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Omnichannel, by definition is a business strategy that integrates all business branding, communication and sales channels to deliver a seamless and unified cross-channel customer experience.
Having an impeccable omnichannel strategy not only contributes to the growth of brand awareness, it directs the ready-to-buy customers to the final sales touchpoint of your business and closes the deal.
It is thus crucial for businesses to adopt an omnichannel business strategy to ensure growth and long-term success. This was something TerraLiving learnt in its years of operation as a handcrafted terrarium creator and seller.
The overall omnichannel operation of TerraLiving can be divided into 2 sections -
In this article, we will discuss how TerraLiving build their TOFU with social media, specifically Instagram in the early days of the business, optimizing its social media, interconnect this community with its established digital channels and finally diversify the digital touchpoint to consolidate omnichannle strategy for greater brand equity.
Throughout this article, there are 2 terms - marketplace and eCommerce you will be seeing a lot. Both share the same fundamental function, but the benefits and operation can be rather different.
To avoid confusion, here is the wordbook:
Markerplace or eMarketplace - A third-party online platform that gathers and connects buyers and sellers and enables sales transactions like ETSY, Amazon, eBay, etc.
eCommerce - A single brand, standalone web store that is owned and run by one enterprise.
One channel at a time was the tactic Terraliving adopted at the initial stage of their omnichannel journey.
Unlike many startups and small businesses that work diligently to promote their products on multiple channels all at once, TerraLiving focused on building its brand image on just one platform - Instagram.
They wanted to ensure the brand truly reflected its business nature and thus invested in creating high-quality visual content.
High quality product photography & videography, aesthetic profile layout and attention-grabbing uploads was the name of the game in the first five years of TerraLiving's Instagram activity. Each post was aspired to be classy and authentic, featuring professional photography that truly captured every single detail of the intensive design work involved in the production of its terrariums.
There. This is how TerraLiving grew their first channel into a 500k gigantic community which then gave them ideas about the best way to grow their business through an omnichannel strategy.
Co-founder Raymond Yeow says,
Fast forward to the time of writing, Terraliving uses multiple digital channel to fulfill the need of customers of all sales stages -
To direct the huge chunk of audience gathered at the TOFU (top of funnel) on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to other channel for further engagement or even closing a sales, TerraLiving created a simple landing page that assemble all business related links and added it to the bio of its social media channels.
Having a large community of followers on Instagram equates to more than just getting high brand awareness and the number of Likes. It is from this community did the company gain deeper customer insight and discover the need to launch its own eCommerce site in order to provide a better retail experience for customers.
For years, TerraLiving has been selling its products through ETSY, a popular global online marketplace often used by independent companies and individual sellers. However, a third-party website did little to build business credibility (as was expressed by one of its customers).
Furthermore, selling through ETSY incurred additional and expensive charges.
After mulling over all the possible impact, TerraLiving set mind on establishing their own eCommerce website in the hope to build higher trust among potential customers especially the high-end global customers. This begins TerraLiving's journey in diversifying their sales stream for omnichannel experience enrichment.
Having its own eCommerce website breaks Terraliving away from the competition crowd as it allows the brand to fly with its own brand voice & image.
With this move, TerraLiving will have full control of the UI and UX of the website which is the major contributor to elevating the brand value in the mind of its high-end customer.
An eCommerce marketplace offers a huge customer base and traffic, however, there will always be an emotional gap between the brand and its customer.
It is especially the case for brand selling high-end products. Hence, Raymond is adamant that launching the eCommerce site must not be done in a rush or prematurely, but with careful planning and once all the necessary features have been thoroughly thought through.
Single channel sales strategy limits the potential of TerraLiving in various way. As the demand increases and the business gains more market recognition, it's no longer enough to be just on one marketplace.
Customers wish to have the flexibility to browse, learn, purchase and get more uniquely designed terrariums from TerraLiving. Owning a standalone web store allows TerraLiving to launch seasonal campaigns that would fulfill the demand of its customer and boosting the chance of repeat purchase.
As shared earlier in this article, marketplace fees imply to all businesses selling on e-marketplaces like ETSY, Amazon, eBay, Lazada, Shopee, et cetera. The fees could be rather high and slicing the profit thin.
Aside from that, there's a long list of policies and rules businesses have to adhere to. Miscompliances would lead to penalty or worst, shut down of account.
Adding a fully own independent eCommerce site to business's omnichannel sales operation, allow businesses to set their own rule. For this reason, TerraLiving drew up a detailed plan to diversify its sales stream through eCommerce store.
New startup business and small businesses with no digital touchpoint often wander between selling on a marketplace or setting up a eCommerce store. Truth is, both channels have their own benefits and drawbacks. Some businesses, says the business targeting high-end customer would prefer having a standalone web store than the other because of a few key reasons.
Many businesses take leap in advancing their omnichannel operation before having a full omnichannal strategy draw up. It's often due to the pressure of competition and FOMO (fear of missing out) in technology.
For small businesses or startups with limited fund and resources, fragmented focus and investment will drag businesses into a pitfall. On the other hand, lining up the priorities and establishing a long-term omnichannel strategy might delay the execution but will create a sustainable value in a long run.
TerraLiving omnichannel strategy demonstrates exactly how value-oriented planning and strategic execution trumps speed.
What contributed to TerraLiving success is their ability to:
1. Sequence investment priorities
2. Identifying the right value to target at every stage
3. Actually sticking to the agreed plan
By having a clear understanding of the goal they're creating at each stage and focusing their resources on achieving the one goal set, TerraLiving manage to build a strong the foundation a channel before starting the next.