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Turning Threats into Opportunities in Uncertain Times

Discover how Built For Growth has generated exponential, profitable growth during lockdown.
Author
30 March 2021 - 6 min read

The past 12 months in ecommerce has been a rollercoaster of emotions. From uncertainty and fear through to exhilaration, it has been an interesting period which has taught us the value of proactivity, agility and how opportunities can be found in even the most challenging times.

We have faced a global pandemic and a seismic shift in inter-European trade which have both presented serious challenges. In our experience however, there are opportunities in almost all difficult situations – it's just a matter of finding the right technology and team to help explore and exploit them.

Despite the external forces we faced, our collective goal was always the same. To help meet and exceed our clients targets at an agreed overall CPA%.

At Built for Growth Digital, we have worked very closely with our partners in IRP Commerce through the past year and the results have been extremely positive. It wasn't unusual for us to see year on year growth in several hundreds of percent. In one case, we even had a multinational client achieve 850% year-on-year growth in a particularly hot streak.

How did we manage it? It's important to be very clear that the pandemic didn't make stars out of every ecommerce business in the UK. Exceptional results were possible, but it took ingenuity, the right platform and the right approach to make it happen.

Let's look in more depth at some of the methods we employed and how we turned the power of the IRP Commerce Cloud into exponential, profitable growth for our client base.

Agility

2020 taught us that your strongest sellers and core business can very quickly evolve, or indeed disappear completely. By the same token, some of your least valued products can suddenly become your best sellers. The pandemic taught us that agility was crucial and it was important to be ambitious enough to pursue the opportunities that unveiled themselves as we came in and out of lockdown. We were able to lean on the IRP Trading Terminal readily to see in real time where the opportunities lay. How was customer behaviour changing and what could we do to best serve their needs?

Agility was also very important in digital marketing. In an ever changing landscape, it was imperative that we kept an extremely close eye on CPA% and spend to ensure our activities yielded excellent, profitable returns for all clients. With stock challenges and wildly changing customer behaviour throughout the year, it was imperative to be agile, proactive and reactive to the data in search of the best possible outcomes for our clients.

Communication

On-site messaging

This was a tumultuous 'unprecedented' time. Clear and concise messaging on your site was imperative to success. We faced uncertainty, the like of which we've never experienced in ecommerce. It was very important to tell our customers that we were Open for Business and to be a reassuring, calm voice in the customer's ear.

We were able to use IRP's unrivalled country variation technology to communicate directly with all key target audiences in a succinct, effective way. This was integral to our success. By getting the right messages in front of the right customers at the right time we were able to deliver potent communication strategies that really paid off. We couldn't have achieved this without IRP's ultra-customisable capabilities. Some obvious successful examples include:

  • Country-specific delivery pages to clearly define the latest information. Are we open for business? How long is shipping going to take? Are there any delays? Being open and transparent was worth its weight in gold.
  • Country-specific banners were employed regularly to communicate the latest information or to signpost customers through to pertinent information. These banners were also primarily used to reassure customers that we are taking orders and everything is running as normal.

Outbound communication

It's important to be accurate in our outgoing customer communications where possible. Another area where this became crucial was in GB / IRE customer communications leading up to and immediately after Brexit. We were able to use IRP email segmentation to get correct messages to the correct customer groups. This ensured misinformation was kept to a minimum and also that we were able to distribute relevant, concise information that was specific to each recipient. Without IRP's email segmentation possibilities, this just wouldn't have been possible.

The same principles applied in our digital marketing activities. In the past 12 months it's imperative that the correct messages, USPs and the very latest information is clearly communicated in your creatives and ad copy at all times. A clear focus in this area was also very powerful and rewarding.

Strategy

We've touched on agility, but strategy was also an integral part of our success at Built for Growth Digital. A global pandemic doesn't mean that Mother's Day stops, that your sister's birthday next week is cancelled or that you need a lamp for your home office. What's more, ecommerce stood tall as often the only viable provider of the goods and services required. Opportunities existed that required careful consideration and approaches.

A structured, well-thought-out marketing calendar which looked at seasonality of products, the market and major consumer retail events were key to our success. A digital marketing strategy to support our marketing calendar, target our audiences and communicate our value propositions were more important than ever.

We also had to be agile, reactive and cognisant of dwindling stock, unprecedented demand and very changeable day to day offerings from our clients – so a proactive approach was imperative.

Working around stock challenges

With the pandemic came a lot of missed deliveries and substantial delays from suppliers. Our clients were often also a victim of their own success and sold in volumes they could have .never. anticipated. In places this left stock quite thin.

