Whenever we start a full project here at Fuel Made, our first step is always crafting an ecommerce strategy. It’s our roadmap, and informs every decision we make.
While industry best practices help businesses gain their footing, growth strategy is a specific plan of action for the individual store.
To start on strategy, we zone in on these key questions:
- What are their ecommerce goals?
What does the data tell us about how customers currently interact with their store?
- How do we bridge the gap of where they are right now and where they want to go?
This post will explore these three questions as it relates to Supply, a growing ecommerce company we work with. By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of what components are required to craft a strong ecommerce strategy for your store.
1. What are your ecommerce goals?
As an agency, it’s important for us to get in the minds of Supply’s founders. After all, they are the experts on their business, products and customers. We rely on their business knowledge to create a beautiful, functional website that converts.
Our first step is to ask them to complete an in-depth survey that helps us: 1) uncover the pain points in their business 2) define what has worked for them in the past, and what hasn’t 3) identify key areas of opportunity.
Supply’s answers to these questions give us an inside look on what they know to be true about their business. This is important because it gives insight into how the client thinks about their customers and their business, and it helps us understand why certain decisions may have been made on the existing site.
It also gives us some guidance in determining the right strategy to fit the client's goals while also meeting the needs of their customers.
Here are a few examples of the specific questions we ask:
What are the main challenges you are facing that you want to address with your website?
Why we ask it: This helps us identify the main areas that Supply is struggling with, and how they have attempted to address these issues in the past. We learn what they view as important, and what challenges they are facing in relation to their website.
What do you think are your top competitor threats?
Why we ask it: This is the type of information we sometimes can’t get from data. It helps us understand where they stand in their industry, and the challenges that keep them up at night.
What do you like about your current site? What do you think is successful?
Why we ask it: This gives us an understanding of what they feel is working on their current site. We can look at the data and determine if there is a disconnect between what they feel is successful, and what is actually working.
Defining Supply’s ecommerce mission
Based on the questions we ask, we learn Supply’s overarching mission for their business. Every change we make on their website will support this mission.
Supply's mission is to be a destination for men's personal care and create a wellness-focused community customers return to for all personal needs.
From here, we identify the top areas of opportunity and create a plan of action. To do that, we start by pinpointing the reasons shoppers buy from them - their ecommerce value propositions.
What Supply stands behind
Ecommerce value propositions are clear, measurable and demonstrable benefits customers receive when buying a product or service. Shoppers will normally see these values scattered throughout a store: on the homepage, footer and product detail page.
These are often intended to call out factors that differentiate your store from the competition, and may include things like shipping & returns, free trials, warranties and other policies.
What do they stand behind?
Once we identify these values, we ask:
How do their ecommerce value propositions compare to other stores in the market? For example, if Supply’s free shipping threshold currently sits at $50, but direct competitors sit at $30, we’ll want to address it.
Are there any plans to change them? Since we’ll be communicating these values as a primary message on the site, we need to ensure they are locked in before heading into visual design.
While all of this information gives us a better understanding on Supply’s business, it’s not quantifiable.
For that, we need to take a look at the data.
2. What does the data tell us about how customers currently interact with your store?
Data is about understanding how customers interact with your store.
While key metrics are important here (think conversion rate, average order value, lifetime value, etc.), they don’t tell us the full story of how users behave on a site. We start with high-level data, and then dig into more granular data to understand what is happening throughout the entire shopping journey.
Let’s take a look at our formula:
*We typically start with the last 12 months of data to gain a thorough understanding of the business.
First, we learn how the business performs. We review top-line metrics like sales, average order value, traffic and conversion rate: is business seasonal? Have sales been steadily growing? Have sales been declining? What do year-over-year trends look like?
This gives us a good understanding of where the business currently stands.
Once we determine those high-level trends listed above, we dive into segments, like device, demographics and channel.
From there, we analyze shopper behaviour based on points of contact on the site: how does their behaviour change based on page type? Based on where they land? Where they exit?
We get into the specifics here. For example, how is the product page performing on mobile? Does it perform well on desktop? Do visitors engage with the collection page when they arrive from Facebook? Or does the homepage perform better when visitors arrive from Facebook? How about from Google?
Who are our visitors? How do they behave differently based on age, gender and location?
Lastly, we pair heatmap data with Google Analytics to understand exactly how customers interact with key pages. This helps us identify what is working on each page and what is not.
Now it’s time to plan.
3. How do we bridge the gap of where we are right now and where we want to go?
At this time, we ask ourselves: how do we fix the areas that aren’t working while preserving the areas that are?
As we mentioned above, we know Supply’s mission is to be a destination for men’s personal care and create a wellness-focused community customers return to for all their personal needs. Therefore, we define the most meaningful areas to focus on that will have the most impact - all of which support that overarching mission.
One of the top opportunities for Supply’s growth lives in their mobile experience.
(Over 70% of Supply’s traffic comes from mobile shoppers. However, their conversion rate is 54% lower on mobile compared to desktop. There is a big opportunity to close the gap here.)
We then create a plan of action to solve the problems we identified through data and user behaviour. For example, we’ll call more attention to the ecommerce value propositions on their product pages, since that is a frequent drop-off point. These specific tactics will be implemented when we hit visual design. (You’ll see more on this as we work through the project.)
By defining these top opportunities for growth, we’re able to keep a clear focus and direction as we move into visual design. But before we begin that stage, we need to ensure Supply’s brand voice and values are unified across all touchpoints.
We dive into Supply's brand voice next. Interested? You can read all about it here.
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