How to Develop Your Online Retail Strategy

May 23, 2014
Retail Strategy CC Photo Credit Sean MacEntee

The term “online retail strategy” probably seems vast and unwieldy because it can encompass so many things. What product should you sell? Who should you sell to? How do you reach them?

But when thinking about how to develop your online retail strategy, there are really just basic main principles to remember.

Focus on your customer. Without customers, you don’t have a business. Because of this, it’s vital that you keep the customer in mind with every action that you take. In the beginning, this should mean figuring out who your ideal customer is so that you can make sure you reach them and cater to needs that they really have. Later on, it will involve thinking about how your company’s actions may affect them in positive or negative ways and doing your best to keep them happy.

Get the details right. Speaking of keeping customers happy, one of the best ways that you can do that is by being really good at your job. Make sure you have clear policies on shipping, returns, and so on, and follow those policies. When a customer orders something, put policies in place to make sure they actually get what they ordered and that they get it on time. Mistakes are bound to happen from time to time, but they should be the exception and not the rule.

Go the extra mile. Yet another part of the strategy aimed at customers – are you beginning to see a trend? People appreciate it when it seems like you’re going out of your way to help them. This can be more difficult for an online-only business to display, but it’s not impossible. When people email you with questions, answer them quickly and thoroughly instead of waiting or offering a rote response. And when someone does experience some kind of problem, try hard to work with them to fix it and keep them happy. Even if it costs you a bit more for that one incident, a happy customer is more likely to stay loyal or recommend you to friends.

Learn the four Ps. What are the four Ps? Product, Place, Price, Promotion. There’s a lot more that can be written about this part of your retail strategy, but here are the basics. Product refers to offering a product that people want and making sure that you can make a profit on it. Place simply means offering a venue for people to buy that product. Price is about finding that sweet spot where you’re making money and your customers feel like they are getting value in buying your product. Promotion involves letting the right potential customers know about your product so that they can purchase it.

Remember, these are just the basics to help you develop your online retail strategy. Every business has subtle differences, and you may find that what works extremely well for another online retailer is a colossal failure for you – or vice versa. The key is in understanding your position in the marketplace and what sets you apart from your competitors. The basic principles described above are the first step.

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