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Proven eCommerce Growth Strategies that work: Case Study Analysis

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As you lay down the priorities for your eCommerce business, you will have multiple considerations on your hands. The online business might be doing well ― by reaching liquidity, garnering users’ attention, and bringing in steady revenue; or you might have just started, and pondering how to define your eCommerce undertaking in an increasingly competitive space.  

In either of the two scenarios, growing your eCommerce business requires your ceaseless attention. The flight that your business has taken, needs that rocket fuel to keep it flying higher, beyond the reach of your competitors. In this blog, learn all about battle-tested eCommerce growth strategies that have worked in the real world. Let’s get inspired! 

Why should I Invest in growing my eCommerce Marketplace? 

A few decades ago, gaining consumer loyalty was easier for brands. With consumer touch points limited to print media, television, and other sources ― once businesses had the attention of their target audience, sustaining it was easier. Now with the increased use of multiple channels for communication, brand relevance can fade away in a matter of years. Hence, growing your business and its brand is becoming more integral to long-term success. 

Also, while the eCommerce sector has brought about a change in fortunes for many, transforming startups into unicorns throughout the globe, the sector comes with its share of complexities. For instance, according to McKinsey, eCommerce fulfillment alone accounts for 12% of revenue for eCommerce businesses. Hence, long-term profitability hinges on larger volumes and growth  

Moreover, even as the eCommerce industry as a whole seems to be back on track after the initial slowdown in the post-pandemic, the dynamics of the industry are changing. The industry is accelerating with new entrants generating new transactions in the space. In these times, existing eCommerce businesses need to grow to retain and enhance their consumer base. 

To add to these factors, the retail industry of the future will be driven by the preferences of Gen Z  and Gen Alpha will take center stage. These are consumers who are largely unaware of the world outside of the digital ecosystem. eCommerce brands that are preparing themselves for the future, need to be ready for an even more online interactions-driven future ― which further means that competition in the segment will intensify. 

In short, with action heating up, it is an exciting time to be an eCommerce entrepreneur. Let’s flip through the pages of eCommerce entrepreneurial history, to learn eCommerce growth hacks you can try out. 

Tips to grow your Online marketplace?

Let’s discuss some pivotal growth drivers that can help in growing your eCommerce marketplace business. 

Stand out with your brand

The eCommerce industry is getting competitive. If you don’t have direct competition to start with, you can face that challenge at a later stage. For that reason, it is best to position your brand in a unique space in the market. There are two ways you can achieve it. 

With Unique Value Proposition 

Etsy: Give solutions to (unaddressed) user pain points  

Recollect your last visit to a theme park ― which activities draw the maximum attention? At one end of the spectrum will be big-on-hype attractions like roller coasters or Ferris wheels. But equally popular will be simple games like balloon pop. Think about the ROI for these activities at a fraction of the cost. The reasons these games are equally popular are that they are intuitive, engage the users into participating, capitalize on social experiences, and finally incentivize the user to visit. None of this is achieved by roller coasters.

As a business if you work on attracting users with a “made-to-budget roller coaster”. Chances are, consumers will continue to rush to the “real deal”, leaving you in the cold. However, with your available resources, if you craft unique experiences by understanding what users don’t get from the big-budget established players, you have a chance to stand out with a unique value proposition. While many eCommerce businesses have achieved this, Etsy has been one of the pioneers in identifying a problem of a specific target audience and providing a purpose-built solution with their eCommerce platform. 

A Trump Card by the name of Viral Marketing

Dollar Shave Club: Viral Marketing done right.

Dollar Shave Club, as the name suggests, is an eCommerce platform for men’s grooming products. In the year 2012, the company faced stiff competition from the existing established players like Gillette. To overcome this challenge, it had to position itself uniquely in the crowded space. To achieve this, the company did two things that left an impact. 

First, the company introduced a subscription-based plan for a product that had traditionally retailed for a fixed price. With this, it had a distinct USP vis-a-vis its competitors. But more significantly, it launched a marketing campaign using humor to engage its audiences. In a video that went viral online, DSC introduced its subscription plans with a hilarious parody of such events. 

