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Evolution of Consumer Shopping Behaviour
Over the years, consumer shopping behaviours have changed drastically, with an increased popularity in online shopping. The rise of digitalisation, shift in consumer attitudes and mobility are just some of the many causes that have contributed to this online surge. More recently however, the main reason lies in the Covid-19 pandemic, which has resulted in the need for social distancing and stay-at-home measures. As consumer shopping habits continue to change and evolve, brands, marketers and advertisers must learn to adapt and stay relevant in order for their business to flourish. This article will serve as a guide to that.
The first step is to analyse how different shopping habits were in the past as compared to the present with focus on physical stores, and ecommerce in online stores.
Shopping in the Past – Physical Stores
Before the rise of ecommerce platforms and stores, physical shopping was all the rage. The shopping experience was vastly different and these brick-and-mortar stores focused on aspects which might be considered irrelevant to ecommerce shops.
Product Quality and Customer Service
The sense of touch plays a vital role in physical stores yet lacking in ecommerce. One general rule of thumb is that if a product has a high number of ‘non-digital attributes’, it needs to be touched and experienced before a consumer buys it. The next step then involves a retail staff. Sometimes, shoppers require guidance to make the right purchasing decisions. In physical stores, customers can readily get assistance and with the right expert help, purchases are often made.
Less Focus on Digital Marketing
As seen above, physical stores tend to focus on the tangibles including product quality, shop design, retail staff etc, while the intangibles such as digital marketing and branding takes a step back. This is partly because digitalisation was way less prominent back then as compared to now. In fact, the Internet only came to be in 1983 and Google in 1998!
Shopping in the Present – Ecommerce Stores
Gone are the days when retail sales claimed monopoly in the consumer world as the option of online purchasing is presented to today’s customers. The rise of online shopping has proven that ecommerce shops can perform well even without a physical outlet through SEO strategies. Ecommerce is the activity of electronically buying or selling products using online services or over the Internet. Let’s look at some of the central focuses of ecommerce that differs from past physical stores.
Product Imagery, Description and Reviews
A 180 degree shift from physical stores, product imagery, description and reviews have become the ‘sense of touch’ of the digital world. Without being able to physically feel products, consumers now turn their attention to these factors. Product image creates the first impression on buyers, product description is used to show a product’s value to potential customers while reviews reinforce credibility. All these impact purchasing decisions in online shopping and also influence ecommerce SEO strategies, which will be discussed further on in this article.
Digital marketing has become the lifeline for ecommerce businesses, offering both reach and ROI. As online users continue to grow, digital marketing can now reach millions at a time. Digital marketing tools and services can pull targeted customers or the right prospects at the right time. One way is to leverage on SEO services provided by professionals as that can potentially increase exposure of ecommerce stores to search engines. This enhances the possibility of your ecommerce store appearing on the top of search engine results pages (SERPs).
The Role of SEO in Popular Ecommerce Platforms
SEO is the process of improving quality and quantity of website traffic from search engines and revolves around increasing organic traffic. For any ecommerce site, ranking at the top of search engines is a high priority. Using the SEO services of experts and professionals can help your website rank higher than your competitors. Many ecommerce platforms are realising the importance of SEO and are now optimising SEO on their platforms for the benefit of ecommerce owners. Let’s explore some of the most popular ecommerce platforms and how they leverage on SEO tools.
WooCommerce helps users build an ecommerce store using WordPress. By far the most popular way to make a website is through WordPress. WordPress acts like your website’s operating system. What WooCommerce does is that it takes that basic WordPress operating system and turns it into a fully-functioning ecommerce store. Beyond that, WooCommerce is the most popular way to build an ecommerce store for successful sites. It powers 25% – a plurality – of the ecommerce stores in the top one million sites worldwide.
WooCommerce contains built-in SEO features that can be used to optimise sites for SERP. It differs from the above platforms as it performs more as a plugin that needs to be incorporated with the WordPress ecosystem. Straightforward and seamless, this plugin is a great option for users. WordPress is the SEO friendlier content management system (CMS) and WooCommerce inherits most of these SEO functions. With the WordPress editor, users can easily edit body content, URLs, meta descriptions, alt tags and other page elements to optimise product pages.
A Canadian multinational ecommerce company, Shopify offers online retailers a suite of services including payments, marketing, shipping and customer engagement tools. Shopify is built around ecommerce and comes with several SEO-friendly features right out the box. With a user-friendly, simple and clear interface, the platform consists of all the tools that businesses require to rank higher. Last but not least, Shopify is known to have an amazing site category structure, highly favoured by online users and search engines like Google. All in all, Shopify is a cost-effective platform that has the right capabilities to manage SEO well.
