Learn why eCommerce edge storefronts are the future of online shopping experiences by brands.
Setting up an online store has become a lot easier than what it was a few years ago. With content management systems like Shopify, Wix, WordPress, WooCommerce, Webflow and others, you can see a new brand taking to digital online every other day.
While everyone is talking about the potential and opportunity in eCommerce, here is a statistic not many mention - research shows that around 80-90% of eCommerce businesses fail.
And the failure is not just attributed to a bad product. It’s also the increasing competition across all eCommerce industries and the burn businesses experience trying to keep with discounts, as well as increasing customer acquisition costs.
So is the growth of eCommerce farce?
But it definitely needs adapting to changes in consumer behavior and how we interact with businesses and brands we want to engage with.
This is where eCommerce edge storefronts come in to redefine the future of what online shopping looks like - even on platforms like Shopify.
Let’s start from the beginning to understand this cutting-edge technology.
Redefining the future of eCommerce with Edge Storefronts
Before we deep dive into what Edge Storefronts are, let’s take a look at why you need to know more about them.
Online shopping is not the same, but the eCommerce model is still running on basics
The global eCommerce market size reached US$ 16.6 trillion in 2022. Research states that the market is all set to reach US$ 70.9 trillion by 2028, exhibiting a CAGR of 27.38% during 2022-2023 - that’s much faster than the growth of other industries.
But over a period of time, while technology has made it simpler for businesses - big and small, to go online and start selling globally, how the interaction between the brand and the consumer works, continues to be the same.
- The consumer discover the brand or its products on search or social media
- They visit the eCommerce website to learn more about the brand
- They either make a purchase, subscribe to a newsletter or abandon the eCommerce site based on their intent
- The brand then works towards recapturing their interest with a marketing strategy that works with retargeting and remarketing
- The consumer (after several attempts) makes the purchase from the brand
Although, each of these steps no longer look the same.
Irrespective of the industry you are in or the products you sell online, there are at least ten other options available to consumers. So what started out as simply running marketing and advertising campaigns to promote deals and entice them into making a purchase, has run into several loops of ‘convincing’.
Add to that the ever-expanding digital landscape that consumers choose to explore brands on, and you have a problem at hand.
How big is the problem in the traditional eCommerce model?
Come to think of it, even though brands are diversifying the number of channels they are active on, it all comes down to driving traffic to their website.
Optimizing for the search engine with appropriate keywords → Brand website.
Social media marketing and advertising → Brand website.
Email marketing → Brand website.
SMS marketing → Brand website.
While there is nothing wrong with driving traffic to the brand website from multiple touchpoints, online shopping does not work the same way - most consumers do not make the purchase on their first visit to the website.
And there is no one way or channel through which they interact with the brand.
The result of this?
- eCommerce businesses are experiencing almost 60% increase in their customer acquisition costs
- Increase in spend budgets on SEO, PPC and social media (39-81% combined)
- Inability to attribute success to specific channels in the omnichannel marketing and advertising strategy
- An average of only 2-5% of conversion rate on eCommerce websites
- Underreported social revenue (almost 245%)
As per our research,
- CAC has risen by 222% in the last 9 years
- Brands lose $26 on every new customer acquired
Why is the status quo of eCommerce growth broken?
Aspirational shopping is on the rise.
Think about how you discover brands today.
75% of internet users use social media to research products (DataReportal, 2022).
As per our research, 90% of Gen Z routinely use social media as a part of their shopping process, instead of in-store experiences.
So isn’t using social media to drive traffic to the brand site good enough to get more sales and grow your business?
The gap between what consumers see on social media vs what they land on, on the website has a stark difference.
Take for instance, this post on Instagram:
Now let’s assume you’ve been looking for workout leggings and find these to be exactly what you need.
So you go onto the website using the link mentioned in the bio and land on this page - the gray leggings you saw on Instagram, nowhere to be seen.
Let’s say you do make the effort to scroll through the website to find the exact pair of leggings you saw on social media and find the product page.
And this is what you see:
If you’re anything like us, you’re probably wondering if the product is the same as the one you saw on social media.
Or you’re probably doubting how good it will look on you.
This is what we call the Experience Gap and the impact of this is more negative than positive despite the best of products and discounts being offered to consumers:
Here are some of the common reasons why the experience gap occurs when selling direct-to-consumer:
1. Loss of context
Marketing and advertising campaigns are designed to help brands put their best foot forward. Social channels, marketplaces and other digital platforms are driven by visuals - images and videos. But product pages on the brand site are not always as aspirational when it comes to the look and feel they present.
This results in a loss of context almost as soon as the consumer lands on a product page. Worse still - if you’re taking them to a collection instead, they might just lose context on what they came looking for, getting overwhelmed by the options they are presented with.
2. Broken links
eCommerce businesses have to rapidly switch up the deals, discounts and offers they promote to appeal to consumers. This requires them to continually update their brand site with new sale pages, collection pages and reflect the same across all customer-facing platforms.
Add to that the fact that an internet user may stumble upon a social post weeks after it was posted, the link now presented to them becomes no longer relevant. The broken link results in loss of interest almost instantly!
3. Incorrect products
Let’s go back to the Instagram post you discovered.
From the first look at the outfit, you cannot tell if the brand is promoting leggings, the sports bra or the cap.
Digital content is often left to what the consumer wants to perceive of it.