The result: 26 Million views and 12000+ orders in a single day! This successfully catapulted DSC with instant traction from the target audience. This is the impact of viral marketing.   

Build Business Resilience 

Gumroad: Simplicity focused on value creation  

For most retail businesses, online or offline, reaching breakeven can take some time. Moreover, even if you are way past that stage, the business still might run into a stalemate. However,  a resilient business can shine through such times, and keep building on consumer interest to thrive. 

Gumroad, a P2P digital marketplace for creatives, faced a challenging situation in its initial years. An excerpt from an emotional post by the CEO (and founder), Sahil Lavingia, is as follows “At my lowest point, I had to lay off 75 percent of my company, including many of my best friends. I had failed.” However, from this situation, the business persevered and turned back its fortunes. In January this year, the net income was $82 thousand plus with close to 16k stores. How? ― based on a resilient business model. Here are some key pointers from Gumroad’s growth strategy: 

Customer segmentation done right: Gumroad focuses on new creators who are starting. Its business model is tailored to meet this audience. 

Simplicity: The platform offers just the right set of features for its target audience, leaving aside any excesses.    

A non-zero-sum business vision: The company has maintained that the business moves forward with the sellers’ (creators) efforts. Hence policies like fair profit margins for sellers take center stage in their business vision. 

Lower business overheads: Pivotal to stay afloat in challenging times, prudently optimized overheads are any business’ life jacket for troubled waters ― and beyond. Gumroad has prioritized this to succeed. 

Build a Digital Goods Marketplace with a self-hosted turnkey solution

Leverage The Power of User-Generated Content 

Koala: From start to $ 13 million* in 1 year!

There is a sense of trust when buyers get to know more about a brand (or a product) from other consumers. User Generated Content or UGC, is key to bridge the perception consumers have when they shop online ― It lets them evaluate the product from others’ experiences. Moreover, with more minds at work, more aspects of the product emerge, all of which may not be possible to enlist in the product descriptions. 

Koala is an Australian eCommerce company for furniture and other homeware products. To start with, the products on offer are well received by the consumers. To leverage their likeability, the eCommerce platform motivates consumers to post reviews. Moreover, with its multi-channel approach, the business has an active presence across popular social media platforms. The business marketing strategy utilizes this social proof to build an engaging narrative around their products and brand. 

*According to the Australian Financial Review

Harness the Benefits of an Economy of Scale 

ASOS: A $1.10 Billion global fashion e-marketplace 

Fashion, a 3 trillion dollar industry, and one of the most favored niches for online businesses to start with ― is also a scalable eCommerce vertical. Many eCommerce platforms have scaled their fortunes with fashion eCommerce platforms. One such success story is about ASOS from the UK. 

ASOS is a globally renowned fashion e-tailer. The name ASOS comes from “As Seen On Screen,” which to date, defines the ethos of the online business. By leveraging this focus, which fosters a popular consumer sentiment, ASOS carved a space for itself and rose as a strong player in the online industry. However, it also took some strategic decisions that helped it to scale and thrive. These are: 

Pivoting to a scalable product category: ASOS initially started with products like pestle and mortar. However, that product category could muster limited volumes. The marketplace later transitioned to offering fashion products, a more scalable product choice. 

Scaling to Global Operations: Selling internationally involves efficient & automated logistics and streamlined workflows that hinge on technology solutions. Moreover, global operations is also one of the major benefits of eCommerce. Companies can transition to global economies of scale. 

Innovation: A lopsided version of Gumroad’s strategy, an emphasis on innovation has been key to ASOS. From supply chain automation to features like picture-led search in mobile apps, ASOS has leveraged innovation to drive key growth objectives. The reason this works for ASOS is because of the intensely competitive online fashion landscape. 

Do you want a scalable eCommerce platform?

