How to build your brand to thrive in the future of ecommerce

How to build your brand to thrive in the future of ecommerce

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What do people say about you when you can’t hear them? Are you a kind, caring person? Or are you hard to be around?

Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room. To build an ecommerce brand, you need to stay in their minds and stay in the times.

So, how do you achieve those things? How do you optimise for the future of ecommerce and build your brand with sustainable growth in mind? Let’s look at some new and emerging ecommerce trends.

Top ecommerce trends in 2022 and beyond

Some of the top trends in ecommerce at the moment include:

  • Marketing diversification — rising cost-per-click and customer acquisition costs are pushing businesses towards new approaches, new channels and niche networks
  • Social commerce — sales are moving away from websites and onto social channels
  • Attribution difficulties — the end of third-party cookies and new privacy laws are making it harder to measure performance marketing
  • AI — more brands are looking to artificial intelligence to create better customer journeys
  • Personalisation — AI is part of a wider emerging trend of personalising every aspect of ecommerce to the individual customer

Taken as a collective, current ecommerce trends show that it’s harder and increasingly more expensive to be found via ads, to track that your ads are working, and to differentiate your company from the competition.

Building a brand fit for the future of ecommerce

Within that landscape, the best way to create a business that’s going to achieve lasting success and stay ahead of the competition is to get people to invest emotionally in your brand. You need to build relationships with customers to encourage loyalty and increase customer retention. The strength of the emotion and loyalty you stir in your customers will be reflected in the strength of your brand. So, how do you embrace that approach and build a strong ecommerce brand?

Show your brand values and differentiators at every opportunity

Building a brand means sharing your story, communicating your values and, to some extent, justifying your existence. As it becomes harder than ever to stand out from a crowd, you need to demonstrate your brand values and differentiators everywhere you encounter potential customers.

You need to get into people’s heads to change shopping behaviours. According to Les Binet, Group Head of Effectiveness at adamandeveDDB, long-term brand growth is dependent on changing people’s minds in a way that will bias their future behaviour. “Brand building is about building up these mental structures [and] getting a long-term flow of sales, revenue and profit, now and into the future,” he explains.

Footwear brand Allbirds successfully built those mental structures in its customers by consistently reinforcing itself as a sustainable alternative to its competitors. This brand building process helped the company quickly rise from humble beginnings to going public, despite operating in a very crowded market.

How to show your brand values

  • Create a compelling brand story that’s rooted in the things that compel customers to buy from you
  • Understand the things that make you different from your competitors and highlight them at every opportunity
  • Demonstrate your brand values and show your customers you share their values — 66% of consumers are attracted to brands with a great culture that does what it says it will do, while 52% buy from brands that align with their personal values

Build a community around your brand

The most successful ecommerce brands go beyond being brands and become an identity. Building a brand community converts customers into advocates and loyal supporters. Brand communities:

  • Increase customer retention
  • Reduce customer acquisition costs by encouraging word-of-mouth referrals
  • Generate valuable customer data
  • Personify brand values
  • Build trust and amplify your brand

The ultimate ecommerce community-building success story is Gymshark. In PPC’s heyday, the gym wear brand was way ahead of the curve by:

  • Using social media bio links and calls-to-action to drive traffic to brand events, not its ecommerce store
  • Launching exclusive products that plugged-in community members would hear about first
  • Turning influencers with shared values into ambassadors and brand advocates
  • Creating events and popups that would build both community and word-of-mouth referrals
  • Creating free, useful and informative fitness content that would appeal to community members

How to build a brand community

Identify and communicate the purpose of your community.

It's not enough to just create a community. Your audience needs to connect over a common purpose and feel like they belong to something greater than themselves.

Define success at the outset

What should your community achieve and how does this help your brand?

Create exclusivity

Give community members access to parts of your brand that are not available to the wider public.

Build habits

Find the habit-forming quirks and perks that you can embed into your community culture and keep your customers coming back to you time and time again. What can you offer that will get people thinking about your brand every day?

Hire (or be) a strong community manager

Behind any successful community is an effective facilitator, communicator and instigator. Find someone who can ‘be’ your brand and entice others to join them.

Feed in personalisation

Personalisation is an emerging but underutilised ecommerce trend. 85% of businesses believe they offer personalised experiences; 60% of consumers agree with that assessment. The personal data and intimacy generated within a community make it the ideal place to deliver truly personalised experiences to your customers. Using AI and data science, monitoring consumption patterns, and improving upselling recommendations are some of the ways to achieve this.

Create live commerce experiences

Think old-school shopping channel as seen through the prism of your brand and its values. Use live videos, shoppable videos and clickable user-generated content to create live shopping experiences for your community. The content will serve as a gathering point for community members, as well as a driver for sales.

