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Success of eCommerce in a Changing Paradigm by Liquid’s Sachinn J. Laala

By Sachinn J. Laala, CEO of Liquid

With many countries following quarantine orders due to the Covid-19 pandemic, consumers around the world are shunning human contact. This has left brick-and-mortar retailers scrambling to adapt to changing times.

According to a recent report, 75% of retailers reported major negative impact since the start of this pandemic. Albeit a very sobering figure, we have also witnessed (and are currently seeing) a positive impact on eCommerce.

Prior to the current pandemic, both the UAE and KSA accounted 4% of their overall sales to eCommerce. With categories such as fashion, make-up and grocery recording double digit growth in the last 24 months, this figure is projected to increase two-fold in the next two years.

No longer just a buzzword used by industry professionals to impress their clients, Omnicommerce is a tangible concept driving today’s eCommerce ecosystem. With over 48% of UAE and KSA consumers starting their journey online, the internet is a key enabler in the successful implementation of a seamless customer journey.

Needless to say, eCommerce is here to stay. Long gone are the days when it was the sole responsibility of the sales team to drive the productivity and success of this channel. Today, eCommerce is an integral part of the consumer’s life. The time has come for marketeers to wake up, smell the coffee and take centre stage to deliver in the best light possible.

Hence, it is time for brands to prioritise the love, care and attention needed for content optimisation, because unlike physical stores eCommerce is less forgiving of a brand’s status quo. Ecommerce is an equal opportunity channel, with several examples of bigger brands losing market share to smaller brands just because they complacently rested on their laurels.

The magic formula for winning online can be categorized into two parts: content and operational excellence. Content primarily means telling your brand story across various eTailer platforms. While operational excellence leans towards ensuring product assortment, search, availability and maximum utilization of the technical capabilities the eTailer has to offer.

Sounds pretty self-explanatory right? Wrong!

Today, many brands entrust the responsibility of content creation to the eTailer themselves. If you’re a brand that banks on this, you can rest assured this will have an overall adverse effect. To give you another perspective, your brand’s product is one of at least 30,000 listed items on the retailer’s online store, so would you leave your offline shelf and packaging to the retailer?

Is it really fair to expect eTailers to give dedicated care and strategic attention to your brand? Absolutely not! Ecommerce is a highly competitive market, and brands must endeavor to do more by taking on the responsibility of creating the story they wish to tell.

Let us look at some of the primary tools that brands can use to win with eCommerce content. There is basic content or B+ (as referred to by Amazon), rich content A+ (another Amazon term), and the brand store experience.

As the name suggests, basic content is the foundation of your eCommerce content. The basic content consists of a primary image, secondary images and product description. Platforms such as Amazon even allow video uploads as part of the image inventory, which if used correctly, gives brands the opportunity to showcase even richer and more engaging content.

The main objective of the primary image is to help the shopper identify the product and the variant. Secondary images are used for either solving a barrier that a brand is trying to address, or showing the key product benefits. Ensuring the use of right keywords will drastically improve the product’s standing in search results.

Getting the content right is the first key step on the journey to success for any eCommerce strategy. It positions brands a step ahead of the shopper, and enables the delivery of the right look, feel and messaging. Get this right and brands can expect to see double-digit growth within a short period.

Moving on to rich content or A+, this content is meant to wow and inspire the consumer. Amazon allows two versions of rich content on its platform, the aforementioned A+ (which is free), and A++ which is paid for and uses HTML.

Both of these versions have a multitude of modules that allow you to create great content, and tell your brand story effectively. Utilizing rich content such as this enables you to delve into the significant details of your product, and the all-important opportunity to upsell. Combining engaging lifestyle images with smartly worded descriptions will serve to seamlessly introduce consumers to the product.

Last but by no means least, it’s the brand store. The right online brand store transforms your eCommerce capabilities from being a simple sales channel, to an unforgettable brand experience.

The brand store is essentially your home on the eTailer’s website, a pseudo website of your own if you will. Hence implementing the right resources will drive traffic to the brand store. Similar to rich content, the brand store has a vast array of design modules. This can be a daunting prospect if a brand has to go it alone, however, engaging an agency to bring this story to life will definitely streamline and simplify the process.

Typically, a brand store starts with a putting together a carousel of banners that focus on your power products, followed by showcasing the main category segments just below these banners. Then the focus should be on product listings, special launches, special offers or special occasion packs.

As a general rule, you must always look to leverage your ‘power’ SKUs. Similar to how a car showroom tends to display their most flashy car at the entrance, the job of the power SKU is to draw the consumer in through your virtual doors, settle them down and afford you the opportunity to show off and sell the rest of your portfolio.

This is the beginning of a long and illustrious journey for the online world, that will inevitably see a spike in live content/streaming as selling avenues. With a history of affinity toward shopper engagement in physical stores, the UAE will only see a surge in the need for more engaging online content. This offers a great opportunity for brands to create a compelling narrative coupled with the best consumer shopping experience.

The truth is, most shopper journeys today start online, and brands must prioritize in providing content to eTailers that satisfy this exploration or lose out to other brands that will do so.