As customers increasingly turn to the Internet and smart phones for purchasing decisions, economies are seeing brick and mortar evolve into "click and order," and ecommerce become intertwined with m-commerce
More and more businesses are expanding online — from grocery stores to "beer grams," almost any product or service is available via the click of a button or the swipe of a finger. Studies shows online customers are exceedingly loyal — perhaps even more so than customers who shop in-store.
For businesses breaking into the ecommerce space, the process can be a bit of a whirlwind. Ecommerce presents countless opportunities for retailers and brands, so businesses seeking to take advantage of the benefits must also address some tough decisions — site design, mobile and social media strategies, customer service and product pricing, to name a few.
Here are seven best practices for your ecommerce strategy.
1. Create a User-Oriented Experience
When your customers can't physically see and touch the products you're offering online, convincing them to break out their credit cards can be a harder sell. Pricing products appropriately and delivering a user-friendly, all-around personalized experience is one way to encourage customers to fill their digital shopping carts.
Luvocracy is an online platform dedicated to helping shoppers find products they'll love via recommendations from "trusted tastemakers." One of the reasons the platform is successful is because of the feel-good experience of providing quality recommendations to likeminded users.
People want to feel good about the decisions they make, and feel like they matter through the help they provide to others. Creating a place where those helpful moments are captured, shared, celebrated and easily allowed to cross from the digital to our physical lives is incredibly rewarding.
Design-with-a-purpose emphasis on aesthetics and UI to provide customers with the best possible online shopping experience is important. Just as it is important to greet customers with a firm handshake when you meet them in-person.
Design has to be beautiful, easy to use, and entertainingly educational, illustrating through iconography and beautiful graphics
A user-oriented approach to ecommerce helps drive brand loyalty, which is crucial to the bottom line — almost no online retailers can break even by relying on one-time shoppers. Personalizing users' experiences also helps businesses segment their audience, which can translate into more effective marketing via targeted advertising campaigns.
To really engage with customers, you have to appeal to the emotional side of your users. More than the age or the city you want to target, it’s important to look for people who share feelings and behaviors towards something. Once you know this, it’s easier to find what your target customer likes, uses, does and where to engage with him/her.
2. Design a Service you’d want To Use Yourself
The best test subjects for an online business, app or ecommerce site are often friends, family and fellow team members. Make your team test the service like your ideal consumer: If you can't use it pleasantly for an hour straight, it's not good enough. If your 99th percentile server performance isn't good enough, you will notice. Put yourself in customers’ shoes.
"When the entire team is thinking like a customer, it shows in the final product."
3. Customer Feedback Is Crucial
Any business knows that customer service is part of the foundation for success, but small and medium businesses in particular rely on their customers for word-of-mouth promotion and brand loyalty.
Customer feedback is important for crucial decisions in the development of any businesses to succeed. Entrepreneurs believe that the ideas they have and the products they build will be attractive for everyone — but it turns out they have to go out to the market, ask and try. You have to listen to your customers; what you're building is for them, so they will have a pretty good idea of what they need.
Listening to feedback on multiple channels is hugely important when making adjustments or introducing new products: Customers' feedback, whether it comes in the form of a supportive email or a note on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, should be read and shared widely. Listen to the feedback and react swiftly and accordingly.
Not only does customer feedback help businesses evolve and perfect their product or platform, listening to customers can also have a "juggernaut" effect when it comes to building a business. Leverage the authentic voice of the customer.
Your customers are dying to help you and be made to feel like they matter. They are the reason you succeed, Rather than feeling like you're constantly trying to shock them into participating, make them feel good about what they do and the fact that they've decided to buy into your brand and product."
4. Utilize Social Media — But Don't Rely on it Exclusively
A social media strategy particularly paid advertising and an engaging content strategy can be an effective way to target audiences and drive traffic to your site. Sites and networks such as Pinterest, eBay and Instagram are often hugely useful for ecommerce businesses of any size. Social is also a great way to get word-of-mouth momentum started, which is perhaps the most important method of launching a new site or platform to success.
Modern brands must embrace two-way communication online, there's just no question. It's about remaining nimble to consistently learn from our customers, and to benefit from their sincere interest in helping to grow.
Social media word-of-mouth can have a "snowball" effect.
While you want to excel on social media, it's important to note that focusing on social alone isn't enough. Many factors go into ecommerce success — and putting all your eggs in the social media basket is more than likely misguided. Social should be more than an afterthought — but it shouldn't constitute an entire business plan. Consumer expectations are higher than ever; being present in all of the channels customers expect is now table stakes, but overall performance of the technology is equally important across all of them.
5. Invest In Mobile
It's becoming increasingly clear that ecommerce companies simply cannot afford to disregard mobile users. In fact, four out of five smart phone owners use their devices to shop.
One thing is certain, go mobile or die trying, Mobile goes with you. Users can be engaged into making a purchase via a smart phone or tablet anytime and anywhere, so it’s crucial in the growth of ecommerce.
Businesses should take advantage of the entertainment or "me-time" value of smart phone culture, and points out that, as a more affordable and portable method of accessing a site than via laptop, mobile presents an opportunity to appeal to a larger market, especially in emerging markets. Additionally, a more interactive interface leaves room for creative methods of customer engagement.
6. Incentivize Customers
Anyone with an Amazon Prime account will testify that incentivizing customers works. Whether the offer is a promotion, discount, or loyalty program for VIP customers, providing little extras for your customers can increase word-of-mouth promotion and build positive brand affinity.
7. Be Ever-Evolving
As the online marketplace evolves, so must businesses that want to stay a step ahead of the competition. Continuously listening to customers, keeping up with the latest trends, analyzing metrics and conducting vigilant research help companies stay up-to-date with emerging technologies and effective strategy. Experiment with new tools and make tweaks in real time to improve the experience for your users and the bottom line for yourself.
There is no ecommerce, there's only commerce, Instead of using a megaphone, use an inside voice and talk to the customers who already love you and tell them why you love them. Or change your product so they do.