BigCommerce is an online store builder powering tens of thousands of stores in more than 150 countries. It provides users with complete customisation control from store design, adding of products, uploading of photos, processing of orders, creation of pages and more. Beyond serving a wide range of industries including fashion, electronics, health products etc, integration with various shopping and comparison sites e.g. eBay is made possible. When it comes to ecommerce SEO, BigCommerce auto-populates SEO-friendly URLs for product, category and other pages with the option to change URL settings. It also ensures that every unique page has only one URL to avoid duplicate content. In addition, microdata built into product pages enhance search listings though ratings, pricing, brand etc. With their special content delivery network constantly working in the background, sites can load quickly for both shoppers and search engines, which impacts search rankings.
Squarespace is a website building and hosting company, providing software as a service for these purposes and allowing users to use pre-built templates and drag-and-drop elements to create and modify web pages. Though SquareSpace might not have been as SEO-friendly at the start of their launch, they have since made improvements and now have decent SEO functionalities. Their SEO features include auto-generated sitemaps and customisable page titles and meta descriptions. Compared to WordPress, SquareSpace still has room for improvement before being able to catch up with all of the SEO features and functionalities that are generally available on WordPress.
Wix provides cloud-based web development services. It allows users to design and build their own website, online store or mobiles site through the use of online drag and drop tools. Today, it boasts a wide range of SEO features that are practical and intuitive. 82% of users saw improvements in their Google rankings after using Wix SEO tools. SEO can be daunting to new users and Wix panders to this audience by ensuring that no coding is required and SEO is built into the Wix dashboard, so that audiences can focus on content. In addition, Google integration including connected Wix websites to Google Analytics and Google Search Console is made seamless. It is important to note that though Wix is excellent for core SEO, advanced SEO may be trickier. The margins can be pretty fine when it comes to search results, and Wix does not excel beyond the basics.
To learn more about ecommerce platforms, read SaaS eCommerce Platforms: Are They Suitable For Your Online Business?
Ecommerce has revolutionised retail, and this industry will continue to evolve to meet the changing demands of the modern day consumer. From customisation, improved integration and advanced ecommerce SEO, these changes have taken the ecommerce world by storm. At its prime, ecommerce platforms are created to help both retailers and consumers experience the best online selling/shopping experience. It is now more important than ever for merchants to create and enhance their ecommerce businesses to meet customer demands. Here are some of the current trends in ecommerce that merchants should know to help improve their ecommerce business.
How Covid-19 Pandemic Fuels Online Shopping
As the Covid-19 pandemic rages on, the new digital normal rises along with the need to embrace technology. Whether it is school, work or leisure, all these activities are now carried out online, with a prominent surge in ecommerce shopping, making ecommerce SEO all the more important. Southeast Asia’s online sector is expected to hit US$300 billion by 2025, while ecommerce sector is projected to be worth US$150 billion by 2025. Indeed, social distancing and stay-home measures have left consumers with little choice but to resort to online purchases for the safety of their health.
Increase in Mobile Shopping
Mobile commerce sales are projected to reach $3.56 trillion in 2021—22.3 percent more than the $2.91 trillion it registered in 2020. With the number of mobile users currently at 5.22 billion and growing, there is no indication that mobile commerce will stop anytime soon. One of the factors influencing this surge lies in the convenience of mobile shopping, which can be done anytime, anywhere. The flexibility in mobile payment options is also proving to be enticing for customers’ mobile shopping experience. This means that it is highly advisable for retailers to consider mobile SEO in their ecommerce business.
Increase in Younger Consumers
Though the shift to online shopping is seen across consumers of all ages, it is mostly the younger generation that dominates this trend. In fact, a survey has shown that 67% of consumers aged 18 to 34 are spending more money purchasing items online now than before the pandemic. Compared to previous generations, millennials and Gen Zs having been brought up in the Internet era are more technology savvy and comfortable using digital platforms. With this being said, merchants should bear in mind to cater to younger audiences in their ecommerce SEO business strategy.
Social Media in Ecommerce
Social media are interactive technologies allowing the creation, sharing or exchange of information, ideas and other forms of expression through virtual communities and networks. It offers opportunities for brands to connect with consumers in new and interesting ways, across a wide variety of platforms; perfect for digital marketing. 87% of ecommerce shoppers believe that social media helps them make a shopping decision, 40% of merchants use social media to generate sales and 30% of consumers say they would make purchases directly through social media platforms. Ultimately, the ability to engage, build a community and direct shoppers where you want them to is incredibly useful.
