On average, millennials now make 54% of purchases online.
According to a Statista report, ecommerce is expected to hit $4.5 trillion in sales by 2021. Driven largely by an increasing reliance on smartphones and other devices, ecommerce is more than thriving; its rise is forcing the closure of brick and mortar businesses.
Customers are growing more and more comfortable with online engagement. Simultaneously, they are finding it convenient to find products that appeal to their niche interests online. Once engaged, these customers enroll in loyalty or subscription programs to reap their discounts and rewards. They are then motivated and triggered by timely social media prompts that keep customers consistently engaged while producing trackable and actionable data.
Ecommerce competition is now at the starting gates, with rivals jockeying to position themselves for the anticipated huge ecommerce boom. It’s not too late to saddle up; in fact, now’s the time to start positioning your business.
While Amazon garners most of the media attention, small mom and pop ecommerce businesses have been quietly and stealthily cornering markets and hardening their valuations—some into the millions of dollars.
A quick glance at sites like the Shopify Exchange (https://exchangemarketplace.com) or Flippa (https://flippa.com) might shock the entrepreneur who has been distracted by other attention-grabbing business trends (Bitcoin anyone?). On the Shopify Exchange, for example, ecommerce site are selling for close to 1 million dollars. And this valuation is based on pure, hard, incontrovertible data produced by Shopify itself—for a site that was only launched 2 years previously.
How did this happen? There are hundreds of ecommerce websites like this, and yes the data is stunning. How did this happen seemingly overnight while everyone was focused on Amazon?
The answer is that these sites are not mutually exclusive. These sites are feeding Amazon and other sites with goods. Shopify (now the leading online ecommerce platform) greases the way for anyone to post onto sites like Amazon, EBay, Google, and Facebook. It’s a one-click installation process. These sites are not always competing with Amazon; often these smaller sites are competing with each other on Amazon.
A budding ecommerce entrepreneur should check the existing market on Amazon for their products. They will learn not only the major retailers selling these products, but also the smaller mom and pop businesses that are shipping these items from their stores.
However, Amazon and the other major online retailers are not the sole bread and butter of the ecommerce market. Large numbers of Americans are distrustful of mega conglomerates and, therefore, more ready and willing to shop with businesses that appear more personable. This is a result of the niche trend in online retail.
“You’ve heard it before — your small business’s indie cred has market cache. It makes you personable, unique and accessible. It makes you desirable. And I’m here to tell you that you can have all of that plus a speedy and accurate delivery system, just like the big guys. Indie cred with two-day delivery — the David that slays Goliath.” Jake Rheude, Entrepreneur
Ecommerce sites are being developed and tailored for specific audiences, and retailers are targeting these audiences on social media based on their data. And while social media users may find targeted advertising from larger retail conglomerates like Wal-Mart as creepy or “Big Brother,” they often welcome targeted ads from smaller niche sites as if they were a fan-base, and not just a data point.
Facebook houses data on billions of users, and advertisers can drill down very specifically to these users’ data points including:
Advertisers can also market based on similar pages liked. For example, advertisers can choose to display an online ad for their lingerie item if you like Victoria’s Secret via Facebook advertising. Successful ecommerce sites are targeting niche audiences, and if you have expertise in a particular area, now is a good time to begin breaking ground in this market on an ecommerce site.
“Thought leadership,” a driving label on sites like LinkedIn, is a newer phenomenon whereby experts in particular fields share their knowledge via blogging, posting, YouTube videos, public speaking, and other online efforts. While their work appears almost impartial and journalistic in its nature, it is often a calculated positioning within social media. It is an unavoidable fact that even “unbiased” publishers these days take into account an individual’s social media follower network; with larger networks eliciting greater rewards.
Ecommerce is not much different. While ecommerce business leaders often choose to remain anonymous, an in-depth awareness of a particular niche combined with a disarming social media presence are the cornerstones of a successful online shop. If you have knowledge of a product or field, and if you think you can build a social media following within that niche with a combination of video and article posts, you are well on your way to a successful ecommerce website.
Take the case study Jake Rheude writes about the company Buffalo Jackson in Entrepreneur magazine:
Here’s a story: A few weeks ago I ordered a shirt from one of my favorite clothing outlets, a boutique men’s apparel company called Buffalo Jackson out of rural North Carolina. Now, Buffalo Jackson does a lot of things right. Its clothing is rugged and good-looking, rough-and-tumble chic. They have a mission statement that reads like a novel, about how the owner, who was raised a “southern gentleman” became disillusioned by men’s fashion and decided to create apparel that he’d be proud to wear; about how he marketed the company by word of mouth because he didn’t have money for anything more than that. He ends with a call-to-action that invites you to be a part of the Buffalo Jackson family — this, he writes, is “our story of how we began. We sure would love to have you part of it.” Buffalo Jackson has indie cred to spare. And it’s appealing.
Buffalo Jackson is thought-leader meets ecommerce. An attractive origin story combined with industry know-how and savvy social media strategies has given this mens’ clothing online a firm footing in the competitive online mens’ clothing marketplace.
Do you have a similar story and expertise in a particular industry? We can offer you the social media and web design expertise to build your ecommerce platform.
Cote Media can develop an ecommerce website for your business. Contact us today.