Focus on Effective Marketing Strategies  

Casper: A $300 million evaluation in under 3 years by selling mattresses online

Irrespective of the stage of an online business in the eCommerce lifecycle, effective marketing will remain key to reaching out to the target market, and communicating what the brand stands for. Whether an online business is new or considering expansion, marketing is an integral business function. While many established eCommerce businesses have effective marketing campaigns in place, let’s focus on Casper, which has a very multi-faceted marketing approach. To understand Capser’s eCommerce growth strategy, let’s learn more about the foundation of the business. 

About 10 years back, 5 friends got together to discuss a business opportunity. It was about an unpleasant experience faced by buyers ― for a product that they spend their most peaceful moments of the day i.e. sleeping mattresses. An offline exclusive industry in those days, buyers bought mattresses by just testing the product for a few minutes in the showroom. To add to the woes, mattresses were sold with nearly 100 percent markup prices, with profits distributed among middlemen and salesmen commissions. Given these scenarios, the industry seemed right for an eCommerce disruption, right? But how do you convince the consumers about your business’ value proposition? The answer is effective marketing ― and Casper nailed it. Let’s discuss the highlights: 

– Precise Product Positioning: Effective marketing relies on how a narrative is built around the solution you offer ― and how effectively it is communicated to the consumers via various marketing channels. For instance, to showcase how Casper has reinvented the mattress buying experience, buyers are encouraged to upload unboxing videos on YouTube. Significantly, this has been a major source of organic traffic for the business. 

– Potent Content Marketing: Casper reaches out to buyers on all stages of the funnel with a distinct approach. 

  • For the top of the funnel, it has articles ranking on keywords like “warm milk helps you sleep”  in its blog “All things snooze.” Their content is well-researched and often laden with humor. This has helped position Casper as an authoritative source on sleep hygiene, something directly related to mattresses. Moreover, such a content strategy instills buyer trust in the brand. 
  • For the middle of the funnel, the eCommerce business asks consumers to fill out surveys in exchange for discount coupons. 
  • Lastly, for the bottom of the funnel, it has detailed articles like “How to Choose a Mattress” which caters to buyers in the decision-making process. 

– Unified Multi-Marketing-Channels Approach: To maximize its reach, Casper utilizes numerous channels like social media platforms, PPC campaigns from Google ads, multiple backlinks on relevant and authoritative websites like university web pages, and other consumer touch points mentioned above. Significantly, the core messaging of the brand stays consistent. 

– Personalized messaging: Right from the product descriptions that make buyers experience the brands just by going through them, to the business’ engaging messaging on social media platforms, to its tongue-in-cheek hilarious responses to buyers, Casper has its audience engaged with a personalized touch. 

While these were just highlights, Casper’s purpose-driven and multi-pronged marketing strategy can be inspirational for eCommerce businesses across verticals. 

Reach your audience with multiple marketing tools built-in

Steps to grow your Online marketplace?

These are some of the many eCommerce growth hacks that have been successfully executed by online businesses to become prominent players in their respective spaces. While the list of eCommerce growth hacks is not restricted to those mentioned above, businesses need to analyze their position in the market to understand what works best for them. For instance, while Gumroad leverages simplicity to rise, ASOS harnesses the potential for innovation to engage its users. Each growth strategy works for its respective online business because the target audience and their needs are completely different for these two. 

Once you have analyzed, and prepared a road map of which strategies you want to implement, you will need the requisite tools in your eCommerce platform to execute your planned eCommerce growth hacks. For instance, you will need the following: 

– Marketing and analytics tools to execute marketing campaigns like Casper. 

– High-performing and multilingual eCommerce platform for global operations like ASOS.

– A user experience to engage users like Koala.   

– An eCommerce solution with low overheads to stay competitive like Gumroad. 

… and so on. 

Get started with a fresh beginning 

These were some inspiring eCommerce journeys, right? However, an online business builds on a cyclic momentum to forge resilience and post positive growth. If you don’t have the right tools, as discussed above, you will find yourself outgunned in the competitive eCommerce industry of today. Choose an eCommerce solution that gives you the right features from the word go, to execute eCommerce strategies for growth. Further, if needed, prioritize reliable migration services that handle your data securely and efficiently, to a more robust and purpose-built eCommerce platform.

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