In 2021, the global e-commerce market value climbed to $4.921 trillion. An estimated 230.5 million Americans are online shoppers now having browsed products, compared prices, and bought merchandise online at least once this year. This makes the United States one of the leading eCommerce markets globally. The problem is, among the 32.5 million U.S. small businesses, a staggering 80% are not taking full advantage of the digital tools available to them.
Regardless of where you are in your eCommerce business maturity, the solution is to create a healthy eCommerce ecosystem that will allow your business to gain customers, deliver profit and to compete in the digital marketplace.
A healthy eCommerce ecosystem consists of multiple digital tools and methods to create a holistic approach to online. This approach is twofold. On the customer side, a healthy eCommerce ecosystem connects you to your ideal customer wherever they are while ensuring the highest possible customer service you can provide to them. For your business, a healthy eCommerce ecosystem gives you location diversity, forecasting capability, and the tools to grow and thrive while allowing flexibility and adaptability in all areas of your business, from inventory and shipping to stocking and delivery.
There are many tools to create a thriving eCommerce ecosystem. I will cover the fundamental tool to create your ecosystem here, data and analytics. For additional methods, check out the North Idaho SBDC blog throughout this coming year.
The groundwork for all well-developed eCommerce ecosystems is high-quality data and analytics. The data and analytics are used to position your product/service across the internet in the ideal locations to be found and help you connect with your clients in the ways that work the best.
So, what’s the big deal about data and analytics?
Data and Analytics
First of all, for most small businesses, data and analytics are an afterthought or something you work with because a marketer somewhere told you it was necessary. The hard reality is, in an online world, analytics is more than necessary; they are the equivalent of a heart monitor to a patient in the hospital. These numbers tell you if your business is alive or not. They can even point to where there are problems.
You need data and analytics in your business, both third-party and first-party.
Most small businesses are aware of third-party data, though you may not know it as third-party data. You probably have heard of Google Analytics. You know Google Analytics (GA) because it is a free service that offers the minimum standard for analytics. The data GA provides is called third-party because it is data you receive from Google (someone/some other business), not yourself or your own business. GA’s data helps you know whom your online store is connecting with in the form of general demographic data and the flow of (or the lack of flow of) traffic on your site.
Third-party data is vital information used regularly to determine the health and vitality of your online store and website. For example, you will answer the questions: Are you connecting with your ideal client? How are customers finding you?
This is excellent data but leaves much out about your customers. This is where first-party data steps in.
First-party analytics are more powerful and data-rich than third-party analytics and is something many small businesses are not using to their full advantage.
Every time a customer interacts with your website, there is an opportunity to capture information about your customer; the shopping cart, request for emails, request to download an item, etc. These are opportunities to learn about your clients and client segments and help guide them to a checkout opportunity.
So, what is first-party analytics?
First-party analytics are the data points you gather from potential and current customers that they give you willingly while engaging with your business. This data is specifically about them and helps you connect with them in a more personalized way. The information comes from your very own eCommerce checkout platform, marketing and email systems, and the integration of gates and surveys. These all provide the customer an opportunity to give you more information about them, what they want to purchase, and a deeper understanding of how and when they want to interact with you.
By collecting information through checkout, you learn what your customer is interested in purchasing. You can then use your marketing and email systems to reconnect with the customer about a particular or a similar product. Suppose you have up-selling and cross-selling options available. In that case, you can use your email, marketing, and checkout tools to determine what products go together for different client segments. When integrating forms and surveys, you now can know your clients’ and customers’ habits, desires, and so much more. You gain this additional data and the opportunity to connect with your customer by mining your data and your customers.
Consider first-party data the shiny golden nuggets you are looking for among the numbers you collect every month. This data allows you to win your ideal customer repeatedly in your market space.
To build your healthy eCommerce ecosystem, you need to institute and utilize both third- and first-party analytics so your designed ecosystem is effective, ongoingly tested, and you can make changes when your customers show you that it’s time to change.
Tools to Use:
While I can’t recommend particular tools for your unique business here in this article, I can give you some examples of integrations that work.
1) Shopify with Klaviyo and 123 forms
2) Shopify with MailChimp (with MailChimp Forms)
3) PrestaShop with Klaviyo and Form Builder
4) BigCommerce with MailChimp and SurveyMonkey
The options are endless and dependent on your integration needs, technology capabilities, and budget.
To find workable solutions for your eCommerce business situation, call us at 208-665-5085 or email North Idaho College SBDC at ISBDC@nic.edu. We offer classes, webinars, and business coaching at no charge to you. Check out Training & Webinars at NISBDC.com/trainings-workshops/
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Samantha Dascomb is an SBDC eCommerce Coach. Dascomb has more than 15 years of experience in marketing and online environments. For the last eight years, she has been working with small businesses and franchise owners creating and guiding marketing teams while assisting owners in marketing best practices for a digital world. She specializes in conversion rate optimization, customer engagement, web design, eCommerce and analytics.
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February’s Class Schedule
Wednesdays at 8 a.m.
Special topics for Business Leader
• 5 ways to Improve Profit: Feb. 2; A key to thriving during any economy is taking proactive steps to improve your key business areas. We will highlight specific steps to strengthen your business and improve your business profit even through rough times.
• Digital Marketing, A Strategy that Works!: Feb. 9; Does your online presence provide leads from your target audience? If not, maybe a tweak or two is required.
• Starting A Business in Idaho: Feb. 16; Join us for a basic overview of what it takes to be a business owner and to talk through the tough questions of starting a business in Idaho.
• What’s Your Business Worth?: Feb. 23; Every business has a different value depending on who is looking at it? This presentation will review several different ways of computing values for a business, as well as factors that give a premium value to a business and those things that detract from value.
Business Accelerator Series — Thursday, 5:30-9 p.m., NIC Campus
“Business Basics Every Business Owner Needs To Know”
• Marketing Strategy for Profit; Feb. 3; Marketing is the engine of your business. What problem is your business trying to solve? How big a problem is it? Who has these problems more than any others? How much would they pay for your solution? Answers to these are the difference between thriving and just surviving.
• Managing Financials for Profit; Feb. 10; Business Financial Management is a numbers game, so to manage the business you have to know how to work the numbers!
• Hiring Winners: Operations for Excellence; Feb. 17; With nearly half of the global population online it is an essential tool to reach and build your customer pipeline. Find out what opportunities exist and how a website, videos, or social media could help you reach your goals.
• Digital Marketing Strategy; Feb. 24; With nearly half of the global population online it is an essential tool to reach and build your customer pipeline. Find out what opportunities exist and how a website, videos, or social media could help you reach your goals.