Nurture brand advocacy

There’s obvious overlap between community and advocacy, but we’re making the differentiation here that a community can be something built around your brand while brand advocates go out into the world on your behalf.

Brands don’t come much stronger than Adidas. As far back (in the fast-paced world of ecommerce) as 2016, the sportswear giant declared: “Our goal is that 30% of shared content on our brands through social media and other channels is user-generated content.”

The same report says: “We firmly believe that advocacy will create sustained growth for our brands, underpinned by the fact that brand advocates on average buy more than non-advocates.”

In short, even the brands with the deepest pockets and the richest heritage believe this is the way to go.

How to create brand advocacy

  • Identify your advocates — understand who you want to advocate for your brand, why, and what motivates them
  • Follow the community-building tips we’ve already discussed
  • Make your customers feel like you care about them and their needs
  • Offer products your customers want and give them opportunities to shape future products
  • Directly reward referrals (either financially or through exclusive access)

Remember that the scope of brand advocacy spans from the highest profile influencers to two mates chatting. Word of mouth referrals are a key part of brand advocacy. That Adidas report discusses the importance of key promotion partners like Lionel Messi and fitness advocate Gigi Hadid in one breath and in the next notes that "a large part of our consumers rely on referrals by friend or family when making purchase decisions”.

Measure your brand

Building a strong ecommerce brand isn’t easy. With all of the investment of time and effort needed to achieve the things we’ve discussed above, many brands still lean too heavily on the certainty and instant results of paid media. But as PPC attribution becomes more challenging, measuring brand performance and striking a balance between long-term and short-term marketing is increasingly important.

An over-reliance on short-term data has distracted ecommerce brands from achieving long-term growth, says Les Binet. The answer is to include measurement of long-term impact within your data.

Clothing brand tentree worked with marketing agency Northern and Facebook to measure long-term brand impact alongside the usual Facebook Ads metrics. The performance branding study showed the focus on brand ultimately increased purchases, unaided brand awareness, and brand familiarity.

How to quantify brand impact

Generate long-term data to measure your brand using these methods outlined by Qualtrics:

Evaluate your brand’s financial value

Distil your brand down to a monetary asset that can be included on your balance sheet. This could be based on:

  • The amount it costs to create and build the brand
  • What the brand would be worth if you sold it
  • Income generated or costs saved by growing the brand

Measure your brand’s strength

Use emotional data from consumer surveys to measure how your brand’s value grows during multiple interactions with someone over time. Models for conducting these surveys include:

Measure brand awareness

Use focus groups, sales data, customer feedback and reviews, brand searches and surveys to measure awareness of your brand. Ask questions about:

  • Intent to buy
  • Current brand awareness vs past brand awareness
  • Purchase history

Track brand relevance

See whether your customers agree that your brand provides unique value by fulfilling its specific purpose to its target audience. Measure this using:

  • Customer satisfaction surveys of your brands, products and experiences
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) insights
  • Conjoint analysis surveys

Measure output metrics

Analyse brand messaging to measure the impact on performance. Do this by:

  • Varying brand messaging to measure responses to different versions
  • Varying prices to measure the premium your brand can achieve before losing the sale to a competitor
  • Measuring responses to brand-related calls to action, such as email sign-ups, loyalty programmes and community membership

Study financial data

Compare current sales figures with historical data to determine:

  • Market share
  • Profitability
  • Revenue
  • Customer acquisition cost (CAC)
  • Customer retention
  • Lifetime value of a customer

Compare with your competitors

See how your brand measures in the market by comparing various metrics with your competitors. Use things like:

  • CAC
  • Sales
  • Social media engagement 
  • Revenue via specific sales channels

Start building your ecommerce brand

Brand is absolutely vital in the future of ecommerce. There’s no point wishing you’d got up and running in the days of the PPC gold rush. Find the balance between the short-term growth offered by ads and the long-term growth that comes from creating a brand that stirs powerful emotions.

Get started on that today by:

  • Identifying your brand values and brand story
  • Considering what will differentiate your brand from others in a crowded marketplace
  • Exploring how these things will engage and retain a loyal community
  • Planning how your community will advocate for your brand
  • Deciding what success looks like and how you will measure it

How to build your brand to thrive in the future of ecommerce
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Juni is the financial platform built for ecommerce. We give you a unified view of your finances, with cards, mulitcurrency accounts, and banking, accounting and advertising integrations - all in one place. We can even help boost your cash flow with working capital, cashback and more.

Download our free whitepaper and gain important ecommerce and marketing insights, directly from Juni.

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Juni will not share your information with any third parties except for our verified partner network. Submit your email for even more valuable content, delivered straight to your inbox.

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