5 e-commerce tactics you should avoid in 2021



June 4, 2021



This post was originally published in Power Retail.

In the fast-changing retail landscape, many e-commerce marketing tactics can go out of date faster than ever before. Here are five common strategies and tactics that retailers need to avoid in 2021 and beyond.

1. Pop-ups

Pop-ups have been a key messaging tactic for retailers for years and years. But now, it seems that the trusted method is falling by the wayside. This marketing tool, used to collect contacts for retargeting and remarketing may be effective in retaining a database, but it’s also irritating to customers. What’s more, they can also be irritating to a shopper who has landed on a website for the first time. As Shaun Johnson, the CEO of Maisie AI explains: “It’s like asking someone to marry you on a first date – customers aren’t willing to hand over their personal information as soon as they land on your site.”

Retailers also run the risk of giving away margin unnecessarily by offering discounts to everyone. “Only a segment of the people visiting a website will be influenced by a discount; other segments would have purchased regardless,” Johnson explains.

So what can retailers do about it? Start off by using pop-ups in a highly targeted way, based on customer behaviour. This can also be based on their customer journey or their basket value. “In addition, use chatbots to intelligently engage and assist customers and only ask shoppers to provide some contact information when it makes sense,” Johnson says.

2. Push marketing

One-way, broadcast marketing is a common tactic used by online retailers to blast their customers. In particular, retailers in the fashion industry are found doing this the most. While it reaches a large customer base in a single swoop, it’s considered out of date for businesses in 2021. Why is this? In short, customers don’t want to ‘sold to’, as Johnson explains. “They want to be engaged with in a personalised manner and shown products that are actually relevant to them,” he tells Power Retail.

What are the downsides of this tactic, other than irritating the shopper? It can also drive lower conversion rates and create a negative brand perception. In 2021, this is a problem that retailers should definitely want to avoid. Brand loyalty is so effective and important in the modern retail landscape, that a single bad experience can turn away a shopper forever.

So, how can retailers fix this issue? Use the collected data effectively, not just as a catch-all. “Collect as much data as possible to build customer profiles that can then be used to deliver tailored communications and recommendations to each individual customer,” Johnson says. Chatbots can also be an effective tool to interact with customers across their journey. These bots can be used for product recommendations using AI technology, and assist shoppers to best suit them on an individual basis.

3. Desktop-first website experience

It’s no secret that shoppers love convenience. So when they’re on public transport, on their couch (or even in the bathroom), they’re likely to use their mobile phones and tablets to shop online. So why do retailers focus so much on desktop optimisation? In 2021, businesses must remember that an effective website experience no longer just means fine-tuning their desktop site – mobile is now more important than desktop.

Mobile has been the primary way that shoppers access an online store, with 60-80 percent of all website visits typically coming from a smartphone. If retailers continue to prioritise their desktop experience, they run the risk of losing sales due to lower conversion rates on mobile devices. “Without mobile-first thinking retailers deliver a sub-optimal mobile website experience. This is most acute during the checkout process where too much information is requested from customers,” says Johnson.

How can businesses fix this issue? It’s time to re-think the entire customer journey and experience from a mobile perspective. “Shorten checkout forms to the bare minimum, which is super important on mobile,” Johnson tells us. “Add quick checkout payment methods like Google Pay, Apple Pay, PayPal and Fast to save the customer from having to enter delivery and payment information manually.”

4. Poor website optimisation

The online space is becoming increasingly competitive as brands continue to enter the digital space. As such, retailers need to maximise their website optimisation to the best of their ability, otherwise, they may be left behind. It’s no longer viable to have a basic site – they must be intuitive and understand how the customer wishes to shop.

“Companies need to be spending more time optimising their websites and the overall user journey to capitalise on their heavy top-of-funnel marketing budgets – otherwise you risk burning enormous amounts of budget for limited returns,” says Michael Laps, the Co-Founder and Strategy Director of Yoghurt Digital.

So how can retailers fix this issue? According to Laps, it’s all about the fundamentals of understanding your customers. “The red thread that ties many of those out-of-date strategies together is an under-investment in understanding the behaviours, pain points and motivations of their customers,” he says. “Beyond the development of demographics-based persona profiles, understanding the psychographic makeup of consumers and the triggers that drive their behaviour are critical inputs to accelerating performance improvements.”Whether it’s enhancing your website, writing content, optimising paid channels, building audiences or segmenting your email database – it is all dependent on having an intimate understanding of your customer. Our recommendation is to invest in an in-depth UX research project or a conversion optimisation strategy, and then leverage the insights across all of your other digital channels and strategies,” he tells us.

5. Disjointed shopping experiences

When it comes to shopping online – especially for multichannel retailers – having a holistic experience in varying channels is imperative in 2021. As a result of the pandemic, many retailers were ‘forced’ to expand online, but this could mean that the online channel is bare and thin compared to its in-store counterpart.

“Omnichannel retail was handed to many retailers due to COVID and demonstrated the opportunity brick and mortar retailers can harness when it comes to going online,” says Luigi Moccia, the Founder and CEO of Calashock. “Customers still appreciate the personal interaction and physical retail experience but desire the convenience of being able to order online at 9 pm on a Sunday evening.”

Retailers like Bunnings had the difficult task of creating an online experience that could be complementary to the in-store experience, one that has built a strong reputation for decades. So for retailers, finding the balance of the two channels and seeing them as interchangeable may be the next step for developing a strong brand focus in 2021.

“The days of treating online and offline as two separate experiences are gone, and retailers must be ready to view both storefronts as one,” Moccia tells us.