How to grow your eCommerce business in 2023: 10 ways to increase profitability
This post was last updated on February 14, 2023.
If there’s one thing the past two years have hammered home, it’s that nothing is certain.
While eCommerce merchants may be facing this year with some looming uncertainty, one thing is clear. Business owners and consumers alike have demonstrated a vast capacity for resilience. As we head into the new year, it’s important for store owners to consider the things they know about the current eCommerce landscape, while also preparing for the unexpected.
To this end, we’ve compiled a list of 10 strategies and tips to focus on to help your eCommerce business thrive and grow this year.
How to grow your eCommerce business
2. Think like a brand marketer
5. Live stream shoppable events
6. Nudge zero-party data collection
7. Construct a customer advisory program
8. Build out a story-driven product detail page model
10. Test new markets
Are you ready for whatever this year might bring? Every Wix eCommerce website is built to deliver industry-recognized speed, performance, and reliability.
01. Build a community
Two years ago, Lush UK announced they were leaving Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Their aim was to redirect their community of customers to their online store, speaking directly with their customers using live chat on their website or via email and phone.
On Twitter, they wrote:
“Over the next week, our customer care team will be actively responding to your messages and comments, after this point you can speak to us via live chat on the website, on email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by telephone: 01202 930051.”
Building a brand community fosters customer loyalty and connection. This goes beyond brand awareness to fostering an actual relationship with your customers.
It’s all about the interactions and conversations you have with your customers. Much of this occurs on social commerce platforms like Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. But, increasingly, brands like Lush UK are bringing their communities back to their own digital storefronts.
Take personal care and beauty retailer Sephora which hosts a variety of community-oriented features including groups, conversations (Q&As with brands), a gallery of customer images and videos, and a hub for events.
Sephora’s community hub is hosted on Sephora.com where customers can post and share content, but it also pulls from social platforms like Instagram to feature customer images and videos.
When assessing the value of brand communities, Harvard Business Review notes that communities help in a variety of ways, for example, by resolving issues via the community and reducing the number of support requests.
They can boost visibility in search results and create buzz around an event, product, or initiative.
One underutilized method to create a community around your business is to add a forum to your site. Forums help you foster lively conversations, building customer advocacy in an inviting and active way. They’re also a great way to capture more detailed customer feedback as you’ll be able to see your most passionate customers talk about your products and services.
Already a Wix user? Wix Forum allows you to add robust forum features to your existing store through a one-click process. Your forum will be fully customizable, allowing you to mirror your site’s brand aesthetic, and comes mobile-friendly out of the box.
02. Think like a brand marketer
The proliferation of eCommerce vendors including traditional retailers like Walmart, digital behemoths like Amazon, and emerging direct-to-consumer brands like Warby Parker and Allbirds, make it difficult for small retailers to stand out.
When you are learning how to start a business, you figure out that differentiating your brand in this crowded environment involves lots of work from a branding perspective. But building brand recognition—and loyalty—is particularly important for eCommerce businesses.
Nearly 80 percent of consumers purchase items because of the brand name. Investors love a good brand too, with over 80 percent prioritizing brand recognition.
This year, online store owners will need to think like brand marketers every step of the way. That means building a community (see above), embracing social media, focusing on creating and delivering high-quality content, and leveraging tools like product subscriptions, using a service like the one offered by Wix, eCommerce gift cards, and different fulfillment options to foster loyalty and improve customer experience.
3. Explore new sales channels
Brands can no longer rely on paid Facebook or Google Ads to create demand. A diversified marketing approach is the only sustainable approach to building an eCommerce business, particularly when you consider how many channels consumers use across their entire buying journey.
A great example of this is Amazon, with recent data demonstrating that over 70 percent of U.S. consumers begin their product searches on the retail giant’s website.
Thus, your eCommerce strategy should include an understanding of how to sell on Amazon (and a plan to start selling on the platform).
You should also explore/experiment with new channels beyond Amazon including:
Ebay: There are 187 million global users on eBay and the site boasts 101,000 shopping hours a month.
Google Shopping: Google offers several different ways for eCommerce businesses to showcase their products including search and Shopping ads.
Bing Shopping: Yes, Bing is still an option, with 60 million U.S. users and a high-value audience (but less competition from other advertisers), this is another one to add to the mix.
04. Offer eCommerce Gift cards
Digital gift cards can help boost brand awareness, drive sales, and inspire customer loyalty. Use of digital cards has skyrocketed over the past year and a half as a result of several pandemic trends.
