Improving Your eCommerce Strategy: Crawl, Walk, Run

How to grow your eCommerce strategy — from first steps to advanced tactics.

What is the key tactic to a successful eCommerce strategy?

In the past, we’ve written about leveraging integrated content, custom checkouts, and thoughtful user navigation to improve the overall eCommerce experience.

But there is an order to how these tactics are rolled out. The success of more complicated efforts—like page conversion optimization or multichannel selling—is built on the success, data, and user engagement grown by the baseline tactics that should be in place first.

Here are the baseline eCommerce tactics you should have in place, and the more complex tactics you should leverage later on, as told through the steps: crawl, walk, and run.

Crawl: Baseline eCommerce

At its most basic level, you want to make sure that your website is easy to navigate, capable of fulfilling orders, secure, and equipped with basic tools for building an audience.

What is your eCommerce platform?

Platform: Depending on your business, you have a few choices when it comes to an eCommerce platform. Do you have a complicated business model? You would benefit from an open source platform that can be easily customized and scale with your business. Do you need a simple, straightforward checkout that can also handle a high volume of orders?

As you choose your eCommerce platform, we recommend looking at where your business is in the present, and how you would like it grow in the future. Carefully choosing the right eCommerce platform for your strategy is your first and most important step.

How do you manage post-order processes?

Fulfillment: Warehousing, inventory management, delivery, secure payment processing are all crucial to the success of your eCommerce website. Fortunately, most eCommerce platforms include some of these in their administrative suite, and others are offered by services such as Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA).

If you already have an ERP, accounting, or payment processing system that you need to use in conjunction with your website, you should make sure that these are correctly integrated. In some instances, these systems have pre-written APIs or integrations available. If not they can be custom built for you. By integrating your website with these systems, you can simplify your operations and support order volume growth of your store.

Security & PCI compliance considerations?

PCI Compliance: An eCommerce website has to be secure. For some consumers, there's a general unease about purchasing online, especially if a user is purchasing from a website that's new to them. Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant means that your website meets security standards for payment processing.

There are a few different ways to process payments securely on your website, but the easiest and most secure is to integrate a managed payment gateway. A payment gateway will process payments separate from your website, which means that payment information isn’t stored on your website. In addition, you can theme an integrated payment gateway to match the layout of your website.

How do you grow your audience?

Analytics: Setting up basic analytics to monitor the overall performance of your website will provide you with early data that you can use to optimize and grow later on. You can use insights from your analytics tools to identify your audience and understand how to engage with them. The benefit of your eCommerce website is that any user activity gives you insight into how people are interacting with your brand.

How will you approach customer service?

Customer Service Systems: What systems do you have in place for making yourself available to your customers? This could be something as simple as a phone number in the footer of your website, or something more complex like a Zendesk chat window that allows onsite users to directly speak with service representatives.

The Purpose of Baseline: Develop an integrated commerce system, get it off the ground, get a marketing strategy going, make sure you are prepared for growth.

Walk: Building upon your eCommerce strategy

During the “Walk” phase is when you start developing based off of the audience, insights, and successes of your baseline eCommerce strategy. Here, you can start implementing more complex tactics that provide new ways to engage with your audience, new ways to grow your marketing strategy, or new ways to develop unique experiences on your website.

Creating branded experiences

Content & Commerce: Most eCommerce websites have a blog on their website, but a step above this is to completely integrate eCommerce and content. Instead of static product pages, you could: 

  • Include tutorial videos or reviews of the product directly on the page.
  • Highlight new products with full-length pages featuring success stories and accounts of brand representatives.
  • Create unique bundle opportunities around life events that contextualize your product.

But at any point on the page, the option to purchase is always easily accessible.

Analytics deep dive

At this point, you can also begin to increase your analytics efforts. In the “Crawl” phase, you may have started out with basic tools such as Google Analytics or Moz. At this point, you can benefit from Business Intelligence (BI) insights.

Run: An unforgettable eCommerce experience

At the “Run” phase, you have a thorough understanding of your audience, the ultimate goals of your eCommerce website, and how you can expand outward. Your strategy is sophisticated, and is large enough that it may depend on complex fulfillment and marketing methods.

Marketing Automation

You can fully leverage marketing tactics to automatically identify and respond to customer behavior on your website. This could mean setting up automated responses to a user from a unique customer segment, remarketing campaigns, abandoned cart campaigns, or a number of other tactics. This is also a good point in time to introduce something like Artificial Intelligence (AI) for product recommendations into your strategy.

Multi-Channel Marketing

Now that you’ve completely dialed in your website, you can begin to do the same on any other channels you are using to market or sell through. You can integrate them with your website, and begin to track your user throughout their entire journey—even before they arrive on your website.

Unique Customizations

At this point, now that you have a better understanding of your audience and what they expect from your website, you can begin to implement custom features that are unique to you. This could mean a product customizer, like what you might see on Original Stitch.

Ecommerce Growth Strategy Example | Bear Group

Or this could be a new social media integration, like on the Oiselle website, that features curated social media posts.

Ecommerce Growth Strategy Example | Bear Group

Building an eCommerce strategy that works for you

The key to a successful eCommerce strategy isn’t a single tactic, rather it is multiple tactics working in complete synchronization to deliver on different fronts. The best way to build up to that kind of strategy is by making sure your baseline strategy is in place, and then building outward.