2016 e-commerce sales were up 15 percent from 2015 and represented 41.6 percent of all retail sales growth, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Now you may be wondering: where’s this growth coming from?
For the most part, from major e-tailers like Amazon–the online bookstore turned e-commerce giant–that has also become a dominant leader in paid advertising, with plans to connect its mobile app to a physical grocery store concept soon.
Considering the boom in e-commerce sales, it probably comes as no surprise that the sheer volume of online retailers now available to consumers has also increased. This means that brands must now manage relationships with dozens, if not hundreds, of e-tailers on top of navigating the complex web of shopper marketing strategies and data. Easier said than done.
So, how can brand managers effectively build partnerships and drive sales with e-tailers while also managing to grow the brand and ROI?
Find the right partner.
Having access to customer data through your own branded shopping destination is one thing (e.g., www.underarmour.com). However, knowing what kind of shopper data is available, getting access to it, and the process of mining through that shopper data to convince your audience to buy your products on multiple e-tailer sites can be overwhelming.
Brands should partner with experienced shopper marketing agencies to navigate the data mining process in order to stand out among the hundreds of millions of other products consumers can find, research, and buy online. Full-service agencies like Planit have established relationships with leading e-tailers and understand the variety of ad programs and solutions each e-tailer has. In addition to helping clients stand out and sell products, we also provide integrated, goal-driven marketing plans that encompass retailer offerings based on consumer behavior.
It is important to evaluate and optimize all channels that route to your consumer-facing website or retailer product pages while also providing ROI. For example, we have found that driving traffic to an e-tailer, like Amazon.com, through social campaigns can at times be more effective in reaching sales goals than purchasing directly on Amazon.com.
Understand the value of the e-tailer relationship.
In the world of shopper marketing, establishing relationships with e-tailers is key. For example, a brands’ success on Amazon depends on its ability to effectively build a partnership and strategic campaign through Amazon’s two distinct marketing solutions–Amazon Media Group (AMG) and Amazon Marketing Services (AMS).
To take full advantage of each e-tailer’s sales channels, start by learning your options, knowing the right questions to ask, and what to look for in a well-constructed media plan. While some brands have invested significantly to bring this specific capability in-house, others understand what an overwhelming and daunting task this can be and turn to a trusted partner to fully leverage each e-tailer’s platform.
Remain focused on your goals.
One constant in this space is change–from brand budgets to consumer shopping habits to market trends. Your agency partner should have the ability to consider external changes while keeping your brand goals and target customers in mind.
As successful as shopper marketing can be, there are ways to focus existing resources and achieve ROI without advertising on external retailer sites. Brands should feel confident in their agency’s ability to help them reach consumers through their own channels, such as Facebook and Instagram, in order to drive traffic to targeted e-tailer destinations.
As the shopper journey continues to get more complex, brands must keep in mind that a successful shopper marketing program starts with trust. Demand an honest and transparent relationship with your agency and pledge to work seamlessly with one another–sharing data on an ongoing basis as campaigns mature and produce results.