Are Influencers the Future Of Ecommerce, Or Just a Phase?


Just 15 years ago, influencers weren’t even a thing—but with the skyrocketing popularity of social channels like Instagram, influencers can now make a great living from their impact on ecommerce. 

For some brands, influencers helped them introduce their products to new shoppers. For others, influencer marketing was the catalyst that brought them mainstream success in the first place. 

In any case, the rise of influencers brought with it a new way for ecommerce businesses to drive sales. That said, it’s not the only way to make online sales today. Influencers clearly have an impact, but there are other strategies you should still be considering as well. 

5 Trends Shaping the Future of Ecommerce

Once upon a time, all it took for your sales to skyrocket was a famous person or an account with a big following on Instagram to mention your product in their feed. Today, the influencer market is very saturated. 

That’s because the influencer market has gone corporate. 

In fact, there’s an entire culture that has grown out of becoming and being an influencer. There are influencer conventions, and hundreds of influencers sell videos and online courses about how to become one.

Meanwhile, celebrities and popular accounts continue to endorse products and get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for a single Instagram post—so it seems really hard to compete. 

Nevertheless, as long as there are consumers willing to scroll social media, influencers will still have a place in ecommerce marketing. However, to maximize the value of working with an influencer, ecommerce brands may want to upgrade their approach—because what worked ten years ago won’t necessarily work today.

Some of the ways to work with influencers in today’s market include:

  • Brand ambassadors—These are real people (not celebrities) who use your products and promote your brand. Ambassadors naturally favor your products and offer viewers an affiliate link that discounts buyers. This is like when a fitness instructor is an ambassador for a given line of workout equipment. It’s the authenticity that makes this relationship successful.
  • Micro-influencers—Don’t limit your influencer pool to celebrities or influencers with millions of followers. Look for ways to promote your products using real people with smaller followings, too. Oftentimes, niche influencers have followers who are more passionate about what the influencer has to say. You want to create influencer social campaigns that represent your brand’s values. Using micro-influencers that align with these values demonstrates authenticity.

Remember that not everybody has to or wants to work with influencers, and there are many other ways to promote your ecommerce brand without influencers. Here are five good ones:

Leveraging social media as a shopping channel

A lot of people spend more than two hours per day scrolling social media. That’s a lot of eyes you can get on your products.

If you’re an ecommerce brand, you should use social sales channels like Instagram Shopping and TikTok Shop. This lets you showcase products and, more importantly, provide shopping links right in your posts and stories. Shoppers don’t even need to leave the app to complete a purchase.

The key to making sales on social media is authenticity. You want to define your brand voice, identify your target audience, and create social content that mirrors both. Joybird, a furniture brand, does a great job at all three.

A collage of photos from Joybird

The brand is casual, comfortable, and colorful. Its audience is primarily women between the ages of 25 and 40 who are looking for customized furniture at a reasonable price. On Instagram, Joybird uses a mix of colorful posts and stories with embedded shopping links to generate sales.

The brand’s social presence is cohesive, authentic, and aspirational, which builds trust and boosts sales.

You can also develop a hashtag strategy and invite customers to share their own experiences with your products. That way, you can share their content on your page and in your stories. (It’s also free to you and gives you even more authenticity.) This sort of peer-to-peer marketing can oftentimes be as impactful as influencer marketing.

Sustainable shopping

Today’s consumers want more than just a product. They want the things they buy to align with their own values—like sustainability. Eco-friendly products, transparent supply chains, and sustainable practices are all important to many of today’s consumers.

As an ecommerce brand, calling out how you work toward sustainability when creating your products is a good way to attract these customers. You’re not just selling a product, you’re selling a lifestyle choice with it.

No Tox Life, a manufacturer of vegan bath, body, and home cleaning products, is a great example of an ecommerce brand that does this well.

No Tox Life website with CTA that says Shop all products

Not only are the products it sells made from biodegradable, vegan ingredients, but they are also cruelty-free and include no phosphates, sulfates, and parabens. No Tox Life makes this detail clear in all of its product descriptions.

