Expo East Wrap Up: The Biggest eCommerce Challenges
Fresh off our trip to Expo East, it's easy to see that natural product brands are stepping up to meet the growing consumer demand for natural, organic, and cruelty-free choices. And as interest increases, so too does the competition across the eCommerce landscape to earn those customer dollars.
At this year's event I met with lots of truly amazing natural brands and I heard some of the same challenges over and over again. So, here's a look at five of the pain points brands shared - and my perspective on how to tackle them in 2023.
Natural brands need to reach customers with their story
Every brand I visited with had fantastic mission statements and meaningful stories behind how they started. The companies I talked to said they are lacking the ability to showcase themselves well in their digital content.
The good news: There's actually plenty of spaces across retailer platforms to take a deeper dive into who you are as a brand. Go beyond product descriptions and listing images by utilizing things like brand stores and A+ content to highlight your full story. Not sure where to start? Take a look at our Creating eCommerce Content That Sells article.
The Catch-22 of review generation
Brands need a high volume of positive reviews to be most visible on retailer sites like Amazon and Walmart. But you've got to get on-platform sales to generate those reviews. But you need a high volume of positive reviews to be visible. But you can't get reviews without sales...sound familiar?
The good news: I'm gonna be honest here. Review generation is a slog. Retailer sites are designed to keep customer confidence high and that means depending on a system that amasses authentic reviews. There's no shortcuts to be had - but there are some best practices to get started and build customer generated content efficiently. Here are just a few from our playbook:
- Drive early momentum. Jumpstart review accumulation is to drive sales velocity. Coupons, promotions, pay-per-click (PPC), and other media will all help.
- Get the news out. Use social channels, employee networks, etc., to generate early buzz and those first critical sales.
- Make customer service easy to find. Having a 1-800 number and email address clearly shown on the package (or product insert) can eliminate a lot of negative reviews and also generate positive sentiment.
- Use applications like Yotpo to reduce the friction of leaving DTC reviews (and to create a syndication base)
- Leverage platforms like Bazaarvoice to generate reviews that can be used on DTC, Walmart, and others.
Limited in-house eCommerce resources are strained by the workload
I heard this pain point so many times and it seemed to affect brands of all sizes. Startups to established brands are feeling the pressure of the work it can take to grow online sales and be profitable on retailer platforms and direct-to-consumer (DTC) websites.
The good news: An eCommerce partner (like BOLD 😇) can integrate into your in-house team seamlessly to help fill in the gaps and provide strategic guidance for building online marketplace and DTC growth. An agency partner can bring expert teams, proven processes, and software that often make a more cost-efficient and faster choice, compared to scaling in-house solutions.
Prioritizing the right platforms for growth
So many platforms...so many retailers...and don't forget your own DTC website! Brands at Expo East told us they are working to understand which channels are their best option for fastest discovery and growth.
The good news: Our clients have found that a complementary strategy of marketplace presence and direct-to-consumer websites can work together rather than split your resources. You can find your shopper on high traffic platforms like Walmart.com and Amazon and move them over time to your site, where you can deepen their relationship to your brand. Check out our recent article Marketplaces and Direct to Consumer are MFEO for more on this topic!
Utilizing innovation to attract the sale
The natural product space can feel like a crowded one. While there's plenty of consumer interest and sales opportunity, there's also no shortage of brands, including huge, familiar grocery store names in the mix. Brands wanted to know how to stand out among competitors in an overpopulated space.
The good news: The eCommerce landscape can present a much more level playing field than the in-store shelf. Big brands and niche labels can have equal access to the digital shelf and the online customer. You can make sure you're getting the most from your Amazon listings with these seven best practices for natural products.
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