The online tools available today make it easier than ever to set up an ecommerce store. Entrepreneurs need not know extensive web design skills to set up shop because plug-and-play website platforms have enabled easy customization. This is good news for those looking to capitalize on the ever-growing online retail market.
The first quarter of 2018 saw more than $100 billion in revenue. It’s understandable this promising market growth would motivate sellers to try to earn their piece of the pie by starting an internet-based business of their own. But, as it turns out, launching a store and creating a sustainable brand are two different things.
Decide What Differentiates Your Brand
What is an ecommerce store? As Shopify writes, ecommerce “refers to the buying and selling of goods or services using the internet and the transfer of money and data to execute those transactions.” Your website serves as the backbone of these dealings, containing key elements like product listings, the shopping cart and payment gateways. Your store is where people come to pick out the goods they want and check out.
An ecommerce brand, on the other hand, is the identity behind the store. As marketing expert Neil Patel notes, “You need a compelling differentiation to make an emotional connection with your target audience.” This is becoming increasingly true as more sellers enter the marketplace. Whatever products you’re selling, it’s unlikely you’re the only one offering something comparable. So, what makes your store different from those of your competitors? Your brand does—because it gives you an identity and an angle from which to market.
Consider this: Stores A and B both sell makeup at a similar price point. It’s true a consumer could go to either store and physically purchase a product like lipstick. But, through branding, these stores are actually targeting different audiences with two different points of view on the broader category of “makeup.” Store A might emphasize its cruelty-free, environmentally sustainable products while Store B focuses more on a trend, or a recognizable look and feel. Meanwhile Store A could also emphasize its natural minimalism while Store B markets its products for lovers of nightlife seeking a dramatic look.
The difference is all in how these two stores choose to brand themselves, emphasizing how they offer different unique values to buyers.
Create Consistent Marketing Messaging
Your unique value proposition sums up why potential customers should buy from you rather than another store. According to ConversionXL, here are three characteristics of effective value propositions:
- Relevancy: Demonstrates how your products are poised to improve customers’ lives or solve their problems.
- Quantified Value: Outlines specific benefits.
- Differentiation: Tells members of your target customer base why they should buy from you rather than your competition.
It’s also not enough to simply state your unique value proposition. Successful branding means infusing your website with imagery and copy adhering to your company’s core brand identity. Every element should be harmonious in this regard: this includes your logo, photography, headlines, voice, etc.
Referring back to the previous example, consider what makeup-seeking online shoppers will conclude about your brand based on each of these two brand messages: “Love the world? Try our cruelty-free cosmetics today, made from all-natural ingredients” vs. “Love making a bold statement? Get the look for your next big night out here.” The website design for these two stores would serve to strengthen this messaging, utilizing colors and imagery to match the two very unique identities.
The last step is simply making sure you’re consistent across channels. Prospective customers should feel like all your messaging—from emails to social media posts and everything in between—comes from a consistent source. Think of your brand personality across every facet of your marketing strategy.
Building an ecommerce business means more than opening a store. It’s increasingly important to create an ecommerce brand, one with unique value to offer its customers.