10 Lesser-known actions for e-commerce success
Every year the e-commerce market grabs a bigger share of worldwide retail sales. With so many options now out there for online customers, the main job of any online business is enticing more of those customers to buy as much as possible. Achieving this requires some common basic elements, like selling products that work, having an excellent website that converts, taking care of your SEO, attracting quality traffic, engaging on social media, retaining customers and growing your average order size. Add the less well-known aspects below to the mix, and you might just have found the “secret sauce” of success.
1. Be customer-centric to your core
Staying in touch with what your customers want and need is critical to success. After all, happy customers come back to buy from you again. This means keeping them front and centre right from the beginning of your process, from when you are defining your products and structuring both your business and your website, through to providing extraordinary customer service, and listening and responding to their concerns, queries and suggestions. Market segmentation allows you to group your customers so you understand who they are and can accurately map their buying journeys, both offline and online. Then you can focus on successfully meeting the needs of each group, removing any obstacles and adding value along the way
2. Create value and charge for it
Make sure you don’t cut your business off at the knees by undercharging for your products or services. Some companies attempt to undercut the competition, especially at the beginning of their business journey. Although this may help you sell more at first, it’s not sustainable and the moment you raise your prices, there’s a good chance you’ll lose a lot of your customer base. Rather set sustainable prices up front and use your marketing to show your customers how much value you create for them.
3. Put a great user experience (UX) first
Once a visitor gets as far as your site, you want to convert them to a paying customer. Customers expect a great user experience, which you can create by strategically applying these 8 basic must-have design principles. Also check your page speed – if your site takes too long to load, your visitor will quickly leave. Your e-commerce website needs to be both attractive and functional, so they can easily find what they’re looking for and when they do, they can see exactly what they’re getting.
4. Ensure omni-channel access
Today’s buying journey can, and often does, happen over several different channels. Rather than “selling”, you are helping your customer to buy, and this process should be seamless. This applies whether they are calling your contact centre with a query, buying from your e-commerce site via their laptop or cellphone, live chatting with an agent in the process, or returning a product bought online via courier or to your physical store. Regardless of the channel, your branding, products, processes and customer data should automatically carry across. Then both the customer and your team can pick up the process anywhere, knowing exactly what is going on.
5. Personalise your customers’ e-commerce experience
This takes the idea of segmentation even further as personalisation requires knowing the preferences of individual customers. Based on past purchases or other interactions with them, you can then market directly to them, addressing them by name, recommending products they may be interested in and even offering them personalised prices or discounts. You not only make them feel special, you also increase the chances of closing a sale.
6. Use social proof to successfully boost sales
Research shows that when e-commerce customers can see the opinion of other people who have bought the same product, they feel much safer buying it themselves. There are several ways to do this, for example:
a) Display ratings and reviews
Customer ratings and reviews give a good idea of how happy others are with the product, along with specific information that may help the buying decision. For example, “The extra-large pet donut is perfect for my Golden Retriever”, along with 5 stars, will help another customer trying to decide which product and what size they need.
Recommend products that have been bought by other customers who purchased something similar. This leverages their area of interest as well as social proof.
c) Show purchase statistics
You could simply display the number of products already purchased (assuming it’s fairly impressive) or use an app like Fomo to show real-time purchases as they happen. This builds an element of excitement into the process, which can effectively seal the deal.
7. Maximise the potential of abandoned carts
8. Use email marketing to encourage existing customers to come back
Statistics show that existing customers are far easier to sell to than new ones. Make sure you leverage their long-term value by putting a strategy in place to keep your business top of mind. There are many ways to build your email list</ with high-quality contacts i.e. customers who have opted in because they want to hear from you. These could be past customers or simply visitors to your site who have provided an email address. Encourage them to sign up by making it easy and compelling to do so. Consider offering them something of value in return, such as discounts, give-aways and/or useful content, like checklists or how-to videos about the product they purchased. Then be sure to stay in touch at every opportunity (without being annoying).
9. Create transparency and trust with your customers
What your customers want most (possibly even more than a good deal) is to feel safe to buy from you. If they’re unsure about anything throughout the process, they won’t hand over their money. To create this sense of safety for them:
- Contact details should be clearly displayed on every page.
- Also provide a live chat option and a FAQ page so they can quickly and easily get their questions answered online.
- Your return policy should be clearly explained and easy to find on your site.
- Shipping and any other additional costs, as well as terms and conditions, should be very clear, long before the customer is ready to check out.
- Product images and information, along with other helpful content, should create trust and make the purchase decision as easy as possible. Also make it very clear how to add the product to their cart.
- Give them as many safety signals as possible, especially around checkout. This could include a statement that their personal and payment details are protected, along with a Google Customer Review badge.
- When you engage on social media, focus on being humble and honest. No-one trusts a hard sales pitch anymore.
10. Use innovative marketing to show how you successfully solve a real problem in a unique way
Customers will buy from you if you can convince them that the purchase will make their lives easier/better. Be very clear in your marketing on what problem you are solving for your customers and how your product does that in an exceptional way. It’s not enough to simply have a product differentiator that puts yours above the rest though. Successfully growing your e-commerce business requires a clear acquisition differentiator too i.e. a plan for marketing through a specific channel. The key is to know what acquisition channel works best for you and how this links to your product differentiator, so the two can work together and enhance each other.
The bottom line…
The e-commerce industry can be tough and success demands perseverance. Rules and trends are always changing regardless of who sets them – your suppliers, shipping agents or industry influencers. So the secrets that apply today might not apply tomorrow. It’s important to keep up to date and be prepared to deal with changes and challenges as they arise. There is no silver bullet or “one-size-fits-all” approach. Focus on getting the basics right as they apply to your e-commerce business. Then add these lesser-known factors so everything works together to create a magical experience for your customers.