Can you tell us about your background in a few words?
Hi, my name is Nicolas J. Chevalier and I am the founder of E-Commerce Nation. I like to describe myself as a daily explorer of e-commerce, as this field is constantly evolving every day and you need to be constantly updated to understand new challenges.
Since the beginning of my career, I have been immersed in digital and passionate about developments in e-commerce. Since I was 20 I like to create web projects. In 2012, I decided to join Rocket Internet in Germany (Zalando, eDarling, Groupon) and developed a promo code startup in the French market: Global Saving Group. In 2015, I embarked on the entrepreneurial adventure with E-Commerce Nation, to found the first e-commerce community in Europe.
Today, E-Commerce Nation generates more than 1 million euros, is present in the 5 main European markets and has 20 employees. As an e-commerce trainer I coach many professionals within the E-Commerce Nation Academy program. Our mission is to guide companies towards more sustainable e-commerce: more respect for the environment and current events.
What impact has the health crisis had on e-commerce? And what are the new challenges for merchant sites?
The health crisis has changed many behaviors towards the digital world. Whether it’s the growing activity of drives to online orders among pure-player players, e-commerce today is no longer an additional channel for businesses, but truly a strategic development axis. In particular, the challenge for the most mature structures is to balance their revenue share between physical and digital in order to reduce their economic risks over time.
E-commerce today is an activity that holds up very well in the context of health crises. For smaller companies, the possibility of e-commerce is accentuated by access to numerous online platforms (eg marketplaces, social networks, CMS SaaS). Coming out of this crisis, I also think that the challenge of developing greener, more sustainable e-commerce has become a reality to find meaning in business models.
What are the keys to a successful ecommerce strategy?
During 1 year we have guided more than 250 e-merchants within our training and we clearly see models of success. There are two axes: an operational axis and a cultural axis.
On the operational axis: the first step we see is to have clear objectives for your business. These targets are generally well defined at 6 months and 1 year in terms of traffic or revenue. By following these elements, we can define the key indicators to achieve the objectives, such as the conversion rate, the acquisition costs and the strategic levers. At the same time, understanding your market is also an element of success. By understanding its target audience (its persona) and the strong trends in its industry, the company can anticipate growth opportunities.
On the cultural axis: we see that an agility of the structures is needed to learn new skills. Regular training, testing new tools, meeting with colleagues, regular monitoring, are part of the habits to be integrated into the structure, to keep moving to meet future challenges.
Successful e-traders are ultimately the ones who manage to formulate a clear 1-year action plan that includes the skills needs for their objectives.
Which social platforms have become essential in launching an online store today, and why?
In BtoC markets, platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and TikTok are powerful levers for many companies. However, it is important to prioritize its development on specific axes so as not to spill over all means of communication. I usually recommend analyzing your competition to identify the most popular platforms among your competitors. Take inspiration from these best practices and capitalize on the learning curve of your competitors. Today, all consumers want to connect and develop stronger bonds than just a commercial bond.
What are the essential tools to manage your business and your online sales?
I recommend 5 essential tools to understand your online activity. These tools have free functionalities to access examples of strategic data for ecommerce strategy implementation:
- Facebook Audience Insightto understand his market and his persona,
- similarwebfor competitive analysis of web channels,
- SEMrushfor traffic analysis and understanding of the referrals and advertisements,
- HubSpotto understand your audience and personalize the user experience,
- AMZ Scoutto analyze the prices of many products on Amazon (this allows an express price study even if you do not sell on the platform).
Explore platforms to create and manage an ecommerce site
Doesn’t the proliferation of tools being offered to the market pose a risk of counter-production in developing its e-commerce strategy? What advice would you give e-merchants?
You first need to know how to select the most important indicators for your activity. Quality rather than quantity in the selection. It is better to have 5 relevant dates than 20 dates. With regard to these indicators, I can then question the reporting and operational tools to achieve my objectives. For example, I aim to achieve 10,000 visits via SEO: I will therefore follow my traffic via Google Analytics and investigate with SEMrush what possibilities there are for content on other keywords in order to earn more traffic.
I really recommend selecting 5 quantified goals: 1 in terms of sales, 1 others in conversion, traffic, email acquisition and finally 1 shopping cart goal, for example.
What do you think are the ecommerce trends you should follow?
I think many companies are going to focus on e-commerce, so the level of knowledge will increase considerably in the coming years. The issue of skills and training will therefore be crucial. The aspect of no-code and SaaS platforms also makes it possible today to increasingly democratize access to online sales: this will have repercussions on the creation of sites and the staggering growth of new players. I am very much looking forward to seeing how e-commerce will evolve and I hope that the trend of sustainable e-commerce in the coming years will be an integral part of the coming years. This is our belief at least within the nation of e-commerce.