The history of eCommerce is very much entwined with the history of the internet - it dates back to 1991 when the internet was opened for profit-making purposes. At the time, selling and buying online was reserved for the tech-savvy. Fast forward to three decades later, even tech novices are joining the eCommerce bandwagon and opening up their own online business, at an unprecedented pace.
If you're running a local brick-and-mortar store and wish to make it big by adding an online component, or you are setting up a standalone eCommerce site, it's imperative that you get it right the first time. The following are the seven things that every eCommerce brand should be focusing on for long-term success online:
According to Business Insider, m-commerce, which generally means shopping online through a mobile device, will account for 45 percent of the total U.S. eCommerce market by the end of 2020. These statistics send a strong message to online sellers that the only way to ensure that they won't leave sales on the table is to optimize their eCommerce sites for mobile devices. It's important that you create a mobile-friendly eCommerce website to ensure that the shoppers you attract won't abandon their shopping carts before crossing the line and hitting "checkout".
At a time when online shopping is linked to more mobile devices than ever before, it's imperative to adjust the forms of payment so that mobile shoppers can make their orders conveniently. Luckily, there are many payment options that you can integrate with your online store's infrastructure. Some of the payment options that most online shoppers prefer include credit card, direct debit, PayPal, Google Checkout, digital cash/cryptocurrency, e-wallet, and person-to-person email payments. By providing multiple payment options for your customers, you'll make it easier for them to buy from you and increase brand loyalty.
The first building block of a strong seller-buyer relationship is trust. Before buyers give you their hard-earned cash, they need proof that they can trust you with their money. One of the things that can help you prove your credibility is customer feedback. Displaying customer testimonials or reviews on your eCommerce site will remove any doubts that prospective buyers may have about your credibility. Similarly, the inclusion of trust signals, such as professional accreditations, will also have a similar effect on prospective customers.
Even with your brick-and-mortar store, you don't rely on just one channel to transmit brand messages. You should have multiple channels such as in-store flyers, brochures, print ads, and signage, among others. Similarly, your online store stands a better chance of being noticed if you transmit brand messages across multiple platforms. In addition to your eCommerce website, you need other platforms from where to transmit your messages, including your social media pages and blogs. It's important, however, that you keep messaging consistent across all platforms to avoid confusing prospective buyers.
If there's a catchphrase that turns away potential buyers, it has to be "Goods Once Sold Cannot Be Returned." After gaining prospective buyers' trust with glowing testimonials on your site, you need to communicate to them that it's okay for them to return products that do not meet their expectations. Offering a risk trial, whereby they are allowed to try your product before they can put in their money, is a good start. Alternatively, you can offer a bulletproof money-back guarantee, whereby you promise to return their money on condition that they return the product. Removing the risk of a potential loss from the buyer eliminates any fear that could dissuade them from buying from you.
If you lack an efficient customer support system that addresses customers' needs, your money-back guarantee might as well be useless. If customers don't get timely responses for their requests, then all you will get is negative customer feedback that will hurt your credibility. You should have professional and friendly customer service staff to look after your customers. Having a reliable customer service team will also enable you to understand what customers want, thus help you to focus on what sells.
Every online seller knows that the biggest revenue-killer is shipping costs. While delivering products right to your customers' doorsteps can improve your customers' shopping experience, it could create a heavy financial burden for your business. One of the best ways to cut shipping costs is by using a multi-carrier shipping software or a reliable fulfillment partner. Be sure to compare fulfillment and shipping solutions and choose the one that can offer affordable shipping rates, while maintaining the delivery speed that customers expect.
According to Statista, more than 2.14 billion people globally are expected to buy goods and services online in 2021. If these statistics are anything to go by, there's no better time for retailers to think about optimizing their online strategy than now. Be sure to put the above tips into practice, and you'll be on the path to establishing a successful long-term eCommerce business.