6 Steps to Develop Your Successful E-commerce Strategy

6 Steps to Develop Your Successful E-commerce Strategy

Read Time: 8 Minutes


20 Feb 2024

Whenever you’re looking to sell products online, you’ll want to stand out and ensure that you capture your customers' attention. Developing a successful e-commerce strategy won’t just help you at the start of your journey, but will set you up for long term success by driving focus and allowing you to ensure that your time and efforts are being allocated in the right places. We know that it’s not as simple as just pressing a couple of buttons and expecting high amounts of traffic and sales, however, we’ve put together 6 easy to follow steps for you to consider so you can achieve your business goals through e-commerce. 

What is an E-commerce Strategy?

Simply put, an e-commerce strategy is an organised document which describes the tactics you plan to use for promoting your e-commerce store’s product offering. A strong strategy considers the whole process, including the products in question, the brand as a whole, and specific target audience. 
To create a solid e-commerce strategy, you’ll want to ensure that you provide detailed information which is easy to follow covering reaching your target audience, how you’re going to convert them into customers, how you’re going to generate repeat business and your overall user experience.

Why Should I Have an E-commerce Strategy?

Creating and developing an e-commerce strategy will help you plan out your journey to success and ensure that you stay on track as time goes by. By taking the time to consider all aspects of your strategy, such as driving traffic, building brand awareness and plans to increase sales, your strategy will be your north star and ensure everyone working on your brand is aligned with your business goals. 

The thorough planning of a structured e-commerce strategy will help your business stay ahead of the competition, helping you stand out from the crowd, whilst also ensuring that your business stays cost effective and runs smoothly. 

How To Create an E-commerce Strategy


Step 1 - Outline Your Goals (Use SMART Goals)

Before you can start developing your e-commerce strategy, you need to understand what your goals are as a marker for success. To start outlining your goals, you could consider starting to think about what you aim to achieve from your e-commerce platforms, both in the short and long term. 

Your goals may include -

  • Converting X amount of sales by X date
  • Ending the financial year with X amount of revenue
  • Acquiring X new customers in X amount of time
  • Improving the average order value by X% by X date
  • Increasing your number of repeat customers by X in X amount of time

We would also recommend that you consider using the SMART goal format to expand as you write, this will help you ensure that you can accurately measure and stay on track. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound, and by considering all these factors when writing your goals, you’ll be able to articulate your vision in a way which you can refer back to and understand with ease. This will prove perfect when you’re assessing your e-commerce strategy further down the line! If you need more help writing in this format, we’ve previously written a great guide on writing SMART goals, which you can refer to and find out more.  


Step 2 - Identify Your Target Audience

Without identifying and understanding your target audience, you’re going to struggle to know how to optimally present the products on your e-commerce site. If as a business, you like to put your customers at the forefront of everything you do, it’s important to ensure that you have a detailed understanding so you can reap the rewards. Not only will you be able to clarify that your marketing efforts are tailored to your customers, but you’ll also be able to tailor their user experience as they interact with your online store, increasing the chance of a positive outcome. 

Key things to consider include - 

  • Age range
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Income
  • Interests and hobbies
  • Consumption habits
  • Buying behaviours

You may already have identified your target audience within your business plan, whether you wrote it yourself, or someone in the business prior. When this is the case, you should consider reading it in detail to get a strong understanding, as this will help you lay the key foundations of your e-commerce strategy and make further informed decisions along the way. 


Step 3 - Understand Your Competition

Another thing which will help you stand out from the crowd is having a strong knowledge of your competitors. The e-commerce landscape is vast, with many businesses serving customers across the world. By gaining a good understanding of who your key competitors are, you’ll be able to plan how you can ensure your target audience chooses you over them. 

Once you’ve identified your competitors, you could consider conducting a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis, which will help you to understand what they’re doing well, what you can improve on, and any factors which may help you attract customers to your business. If you’ve never done one before, it might sound complicated to complete a SWOT analysis, but we’ve got a guide which you can follow once you’ve got your list of competitors, which helps you break down each block so you can optimise your business and beat the competition! 

You might want to look at aspects including -

  • Brand proposition
  • Social media activity
  • Price points
  • Blog content
  • User Experience

TOP TIP - Make sure you try and analyse your competitors' activity on a regular basis, completing a full SWOT analysis. This will help you monitor any trends or changes which could impact your business. You may even want to follow them on social media and sign up for their newsletters so you get more of an understanding of how their customer experience feels. 


Step 4 - Consider Your Marketing Channels and Customer Touchpoints

After you’ve learned about your customers and competitors, you should have a good understanding of where your target audience tends to spend their time online, both on your website and across other marketing channels. This gives you the perfect opportunity to ensure that you’ve got the tools to reach them, and ultimately achieve your business’s goals! 

