Jagoda Złakowska, Communication Manager at Kreatik, talks to Karolina Maj and Kamila Gąsior – trainers of educational projects Firmy Jutra, about the main problems and challenges in e-commerce, what ROR is and where to find free knowledge straight from experts!
Hi Karolina and Kamila, thank you for accepting our invitation to talk. First, please tell me a few words about yourself.
Karolina: I have been working in marketing for almost 20 years in the music media as the editor-in-chief and PR specialist and then as the owner of a marketing agency. I have worked with companies such as 4fun.tv, VIVA Polska, Jetix Europe Ltd. (currently Disney). I love to create new solutions and put them into practice – I like to play with form, color, and words. Since 2017 I have been associated with Google’s educational projects – first Google Internetowe Rewolucje, and now Firmy Jutra, a program implemented by Google and PFR under which I conducted over 250 courses and consulted over 800 companies from the SME sector in the field of online marketing. I am also responsible for establishing cooperation and communication as Partnership & Communication Manager in Firmy Jutra.
I support my experience with extensive knowledge gained in four fields of study and during numerous pieces of training. In 2016, I received a Master of Business Administration diploma awarded by the Poznań University of Economics and Business.
Kamila: I am an Online Marketing Trainer. I started my adventure with marketing over six years ago, supporting entrepreneurs in the Google Internetowe Rewolucje program. I gained extensive experience in my previous positions in marketing agencies – i.a. in the social media, PR, or event departments. I am a graduate of Wyższa Szkoła Zarządzania i Bankowości, the University of Economics, and the Marketing Masters School of performance marketing.
You provide e-commerce courses for entrepreneurs. I guess that during such courses there are a lot of questions. Are you able to indicate the ones that appear most often?
Kamila: Our course is attended by very engaged entrepreneurs, which is why there are a lot of different questions – depending on the advancement of a given group. Analytics enjoys the greatest interest – from the basics of what analytics is for and how it can influence my business to often more advanced and technical aspects related to the Google Analytics tool itself. An important topic discussed in the Q&A was increasing website traffic, or even what advertising channels are worth using.
We are noticing a growing awareness of online marketing, as there are more and more questions about reliable sources of knowledge or trends.
Karolina: In the context of the programs we run, there are also very often questions about the costs of supporting Google Advisors. Unfortunately, only a few people know that the support of advisors is completely free.
You are in contact with e-commerce entrepreneurs every day. What do you think are the biggest problems in this industry?
Karolina: I think that currently, the biggest problem in the e-commerce industry is the uncertain future and rising prices, which, of course, affect everyone, regardless of the industry. Another problem is the very dynamically developing technology, which not all entrepreneurs, especially the smaller businesses, can keep up with. Implementing SEO and how to plug in Google Analytics is just the beginning! Automation, personalization, artificial intelligence, and the cloud await entrepreneurs just around the corner. In order to implement this correctly, you would need to specialize in each of these areas separately or hire specialists, which is not always available in the budget.
Kamila: Technological progress make e-commerce owners and brands to keep up constantly with the growing expectations of customers who expect a fast, comfortable, and increasingly personalized shopping experience. With ever-increasing expectations and so much competition, it is very difficult to keep customer loyalty. Companies constantly need to demonstrate a deep understanding of their target group – how they make decisions, what motivates them, what problems they have, or what encourages them to buy.
What are the key metrics for e-commerce? What needs to be measured, and what information can be extracted from it?
Kamila: When talking about key metrics (KPIs) for e-commerce, first of all, it is worth considering what the goal of our website is and what we really want to achieve, because KPIs will allow us to measure the level of target achievement. It is worth focusing on those that allow you to monitor sales results, the level of engagement, or the effectiveness of marketing activities. In fact, each company can introduce its own KPIs depending on the activity.
In the case of online stores, it is worth paying special attention to:
- Cart abandonment rate, which should ideally be low. Even a minimal increase in this indicator can be a sign of, for example, an error on the website, a hidden cost discouraging the customer from completing the order, or unclear communication. The analysis of the abandoned carts rate can contribute to a better understanding of customer behavior and eliminate barriers that cause shopping cart abandonment.
