eCommerce has quickly become a vital part of a modern company’s sales approach. From the first sale across the ARPANET in the 1970’s (an exchange of cannabis between students at Stanford and MIT) until today, when eCommerce sales in the U.S. alone exceed $300 million, the growth of this platform hasn’t always been smooth. Its presence, however, is undeniable.
The next challenge, now that smart entrepreneurs recognize eCommerce as a valuable avenue, is to differentiate yourself among online sellers. The number of eCommerce stores for your industry and your product will only increase as time goes on. You need to be thinking now about what you can do to make your brand stand out from that crowd.
The single-most important distinguishing feature for your business is rapidly becoming the customer experience you provide. But an important factor in that experience is diversification, as highlighted in a guest-contributed article for Entrepreneur.com, “3 Key Ways to Diversify Your Ecommerce Store”.
Diversification may seem contrary to advice about specializing and being unique on the market. However, expanding the selection of products you offer can benefit your business by “increasing sales to existing customers or opening avenues to entirely new demographics.” This can actually be part of your distinct customer experience, where your shoppers can find the supporting products they want right on your eCommerce site.
To successfully diversify, use these three guidelines:
1. Identify Your Niche
Where we’re balancing between the two recommendations to specialize and to diversify, the key is research. A random jumble of products on your eCommerce shelf isn’t going to help much. And while there is a wealth of general advice about picking a niche for your business, the focus of your research needs to be your customers.
What additional items or supporting products do they find useful? After they purchase from you, what else do they need? For example, a company that manufactures water filters could also provide cups and water bottles.
To help gather and analyze this information, you should leverage your CRM system, which can make information collected by sales staff and follow-up contacts available to your decision-makers.
2. Test Your Products
When you select the diversified products for your eCommerce store, be sure that you know what you’re selling. If something doesn’t work right on the water bottles our example company provides, they want to know about it before their customers encounter it. In your long-term goal of building relationships and clients who are also fans of your company, a poorly made supporting product isn’t worth the trouble it could cause. Your reputation is worth ordering sample products and checking things out.
After you feel comfortable with these items though, you don’t have to double your inventory in order to have the items ready for sale. Leverage drop-shipping to purchase items on-demand for your customers and ship directly from the third-party merchant.
3. Double-down on Branding
Your business identity is yours to shape. And having the most popular supporting products can be a strong addition to your reputation. Publicize your efforts to create the absolute best customer experience on your eCommerce site. Let people know that this is integral to your brand. New questionnaires and new additions to the line-up can each be material for social media efforts, blog posts, or newsletters.
As noted before, throwing dollars around for any available option is not the effective approach — instead you should concentrate on the channels that your current clients favor. Create the identity and display it where it will be seen by the people who need to know who you are. Although the ways brand value is measured can differ, there is little debate over the fact that your brand identity is crucial.
Whether your industry is in professional services, wholesale distribution, or even light manufacturing, you can take advantage of product diversification in order to boost your customer experience. Start with learning more from your loyal customers, then make sure what you’ll be offering is a quality addition, and then make sure people know what you’re doing and why. Diversification can help you craft exactly the right identity that resonates with your customer base.
And with robust yet affordable CRM tools, aACE 5 can help you coordinate information from your customers so you can make the strategic decisions that will foster your company growth. From mobile apps to cross-platform support, the functionality you need is available now. Learn more today.
“aACE will be a valuable asset for us for many years to come.” ~ Kevin Richardson, Director of Operations and Finance, On Hold Co.