Insights and Opinions

Gaining and Maintaining High-Value Customers in Today's Digital Marketplace

We live in an unprecedented digital era today, with a powerful flow of cutting-edge commercial opportunities that can be transformed into many potential revenue streams.

But it's easy to get swept away by this rising and rushing tide of innovation, because even though the ideas may have significant disruptive potential, they also face a host of challenges, which are sometimes insurmountable.

One of the biggest problems is finding ways to change ingrained consumer behavior when it comes to entry points, price and places to shop and search.

Plus, there's always the looming specter of the incumbent goliaths Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook and eBay and how to successfully leverage these channels without getting squashed.

On one level, the key is developing and delivering a discoverable product, and then making your value proposition strong enough, so that when you are discovered, people will visit you, transact with you, and consume what you're offering now and in the future.

On another level, the goal should be to get people to come to you directly, without the big channels getting in the middle. This is the real survive-and-thrive strategy in digital commerce today.

The long-term growth objective, however, has to be gaining and maintaining a loyal base of high-value customers -- a scarce commodity, no matter how compelling the brand. Despite the degree of difficulty, however, I believe this is mission-critical for digital businesses today, given the fact that truly engaged customers are the best online evangelists for a company.

In fact, all of the leading digital brands right now are harnessing the power of their customer bases and using them as weapons in the relentlessly competitive Internet wars.

And, given the data, this makes perfect business sense. Consider, for example, that:

  • The US is a go-to country for overseas shoppers all over the world -- 70% globally would buy from a U.S. online retailer, according to Pitney Bowes.
  • US retail mobile commerce will grow 32.2% in 2015, reaching $76.7 billion in sales; nearly two-thirds of these sales will come from tablets.
  • eBay reports that 30% of its overall transactions are now mobile payments, with mobile payments growing more than 40% year over year. eBay also received over 1 billion mobile payments last year.
  • Every generation is increasing its Internet usage -- 79% of Millennials are expected to be Internet users in 2017 (up from 74% in 2013); 83% of Generation X'ers are expected to be Internet users in 2017 (up from 77% in 2013); and 81% of Baby Boomers are expected to be Internet users in 2017 (up from 76% in 2013)
Obviously, it's not always easy to secure the sustained trust and enthusiasm of high-value customers -- whatever generational group they're part of. So we've tried to develop a thoughtful three-pronged process to achieve this at Monoprice, an e-commerce leader specializing in high-quality consumer electronics, cables, audio and video, computer and mobile accessories.

Our approach involves developing and offering exciting, innovative quality products that exceed customer needs better than available alternatives at eye-popping prices that will keep us top of mind, re-ignite our core and expand our customer base as we understand as much as we can about who our prospects and customers are, what they want and the prices at which they want them; focusing on site optimization, user experience, world-class tech support that get to the root of any problems quickly and efficiently, marketing efficiency and faster delivery times; and getting our products in the hands of customers wherever they shop for great tech gear at fair prices.

Like most digital companies, we don't have all the answers. And securing a sustained online commitment from a loyal base of high-value customers today is as much an art as it is a science. But we do know that this is absolutely vital for digital businesses seeking to prosper over the long haul.

Bernard Luthi is President of Rancho Cucamonga-based Monoprice.


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