5 Things I Learned About E-Commerce in 2021

Having been involved in a major e-commerce project, here I outlined 5 things I learn about e-commerce in 2021.

5 Things I Learned About E-Commerce in 2021

Early this year, I had the fantastic opportunity to be involved in revamping our e-commerce store. As a scholarly publisher, we sell books primarily to the academic market: researchers, scholars, and tertiary students. The project entails a total overhaul that includes complete migration to a new platform with a new look, design, and even a brand new name.

Since the explosion of e-commerce in this region for the past few years, the undertaking is timely since we needed a new platform that can cater to the demand of today's market, consumer behavior, and technical architecture. The following are five things I learned about e-commerce in 2021:

1. Look and feel play a part in attracting customers

A good e-commerce storefront is crucial in attracting customers. It gives them a first impression of who you are. Therefore, it must be consistent with your brand story and values. An e-commerce store also serves as a virtual experience for people to know more about your company and your products. Before and after launching, we closely monitored and listened to people who visited the websites. We asked them what they thought about the new e-commerce store. We were pleased with some of the early feedback: engaging, different, daring, and even witty. We also attended comments on how we can continually improve the aesthetic.

More importantly, we needed to create a responsive store that works excellently with different screen sizes, especially mobile phones. Statistically, as much as 60% of our e-commerce store first-time visitors arrived via mobile devices. Hence we can't underestimate the importance of a mobile-friendly interface.

2. Have good products

Having a nice-looking e-commerce store is one thing. Selling is another different thing altogether. Having people flocking your e-commerce store does not much if you can't offer good products for them. After all, products are those that make money for you. No product, no sales. Therefore, coming up with good products is a prerequisite in operating a successful e-commerce business. Creating products that can fulfill the market demand, especially serving a niche market, can be challenging. The process can be daunting too. But challenges are there to be overcome. Within the challenges, good opportunities lie.

3. Beyond the look and feel, user experience matters

Good design and layout can only do so much. But failure to provide a good experience to the users will result in a lack of engagement and eventually a lack of sales. Having an e-commerce store that is user-friendly, intuitive, and easy to navigate can encourage more people to buy your products or services. It's not just about good design - it needs a clever combination of aesthetics and functionality to make things work.

4. Think of discovery too

How will new users discover you? Social media promotion? Paid advertising? Search engines? Offline marketing? All channels--online and offline--need to be identified and utilized for maximum discovery. Growing a new store, and especially a new brand requires considerable investment in time, energy, money, and not to mention, technical expertise.

The search engines, a vital channel that allows your website to be discovered organically, have also evolved with time. Hence, keeping abreast of the changing search engine optimization (SEO) strategies are essential.

5. E-commerce will continue evolving at a record speed

As e-commerce continues to gain momentum, the landscape will continue changing rapidly. New e-commerce players will continue emerging, while others who have been around for a long time are now trying to evolve into something bigger and better. Some that don't adapt will fold. E-commerce also changes at a blazing speed with technology. What works today might not be relevant at all in a year. Not only the e-commerce platform itself but also how e-commerce integrates with the entire marketing ecosystem.

Marketing is fun

This project is one of my earliest major tasks since joining the marketing team. Previously, I handled journal editorial work for more than a decade. Joining a seasoned marketing team whose members have much more experience than me means I am quite behind. Not just in e-commerce but pretty much everything, all things marketing. There is so much to learn, left and right, and every day, and I have to absorb new things. Nonetheless, the experience is fun, quite frankly, liberating, and I am very grateful for the opportunity. I can't wait for more challenges ahead and learn more amazing stuff.