Let's take fashion as an example. We wanted to make landing pages as shoppable as possible at all times. Rather than land customers on pages where there was very little in their size, it made much more sense to have prominent 'shop by size' buttons at the top of key landing pages. This took the frustration out of the experience and customers were able to see products in their size in one click. This innovation represented a more streamlined process than the typical 3-4 click functionality that other mobile sites can offer ('Filter > Make your selections > Apply > Return Product List').

Smarter reporting

At Built for Growth Digital, we have invested heavily in our monthly reports in recent months. This means our client has much better reporting across consultancy and digital marketing with the information that matters to them. We report on a fusion of IRP Insights and custom data-driven reporting to give customers the information that matters most and the recommendations that will make a .real. difference to their growth and online potential. Our evolved monthly reports have been very well received by our client base and form an excellent reference point for our calls and growth strategies.

Use the full potential of your platform

There is no use having a fantastic array of functionality and features if you aren't going to put them to use and try and achieve your full potential. Below are just some of the things we at Built for Growth Digital found imperative to traverse the choppy waters of 2020:

Promotions engine

With IRP Commerce Cloud we are blessed with an intuitive, powerful promotions engine to schedule a whole host of promotional activity across our sites. These can be restricted by country, brand, basket value or just about any other criteria you can think of to facilitate easy setup and full control. This was a time where everyone was stretched to the limit so the ability to schedule promotions in advance and rely on the platform to take care of the rest was invaluable.

Digital marketing feeds

IRP's feed generator made it very easy for us to be agile and ensure the campaigns we ran only contained products that were in stock. Where stock was a perpetual challenge in 2020, our feed intelligence was a wonderful solution and kept our spend focused where it mattered at all times.

Internationalisation

We were able to be really agile in 2020 thanks to IRP's internationalisation capabilities:

  1. Country-specific display: Working with a surf lifestyle brand for example we were able to have a summer-themed offering for Australia whilst maintaining a winter-themed website for the UK and Ireland. This sounds simple, but afforded us endless possibilities to put our best foot forward in all key markets at all times.
  2. Multi-currency capabilities: As opportunities presented themselves, it was invaluable to be able to offer customers the opportunity to transact in their native currencies. From Pound to US Dollar to Rupee. We can accept and transact in all major currencies. This is something that is invaluable to our target audience and helps us to transition into new markets in an effortless manner. We were also able to utilise 'Advanced Pricing' on the IRP. A powerful tool to allow our clients to charge specific prices for specific products in specific countries. Some businesses may be required to do this by their suppliers, others may wish to retain 'vanity prices' in target countries. All of this is readily achievable on IRP Commerce Cloud.
  3. Alternative payment methods: In pursuit of a seamless shopping experience, alternative payment methods are an invaluable tool for any ecommerce platform. For us this meant ensuring that our customers had the correct payment methods configured for their target countries. Sofort in Germany, WeChat Pay in Asia, and of course the likes of Apple Pay, Paypal, Klarna and Amazon Pay in a more general sense. These all contributed to ensuring we were well positioned to trade in any country we found an opportunity in.

IRP Marketing Cloud

Email marketing is a central pillar of our marketing strategies for all clients. The agility of IRP's Marketing Cloud really came to the fore in the past year. We were able to build segmented email profiles based on historic buying behaviour and customer interests. Rather than an ineffective 'shotgun' approach, IRP afforded us an opportunity to send laser-targeted, relevant content to the right customers. We were also able to use re-engagement to reach out to customers who had not used our client sites in a while.

Actionable Insights

IRP's Insights Terminal was an integral part of the strategy with our clients on two specific fronts:

  1. We found the sales analysis section a great way to analyse breakout products, countries, brands and categories as well as a means to spot under performing areas or missed opportunities. The data we found became integral to our decision making and the direction we took as the pandemic evolved and changed over time.
  2. The Insights Terminal has an Intelligence Inbox. This contains alerts based around ecommerce fundamentals. Missing SEO, image size issues, missing EANs, low quantity of images per product, missing category mapping and even opportunities to optimise landing pages in countries with good potential. The Intelligence Inbox distils the data down for you and presents you with a potent list of actionable, clear directions to improve your clients' performance.

Summary

Success in ecommerce requires partnership. The right platform, the right expertise and the right marketing strategy to put your best foot forward. We were delighted to work closely with our clients and IRP Commerce throughout this period to drive unforeseen success and results for many of our clients.

To anyone looking to take their next steps in ecommerce, look no further than the tried and tested combination of IRP Commerce Cloud and BFG Digital.

Built For Growth Digital

We’re Built for Growth. Are You ...?

- COMMENTS
Anonymous - Good Read!
08 Apr 2021 10:47
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