- Average session duration, i.e. the average time users spend on the website. This metric allows you to assess the level of user engagement and identify issues that may affect the time spent on the site.
- ROI (Return on Investment) in online marketing is a measure of the effectiveness of marketing activities, which determines the ratio of profit to marketing costs. ROI is a key metric in online marketing because it allows you to understand exactly how effective your marketing campaigns are and what profits they bring.
Karolina: More and more entrepreneurs are also aware of the importance of the so-called ROR (Return on Relationship). A particularly important indicator if we are talking about the strategy of communication and building trust that customers have for the brand.
Karolina, can you tell me more about the ROR ratio? Why do you think it is so important? How can it be influenced?
Karolina: In the past, the ROI mentioned by Kamila was the only measure of investment profitability. Currently, entrepreneurs are increasingly aware that to develop a business financial outlays are not enough and investing resources in building relationships with their potential and current customers is also necessary. Examples of such relationship-building include:
- building valuable content that meets the needs of customers
- building a community around the brand in various channels
- high-quality customer service
- or even collecting positive feedback
These are just a few examples of what can ultimately increase profits for the company.
Could you point out the 3 most effective actions that any e-commerce business with a limited budget can implement? What solutions are worth implementing at a low cost at the beginning?
Karolina: In my opinion, what is worth doing, first of all, is to take care of the basic knowledge of visibility in search results as well as to think over a communication strategy that will work for a specific brand image from the very beginning. Inextricably linked to this is also valuable content as well as fine-tuning communication at various levels – inside the store, in external channels, or at the customer service level.
Kamila: At the beginning, it is worth putting yourself in the client’s shoes and ensuring good navigation on the website, i.e. UX. The customer must have no problem finding a specific product, and the website itself must encourage conversion as much as possible. Items to pay attention to are:
- Friendly content – that is the size of the text, its layout, aesthetics of the content, etc.
- Product card – what the photos, descriptions look like and whether they need optimization.
- Checkout – that is, placing an order: the ability to use the numeric keypad, auto-complete, correcting errors, and summary.
It is also important what Karolina has already mentioned – valuable content such as blogs, articles, instructions, or infographics to attract new users and encourage them to come back. Taking care of customer opinions, especially when it is a new business and the brand does not have a built image and credibility among potential customers. Supporting your customers and encouraging them to leave positive reviews about your brand and products can help you gain new customers and increase sales.
I completely agree with that. We conduct a lot of UX audits ourselves, and see how many errors are ignored and how fixing them can increase page conversion. Speaking of mistakes… What are, in your opinion, the 3 most common mistakes in e-commerce?
Kamila: The first important mistake, especially from the customer’s perspective, is a poorly prepared product card. Poor quality, unsightly photos are often posted on the website, or they do not show the product in the right context, e.g. a ring on a hand. Product photos must attract! The same goes for product descriptions. Very often they do not sufficiently present the benefits and features of the product. Insufficient information about the product can make it difficult for customers to make a purchase decision as well as contribute to more returns due to the product not meeting expectations.
The second common mistake is the pricing policy – the belief that competition can only be fought with the price. This approach can be fatal. Lowering prices alone will not win loyal customers, which the company should care about the most.
The lack of a specific target group and its segmentation is another e-commerce mistake. Online store owners do not pay attention to who their product is intended for. The lack of identification of the target group results in the lack of consistent communication, which makes it much more difficult to sell the product. After specifying the target group, it is worth segmenting to be able to apply the most effective marketing activities.
Karolina: In addition to what Kamila has already mentioned, I can only add that entrepreneurs very often focus on cliché solutions and are afraid of creativity, which can have a very refreshing effect on their businesses. I always say “check, test, and play with the topic”. Not everything always has to be done by the ruler, but it is worth paying attention to quality. Customers will certainly appreciate the quality and creative approach.
What changes in the e-commerce industry have you noticed over the last few years (say, since the beginning of the pandemic)? Or has little changed there?
