Search engine marketing

Search engine marketing (SEM) is an ecommerce marketing strategy that involves optimizing your website and online content for the search engines. To get started with SEM, you'll need to make sure that your website is properly optimized for the search engines. This includes things like choosing the right keywords and making sure that your website's title and description are relevant to what people are searching for (more about this in a later section on SEO). Once your website is optimized, you can start running search engine ads.

Below are different types of search engine ads:

  • Pay Per Click (PPC) is an advertising model where an advertiser pays a publisher whenever an ad is clicked.
  • Pay Per Impression (PPI), aka Cost Per Mille (CPM), is an advertising model where an advertiser pays a publisher for the number of impressions (or views) that an ad receives.
  • Pay Per Sale or Action (PPS/PPA) is an advertising model where an advertiser pays a publisher after a sale has been generated directly by an ad.

Search engine optimization marketing

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an ecommerce marketing strategy that aims at improving the quality and quantity of website traffic to a website from search engines. SEO targets unpaid rather than paid traffic.

SEO is one of the most important ecommerce strategies because it directly affects the visibility of your website in search engine results. It’s also a long-term marketing strategy because it takes a while to see the results of your efforts.

There are three main kinds of SEO:

  • On-page SEO involves anything published on your website, such as blogs and web copy;
  • Off-page SEO involves anything other than your site that helps to improve your search rankings, such as backlinks;
  • Technical SEO involves technical tinkering with the site such as indexing and so on.

Since SEO consists of multiple complex elements, it’s important to hire a professional who understands the workings of those diverse SEO components.

Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is an ecommerce marketing strategy that involves working with influencers to promote your products or services.

An influencer is someone who has a large following on social media or another online platform. To find influencers to work with, you can search for them on social media or use an influencer marketing platform. Once you've found some potential candidates, you'll need to reach out to them and see if they're interested in working with you. If they are, you'll need to agree on what kind of promotion they'll do. This could involve them sharing your content with their followers or writing a review of your products or services.

Influencer marketing can be a great way to reach a larger audience and boost your sales. However, it's important to choose the right influencers to work with and to make sure that you're clear about what you want them to do.

How to Develop an eCommerce Strategy

When starting an ecommerce business, it’s important to have a comprehensive action plan that will cover both short term and long term business objectives.

Below, we’ll give a few suggestions on how and where to get started.

  1. Define objectives, key deliverables, and a business model
    At this stage, you’ll need to determine what you want to accomplish with your ecommerce solution and when. Start off broad and then gradually get more specific and granular.

  2. Define your target market
    To define your target audience, you’ll need to analyse your current customer base and find out what drives and interests your current clientele, as well as what problems they solve with our product. If you plan to expand your current market with your digital commerce, you’ll need to find out what your competitors do, what products they sell and how your products differentiate from theirs. Then you’ll need to choose the specific demographic you’d want to target, identify their motivations, and finally, create buyer personas.
  3. Research your competition.
    It’s important to understand the market you’re in, so spend time and money researching your competition carefully. Take note of your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and find a niche that you can comfortably fill in.
  4. Choose an ecommerce solution
    The choice of an ecommerce platform is critical. Your ecommerce solution should be able to adapt and extend to ever-changing market realities and growing customer expectations. Opt for an adaptable, composable, and modular solution that can easily integrate with internal and third-party systems. To learn more about ecommerce platforms, check our articles 20 Best eCommerce Platforms in 2022 and 7 Best B2B eCommerce Platforms in 2022.
  5. Assemble teams
    After you’ve identified your short and long-term goals, defined your target market, and researched your competition, you’ll need to create qualified teams around your objectives. These teams might tackle different business areas from development to marketing and work both independently and collaboratively on various business goals.

Conclusion

Remember, it takes time and effort to create a successful online store. However, the rewards can be great if you are willing to put in the work. In this blog post, we’ve shared some common sense tips on how to start developing your own strategy and what marketing strategies you should keep in mind for promoting your store.

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Marina Conquest
Technical author and eCommerce advocate