The brand also ensures website visitors know about the company’s low-waste shipping strategy. Each retail order is packaged using a detailed explanation of the materials used, including plastic-free packaging materials, paper tape, and brown paper made from recycled plant fiber to pad items placed in recycled cardboard boxes.

Consumers have all the specific information they need to know that No Tox Life is a very sustainable brand. This strategy quickly builds trust and shows the brand’s authenticity, which ultimately helps boost sales among like-minded consumers.

Personalized shopping experiences

Getting visitors interested in the right products at the right time can be a challenge for any ecommerce brand. Whether visitors are new to your brand or have purchased from you in the past, knowing what they want right now can mean the difference between lookers and buyers.

This is where data analytics comes in. You can use user and product data to recommend things to site visitors. 

  • User data—Existing information you have about your customers, including location, demographics, preferences, and interests. If customers leave reviews, you can also use that data. 
  • Product data—Information like product features, categories, prices, attributes, and customer ratings.

With this information available, you can use AI-powered tools on your site to make product recommendations as visitors browse and add items to their shopping carts. Target, for example, is a company that makes great use of data to drive recommendations.

Target "Similar Items" page

Once a shopper clicks on an item, Target provides a Similar Items section that highlights other options for a shopper to consider. There’s also a Shop the Look section that helps shoppers buy other items that are shown in the main image (or pair nicely with the look) for a particular item. 

Both strategies rely on user and product data to generate results. This benefits both consumers and the brand. For instance, consumers can save time identifying items they want to purchase, and brands can boost sales by delivering interesting products that the consumer might not have discovered otherwise.

Subscription services

When customers shop for consumable items that they’ll likely need to purchase repeatedly, a subscription model is something ecommerce brands should consider. This makes it convenient for customers to have the item on hand without the hassle of reordering it every single time.

Not surprisingly, Amazon is great at optimizing the subscription model. 

Amazon listing for shave gel with subscribe and save options

For everyday products that consumers use regularly, shoppers can select the Subscribe & Save option. They can choose how often to have the item delivered and easily manage subscription items from their account should anything change.

Amazon isn’t the only ecommerce site offering this, of course, nor are consumable products the only thing subscription services are used for. Monthly subscription boxes are another way to capitalize on repeat purchases without customer interaction.

With the subscription box model, customers receive a box of themed goods each month. These subscription services exist for practically anything, including pets (Cat Lady, Barkbox), beverages (Cratejoy, MyBevBox), and food (Hello Fresh, Daily Harvest). This type of offering allows customers to discover products they may not have otherwise known about or try new products without the commitment of a bigger order.

Subscription services for products benefit both consumers and ecommerce sites. 

The benefit to consumers is convenience, mainly because the box shows up automatically and they don’t have to remember to buy it. Meanwhile, the obvious benefit to the ecommerce brand is consistent revenue by removing uncertainty from the buying process. This is a good model to implement if you’re an ecommerce brand with a product where subscriptions make sense.

Augmented and virtual reality experiences

Getting consumers to purchase items online without seeing them in person is a challenge. This is especially true for things like home furnishings and clothes. Ecommerce brands can try to overcome this hurdle by enhancing the online shopping experience with immersive technologies.

These technologies can do many things, including letting consumers try on clothes and makeup virtually, and showing customers how a sofa they might buy would look in their living room. 

NYX Cosmetics is a brand with its own Virtual Try-On tool, which lets customers try on makeup on both its website and mobile app. 

NYX virtual try-on webpage

To use it, customers can upload a photo, take a selfie, or choose from existing model photos as their starting point. From there, they can try on specific products and choose different looks curated by the NYX team. Products can be added to the cart or marked as favorites with one click.

The use of augmented and virtual reality technology on ecommerce sites (and apps) lets consumers dive deeper into the products they can’t touch or see in person. This boosts buyer confidence in situations when they might be on the fence. 

For ecommerce site owners, this extra functionality helps move leads along your purchasing funnel and increases overall sales. It also keeps users on your site longer, giving you more opportunities to cross-sell and upsell.

Incorporating this kind of technology isn’t difficult, either. There are tools out there that integrate with the most popular ecommerce platforms. This puts virtual shopping within reach of even the smallest ecommerce retailer. 

Source link

You might also like