2020 has been a challenging year for the retail sector, with the disruption caused by the coronavirus lockdown impacting every business. However, this doesn’t mean that the opportunity for growth isn’t there.

In fact, many companies have used this unique situation to their advantage, posting record-breaking revenues through smart online strategies. As a digital marketing agency, we’ve seen how retailers can achieve this growth first-hand.

The State of Play for Retail

All reports and statistics suggest a deepening transition from bricks-and-mortar retail to online. Nowadays, every retailer needs a successful online presence if they wish to continue growing year-on-year.

Findings from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that, dating back to 2006, the percentage of retail sales made online has been consistently increasing. The speed of this transition has only increased over recent years, and the COVID-19 outbreak has accelerated that further.

In April 2020, internet sales as a percentage of total retail sales surpassed 30% for the first time. In May, the figure reached one-third of all sales.

Internet sales as a percentage of total sales graphic

A recent global survey by McKinsey also highlighted this growing trend. While overall consumer spending is expected to remain low during 2020, the majority of sectors are expecting growth for their online business.

Creating an Effective Online Strategy

As more opportunities become apparent online, competition is likely to increase significantly. Recently, Amazon reported a 38% increase in global sales for Q2 2020, benefitting from its position as the leader of online retail.

Other major players continue to produce incredible revenue growth, and getting a slice of that success requires detailed planning and execution.

In this moment, digital marketing becomes more critical than ever for companies.

Ultimately, it is almost impossible for SMEs to compete directly with Amazon in the online retail landscape. What is required instead is a thoughtful strategy which plays to the unique strengths of the retailer and online behaviours of their target market.

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Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

According to a study by BrightEdge, 41% of retail and e-commerce traffic comes through organic search, and 36% of revenue is earned through these channels. As a result, search engines remain the number one way to reach your customers.

SEO is about putting your business in front of your audience at the right time and for the right queries. By creating high-quality content and optimising your website, you can make your retail business appear for terms being searched by potential customers.

Social Media Marketing

Billions of people are now active on social media, and its uses are increasing every year. According to GlobalWebIndex, 54% of social browsers now use social media to research products, and you’ll want to appear front and centre!

To succeed in the noise-filled world of social media, a comprehensive and consistent strategy is required. By creating an engaged and responsive social media audience, you can begin to develop more revenue streams for your online business.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising

Appearing at the top of search results through SEO is the most effective long-term solution, but what if you want to take advantage of current online trends? According to Serpwatch, PPC ads on Google take up to two-thirds of all clicks, making it a hugely effective way of getting customers to your site.

Unfortunately, PPC advertising can become expensive if not properly managed. However, with the support of a specialist PPC agency, it’s possible to achieve ROIs of around £2 for every £1 spent!

What Strategy is Right for My Business?

All of the above points fall under the umbrella of digital marketing, highlighting the point that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. Determining the right strategy for your business can be challenging, as there are many factors involved.

Here are some questions that need to be answered before understanding what direction to take your online business:

  • Where are my consumers? What marketing strategy is most likely to convert an online audience into paying customers?
  • What are my competitors doing? Does the market trend point towards a specific strategy, and are there gaps that can be exploited?
  • What is the state of the industry? Is this a moment of opportunity or consolidation, and how will my consumers react to our ideas?
A laptop on a wooden table with coffee and notepad

While it may seem like an incredibly challenging time for retailers, the reality is that there are still opportunities out there to grow your business. The online retail space is seeing a surge in demand, making investment in your online profile more critical now than ever before.

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Here at Ducard, we’ve helped retailers across all sectors grow their revenues through effective digital marketing strategies. With experts in SEO, PPC, social media and content, we have everything you need to succeed online!

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