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eCommerce Marketing Blog

E-commerce Champion Breakfast with James Dillon: How Digital is Transforming Retail?

Posted by Vaida Pakulyte on Jul 1, 2016 2:40:12 PM

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There are champions across all the industries today. Strands “E-commerce Champion Breakfast” series features e-commerce experts who are currently changing the retail world. Our first champion is James Dillon.

As Content Manager at e-commerce marketing agency, Gorilla 360 - James tells stories for a living. Sometimes they are true. Always they are crafted to help brands delight, educate and funny-bone-tickle their audiences into coming back for more. He’s super passionate (read: obsessive) about e-commerce content marketing, and dedicated to teaching online retailers how to create their own repeat-customer-generating machine. Make sure you subscribe for a weekly package of e-commerce learning from James and the rest of the Gorilla 360 team. Read his interview here:

You work with a lot of retailers and help them scale and grow everyday. How do you define transformational growth for e-commerce?

E-commerce growth is the goal of any online retailer, and success always comes back to one of the four key ecommerce revenue levers:

  • Increased traffic
  • Increased conversions
  • Increased average cart size
  • Increased customer lifetime value

If you can somehow manage to build your marketing program to a point where you can pull all four of these revenue levers at once - I’d say you’re on your way to transformational growth. Most of us mere e-commerce mortals can’t just increase all four revenue drivers concurrently. You need to focus on one key priority area to generate fast growth. The most sustainable e-commerce businesses start from number 4 and work back.

Learn how to delight and retain your customers, then optimise your conversion before you think about focusing on attracting more store visitors. If not - you aren’t maximising the value of your existing customers.

What would you say are the most significant growth challenges for retailers nowadays?

Sustainable e-commerce growth is really, really difficult to manage (especially if you’re just starting out). You’re not only competing with the rest of the online retailer world, but you’re competing with the endless infinity of entertainment and distraction the internet offers your online shoppers. (That YouTube cat video is just one click and an abandoned cart away).

Attracting new customers online is a fierce and bloody battle, fought with expensive, high-powered weapons. Pay-per-click advertising is a straightforward solution to help e-commerce brands overcome their growth challenges. Problem is - you´ll need an Amazonian budget to build a profitable business.

Sustainable e-commerce growth means building a repeat-customer-generating machine that does not rely on paid advertising. E-retailers need to build a customer experience so valuable that shoppers are prepared to pay the kind of premium that allows for fulfilment costs to be built into each price.

If that wasn´t a monumental e-commerce marketing challenge, we´d have a swathe of Warby Perker´s disrupting traditional retail market leaders in each and every industry vertical. 

What role does personalization play in e-commerce marketing strategy?

Personalization is fast becoming the one to beat in the buzzword of 2016 awards. Let me be clear - this concept is no flash in the pan. At it’s core, personalization is about proving to each individual customer that you care. If you set out to create a personalized customer experience to sell more stuff - you might need to readjust your success metrics.

Personalization should be all about developing lasting, loyal relationships with your customers. Percentage of repeat customers, and lifetime customer value, are better objectives you can use to measure the success of your personalization efforts. If my barista gets to know my name, and my coffee order - I’m getting a personalised experience. She might even remember to keep my favourite seat free ready for my usual 10:15am coffee.

The benefit to the business is not a sudden influx in sales. It’s the 100 coffees I’m going to have there for the next 100 weekdays - just because the brand took the time to make me feel special.

We love special treatment. We love it when people care. We love personalized service. A little goes a long, long way, and with the analytics capabilities and the fingertips of e-commerce marketing teams - we really need to focus on turning our data into customer delight.

Personalization´s role in e-commerce is simple. It helps you retail customers. Any online retailer understands the value of a repeat customer. Finding new customers is difficult and expensive. Keep working on new ways to make your existing subscribers and customers feel special. repeat sales will be your reward.

What´s your top recommendation for e-commerce marketers going forward?

The most neglected area of any e-commerce customer experience tends to be post-purchase. The fixation on more pageviews and more sales often comes at the expense of quality loyalty mechanisms.

Amit Sharma, writing for the Harvard Business Review, recently published an insightful article exploring this e-commerce problem area in detail, and he perfectly articulates the current state of our industry:

“When a customer makes a purchase online, there’s an ‘experience gap’ from the time the customer checks out to when the product arrives. This is the new moment of truth for online shoppers." 

Providing a positive experience at this time of anticipation is a tremendous opportunity for retailers to deepen their relationships with customers and build loyalty for their brands. Surprisingly, only 16% of companies are focused on customer retention, even though it costs at least five times more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one.

We all know how hard it is to attract and convert a new ecommerce shopper, so we have to build a fantastic post purchase experience to make sure we can retain as many customers as possible. Content marketing is an effective and inexpensive way for any ecommerce brand to nurture customers into repeat-purchasing unpaid brand ambassadors. Too many online retailers see their shoppers as a wallet with an email inbox. Treat your customer’s email address like a new date’s phone number. Nurture the relationship. Prove that you care. Take the time to understand your customer.

Instead of firing endless batch and blast promotional barrages, you need to develop your customer relationships with helpful, valuable content. We’ve written at length about 8 ecommerce innovators redefining the customer experience to show you how brands like Field Notes, Huckberry and Trunk Club build their entire business model around establishing lasting customer relationships.

What´s the greatest e-commerce innovation of the past decade?

Ah - this is an easy one! Internet enabled mobile devices have to be the most important innovation of the past decade. In 2006, online shoppers were chained to a laptop or desktop.

Now, we have a seemingly endless list of shops that we carry around in our pockets everywhere we go. It’s the ultimate e-commerce gamechanger of the last ten years, and the little glass box in our pockets is set to shape a huge chunk of the e-commerce decisions we make in the next ten years to come.

If you would like to participate in the “E-commerce Champions Breakfast” series, do not hesitate to get involved and contact us! 

Topics: Ecommerce Marketing, ecommerce trends, ecommerce news, ecommerce in LATAM, ecommerce industry, ecommerce experts, digital transformation

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