9 Successful Ecommerce Strategy Examples To Learn From
by Kathleen Booth, on Nov 4, 2021 9:30:00 AM
The online retail ecosystem is continuing to expand, exploding with new brands and sales and marketing channels as customers move further away from in-person shopping.
It is an exciting time with tons of new opportunities, but the overwhelming amount of competition can make it difficult to differentiate your brand.
Along with this, the rapidly changing environment and slow but inevitable disappearance of third-party tracking mean staying ahead of the game and discovering new ways to target new customers is the key to success in the future.
To help with this, we compiled a shortlist of companies that have managed to brand themselves and rise above the competition online and break down how they’ve managed to do it.
Why they’re winning: Messaging and Brand Story
Warby Parker’s marketing turns ordinary products into a fun, quirky, and joyful shopping experience.
Started because the founders saw how difficult it was to buy affordable glasses online, Warby Parker focuses on customer engagement online by entertaining their shoppers and inviting them to play along on their social media.
This leads to free user-generated content that does much of their marketing for them.
They also put a lot of focus on their user experience, maintaining a joyful shopping experience from start to finish, and even have a “home try-on” augmented reality feature that allows customers to try on glasses virtually.
Their success in the online ecosystem highlights the importance of creating an engaging brand that is not only relatable to customers but invites them to engage with and share their experiences with others.
The Home Depot
Why they’re winning: Omnichannel Commerce
It may not be surprising to you that Home Depot has long been the largest home improvement retailer in the world, but you may not know that they dominate the online environment as well.
One of the company’s greatest strengths is its command over omnichannel commerce, allowing their roughly 120,000,000 online shoppers to easily find a nearby brick and mortar store, discover what products they have in stock, and order them for pick up.
They even tell you exactly where a product is in the store, in case you want to go in and view it for yourself before making a purchase.
Not only is this convenient for shoppers, but it also helps increase foot traffic to their retail stores while decreasing the need to expand the number of physical stores.
Why they’re winning: Customer Transparency
Everlane is a thriving online clothing company dedicated to quantifying the value of their products. They do this through what they call “radical transparency.”
Competing in the crowded online ecosystem usually means having to cut prices in order to grab the attention of new customers, but Everlane has taken a different approach to stand out amongst online retailers.
Instead, they meticulously break down the details relating to clothing materials, factory locations, and shipping costs to inform shoppers about the quality of their brand, while also trying to mitigate the impact of fast fashion on the environment.
This approach builds trust with buyers, who can then see the value of the product and the impact the brand is trying to make by using eco-friendly sustainable solutions.
John Paul Mitchell Systems
Why they’re winning: Affiliate Marketing
John Paul Mitchell Systems provides quality products to support the beauty industry as well as allow customers to practice their own hair care at home.
One of the most effective ways the company drives sales to its online store is by paying brick and mortar salons that push their products a commission on every order that comes through their affiliate link and via the use of dedicated referral/discount codes.
This way they can have trusted, local hairstylists and beauty experts recommending products to their clients - one of the most effective ways to boost customer loyalty and conversions rates - and be able to accurately measure which affiliate is driving sales.
Using this model, they were able to produce more than $2,000,000 in sales over two years.
While affiliate marketing and discount/referral codes can be powerful tools, they also come with some inherent risks.
Coupon scraping apps like Honey and CapitalOne Shopping can drive margins down by making affiliate codes available to a broader customer set.
Protecting your revenue with tools like cleanCART can help mitigate unnecessary losses and fees, tightening up your strategy and giving you back control over your discounts.
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Dollar Shave Club
Why they’re winning: Subscription-based product
Dollar Shave Club first hit the spotlight with a hilarious viral ad that crashed their servers in 2012, promoting the brand’s outrageously low one dollar a month subscription fee.
Later, the company was acquired by Unilever for a staggering $1 billion in cash, making headlines and legitimizing the online subscription box service, allowing for other groups like Stitch Fix and Lootcrate to follow suit.
Subscriptions guarantee repeat business, and allow companies to lower prices as a result, which is a surefire way to attract new customers.
Why they’re winning: Socially conscious mission
Imperfect Foods is a subscription-based grocery provider that has leveraged itself as a sustainable alternative to normal grocery shopping.
Because they can be often difficult to sell, foods with noticeable imperfections are usually turned down or thrown out by traditional grocery stores or markets, creating an unnecessary abundance of food waste that contributes to harming the environment.
Imperfect has capitalized on this by selling unwanted goods over the internet at a discounted rate while leaning heavily on being an eco-friendly alternative for environmentally conscious shoppers.
Their ability to narrow in on and provide for an audience, while also helping to make farming and grocery shopping more eco-friendly, has positioned them as one of the top food subscription services on the market.
Why they’re winning: Social media marketing and shoppable social media accounts
Shoppable social media posts are becoming more popular, and MeUndies is one of the online-only brands making the most of it.
Instagram has roughly 1.4 billion (with a b) users, creating a natural marketplace for online shopping. As targeted users browse, they will naturally see ads or promoted posts in their feed.
By allowing these users to then purchase the very products in those posts, and have them delivered right to their home, right within the social media app they are using has created a digital version of the traditional window shopping or retail malls experience.
Taking advantage of this is a no-brainer, but you want to make sure you aren’t flooding posts with products. Keep your imagery simple and direct, like a catalog shoot, displaying a particular product you think a customer will enjoy.
Why they’re winning: Creating its own platform
You might think Nike’s 82% boost in direct sales last year is solely attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic, but in reality, they launched their “Consumer Direct Offensive” back in 2017, when they had nearly 30,000 retailers selling their products. By 2019, they only had 40.
Nike caught the direct-to-consumer shift long before it was accelerated by COVID-19 restrictions, and expects online sales to make up 50% of its revenue in just the next couple of years.
One of the major drivers of this shift was the desire to have more control of the shopper’s experience with their brand. Having their products sold across thousands of different retailers who are also carrying multiple competing brands makes it more difficult for Nike to differentiate itself.
But by creating their own platform, they’ve built a place that truly displays the power of their brand and the quality of their products without the noise of competitive offerings.
The desire for this kind of control also mirrors the recent rise of direct-to-consumer (DTC) platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce, as a response to overcrowded marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Rakuten.
Large ecommerce platforms may already have all the tools to promote and distribute your products, but the sound of a million other retailers will likely drown out your unique voice.
Having your own online storefront, with carefully curated imagery and messaging, allows you to showcase your brand and spell out why a customer should make a purchase.
As online traffic continues to increase, it is an exciting time for online retailers, but the ease of access to online shopping also means you’re competition is going to be harsh.
Creating a solid product is always the first step, but arming yourself with winning tools and techniques is key to differentiating yourself and standing out amongst your competitors.
Using these examples can help you decide which route you may need to take to make your brand pop.