As retailers worldwide make the shift to e-commerce, how can your business follow suit? Total e-commerce revenue is expected to reach $4.2T in 2020, a pie that startup companies are sure to want a piece of.
If your company is planning to make the leap into e-commerce for the first time, or recently started selling online, we recommend these practices in developing your robust and profitable new channel.
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Adopt a customer-obsessed approach
One of the biggest challenges of e-commerce is bridging the gap between the customer experience that brands currently provide and how their customers are actually shopping for products. The way to overcome this challenge is to truly understand the pain points, preferences and behaviors of your audience.
Online shopping has never been more complex and competitive and now, more than ever, the customer controls the shopping experience. Today, 89 percent of companies compete primarily on the basis of customer experience, up from just 36 percent in 2010.
Being customer-obsessed means that you must provide an experience that solidifies a completed sale. What can you do to facilitate a stronger sale? Is the product description as informative and accurate as it can be? Can the information be accessed from different devices? What is your customer service like and how can you improve it?
By asking yourself these questions, you guarantee that your business decisions are centered around your customers, and that you are constantly working to provide the best experience.
Remember, customer frustration is one of the main drivers of churn, so even something as little as streamlining your returns process can be a game changer for keeping more customers around.
Pay close attention to your product content
When selling a product online, you need to find ways to inspire confidence. After all, your customers don’t have tangible access to the product, so you need to step in to provide all the necessary information.
A reported 88 percent of customers think detailed product pages are crucial for making a purchase decision. Detailed pages will help you reduce the number of situations where customers come back to you saying that the product wasn’t what they expected. With this in mind, think about how to best communicate the value of your products and make sure to use the right imagery and messaging, both in search title and descriptions, to enhance discoverability.
When it comes to messaging, always be application-specific. For example, instead of very general or over-technical bullet points, tailor the content to be solution-oriented and practical. You can also use search insights to adapt your messaging. How are people discovering your products? What are the main keywords? And do your titles match current shopping trends? All of this can help you adjust your descriptions to perfectly match customer needs.
Always have multiple product images in high resolution. One or two don’t cut it anymore, so include at least five. Your best bet is to open with one that creates a great overview and continue with angled shots, depending on your product. Don’t be afraid to experiment with other formats, such as video or 360-degree imagery. For example, 3D product views are great for technical tools, as they allow the customer to zoom in or rotate to get a better look.
Any high-quality product content should be complemented with the community aspect of your e-commerce. Manage the reviews that come in, respond to any inquiries and continuously update your Q&A section.
Drive the full potential of your platform
Your aim should be to drive more visitors to your site, engage them to continue browsing, convert them into customers and encourage them to come back for more. But there are many variables along the way, and sometimes, the wrong message can chase a potential customer away. However, a relevant and personalized offer can help you score big, and your platform can help you navigate this customer journey to better prepare for its ups and downs.
Understanding how users move through your website is critical to driving sales. From this perspective, it’s easy to understand why powerful digital retail creates a more seamless experience than is curated by platforms like Amazon. Your platform is your baseline, determining both how you relate to your customer and limiting what you can and can’t do. It’s best to choose one that allows you to reap data for more personalized experiences, streamlined communication capabilities and better discoverability through SEO.
Another important aspect to remember is that 49 percent of people exclusively use their phones for online shopping. You only have a few precious seconds to capture consumer attention, so make sure visitors don’t spend a big fragment of that time waiting for your website to load.
Having a customer-centric approach always brings more people to your online channels. Not only does your presence on social media platforms allow you to engage your target audience, but it also significantly advances your search and shareability. In other words, it’s another way to influence the customer on their buying journey. Create relevant and engaging content, respond to every comment or inquiry and encourage the creation of user-generated content.
At a time when customers are shopping online more than ever before, the e-commerce landscape holds an infinite amount of opportunities for startups.
To fully take advantage of these, it’s critical to examine your product and platforms and constantly confront them with a customer-first approach. You should start small, systematically apply the above-mentioned tips, and follow the experiment-adjust-learn cycle.
Originally published April 20, 2020.