Unlike physical retail stores, e-commerce companies are much more capital efficient because they don’t require brick and mortar stores and have a direct distribution channel to their end customers. With online shopping platforms like Shopify, Magento, and Bigcommerce, the cost and time associated with getting an e-commerce store online has decreased significantly. Additional platforms like Symphony Commerce and Shipwire help with outsourced fulfillment and managing logistics when your company scales. Never before has it been easier to bring an e-commerce business to life. As a result, these companies can focus more time on building their brand and connecting with customers and less time worrying about logistics and infrastructure.
Many of these new companies understand the power of connecting their brand with a particular lifestyle. In doing so, they can engage with niche customers and celebrate them in a much more intimate and authentic way. Here are just a few companies that are leveraging this new age of e-commerce in the best of ways:
1. Superior End-to-End Product Experience
Today social consumers have more power to impact brand reputations than ever before. In addition to having a high quality product, many companies are also focusing on the entire product experience which includes marketing, packaging, and the post sales experience. These companies go above and beyond to “delight” the customer which typically includes free shipping, free returns, and sometimes free gifts.
Bevel is the first end-to-end shaving system designed for men with curly hair. In addition to having great packaging, its founder hand wrote thank you notes to many of its early customers.
Chubbies is an SF based company that produces “The best shorts ever” for men (from their website). They produce one of the best customer newsletters out there that is both immensely entertaining to read and on-brand. They don’t just spam you to buy new items; they showcase hilarious photos of their customers doing crazy things. (Disclaimer: Chubbies uses our product, but it’s unrelated to the newsletter.)
2. Story Behind the Brand
There’s nothing better than a good story. The ability to engage consumers at more personal level rather than simply peddling a product, is a powerful way to grow customer engagement and brand affinity. David Aaker, a guru in building brand equity, talks about the importance of finding and leveraging customer “sweet spots,” which he describes as shared interests between a brand and it’s customer base. Whether it’s music, hobbies, or a sense of authentic goodwill, shared interests bring a new dimension to e-commerce.
House of Marley
These producers of high quality and trendy headphones have sustainably crafted products and give a portion of their proceeds to charity. The enlist a deep group of influencers in a variety of different industries who share their experience and what the product means to them.
Herschel Supply Co.
This Vancouver based company not only has trendy backpacks, but it got its name from a small town with a population of 30 residents. It’s founders adopted the name of the small town where their family were raised and their brand resonates with many young consumers around the world.
3. Mobile and Social Friendly
According to Phil Carter from Trinity Ventures, the rise of mobile commerce represents the most important wave in retail innovation since brands first began selling online 20 years ago. In addition to having mobile friendly websites (a bare minimum) these companies make social an integrated part of their marketing initiatives for a better end user experience.
Shwood helped pioneer the wood sunglass look that has been replicated by several major brands. Their website often gets recognized for its design and the company took great care to create a stunning mobile experience.
Rent the Runway
Rent the Runway changed female formal attire by allowing women to rent (instead of buy) designer dresses at a fraction of their retail price. They also integrate social photos on their websites so customers can see other customers wearing the product. It also has a mobile app that enables customers to submit reviews and photos directly from their phones.