In a developing country like Bangladesh, this whole new digital age has a lot of potential for retailers. Contrary to all the debates, digital technology has brought a new wave of communication, advertising, and relationship-building tools. Purchasing behavior has changed to the point where people are more comfortable buying products online.  Hence successful businesses need to get on the online wave, and tap a potentially new base of customers!

The question is, how?

1. Branding

Whether you move to e-commerce right away or not, make sure you exist online. Your brand needs to have an online presence with which your customers can resonate to.

Branding is important because people purchase on emotions. When it comes to saying, clothing lines, you’ll find that your customers are looking for a unique identity, which is why, how you position your boutique is crucial to its success. It plays a vital role in identifying and connecting with your target audience. If your boutique is not positioned as a unique brand, then it’s just another clothing store; there’s nothing that separates it from its competition.

2. Target Audience

While branding and awareness fixate a unique image for your brand, it also facilitates in narrowing down who your ‘customers’ really are:

1) The age group they belong to

2) The places they live in

3) The restaurants they are more likely to visit

4) The sort of “interests” they have

These are a few of the details which enable you to specify your potential buyers and help you reach out to them effectively.

Now that you know how to narrow down your potential customer pool, let’s move on to their buying habits.  Most consumers make buying decisions based on factors such as price, quality, and preconceived notions. Without a unique brand identity, you have no control over preconceptions and therefore you are more likely to compete on pricing factors. If you have any plans of expanding your business, this is not a wise approach – cheap does not outsell quality.

So, what can you do now, which stands out? Something which outsmart your competitors in the market? Join the e-commerce tide and reap the first-mover advantage! Instead of fighting overpricing and location, why not bring convenience to your customers? Take the product to your buyers. Let the products hunt the customers instead of keeping it the other way around. Break the traditional clutter! Delivery providers such as ChaldalAkhoni, and Kaymu have already joined the league!

Here are 3 easy steps to connect with your target audience.

3. Moving Online

As we come down to statistics, over the last year, an average of 14k inquiries per month hit Google search from Bangladesh on e-commerce while approximately 22k inquiries per month were made about online shopping. Patterns show that more people look for online shopping options right before Eid and such special occasions. Interestingly enough, during winter – which is ideally the wedding season in Bangladesh, Google search for Salwar Kameez, Makeup and Accessories go up significantly. Over the past year, for makeup, in particular, search frequency went up by almost 34% from June 2013 to December 2013.

As the buyers are shaping up to receive their products while it’s being delivered at their doorstep, it’s about time we let the commodities find its way to the customers – yes, we are talking about e-commerce!

With an emerging market of 11 million Facebook users in Bangladesh alone, we are looking at a booming new market. Your customers are online and now is the time to seize the opportunity to reach out to them; grab their attention.

While you are moving online, you might want to avoid these common mistakes brands are making online.

4. Going Mobile

Mobile commerce is huge, and it’s only getting bigger. With the holiday shopping season just around the corner, there has never been a more important time to understand the significance of e-commerce within the online retail world. Given the current traffic congestion, more people are likely to browse through their preferred clothing lines using their phones while they are stuck on the road. After a long day at work, a regular office goer would rather have their dresses delivered at home than rush through a sea of people to find a dress that suits them and which they can barely have a proper look at before they make a purchase.

The crucial point here is, your customers are moving online and your business has to go where your customers are, remember? Read more about the importance of mobile optimization.

5. Prioritizing Platform

Having established the necessity for your product to go digital, the next step is to determine which platforms are most relevant for your brand. Business owners often wonder about the ‘Return on Investment [ROI] on social media. “Will my Facebook page actually drive sales? Is all that tweeting really going to do anything for our bottom line? Should we be on Pinterest and Instagram?” – Well it turns out, when it comes to e-commerce, being social matters.

