eCommerce Next team spoke to Mark Lewis, founder and CEO Netalico Commerce on the changing landscape of retail and commerce. We went in depth of choice of eCommerce platforms and overall strategy that one can adopt in the time of Covid Crises.
In 2019 International Data Corporation said that 40% of all technology spending in 2019 is going toward digital transformation. How do you see the trend, especially with COVID-19?
COVID-19 has put fuel on a fire that was already burning in retail companies trying to modernize and focus on eCommerce.
But previously what was just a trend towards focusing more on eCommerce, now seems more of a mandate as in-person commerce has been permanently altered. More and more companies will start rebuilding their retail offerings around eCommerce as the primary channel, and the in-person experience as more of a showroom, as we’ve seen from companies such as Warby Parker, Tesla, Casper, Harry’s, and even Amazon’s new “4-star stores”.
You work with several eCommerce solutions. How do you compare Magento with Shopify?
Nowadays we usually look at a SaaS solution like Shopify or BigCommerce as the first option in platform consideration, because not having to worry about a lot of the behind the scenes technical work like servers and SSL’s takes a huge burden off of the merchant and typically reduces their total cost of ownership fairly significantly. SaaS platforms have come a long way in providing a streamlined eCommerce experience that’s a good fit for the majority of use-cases. But there are merchants who have complex business or regular requirements like selling regulated products like prescriptions or alcohol, particularly on the backend, where a SaaS solution just doesn’t have the flexibility that’s required to fulfill the merchant’s needs. That’s where more robust solutions like Magento come in. Because you have complete access to the code, you can ostensibly do whatever you want (with enough time/budget).
Going the eCommerce way is much more than just buying or subscribing to eCommerce software. What would you suggest to brands to prepare for an eCommerce journey?
Prepare to turn your company into an online-first company. You have to start viewing eCommerce as your primary channel and your in-person retail as an additional channel. Talk to an agency that specifically consults in eCommerce rather than just trying to go at it haphazardly by hiring some freelance developers. Starting with an expert who can guide you in the right direction can actually help you use your resources more efficiently from the start, rather than putting money and time into a path you just have to reverse later.
User Experience and User Journey plays a significant role in conversions. Where do you see these fit in the eCommerce journey?
UX is so important nowadays in eCommerce because the internet is such a crowded and intensely personal place: people don’t just shop, but also socialize, find entertainment, work, study, and even eat online. A customer’s user journey may find them looking at an ad while scrolling through their high school friend’s posts on Instagram, browsing while watching Netflix on the couch, or opening an email just before they go to sleep for the night. Consumers are so distracted by everything else on the web if they aren’t able to find what they’re looking for quickly and buy it, you’re going to lose their attention and likely never get it back. Plus, reviews, social ads, and more give customers a voice they haven’t typically had in traditional retail, so ensuring the user experience is stellar from the first touch of an ad to unboxing an order and staying on an email list is hugely important. Most consumers shop through their mobile devices, so you need to really consider the first impressions that your website sends and the journey that a consumer goes through to get to the checkout.
A large dollar share goes to pre click spend; however, companies don’t focus hugely on post-click experience. Your comments?
Your website is the bottom of your marketing funnel, and if it’s effective, then all of your pre-click spend is more effective, and the results multiply outward. I strongly believe a website should always be a work in progress. There’s always room to improve performance, try a new design, or tweak messaging. Plus, returning visitors often convert at a rate of 2-3x or more than new visitors, and yet they’re a market that is often overlooked. Post-click spend is hugely important for retaining customers and building a relationship with them long term. It’s cheaper to keep your existing customers happy than create a lot of churn and always have to replace them with new customers.
Forrester research says that 25% of SMB don’t have a digital strategy; what is your advice to SMB owners to build a digital strategy?
Having a digital strategy is essentially mandatory nowadays in the age of COVID19. If you don’t already have one, look at who your customers are and how they shop in your retail stores and try to create the most seamless transition to your online presence as possible. How can you engage with your existing customers online and build your audience?
What are the plans for Netalico in the next few years?
It’s exciting to hear every year all the ways that companies like Shopify, BigCommerce, and Magento are improving the platforms that we build upon to help our merchants. We exist solely to support eCommerce merchants so we’re always just working to keep up with the latest web and mobile trends to help the merchants we work with provide the best shopping experience to their customers.
About Mark Lewis
Mark brings with him over 15 years of web development expertise and over 8 years of
eCommerce development experience working with Magento, Shopify, and WordPress
design. Prior to founding Netalico, Mark worked for multiple web development
agencies, startups, Hewlett Packard and NASA.
Netalico is a hands-on, merchant-focused ecommerce development agency that
helps Magento, Shopify, and BigCommerce merchants build, maintain, optimize, and
grow their online stores through smart, scalable code; data-driven, conversionfocused design; and quick, personal support. We’re people and partners, not just