A great way to do this is by thinking about your customer’s journey from start to finish. Start with how you’ll initially reach them and continue to how they’ll feel while making a purchase on your e-commerce site. Top considerations you may want to look at include -

  • Social media channels such as LinkedIn, Facebook or TikTok
  • Web hosts/e-commerce stores - will you use a pre built site with integrations such as Shopify or design your website from scratch?
  • Further integrations such as search bars and analytical tools
  • Payment processing methods
  • Email service providers
  • CRM systems to manage your customer base
  • PPC Advertising
  • Website heatmaps to watch how your customers behave on your site

Developing this part of your e-commerce strategy could prove beneficial quickly, as you’ll be using accurate information to ensure that you’re reaching and supporting your customers backed with data from your research.


Step 5 - Decide on Your Pricing Model and Brand/Product Positioning

Improvements in technology have made it easier than ever for consumers to compare pricing, so ensuring that you’ve got the right price model is going to be a big factor behind the success of your e-commerce strategy. You could start by using the information you’ve gathered to ensure that you’re making educated decisions that entice your customers. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you have to undercut yourself and be the cheapest, but by considering your brand and product positioning in the market, along with the information of what your ideal customers will spend you’ll be able to configure your prices for success. 

If you have a luxurious, high quality brand positioning, you’re going to be able to set your prices higher than those of your competitors who are more focused on lower price and quality alternatives. This will be recognised by your customers, as they look to make purchases which suit their preferences. 


Step 6 - Monitor and Adapt Your Strategy Based on Retention & Acquisition

Upon completion of the previous 5 steps, your strategy will be ready to be implemented, but that doesn’t mean that it’s over and can be left alone! We previously touched on the fact that it could be worth staying on top of your competitors, however, the same goes for the whole process. Your strategy is there to guide you to success and help you ensure that you remain on track, but if you don’t refer back, how can you be sure that you’ve stuck to everything along the way or that there are no further refinements which could enhance the number of opportunities you get? 

You may find new opportunities to capitalise on or find ways that you can optimise and improve your processes, so by regularly monitoring and adapting your strategy, you’ll be able to maximise the chances of hitting the goals you set in step 1. 

Frequently Asked Questions


How an Active Social Media Presence Supports Growth

As time goes on, social media is becoming increasingly popular in everyday life, with Statista data showing that 84.4% of the UK population were active in 2023. Social media marketing can help you build trust and relationships with your target audience, while also reaching new customers. Many businesses are now making the most of the various social media platforms as a key part of their marketing and e-commerce strategies, and if you’re looking for further support, we’ve created an easy to follow guide to help you make the most of social media.


Partnering With Influencers

Although influencer marketing has been prevalent for many years, with celebrities often being involved in advertisements, the rise of social media has opened up more influencer opportunities. As consumers are becoming more desensitised to traditional advertising, utilising influencers can help promote your products to an engaged following who trusts them and their opinions. They’ll create content which is unique, outside the box and personal, leading to an increased chance of their followers wanting to take action and purchase your goods. You don’t have to partner with influencers who have large followings, those with a smaller, more engaged audience can prove to be more successful, as their followers are more likely to feel a personal connection, directing more traffic towards your e-commerce site.


Investing in PPC Advertising

PPC, or pay per click is a type of online marketing in which you would pay a fee each time one of your ads is clicked. Commonly seen in search engines and web banners, PPC campaigns are a great way of paying for visits to your e-commerce site, along with the organic traffic you already drive. Many businesses find PPC advertising can be really successful, especially when they continuously monitor their ROI and spending budgets.


The Benefits of SEO

Simply put, Search Engine Optimisation, also known as SEO is the process of ensuring that your website can be understood by search engines, such as Google and Yahoo, so they can drive traffic to your website. Your e-commerce business will likely have many competitors around the world, and by ensuring that your website is optimised, you’re going to rank higher in the search engines, allowing more customers to find and purchase your products. It can seem very complex on the surface, however, we’ve recently put together a great introduction to help you get started with SEO and maximise potential traffic and revenue.


Implementing Email Marketing

Email marketing is an important aspect of any form of marketing strategy, including e-commerce. By building an automated email campaign, you’ll be able to start and build relationships with an audience, while also encouraging them to make purchases. Using email, you’ll be able to provide value to your customers, directing them to information on your website such as blogs giving tips and advice. You could also provide customers with promotional offers and business updates. It’s key to note, that to be successful with your email marketing efforts, it’s not recommended to constantly push products into your customer's inbox, by focusing on building relationships, you’ll be able to build an engaged audience who are more likely to make purchase thanks to the value you’ve provided.


In Conclusion

By regularly following these steps, you can create a successful e-commerce strategy which gives you full clarity on what you’re trying to achieve, who your audience is, and where you sit in the market. You can gain a competitive advantage by analysing the market as a whole and regularly monitoring trends and analytics. Doing this helps you deliver the best user experience for your customers while providing pricing which matches your brand positioning. 


About the Author

Hi, I'm Callum and I'm instantprint's Content Marketing Executive. I'm dedicated to creating helpful content for our customers on our blog and social media.