What is the most important thing we learnt in eCommerce in 2018? (episode 191)

The first podcast in our 2019 eCommerce MasterPlan Growth Series sponsored by Omnisend, the all-in-one marketing automation platform that empowers ecommerce marketers to boost sales with omnichannel tools

It’s the third time we’ve done the growth series in January, bringing you double the number of episodes per week for the whole month, AND each one selected because it offers superb advice on how to grow your business in the coming year.

We’ve got a very varied selection for you this year – I know you’re going find it really useful so make sure you listen to them all.
There’s 10 in all – numbers 191 to 200.

As this show goes live on Dec 31st I realise it’s not technically January.. but to me it just made sense to include this episode.

Because as we do every year on the show we’re finishing up the year by asking a handpicked group of experts:
“What is the most important thing we learnt in eCommerce in 2018?”

And the answers are going to give you some great ideas for growing your business into 2019.

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Justin King

Justin King, from B2X Partners, says that the most important lesson from 2018 was that Amazon poses a very real threat to B2B businesses.

From 2016 to 2018, Amazon went from making 1B to 10B in its Business sector. And they’ve demonstrated their commitment to B2B by adding it as their fourth pillar after Prime, AWS, and Marketplace.

Justin says this fact alone should scare B2B business owners into not only paying attention but actually doing something about it by making their own business more strategically competitive.

His book looks at this issue in greater depth.

Listen out for an upcoming episode where we discuss this in more detail with Justin 

Alex O’Byrne

Alex O’Byrne of Wemakewebsites says that 2018 was the first year that the impacts of eCommerce on the High Street were felt in a significant way.

Consumer spending at UK Department stores fell for the 13th month in a row and there have been thousands of closures on the High Street. This shift in the economy is having real-world consequences and businesses that never adapted to changing consumer habits are suffering greatly.

In the United States, similar closures are being seen as several well established US companies filed for bankruptcy in 2018. Filling the void created by these major shutdowns are savvy, direct to consumer online brands.

Alex points out that a lot of the stores shutting down had shopping experiences akin to picking items up from a warehouse–a huge difference from the customer experience-centric online brands like BirchBox, Hims, and Warby Parker. Brands like these speak to a new way of doing retail and can ironically now be seen regularly in shops on the High Street.

Salena Knight

Salena Knight, from The Bringing Business to Retail Show says that 2018 was the year that mass ‘buy my stuff’ email campaign blasts failed for good. The online experience is becoming increasingly personal and customers want similarly custom email and marketing campaigns.

With so many tools for segmenting, Salena says it’s not a difficult task–just one that requires paying close attention to new and existing customers. Savvier online shoppers no longer connect to generic messaging or delivery and catching them in the right place at the right time with the right sale is key. And she says that ROI is largely dependent on keeping the customers you have.

Above all, Salena recommends treating your customers like you’re happy to have them there.

Chris Dawson

Chris Dawson from Tamebay says that 2018 was the year that marketplaces started to charge extra fees for extra prominence. eBay did it with promoted listings and Amazon now has sponsored brands, ads and “Amazon Choice” banners.

Today, if you search any item on Amazon, you’ll find at the top a sponsored brand section followed by sponsored ads followed by popular items in that category. Chris says that not only do sponsored products show up first in search results, but they are what Amazon will recommend from voice search. The consequence? Companies not paying for prominence will see their products automatically lower on the search results.

While sponsorship impacts cost base, businesses generally only pay for a successful sale and many sellers are increasing their prices to accommodate the change. Amazon is currently making 2.5 Billion dollars a quarter from their sponsorship deals.

For companies who are considering paying for prominence, Chris recommends doing so strategically. Use prominence spots to promote new products or advertise products with deep inventory. He also recommends focusing on products unique to your business in order to grow your organic traffic simultaneously.

It might be a hard pill to swallow, but Chris says that paid prominence can be a beneficial marketplace strategy.

Chloe Thomas

Gleaned from the many conversations she’s had with eCommerce experts and from the businesses she’s worked with one on one in 2018, Chloe’s biggest takeaway is that every business is different and requires using the right mix of marketing tactics.

It’s crucial that companies figure out where their financial returns really rest in order to build an effective marketing strategy. Successful businesses are in a constant state of marketing exploration.

They are constantly asking: what’s working? Can we get more of it? What else should we be testing? In order to get the most out of marketing in the competitive environment of 2019, Chloe says that businesses need to get more nitty-gritty with marketing methods.

You’ve got to keep optimizing–and begin optimizing more deeply.


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