Among a few of the most popular social media sites in Bangladesh, Facebook tops the rank with an average of 4.7 million users talking about Facebook on Google in July 2014. What does that mean for your business? It means for you to set up a Facebook page right away (if you haven’t yet) and start boosting your digital presence to your target market!

6. Challenges & Approach

The biggest challenge that online store owners face is increasing traffic to their e-commerce store. Knowing where to start and how to stand out from the thousands of other shops that are competing for the same traffic is a daunting challenge. Get help from a specialized digital marketing agency or learn to narrow down your target audience using Facebook search tools and place ads right away. Facebook newsfeed algorithm is explained here.

7. Facebook

Let's look at some ways to increase engagement via Facebook page and its significance for your brand:

1) Post-Contents Consistently to Increase Engagement

Keeping your customers engaged is one of the key ingredients to driving traffic to your page. To keep your target market engaged, you need to post rich and relevant content regularly. Learn how to create an effective content strategy. Posting at least once a day for Facebook is ideal.

2) Use Lots and Lots of Images When Posting to Facebook 

One of the best ways to increase engagement in Facebook is by attaching a photograph along with the text. Photos on Facebook have been shown to generate approximately 53% more* likes than an average post that contains only text and/or a link. Sometimes, when you have a new announcement, for example, a ‘new discount,’ perhaps you can post a suitable picture along with the announcement. Here are a few killer tips on making effective visual content. Keeping these numbers in mind, please be sure to find the best photographers for your products. It’s not just about having a DSLR; taking photographs that bring in sales requires a lot of work on lighting, shooting, and editing skills.

3) Create and Share Infographics

Over the last few years, infographics have become extremely popular. Due to the overflow of information surrounding us, people have less patience to go through detailed writing. Also, it is difficult for an ordinary individual to makes sense of and contextualize all the numbers being thrown at them out of the blue!

Infographics are fast, efficient, and relatively easier to absorb. They are also an attractive means of communicating crucial points with viewers in a matter of seconds. Professionally designed infographics can spike huge traffic to your sites. Invest some time researching on intriguing topics relevant to your industry, such as “how much money does an average Bangladeshi woman spend on clothing every month” or “what percentage of an average Bangladeshis income is spent on coffee/tea and such beverages compared to the rest of the world?” Good infographics can easily go viral and sometimes other blogs or news sites might link back to infographics created by you which can drive back hundreds, if not thousands of visitors to your page!

Go ahead and use these simple tactics to create and expand your target market and watch your businesses’ engagement rates shoot up! Build strong credibility over time, and increase your company’s growth and sales on the Facebook platform.

See also, 25 Facebook marketing facts.

8. Twitter

Twitter is not the ideal place for targeting local customers, however, as per the statistics, approximately 4.15 million Bangladeshis are talking about Twitter on Google. Therefore, having exposure to Twitter, however small it might be, could prove vital for your brand awareness in the long run. Twitter engages and helps you reach out to a global audience with a similar field of interest as opposed to Facebook. Here are 10 good reasons why your business should be on Twitter! 

9. Pinterest

Pinterest is now the 3rd most popular social networking site in the world. It’s a new social networking site that literally everybody is talking about! Pinterest is a pinboard-style social photo-sharing website that allows people to share and discover beautiful images, videos, products, and discussions.

For an eCommerce store owner, Pinterest can help your best products get discovered by other users.  Pinterest’s growth is staggering – the site already has over 1 million members, and it receives almost 12 million unique visitors a month. The whirlwind of excitement that surrounds Pinterest provides online store owners a great opportunity to leverage its popularity to bring attention to their online store. Find out more on how to pin like a pro! And after that start pinning already!

Take Away

Digital media is certainly shaping up to become one of the major channels of communication between businesses and individuals. It’s time to grow out of creating advertisements for distraction. Make your product promotions a part of a user’s experience in social media through engagement and interaction. Prioritize the platforms you think are most relevant for your brand and start narrowing your market down to potential customers. Get help from experts who can simplify digital marketing for you and deliver better ROI! Go digital!