From enterprise on down, every retailer has to be creative and "think smarter" to survive and thrive in today's competitive retail arena. The principle is to offer items that increase your sales, increase your customer base, increase customer purchases, increase future business, be more visible, advance brand reputation, minimize customer abandonment, and so on. The secret is to look in new ways at what you've got and match it with what you see happening. Use the tools available for analysis as well as your wits to identify areas in which you can expand your offerings, stand-out, succeed, or, in short, be different, but successful.
Last week, Peter Cobb, co-founder and CEO of eBags Inc., was a keynote speaker at the NEMOA* directXchange fall conference. Cobb described several winning ways to be competitive -- offering insights in what eBags does to maximize, feature, use, personalize, and innovate -- that show us why eBags is such a huge success in their space. (Cobb's presentation was summarized in: "An E-Commerce Survival Kit," by editor, Joe Keenan in TotalRetail).
Here are some key points retailers can garner from the presentation:
Mobile is already ranked "integral" to a consumer's daily life. All trends indicate that mobile, "the ordering device of the future," is burning up the tracks, and retailers that mean to succeed had better get on board, fast. The TotalRetail article reported that mobile now accounts for 28 percent of eBags' traffic and nearly 15 percent of its sales -- and increasing very rapidly.
2. Help new products and designers emerge:
Everyone knows how hard it is to launch and maintain any business, product or service, become visible and make sales. So what better way for an emerging designer than to partner with an established winner like eBags -- and vice versa? eBags seeks out emerging designers, innovative products, items with big potential, attention-getters, including hits on Crowdfunding or Kickstarter, and features these products or makes exclusive agreements to carry the product.
3. Put your stock in private label:
There are many reasons why private label is effective and profitable. eBags has its own private label brands -- and, according to the article, Cobb said private label products now account for 24 percent of the online retailer's total unit sales.
4. Expand on your product categories.
It doesn't matter what category you are: Automotive, attire, shoes, you can always find complementary products. Starting as a "bags" company, eBags actively continues to seek, find, and offer complementary products to its primary merchandise. From bags, it was an easy jump for eBags to make to luggage, backpacks, and related accessories.
5. Promote with purpose.
Promotions done right and done well serve to get attention, get you new customers, and increases sales. Some have FlashSales, Deals-of-the-day, etc. "Steals of the day" is what eBags calls its FlashSales. Sell select products at bargain prices for a limited time. Liquidate excess inventory while generating excitement for its products, but maybe more important, these sales get people to your site where they're sure to keep looking for other bargains and purchases.
6. Stave off early exits from your site.
Keep customers from bolting at crucial times in their decision-making process. Cobb talked about "seeing when the cursor starts to move to the exit icon" as the time for the retailer to personalize the shopping experience with relevant content, products, and offers of an item in which the customer has shown interest before. (This tactic yielded a 12 percent incremental gain in cart sales recovery for eBags).
7. Optimize your search engine optimization!
Remember, most searches begin using a search engine, one of the most effective traffic and sales drivers. And, while the top of the search page may be devoted to paid ads, you don't have to advertise to be listed, and you should be "there" and be there strongly, according to Cobb.
Bottom line for your bottom line:
Think about it: A percentage point here… a percentage point there… gaining new customers… increasing sales to each person in your customer-base… getting customers to buy before they bolt… exposure on search engines… embracing mobile as THE essential trend… differentiating… private label… helping emerging designers… It adds up to A LOT -- in dollars and sense -- for the smart retailer.
*NEMOA = National eTailing & Mailing Organization of America, "The nation’s most active multichannel merchant association dedicated exclusively to the catalog/multichannel industry."
More great info worth a look:
The Art of Pricing: How to Find the Hidden Profits to Grow Your Business. Book by Rafi Mohammed.