In 2010 how often did you buy things on Amazon? Chances are, not as much as you do now. In the past decade, e-commerce has made leaps and bounds into how, when and where consumers shop.
For me, it changed more than that. I founded my e-commerce business in 2015 and grew the brand from $0 to 6-figures per month in revenue in a short 12 months. I quit my corporate job and dove into the entrepreneur world headfirst. Since then, I haven't really looked back, only forward.
As the 2019 year comes to a close, I have been gathering my thoughts on the future. Here is what I see happening with e-commerce and how best to prepare your business to stay relevant and succeed in the new decade.
1. Being a "family-owned business" isn't enough anymore.
It is not enough to be a "mom and pop" brand on Amazon anymore. What once was unique and inspiring no longer matters online. In a local community, supporting small businesses feels intimate, but online it has become gimmicky and saturated. Consumers aren't searching for online sellers local to their hometown; they are looking for the best product that supports a mission. They are looking for a captivating brand story that is doing exciting things.
To remain relevant you must get really clear on why you are doing what you are doing. Choose and sell products aligned with something you care about so you show up authentically in your marketing.
You have to create a brand people can get behind. Brands giving customers an opportunity to get behind them are the ones that will win. That is how e-commerce now works.
2. Socially impactful businesses win.
You must connect with a mission directly connected to your brand and story. It needs to be a real cause, with a real purpose for you to support them.
The sad truth is, human beings are getting lazier as technology is getting better and buying gets easier. People don't want to put in the effort to actually pick up trash off the beach or spend time in homeless shelters. They would rather give money to a company that keeps beaches clean and helps get the homeless off the streets.
In order for your business to succeed, it must have a strong social component that connects deeply with your core customers. You want to pull at the heartstrings and passions of your buyer through the cause you select. Ask yourself, "What type of causes would this person believe in?" and put your focus there.
3. Customer service remains king.
Customer service matters more now than it ever has. If you don't value the service side of your business, you will fail. The companies willing to spend more on their customers will end up the victors in this new decade.
This aspect of a business is the key variable to locking in return customers. And, in business, retaining customers is much less expensive and time-consuming than obtaining a brand new one.
The reality of how customer service works is this: customers aren't comparing your $20 purchase to another $20 purchase. They are comparing your customer experience with the very last customer experience they encountered. This means, if they went out for morning coffee and became best friends with the barista before hopping online to shop, that is the service you are competing against. You have to be ready to become their best friend.
Don't think about the customer service of your competitors. Think about the best experience you have had as a customer and emulate those practices into your own business.
The world of e-commerce has taken on a whole new life in this past decade, and it looks like things are only just getting started. Take steps now to prepare your business for what is to come.