E-commerce development isn't just about designing and building a website. This is about transforming your website into a profitable business. An enterprise that you can grow successfully and, perhaps, even sell in the future.
In 2016, actress Reese Witherspoon started a club called "Hello Sunshine". The mission was simple: Share empowering stories of women and promote female equality in all aspects of life. The concept evolved into a book club, a podcast, a media division and an online store. And in August of 2021, Hello Sunshine sold for $900 million. That's not a typo.
Private equity giant, Blackstone, cut a check for $500million to Reese and her team. The remaining $400million will be rolled into equity in the new firm. So how does a book club earn a valuation of nearly $1billion? The answer is surprisingly simple.
As the retail landscape has dramatically shifted in the past 20 years from brick-and-mortar to online, several voids have been left in the shopper's psyche that still need to be filled. While we love the ease of point-and-click shopping, we miss the interaction with other humans.
Reese Witherspoon and her team tapped into a feeling and an emotional desire for togetherness and personal connection for large demographic. And, most importantly, they were able to monetize the movement.
Now, of course, Reese has the advantage of leveraging her celebrity status and we can't underestimate that advantage. However, the principles that she followed can be duplicated and we have used these principles to grow revenue for start-up clients by more than $1million/yr.
Hello Sunshine shows us the power of the 3 C's.
While business owners are anxious to get to the sale, consumers are looking for much more. Your customers know they can go to Amazon for any product they can imagine. Amazon is easy. Walmart is easy. So why should they spend any time with you?
One answer is content. Reese Witherspoon understood this critical element. She spent time and effort in producing quality content about empowering women on her Hello Sunshine site. The content is her most important product and much of it is free. It's that content that drives so much traffic to her site.
To put it plainly, content is your first product. You need to help your consumers solve problems that they want solved. You need to be an information center of real, powerful and relevant information. And we aren't talking about content designed to sell your products. We're talking about content that is sales-pitch free. We are talking about real information that is accessed at no charge and without annoying ads, links and pop-ups every time you scroll or click. We are talking about content that your would-be customers bookmark and access often with ease. Content that your customers want to share with friends.
If you sell cooking products, your content might be recipes. If you sell outdoor products, your content might be reviews of hikes, lakes, and nature. If you sell automotive products, your content might be new car reviews, test-driving videos or industry trends. If you sell clothing your content might be about activities relevant to the clothing brand.
Content is branding. Real content is thoughtful, rich and rewarding. And a company that is serious about content understands that the content itself is the first, and most important product that you are giving to your customers. And, at least initially, that content is free.
Click here to have Fulton365 develop your content strategy and deliver your first content materials.
The second ingredient to your successful online venture is the creation of community.
Reese, once again, did it right. She started a book club. A place for millions of people to share an experience together. To read books consistent with her company mission and to have a moment together to talk, to bond, to listen and to be inspired. Those positive feelings that are created within her community become associated with her brand.
Over the past 20 years as consumers have transitioned from brick-and-mortar shopping (visiting a physical store) to online shopping, they went from being human beings that interacted with your business to dots on a computer screen described as a session, a bounce, an interaction, a click, a conversion and, hopefully, a returning customer.
We can't forget that those dots and numbers are people, and people want to be heard. People want to make new friends. People are social and want to interact with other people.
An online community is a way for business owners to interact with would-be customers. And the wonderful thing about customers is that they will tell you exactly what they want.
Brick-and-mortar retailers can simply walk their stores, talk with customers and observe customer behavior first hand. They will hear that prices are too high, that product quality is poor, that the pants don't fit and more. They will also hear about the products that they should have but don't have. E-commerce businesses need a place where customer's voices are loud and clear.
Podcasts, videos, live events, social media and even conventions or gatherings must all be part of your successful e-commerce strategy. The more you interact with and listen to your customers, the more loyal they will be and the more relevant your product offering will be, because you will simply be listening to them and giving them what they want.
Click here to purchase community development by Fulton365 to have your community created for you.
The third most important element of a successful virtual online business strategy is commerce. Reese executed this step perfectly with a boutique online retail store that sold books and products consistent with her brand and them.
You must monetize your efforts or you won't be able to fund your programs. Yes, great communities and great content require funding. Consumers understand this and they don't mind paying for it. Neither of the first two C's above can be developed without commerce to fund the effort. But commerce itself must come last, because it will come last in the mind of your customers.
Successful online communities create opportunities for your customers to meet and interact with each other. And of course, in those settings, they will talk about you, your business and your products. And when a customer endorses your business and products independently, would-be customers convert at a much higher rate.
The commerce portion of your business can function unabashedly like a retail store because that is what it is. You will have sales, you will run PPC, retargeting and affiliate campaigns. You will promote your products within that portion of your site as any great retailer is expected to do. Your commerce must be successful for the content and the community be succeed.
Click here to have Fulton365 build your commerce program for you.
Consider your business the way that you would consider a ride at Disneyland.
The long line is your content and there is great care taken in designing the build out around the line. Often times, the story of the ride you are about to take is shared in the creative surroundings throughout the line.
The ride itself is the community. It's a shared experience that you have with others that is designed to tap into your most human emotions of laughter, fright, love and enjoyment of being with others. Something we all desire.
Finally, when emotions are at their peak at the end of the ride, you exit through the retail store. Nobody is aggressively asking you to purchase anything, you choose to make a purchase on your own as a way to remember that experience and to be part of that community. You see others making purchases and it makes you more comfortable to make a purchase yourself.
Our goal at Fulton365 is to help you turn your e-commerce business into an e-commerce experience. Focus on the experience, and the sales will follow.
Contact us to learn more about how we can help you develop content, communities and improved commerce today.