Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur who wants to change the world, or just a “regular Joe” who is dipping his toe in the big pond of online commerce, proper business know-how is something you cannot afford to miss. Here are eight tips from experts on how to build a perfect e-shop.
“The reason it seems that price is all your customers care about is that you haven’t given them anything else to care about.” - Seth Godin, Founder of Squidoo.com, former VP of Direct Marketing at Yahoo!
Abundance of e-shops and easy access to online markets had brought a fierce competition in pricing. Search engines allow customers to look for the most attractive prices. Good price will often be the decision-making factor in your client’s mind.
If you cannot afford to offer your clients any discount, try to cut some corners with provision of free shipping (see BookDepository and their policy of free shipping worldwide, which has secured them an impressive turnover of more than £15 million in 2012). Another good way of making your pricing attractive is to avoid any unexpected additions to pricing plans (e.g. for shipping or wrapping).
“You should learn from your competitor, but never copy. Copy and you die.”- Jack Ma, Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group
Knowing exactly what`s going on in your industry is a must. What is it that you are selling? Do you have any direct competition? Can you make any adjustments to your offer in order to make it just the right amount of different and more appealing to your target group? Or are you selling a unique product in entirely new market?
Measure your strengths and weaknesses, compare them with your rivals`. See what works for them and what doesn’t – try to learn from their mistakes instead of making ones on your own. Remember, good competition is a great way for you to learn more about your customer’s needs!
Don’t forget to look beyond your borders. It was predicted that e-commerce penetration in China could grow from 6% today to 30% of overall retail spending in the next five years. This means a huge rise in competition, research of which could help you to go ahead of curve in your “local” market.
“You can’t just open a website and expect people to flood in. If you really want to succeed, you have to create traffic.” - Joel Anderson, Walmart CEO
Opening a shop used to be so easy. You’d rent the premises, choose your merchandise, hire staff and throw a few ads in the mix, hoping for the best. Not so with online markets, my friends. Only approx. 10% of your work can be considered as done once you launch a website. The next 90% of the effort is optimizing, optimizing, and optimizing! Building proper content, making sure you SEO is right, adding catchy meta-description, hoping for the highest Google ranking possible… Traffic generation is an ongoing activity that is necessary for your long-term success.
With so much data on traffic generation, here’s an interesting study on driving an organic search traffic to your site and an inspirational piece about how Canadian Walmart boosted their conversion rate by 20% thanks to their new responsive redesign.
Being a Storyteller
“Online retailers that go beyond selling a product and tell a story to establish a firm brand identity and to build a one-to-one relationship with their customers are more likely to thrive.” - Jack Lowinger, CEO of Cartonomy
Standing out is tough, especially in the field of online marketing. Strong and clear brand identity will catch customer’s attention with ease, while a vague and undefined brand will suffer loss of audience. Which sounds better: a toy shop or a company that makes children’s dreams come true? Companies like Apple or Coca-Cola strongly resonate within their target groups thanks to powerful stories they tell.
When it comes to the art of storytelling, there are three simple questions that will help you paint an entire picture: What is the story, the motivation behind everything you do? How do you connect with people in a way they understand best? And what types of stories appeal to your audiences?
Building Customer Experience
“If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.” - Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon.com
According to 2013 research, 45 percent of all U.S. consumers abandon their online transaction if they come across unexpected issue. This suggests that at the end of the day, customer experience is almost half your overall grade. Is your pathway from product offer to checkout easy to use, or does anyone vising your website need a map and a compass?
Don’t let your customers get lost in a maze – provide them with the easiest possible route for their shopping satisfaction. This means clearly defined categories of the product, streamlining the shopping activities, providing a clear way into and out of the basket, allowing for product comparison and making sure your checkout will truly be flawless. Nothing breaks the shopper’s enthusiasm as much as a broken paywall!
“Because of the increased use of social media on smartphones and social media’s involvement in retail sales, “social selling” has become red hot. Anyone hoping to improve their online sales success must take advantage of emerging trends.”- Eddie Machaalani, co-founder and co-CEO, Bigcommerce
When looking for customers, set your sights to social media. According to 2014 research, social selling generates 40% more qualified leads than traditional methods. Fire up those catchy tweets, boost that Facebook signal and hook up some nice pictures at your Instagram and Pinterest.
Just to give you some numbers on how social media engagement can help you: companies that make an effort and take their time to nurture their social media communication generate 50 percent more sales-ready leads at 33 percent lower cost.
“In eCommerce, your prices have to be better, because the consumer has to take a leap of faith in your product.”- Ashton Kutcher, Actor, producer, investor
Psychologically speaking, trust lowers the transaction costs – simply put, if your customers trust you, they are more likely to return to your e-shop and to buy more. General rules of obtaining trust are: focusing on problems impacting your customers, not your solution, willingness to provide feedback for free and addressing the arising issues. All of these combine into relevancy to your customers and transparency of your processes.
Best way to establish continuum of trust is to have bullet-proof customer care that acts not only as a reactive service, but a proactive platform for engaging in communication with your clients. This can be often achieved by providing two-tier customer service – first line of “on demand” response, e.g. call centre, contact e-mail or responsive online form and second line of easy-to-use tools meant for providing two-way feedback in short period of time, e.g. live chat or complaint management tool.
“When you say it, it’s marketing. When your customer says it, it’s social proof.”- Andy Crestodina, web strategist
For your customer, word of mouth is more powerful than any marketing campaign you might think of. An average customer is very optimistic and trusts in social proofing – a so-called belief that third-party judgements are unbiased and trustworthy and therefore, 63% of customers are more likely to buy from a site that has user reviews over the ones that don't.
You cannot escape social proofing, especially in the age of omnipresent Internet, so just keep an eye out on any review sites and social media and see what you can fix. Showing your customers that you care and are willing to make things better is going to be beneficial for your business in the long run. Having a dedicated space for reviews on your website will also boost your prestige.
E-Commerce gurus have spoken! If you’ve found this article helpful, you might be interested in our report on customer trust trends in online shopping or to see what experts think is the big secret behind customer service. For growing your customer service tool-kit, try our free three-month trial of Youstice application.