Lessons From 2021: 6 Takeaways From Another Wild Year in Ecommerce
December 21, 2021
At the end of any year, it’s a good practice to look back to see what great insights you‘ve gained. You can then take those insights and apply them to the coming year.
On our blog this year, we’ve covered so many topics that are central to growing ecommerce businesses.
A few major 2021 takeaways stood out to us as we went back through those posts. Let’s go through each of them to see what you can apply to your online store in the new year.
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Social proof sells
Shoppers tend to put their trust in the opinions of other shoppers over your carefully crafted marketing messages.
While we’d love for shoppers to trust us early on, the truth is that, like any relationship, it takes time to earn it. To kickstart that process, you can leverage social proof to show shoppers that there is good reason to trust you.
Customer reviews are a powerful type of social proof.
In our deep dive on customer reviews, we found that brands like Ridge, Helix, and ManCave utilize different forms of customer reviews to build trust, increase sales, and boost SEO.
Social proof kept coming up as a key to the success of stores we profiled in our top Shopify stores post, with many utilizing the same review apps to scale this critical marketing function.
We think that social proof is so important that we included it as a key component of any successful ecommerce landing page and one of the best ways to increase sales online.
The post-purchase experience keeps them coming back
A customer’s experience with your brand doesn’t end with the purchase. As long as they are awaiting the delivery driver, their experience of your brand is still in flux.
If they have a terrible delivery experience, it reflects poorly on your brand and they might not come back to give you a second chance.
So, it’s super important to have your order fulfillment process on lock. That either means creating an efficient in-house fulfillment workflow or outsourcing to a reliable third-party fulfillment company.
A great fulfillment company will have distributed warehouses to get your products to your customers as fast as possible.
Knowing that the ecommerce behemoth, Amazon, regularly delivers packages in just two days, you’ll want to find ways to speed up your shipments.
Luckily, it is possible to offer two-day shipping from your Shopify store without breaking the bank.
Speed is one thing, but presentation is also very important. You may have noticed a surplus of unboxing videos online.
People love gifts, and so introducing your package in a way that mimics the feeling of opening a present will evoke surprise and delight.
Our friends at sustainable packaging company noissue wrote a guide for us on how to create the best unboxing experience.
Use video to boost engagement with your store
At this point, we all know the importance of great photography for driving shoppers through the buyer journey. Last year, we covered what you need to take incredible product photos for your store.
Humans are visual creatures. Shopping online lacks the tactile and visual experience of being in the physical store, so you have to lean into whatever visual tools you have when selling online.
While photographs can do a lot to illustrate the minute details of your products, videos go a step further. As I said in our guide to adding video to your Shopify store:
“Videos can bring their subjects to life. They are as close as we can get to experiencing something for ourselves online (outside of the added dimensionality of virtual reality or even augmented reality).”
Adding video has been shown to be helpful for shoppers trying to make a purchase decision, driving up conversions and reducing returns.
Lean into your product to elevate the buying experience
The two elements your store cannot do without are the people and the products.
If you’ve found out how to pull the people to your online store, you just need to showcase your product in a big way to win them over.
You need to center the product throughout the sales journey to do that.
For many, that journey starts on the homepage—the first impression many get of your brand.
We found that the best Shopify homepages made it a point to lead with the product, using collections, product image sliders, and high-quality lifestyle photography to fill out the page.
From your homepage, many are likely to navigate to a collection page (AKA category page) to narrow down their product search.
Collection pages are powerhouses for helping shoppers find exactly what they are looking for without going too narrow. They can be guided more directly to what they want with pages full of incredible product photography.
Finally, they end up at a particular product page. The most effective and stunning product pagesdo a great job of hyping their goods in the final stretch.
That means powerful images, persuasive product descriptions, and an FAQ section that leaves no question unanswered. Done right, shoppers will flock to your ‘add to cart’ button.
Bonus: You can also expand your sales channels outside your online store. Visual platforms like Instagram make it easy to center your product and even sell directly from the app.
Dedicated landing pages can really clean up
While your homepage can do a lot, it’s built to greet everyone who comes through the door with an all-purpose set of messaging.
And it does its job well, effectively moving great numbers of shoppers to the right place like a proverbial Grand Central Station.
But, sometimes, you need a message transportation system that’s less hectic and more targeted.
That’s where landing pagescome in—the ultimate sales tool for talking to all your unique audiences. The top ecommerce brands use landing pages to great effect.
With a dedicated landing page, you can decide what traffic you drive to it—via email marketing, social media, and paid advertising—and craft your messaging to speak straight to their pain points.
When your message resonates more closely with your audience, the chance that they’ll convert goes straight up.
This strategy excels for special offers that you aren’t necessarily offering site-wide.
While traditional site pages can be a bit formulaic, landing pages can go big on creative design—and some of the best special offer landing pages really lean into that.
Creating high-converting landing pages can be simple with the right tool, something fully equipped to bring all the most important elements into place simply and intuitively (like Shogun Page Builder, of course).
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Don’t sleep on email marketing (and SMS!)
Driving traffic to your store comes in many different forms—organic search, organic social, paid search, paid social, referrals, email.
While all marketing channels are important, the level of control you have over each varies. Email marketing is a powerful channelbecause of how much control you have.
Your email list is your own. And, unlike other channels, you can create unique segments to deliver highly targeted messaging (then send that traffic to dedicated landing pages).
For instance, you can create segments based on:
- Email engagement. Your subscribers who open every email and click through to your store are prime candidates for their own email list. They are eager, and you can leverage that for sales. Oppositely, those that don’t engage might be good to drop from your lists eventually.
- Where they live. If you know where your subscribers live and you have physical stores, you have the opportunity to offer them special in-store deals or pickups.
- How much they spend. Big spenders can be added to a VIP list and rewarded with better deals. You can still offer up special deals to your other customers, but they can be lesser discounts.
- Products they’ve purchased. By segmenting your customers into the types of products they buy, you can send personalized product recommendations that they’ll actually be interested in, reducing unnecessary unsubscribes and spam reports.
- Where they are in the funnel. The messaging you send to first-time subscribers will differ from what you send to someone on the edge of a purchase. Develop powerful browse and cart abandonment emails that’ll drive conversions while introducing first-timers to your brand.
Creating these valuable segments enables you to build and launch powerful email marketing sequences to automate this critical part of your business strategy.
In our Xperience Commerce event, we got to hear from ecommerce experts from Beardbrand, Postscript, and Klaviyo about how to prepare your store for Black Friday.
Many of their great tips hinged upon using email and SMS marketing to start hyping your sales and product launches early while utilizing a personalized touch—through segmentation and tone—to speak more directly with your customers.
To do email and SMS marketing right, you’ll want a great app (like Klaviyo and Postscript) that’ll help you automate your marketing efforts.
Once it’s all in place, you can watch the conversions rack up.
What will next year bring?
With 2021 being yet another big year for staying inside and doing your shopping online, ecommerce companies have reaped the benefits.
In the next year, ecommerce will only eat up more of the retail pie, and online stores need to be ready to seize those extra sales.
By looking back at the previous year’s trends, we can all better prepare for the next year. We recommend leaning into these 2021 takeaways to inform your 2022 ecommerce strategy.
Until next year, happy holidays and happy selling!
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Sean is one of Shogun's tireless content marketers. When he isn't creating exciting ecommerce content, he's probably biking or at the park.