These include the rise in demand for advanced payment solutions and the widespread use of mobile shopping (specifically, smartphone usage). Growth in this sector is staggering. The global digital gift cards industry generated $258.34 billion in 2020. This is projected to increase to $1,101.03 billion by 2030.
There are many ways eCommerce gift cards can benefit your online store. They can attract last-minute shoppers to your website during the holidays, improve your search engine rankings with dedicated “gift card” landing pages, and attract new customers.
Gift cards also help boost revenue above and beyond the cost of the card, since research has shown that recipients tend to overspend the card amount by an average of about $60.
They’re also a great way to reward loyal customers for repeat business.
05. Live stream shoppable events
Live stream shopping is an emerging digital trend that both online store owners and customers are embracing. A live stream shopping event occurs when a person or business uses streaming video to sell products or services in real time to a live audience.
The delivery method varies but can include social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram, eCommerce websites, and dedicated video platforms like YouTube.
Live stream shopping events can be one-to-many events where a host broadcasts to an audience (e.g., QVC style) or one-to-one clienteling events where a salesperson speaks directly to a customer while the customer shops.
Live stream shopping is extremely popular among Gen Z and Millennial consumers, with roughly 60 percent of both groups saying they’re comfortable purchasing from a brand’s live stream event. As live stream shopping grows in popularity, the functionality offered by platforms and providers continues to improve. For example, TikTok recently rolled out a shoppable feature that enables users to add pop-ups to live shopping events. Viewers can tap on the product popup to add the item to their shopping cart with mobile checkout beginning within TikTok.
This kind of functionality within live stream video is happening across the entire social media ecosystem and promises to be an exciting new tactic for eCommerce businesses in the new year.
06. Nudge zero-party data collection
Zero-party data is the information that a customer shares directly with a business. It differs from first-party data in that it doesn’t include website analytics, CRM, social media profiles, and other customer data shared indirectly.
Zero-party data is becoming increasingly important because privacy regulations like Europe’s GDPR and California’s CCPA limit the collection and sharing of consumer data by third parties without their consent.
Zero-party data facilitates eCommerce personalization—enabling you to customize content like product recommendations, offers, and deals to your customers as they shop online. Focusing on this strategy is cost-effective since you likely already have a database of customer information, plus consumers are willing to provide their data to companies when there’s a clear benefit.
The best way to collect zero-party data is by asking customers to register on your website or app. Think about how you can get more than just contact information during this process. For example, you can ask about sizing and color preferences or other details relevant to what you sell (e.g., preferred operating system, topics of interest, etc.) You can also get zero-party data by creating email campaigns, offered by services by Wix CRM, and adding surveys or polls to your website.
07. Construct a customer advisory program
Most businesses want to know what drives, excites, and motivates their customers, but getting this information from simple polls or customer feedback forms can be challenging.
Creating a customer advisory program can help you better understand your business. Advisory programs are great for building community and they don’t have to be a big expense. You can offer your customers gift cards or free merchandise as an incentive to participate.
An effective customer advisory program uses different methods of outreach (e.g., focus groups, surveys, beta tests, etc.) to obtain high-value feedback from your customers about your business, products, and user experience.
eCommerce merchants can test different messaging and gain a much better understanding about which products customers prefer. Advisory feedback can also help you create more intuitive and conversion-oriented user experiences, gain insight into preferred online payment solutions, and unearth nuances like whether customers want options to buy products internationally.
08. Build out a story-driven product detail page model
Creating effective, conversion-oriented, and impactful product detail pages is a balancing act. It requires that multiple elements work together to inspire customers to make a purchase.
Most customers abandon product pages due to lack of information, clear images, a poorly visualized call-to-action, and lack of trust elements (e.g., accreditation badges, return policy link, etc.).
Merchants can optimize the buying experience by making every product page tell a story through the use of detailed product descriptions, great visuals (including video elements) and compelling social proof in the form of badges and customer reviews/ratings. You should also clearly indicate product availability and communicate urgency (e.g., low stock, shipping cutoffs around the holidays, etc.).
A product page that tells a story contains crisp, informative product descriptions accompanied by important information (e.g., the model’s measurements and size they’re wearing). It should speak directly to your target audience, and clearly communicate the product’s features and benefits while communicating emotion (e.g., cozy, comfortable, festive, etc.).
09. Invest in content
The right content can help eCommerce merchants educate, inform, and engage with customers. The content on your product detail pages, category, and home pages is really the bare minimum of what you should have on your online store.
