Despite the odds, though, entrepreneurs all over the world are starting new ecommerce companies every year. A recent study found that there are over 100,000 ecommerce websites worldwide which are ‘generating revenue of meaningful scale’.

So, under such difficult market conditions, how are all of these ecommerce businesses getting customers, making them happy and, in short, surviving in 2018?

To find out, Econsultancy recently held roundtable discussions with senior marketers in Bangkok, in partnership with Magento and BORN Group. Throughout the day, participants shared their ecommerce experiences and offered insights into how ecommerce companies can survive and thrive in today’s competitive landscape.

1) Get the basics right

Attendees said that to survive, ecommerce businesses must have strategies for the 4 ‘basics’ of ecommerce:

a. Attract customers

Ecommerce businesses should engage consumers creatively with content on other online channels. This could include offering rewards to use their site as opposed to a marketplace.

One marketer added that small ecommerce companies can use the fact that they are not well-established as an advantage, as many consumers are open to trying a new site once, given the right incentives.

b. Make an impact

New ecommerce firms often just have one chance to retain customers. To do so, they need to provide a memorable experience which consumers may not have with a larger site.  One participant suggested that one way to do this was to provide instant and helpful replies to customer questions.

c. Transact quickly

Consumers no longer tolerate slow websites or any delays in fulfillment. New entrants to the ecommerce space should aim for one-click transactions and do whatever they can to reduce delivery times, participants agreed.

d. React to customer demands

New ecommerce companies should also use systems like comment aggregators and sentiment analysis to learn how customers feel about products and the shopping experience. They should also avoid hesitating to respond to complaints. Dive in and respond quickly, suggested one attendee.

2) Get to know customers over time

Ecommerce providers should also quickly identify their niche, build customer personas and customize their site for their target market, according to participants.

To do so, ecommerce companies need to understand their customers better by carefully observing how they use the site and then continuously improving the customer experience for them. One example of a site which has executed this strategy successfully is Asos whose stated mission is “to become the number 1 fashion destination for 20-somethings globally” and has a site clearly designed to appeal to its target market.

3) Build trust with regular customers

After learning about your customers, ecommerce companies need to build trust with their customers by simplifying the buyer’s journey and make their site more ‘human’ over time.

While speed is one of the many important factors in building trust, developing a brand personality which users ‘get to know’ helps too, said one participant.

4) Work hard to deliver a truly seamless experience

Finally, ecommerce companies need to put great effort into remaining relevant to their customers. This can be accomplished by sending genuinely bespoke offers over email or by personalizing the site for each customer, said one attendee.

Overall, though, participants agreed that fast and satisfying customer service was the key to developing a long-term relationship with customers and keeping Amazon and Alibaba at bay!

A word of thanks

Econsultancy would like to thank the people who took time out of their busy schedules to moderate the discussions and provide the summary points at the end of the sessions:

  • Claire Ngamvilaidee, Digital Marketing Strategist,
  • Nuttakorn Rattanachaisit, Founder & MD, Predictive, and
  • Bunphot Woradhambundit, Digital Marketing Consultant

We’d also like to thank our sponsors for the day, Magento and BORN Group, as well as all of the senior marketers who related their experiences and provided insights as to how ecommerce companies can survive in 2018.

We hope to see you all at future Econsultancy events!

Ecommerce: Third-Party Marketplaces for Retailers