Kamila: First of all, a pro-client attitude. Companies are increasingly meeting customer expectations and doing everything to make the customer purchase in their store. They lead him by the hand through the entire shopping path. They have a full range of facilities for their customers, such as the Click and Collect function – order online and collect in the store, or deferred payments – buy now, pay later. It is worth mentioning the changes in the form of sales because more and more often we meet with Live Commerce – it is nothing more than shopping during live broadcasts, or Social Commerce – i.e. shopping via social media. It is very noticeable that users more often make purchases from a smartphone, which is why companies focus not only on user experience in an online store, i.e. User Experience but also on Mobile UX, i.e. the same model to mobile devices.
Karolina: Customers have more and more confidence in technology, but they also automatically become more comfortable. I can even see it in myself. Why should I leave the house when I can do something while drinking coffee on the terrace? The pandemic also taught us that we really owe a lot to technology – suddenly it turned out that grandma can join a video conversation, you can talk to a psychologist online, and you can order groceries to the very door – including still warm bread. This has a huge impact on the development of e-commerce. Stores must take into account the needs of increasingly older customers, and inclusivity is a term that I have been seeing everywhere lately.
Those are interesting insights. What challenges do you think await the e-commerce industry this year?
Kamila: With the development of technology and the growing expectations of customers there are quite a few of these challenges. Data security first: Online transactions and the use of various e-commerce platforms have increased, increasing the risk of customer data breaches. E-commerce companies are responsible for managing security to protect their customers’ data from theft and abuse.
More and more customers pay attention to development, and eco-friendly slogans are already penetrating our everyday life. Consumers can take advantage of the company’s development standards, and to remain competitive in the market, the company will have to live up to expectations.
If we are already looking into the future, what trends will reign in e-commerce this year?
Kamila: This year it is worth focusing on data-based marketing, which is why companies will increasingly decide to use analytical tools. The growing role of technology is also significant, so we should not forget about, for example, cloud solutions, which both companies and customers will be more willing to use. It is also worth noting the growing popularity of video, which has become a very valuable communication and sales tool. This trend is already visible on the market, but it will continue to develop.
You mentioned earlier that entrepreneurs often ask for reliable sources of knowledge. Can you recommend a few?
Karolina: Trends and development in technologies and tools continue to be of great interest. There are many, very often free, sources of knowledge from which you can learn.
In the field of online marketing, Google currently runs two free educational and development programs:
- Umiejętności Jutra > umiejetnoscijutra.pl – for which recruitment is currently underway (and will last until March 31, 2023). It is a program dedicated to people who want to start their careers in online marketing. The program includes knowledge and practical skills from over 30 leading experts in the country, it also allows you to get a certificate from Google and the Warsaw School of Economics, and gives you a chance for a new career path after only 8 weeks.
- Firmy Jutra – Google and PFR program > firmyjutra.pl is a program dedicated to entrepreneurs, where we educate companies throughout the country in various areas of online marketing, sales, export, and cloud. It is worth looking for our worhshops in your area – we cooperate with over 100 organizations throughout Poland and our meetings are mainly webinars, so everyone will surely find something for themselves.
It’s time fot our standard question. 🙂 Imagine that you fall into a deep sleep and wake up in 10 years. How do you think the world will change?
Kamila: Probably the most noticeable would be technological progress, the pace of its development, and the way it permeates our lives we can already see. I could be surprised by trends and changes in behavior (not only shopping) in society. Preferences could be completely different than those we observe now. According to current trends, e-commerce will become even more mobile.
Karolina: As an optimist, I try to believe that we are going in the right direction after all and that despite human imperfections, every year and generation is a chance for a better tomorrow for us. Because I like to sleep, I would love to fall asleep to see what will happen and what awaits us… I think in 10 years will appear new solutions for public transport – we will fly more often than drive. Our phones will also look completely different, and we will do a lot of things in virtual reality contacting with artificial intelligence. I think that the future is closer than ever. As for the development of e-commerce, I think that virtual fitting rooms and shopping (already offered by some brands) will become widely available, and special drones will deliver products to our homes.
I am looking forward to a call center with AI that can always be reached quickly. 😉 Thank you for the interview!