7 habits of highly successful e-commerce leaders

The e-commerce industry soared in 2020 — 75% of customers shifted purchases to digital channels, driving 10 years of growth in just three months. The eCommerce leaders have a secret to how they’ve done this- it’s not simply an accident.

We’re in a tornado of e-commerce that will last long past the pandemic. Merchants who don’t dramatically up their game to adapt to new norms, cut through the noise and deliver the products and services in the exact moment that you have the customer’s attention will fail fast. And there’s no shortage of competition—including titans like Amazon and Walmart—ready to swoop in and capitalize on other merchants’ stumbles.

How do merchants of all sizes thrive in the e-commerce tornado? By following seven successful habits:

1. Automate merchandising

Merchandising is the art and science of displaying products and offers to drive sales. Not all companies can afford an expert human merchandising department. Done right, fewer experts with automated, artificial intelligence (AI)-powered merchandising lets retailers deliver the best shopper experience while maintaining strategic control of which items are being promoted and sold. Today, merchants of any size can leverage AI to automatically optimize e-commerce to present the most relevant products based on business goals. They can create personalized, targeted experiences based on geography, time, and signals.

2. Deliver highly personalized experiences

Personalized experiences speed and simplify shopping. And reducing the time and energy required by consumers to shop yields a 20% increase in customer satisfaction and a 10 to 15% improvement in conversions. Despite the benefits, just 15% of retailers have fully executed personalized strategies. Technology is rapidly changing this lackluster adoption. Now AI makes personalization dramatically easier and more accurate. Merchants can leverage AI to analyze browser history, access previous interactions with products or brands on social media, view past purchases, and dramatically reduce the time that a customer needs to spend on a website to find and purchase what he or she wants.

3. Understand (and Influence) customer intent

A customer shopping with intent — the need for something specific — is a decisive moment with immediate and long-term revenue potential. Merchants often struggle to find true intent, and legacy analytics software is just too slow to act in the decisive moment where intent can be converted into action. But new AI technology is fueling far more speed and sophistication in finding and predicting intent even during casual browsing. Merchants that leverage AI technology and capture those moments see the most dramatic gains in sales and loyalty.

4. Optimize upselling and cross-selling

Aggressive upselling and cross-selling lets merchants work smarter, not harder, to capture more sales and boost profits. Strategies like “complete the look” and “similar styles” not only suggest to customers that merchants understand customer needs but also increase shopping cart size. Recognizing and mapping intent, and then implementing personalization to make timely, accurate suggestions for additional purchases at the moment of sale is especially effective.

5. Collaborate to boost attention and refresh offerings

An e-commerce company on its own can only innovate, scale, and grow its customer base so far and so fast. A multiplier, like collaborations, can deliver big returns. Look for opportunities to pair complementary products and services and then package those together for marketing and sales to a combined customer base. It’s a win-win that dramatically leapfrogs a merchant’s customer base. And Once merchants put the work in to operationalize these efforts, they then often have processes (and habits) that reduce the effort required for each new collaboration.

6. Create memorable customer relationships

Seventy-five percent of consumers are trying new stores, websites, or brands in the current e-commerce tornado. Customers have never been more willing to search for and jump to new brands for better products and experiences. Merchants can increase loyalty by building upon personalization efforts and carry those efforts aggressively and constantly through communications. Employing tactics like sending tailored communications (rather than impersonal emails), offering personalized product suggestions based on purchase history, keeping customers in the loop on significant developments, and offering a frequent buyer or points program all boost loyalty. And don’t forget customer service. It has to be instant and effective. Research finds that 91% of consumers say a positive customer service experience contributes heavily toward increased loyalty, higher average order values (AOVs), and fewer costly returns.

7. A/B Testing for constant improvement

The science of selling is more important than ever to glean every single insight and advantage, from product relevance and offer combinations to page speed and smooth financial transactions.

By A/B testing different visual experiences, e-commerce leaders can evaluate consumer preferences, understand what makes them tick, what makes them click — and most importantly — what makes them buy. Make aggressive A/B testing a habit to capture even the smallest changes that can trip up sales.