To learn more about using social media in ecommerce, read: Social Media Marketing Strategies For eCommerce Websites
Maximising Personalisation and Loyalty Programmes
Ecommerce personalisation refers to the practice of delivering individualised experiences by dynamically displaying content, product recommendations, or specific offers based on past behaviour, browsing history, purchase history, and demographic data. It essentially shares the same goal as SEO, which is to drive traffic to your ecommerce website. Personalisation helps create engaging and profitable user experiences for customers and is integral in any ecommerce business where large numbers of products are involved. On the other hand, loyalty programmes are important as they help businesses retain existing customers and attract new ones through rewards, discounts and special incentives. This improves sales and allows for sustainable growth.
Rise of Augmented Reality Experiences
Augmented reality (AR) is an enhanced version of our physical world achieved through the use of digital visual elements, sound, or other sensory stimuli delivered via technology. Currently, many digital marketing services in Singapore revolve around AR. With the understanding that the sense of touch is almost non-existent in online shopping, AR makes up for that and enhances the experience by offering customers deeper and more complete information about products from the comforts of home. Examples include try-on solutions, which is extremely useful for products involving fashion and beauty. With the ability to achieve so much in such a convenient manner, it is no wonder that AR has become a popular trend in the ecommerce world.
Read more at eCommerce Marketing Trends in Singapore this 2021.
Starting an Ecommerce Business
Starting an ecommerce business that leverages on SEO requires a ton of research and knowledge. Here are 10 steps to guide you in creating your own ecommerce business. These 10 steps will be split into three parts – research, set up and marketing.
Step 1: Market Saturation Research
Market saturation is a scenario where the demand for a product becomes much lower than the supply. Conducting market saturation research before starting your own ecommerce business is important as it is a key indicator of market competitiveness and gives you an idea of how well your products might sell. This information can help determine your business goals by estimating growth or decline, identifying key trends in consumer behaviour and realising market potential and opportunity.
Step 2: Target Audience Research
Target audience refers to the specific group of people you wish to sell your products to. It is important to understand your target audience in order to digitally market to them well. With effective digital marketing comes brand loyalty, which helps convert consumers into customers. First, keep your target audience’s pain points in mind. Pain points are specific problems that prospective customers of your business are experiencing in the marketplace. What are some of the challenges they face? What are they looking for? Next, consider how your products can solve these pain points and benefit them. By comprehending this concept, your digital marketing strategies become more skewed and relevant.
Step 3: Product Research
As an online retailer, one of the most important things is for you to be an expert when it comes to your product. You have to know your product inside and out in order to effectively sell. This is especially true in the digital space where you would be required to curate your own content and create your own product description. Apart from content creation, having knowledge on your product boosts credibility and empowers greater trust between you and your customers.
Step 4: Ecommerce Platform Research
The last research you’ll have to do is in the different ecommerce platforms available. It is after all the ‘home’ of your products. You’ll want to ensure that this ‘home’ satisfies your demands and houses your products well. Is this ecommerce platform easy to use? How SEO-friendly is it? Will it create the best user experience for both me and my potential customers? These are just some of the many questions to consider when choosing your ecommerce platform for SEO optimization. The right ecommerce platform is different for everyone and highly dependent on your needs and products.
Step 5: Register Your Ecommerce Business
Now that your research is completed, it is time to think about the set-up process. Registering your ecommerce business builds credibility for your brand. To customers and suppliers, a registered business appears more legitimate because information on your business can be searched and verified
Step 6: Business Licences and Permits
Business licences aren’t just for brick-and-mortar stores, you may require a business licence even if you’re selling from home. Home businesses can face the potentiality of trouble related to business licensing violations depending on your location. In Singapore for example, businesses generally must register with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA). This allows members of the public to check ACRA’s register for information about the business and its owner(s).
Step 7: Sourcing for Vendors
Depending on the nature of your ecommerce business, vendors supply your products for you to resell them at a profit. The rise of ecommerce shopping and ecommerce SEO has created the need for suppliers in this fast-paced sector within the retail industry. It is best for you to choose suppliers that are agile, flexible and quality oriented to not risk being driven out of business by competing ecommerce shops that have leaner, more reliable supply chains.
Step 8: Budgeting for Marketing
After your ecommerce business is all set up, comes marketing. First, plan your marketing budget. Your marketing budget determines how much money you have to work around and how exactly to spend it. The best is to create a marketing strategy and set a monthly or yearly marketing budget to make sure it happens. This ensures that you are staying on target with estimated costs versus actual costs.