Now what if the brand did not sell caps at all?
The disappointment is what will drive you away from the brand to seek others that may have something similar to offer.
4. Out of stock products
Assuming that your brand does have everything to offer from that social media post, there is no telling if it is available in the inventory.
Maybe you made the post a month ago to promote a limited edition collection.
But the algorithm decided to present the post only recently to a consumer - leading consumers to out of stock products is the biggest no-no in eCommerce.
As Harvard Business Review states, stock-outs cause walk-outs.
Simply put, brands have failed to adapt to the new reality of online shopping and the one-size-fits-all approach is killing new customer acquisition.
It’s time to move online shopping to the edges: Introducing Edge Storefronts
What is shopping at the Edge?
The word ‘edge’ refers to the outside limit of an object, area or a surface. In this case, the area is your brand website and edge refers to the marketing and advertising channels you use to promote your brand.
This includes social media, search, email, marketplaces, retail outlets and similar channels through which consumers discover your brand’s eCommerce store.
What are Edge Storefronts?
Edge Storefronts are what form the middle ground between the edges at which consumers find you and the actual commerce experience - without being taken to your brand website.
Edge storefronts are shopping experiences that blend content from the edge with the checkout process.
They provide a frictionless shopping experience by extending the social content across the storefront and linking in to backend eCommerce services to make posts a consumer stumbles upon, fully shoppable.
The integration between the aspirational, social content that caught the customer’s attention initially and the more functional, information-heavy product pages on the brand site mitigates the experience gap felt when moving from the edges (eg. social media) to brand sites.
How are Edge Storefronts different from traditional eCommerce solutions?
The traditional approach is all about driving your target audience to the brand website or a landing page from different channels.
While Edge Storefronts are all about taking the shopping experience to the channel instead, making it much simpler for online shoppers to explore products and move to the eCommerce checkout for completing the purchase.
To note here, edge storefronts are not the same as landing pages. Instead, as the name implies, they are full storefronts, with multiple facets for shoppers to explore, designed to take the customer from the initial point of interest all the way through to purchase.
How do Edge Storefronts work?
On the whole, edge storefronts will have a home page, plus category and product pages.
All of these pages will be tied into the eCommerce backend services and the page’s content.
This creates a familiar environment for those coming from social but one that offers a fully shoppable digital experience.
Edge storefronts differ from traditional eCommerce pages in two main ways. They are:
- Tailored to the needs of the channel
- Continuously optimized — updating in real-time alongside promotions, new posts, and optimized by Artificial Intelligence to minimize bounce rates and maximize conversions
This allows edge storefronts to deal with differing levels of intent and soften the landing for online shoppers.
Once a customer is ready to make a purchase, the checkout is powered by the eCommerce platform, rather than the social platform - 70% of online shoppers prefer to checkout on the brand site (State of Social Commerce 2022-23).
What are the benefits of edge storefronts?
You have an online store.
You have set up social commerce to reach your target audience.
You have an omnichannel marketing and retailing strategy in place.
So why do you need an Edge Storefront in addition to it all?
To summarize the above problem in eCommerce growth, let’s take a look at the benefits of having an Edge Storefront:
1. Drive new revenue streams from the edge
As already mentioned, edge storefronts are designed to handle different levels of intent.
This means that those customers who are coming from social media are not funneled straight toward the checkout, whilst those who just want to make a purchase can do so quickly and easily.
This in turn helps to convert initial interest into concrete revenue by streamlining the purchase process and removing the hard landing of being taken to a PDP not designed for discovery.
2. Provide customers with highly engaging experiences at the edge
The blend of creative social content and eCommerce backend systems also enhances the user experience for shoppers at every stage of the customer journey. Edge storefronts are an all-in-one solution that makes social content fully shoppable.
The vast majority of customers prefer to checkout on the brand site and not on the social platform where they discovered the product.
The problem lies in the migration to the brand site. But with edge storefronts, brands are able to mitigate this problem, while enhancing user experience.
Edge storefronts provide the ease and transparency of checking out on the brand site, while still retaining the more social nature of the content that hooked the customer in the first place. This improves customer experience and reduces bounce rates, in turn leading to more sales.
3. Reduce customer acquisition costs
One of the main problems for brands with shoppers completing purchases on social platforms is that they are unable to capture customer data. This then makes it very difficult to retarget customers and drive repeat purchases.
Using an edge storefront allows customers to check out at the edge but, since the storefront is tied to the eCommerce platform backend, it also allows brands to capture customer data. This fact alone can reduce the customer acquisition cost by 20%.
Additionally, given that customers are purchasing directly from the brand rather than from the social platform, there is far more transparency regarding returns and refund policies, once again improving the user experience.
Take the next step to succeed at eCommerce with Edge Storefronts
Google edge retail solutions and Google retail API have been talked about in the past by industry leaders and technology enthusiasts.
But these stores never saw light owing to the complexity of building out this advanced storefront. And brands obviously chose the low to no-code way of taking their business online with traditional eCommerce platforms only.
After years of research and running experiments, SimplicityDX has launched Edge Storefronts for everyone.
If you have an online store, setting up an Edge Storefront is now as easy as installing a marketing app on the backend of your store to start selling at the edges.
Want to learn more about Edge Storefronts and how they can help you adapt to the changing consumer behavior?
Find out how to optimize your social media presence to create a seamless social commerce experience for your customers.