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EDITORIAL UK ecommerce growth requires a marketing rethink

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The UK is the third largest ecommerce market in the world in terms of spend relative to GDP, lying behind China and South Korea. According to research out this week, UK ecommerce accounts for around 7% of GDP – an impressive figure.

And it is growing. According to eBay, there has been a 237% increase in small sellers setting up on the marketplace over the pandemic as more individuals and small businesses see the opportunity afforded by selling online to a newly digitised shopper base.

According to the company, 72 million items have been sold in the past year on eBay in the UK, its biggest year yet. Electronics, home and garden ware and fashion and sportswear are the clear leaders.

While this is excellent news of all ecommerce players, it does raise the prospect of selling online becoming evermore competitive and margins ever tighter. So what can putative retailers venturing into this competitive market do?

One of the key areas that needs investment is in mobile. Increasingly, the swathes of online shoppers that are either browsing or browsing and buying from retailers are doing so from their mobile phones.

But having a mobile-optimised site is no longer enough: mobile is so much more – it is the channel through which brands and retailers need to communicate with their customers, as well as marketing to them.

These days, marketing involved engagement and two-way interaction between brands and consumers and that has to happen via mobile.

We have looked before at how shoppers are interacting with brands of all kinds using a vast array of messaging channels: SMS, email, WhatsApp, social media and social media DMs and more. This so called ‘conversational commerce’ has gripped the consumer base tightly across the lockdown and now brands and retailers need to capitalise on this.

Evidence for its success is clear. Even using simple SMS can be really effective. According to research, brands that use text messages to speak to their customers build better relationships and improve retention, with average lifetime value (LTV) rising by as much as 25% when SMS is used for two-way communication.

In fact, low alcohol brewing company Days Brewing saw a 62% LTV increase from customers engaged via text compared to those only contacted through more traditional channels. Impressive results.

The message, if you’ll pardon the pun, is clear: to stand out in a crowding ecommerce marketplace, brands and retailers have to be proactive and engage with consumers through the channels they want. The days of ‘build it and they will come’ are done… now you need to build it and talk to them about it and then they may just show up again and again.

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