Step 9: Drive Market to Your Ecommerce Website
For business owners, the desire for more customers always remains. When it comes to ecommerce, these customers present themselves in the form of traffic to the ecommerce website. In a highly digitalised world where your products are sold online, digital marketing becomes one of the best methods to drive this traffic. Using social media and SEO are just some of the many ways in which digital marketing can be maximised cost-effectively while gaining a wide outreach. You may want to also consider outsourcing to digital marketing companies in Singapore for comprehensive, well-thought digital marketing campaigns.
Step 10: Leveraging on Google Shopping Ads
Google Shopping Ads can be one of the most effective digital marketing strategies to drive sales and revenue for your ecommerce shop. These are product-based ads that appear for product searches across Google and Google Shopping. It can help you reach shopper specific-search queries with clickable images at the very top of the search results. Many ecommerce agencies with digital marketing services in Singapore can aid you in this. By standing out in search results and displaying well on mobile and in-image searches, these ads are great for ecommerce optimisation, generating greater awareness and credibility.
Strategies to Maximise your Ecommerce Website
Once your digital marketing strategy has been effectively executed, you can expect increased traffic to your website. With more potential customers, you’d want to make sure that your ecommerce website offers the best experience to encourage purchases and retain customers.
If you’re looking for ways to increase your ecommerce shop’s visibility and popularity, one of the most effective ways is to optimise your online store for search engines. As mentioned above, leveraging on SEO can help your ecommerce store perform well in Google searches when done properly. One tip is to determine your target keywords. Find out the most common keywords that your target audience is using (you can do this with keyword tools) and insert those words on your website pages and metadata, along with information that is helpful, descriptive and relevant. Another tip is to use long-tail keywords. These keywords are generally three to five words long. Long-tail keywords are popular as people tend to use more than two words when doing a search. Be as specific as possible with your product; insert information including colour, category, size etc. Remember, people who use long-tail keywords have a higher conversion rate because they know exactly what they are looking for. With that being said, SEO can still be challenging to navigate without experience. As one of the leading digital marketing agencies and SEO companies in Singapore, we at OOm are perfectly positioned to help you.
To learn more about using the right keywords, read: A Guide To Keyword Research For eCommerce SEO
Improve Your Product Pages
Your product pages basically define your products in their entirety, from their features, unique selling points, users, manufactures and more. This allows users to look deeply into what a product offers and how it will benefit them once they buy it. Optimising your product pages specifically enhances your chances of driving conversions on your ecommerce website. As important as it is to develop traffic to your home page, product pages must also be optimised for better SEO and higher search results. One way is to create unique product descriptions. Put in the effort to write comprehensive content for each product and include details including FAQs, features, reviews and more. If content creation isn’t your thing, OOm can help you with that! We specialise in digital content creation as part of our SEO services in Singapore.
Optimise for Mobile
As mentioned above, mobile ecommerce shopping is on the rise with more people using their phones, spending more time on it and enjoying the convenience that mobile phones offer. Take note that even though your website looks good on desktop, it might not translate to mobile. In this case, it is advisable to look out for an ecommerce platform that has mobile SEO built-in. Mobile SEO refers to the search engine optimisation of websites combined with flawless viewing on mobile devices. If not, it is best to work with a web designer. Another thing to take note of is user-friendly navigation to empower the best user experience. At the very least, users need to click on the important elements on your site such as the main menu, pages, posts, and links. Therefore, do ensure that these elements are easy to find, accessible and clickable on their mobile phones to encourage them to stay on your site longer.
Build an Email List
An email list is a list of contacts who have opted into receiving information, updates, and other details related to your brand directly to their inbox. This direct line of communication is an effective digital marketing strategy to connect with your target audience at scale. When you’re building your email list from scratch, create a personalised call-to-action (CTA) for each website page. HubSpot has found personalised calls-to-action have 42% higher view-to-submission rate than calls-to-action that are the same for all visitors. Time pop-up surveys are also useful in building your email list. After a user has spent a certain amount of time on your website, the website will deem this user as interested in your content and prompt them for a sign up.
Read SEO 101: How to Optimise Your Ecommerce Website for More Tips!
Ultimately, it is highly apparent that the rise of digitalisation together with the impact of the current Covid-19 pandemic have created a surge in ecommerce businesses. This online landscape sees an upward projection in ecommerce sales that will not change anytime soon, rendering it a prime time to begin your ecommerce SEO journey in Singapore. Just remember to do enough research and look into engaging digital marketing companies or ecommerce SEO agencies in Singapore.
Any digital marketing services or SEO services you need is right up our alley! Simply contact OOm at 6391-0930.