To sell online, you need to connect your content strategy with your commerce strategy, aligning messaging across all customer touchpoints.
When building an eCommerce marketing strategy, plan your content around the customer’s needs. Make sure people can find information about your products on social media and can access information via mobile devices.
Your content strategy should consider every channel where your content will appear. Content should be accessible and documented so that it can be easily retrieved and repurposed.
A great way to begin planning content for the coming year is to do an audit of your existing content including what’s outdated and what’s missing as well as a wish list (e.g., live stream video events, long-form blog posts, updated product images, etc.) This will help you understand the timing and resources needed to consistently create and deliver content throughout the year.
10. Test new markets
The internet is nothing if not a vast global marketplace, blurring the definition of what it means to buy and sell locally. Globally, buying power is growing. In 2020, 1.4 billion people were part of the global middle class, with 85 percent located in Asia Pacific countries.
Suffice it to say, there’s never been a better time to test new eCommerce markets. International eCommerce presents a huge opportunity for digital store owners who want to expand to new markets.
Our own data has found that Wix online store owners who sell across borders average nearly 700 percent more in sales than those who don’t.
When testing new markets, it’s important to thoroughly research the rules and regulations of each region, localize your store (e.g., by adding native languages, ensuring content is culturally sensitive, and hiring a native speaker to review all website elements).
Selling to new markets can help differentiate you from your competitors. It’s a great way to grow your eCommerce business.
Are you ready for whatever this year might bring? Every Wix online store is built to deliver industry-recognized speed, performance, and reliability.
How to grow your eCommerce business FAQ
How do I grow my eCommerce business?
There are 10 steps to grow your eCommerce business: 1. Build a community 2. Think like a brand marketer 3. Explore new sales channels 4. Offer eCommerce Gift cards 5. Live stream shoppable events 6. Nudge zero-party data collection 7. Construct a customer advisory program 8. Build out a story-driven product detail page model 9. Invest in content 10. Test new markets
What eCommerce business is most profitable?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the most profitable eCommerce business will vary depending on a number of factors, such as the products or services offered, the target market, and the overall business strategy. However, some of the most profitable eCommerce businesses tend to be in the following categories:
Fashion: The fashion industry is a huge market, and there is always a demand for new and trendy clothes.
Electronics: Electronics are another popular category, and people are always looking for the latest gadgets and gizmos.
Home goods: Home goods are a great way to make a profit, as people are always looking for new ways to decorate their homes.
Food and beverage: Food and beverage is another popular category, and people are always looking for new and delicious things to eat and drink.
Beauty and personal care: Beauty and personal care is a growing market, as people are becoming more and more interested in taking care of their appearance.
How can I promote my eCommerce business?
Here are some ways to promote your eCommerce business:
Social media: Social media is a great way to reach a large audience. Make sure you are active on all the major social media platforms and that you are posting interesting and engaging content.
Search engine optimization (SEO): SEO is the process of optimizing your website so that it appears higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). This will help you attract more visitors to your website.
Paid advertising: Paid advertising can be a great way to reach a targeted audience. You can use platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Ads to target people who are interested in the products you sell.
Email marketing: Email marketing is a great way to stay in touch with your customers and promote your products. Make sure you are sending out regular emails with new product announcements, special offers, and other updates.
Word-of-mouth marketing: Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most effective ways to promote your business. Encourage your customers to leave reviews on your website and social media pages. You can also offer incentives for customers to refer their friends and family to your business.
How do I increase eCommerce sales?
Offer discounts and promotions: Discounts and promotions are a great way to attract new customers and encourage existing customers to buy more.
Improve your customer service: Excellent customer service is essential for any business, but it's especially important for eCommerce businesses. Make sure you are responsive to customer inquiries and that you resolve any problems quickly and efficiently.
Offer free shipping: Free shipping is a great way to attract customers and boost sales. If you can't afford to offer free shipping on all orders, offer free shipping on orders over a certain amount.
Make it easy to shop: Make sure your website is easy to use and navigate. Customers should be able to find what they're looking for quickly and easily.
Offer a variety of payment options: Customers should be able to pay for their purchases in the way that's most convenient for them. Offer a variety of payment options.
Head of Outbound Marketing, Wix eCommerce
Bogar leads thought leadership and outbound marketing for Wix eCommerce. He has an extremely soft spot for all things eCommerce, retail, tech, content, and marketing.