Building a profitable eCommerce Business has become easier than ever, thanks to the hundreds of tools designed with entrepreneurs in mind. While building stores and reaching audiences may be easier than ever as a result of online store building platforms and social media marketing, there are still a number of factors that must be included in any eCommerce business if it wishes to thrive.
Creating an online store is only a small part of the process, as the customer experience is what truly matters to your online business. Having a beautiful and responsive webpage only does its job when the right content is present, and many times this content may vary from any preconceived notions you may have had about what goes into building an online store.
Many new marketing tactics and trends have come to light over the course of the past decade, and as a result more and more eCommerce stores are missing out on valuable opportunities for growth. Today, we are going to discuss each of the essentials that must be present in order for your store to meet customer expectations, as well as increase conversion rates and customer retention.
Shoppers are looking for a very specific shopping experience when they browse the web for products. Simply put, shoppers want to know what they are purchasing, what they need to purchase with an item, and want easy and secure payment and shipping options. In addition, having a very short page loading time is an absolute must for most customers, as well as an easy and useful mobile experience. When any of these factors are missing from the process, you can expect to lose a significant portion of your potential customers, and will likely see a very high rate of cart abandonment as a result.
The first set of eCommerce essentials we are going to discuss covers the purchasing process itself, as this is often the make or break factor in a shopper’s mind before confirming their order. For example, many customers will abandon their cart if they cannot find the secure payment option they need, meaning that successful eCommerce entrepreneurs must include multiple secure payment options for checkout, and it’s recommended that online stores include Paypal as one of their payment options.
Other excellent ways to improve the customer’s checkout experience include:
- “Buy now” buttons – Social media is a growing and substantial force in the world of eCommerce, and in recent years, a new trend of social media shopping has arisen, by way of the “Buy now” button. Include a “Buy now” button on your social media pages in order to encourage more sales from the platform itself.
- Fast, affordable shipping – When shopping online, customers expect to receive their product within a specific time-frame, depending on their purchase. In addition, customers never want to spend more than necessary on shipping, making it crucial that eCommerce stores offer same-day processing options, and short shipping times. Remember, online stores are becoming more and more competitive about shipping times, and you will also want to offer competitive shipping times if you wish to find success as a business.
- Excellent customer service – Customers want their questions answered, and they want their answers the first time they ask. Many customers will contact customer service with questions about returns or shipping, and when they don’t receive an immediate response, they will be less likely to complete their purchase. Combat this by offering a phone number or chat box that allows customers to speak to a customer service representative immediately, as this plays a significant role in the shopper’s decision to work with your company or a competitor.
In addition to an easy and secure checkout process, customers wish to purchase products that they can trust, as shopping online has an added variable that brick-and-mortar shopping does not: when shopping online, customers cannot get a feel for the product they are purchasing, which for some particular items may cause concern.
Ease any concerns your shoppers may have about products in two easy ways: by using honest product reviews, written by customers, and by including images of products from social media, that show the product being used by a real customer. Many shoppers expect the worst from their online shopping experience, and many others maintain a belief that whatever it they purchase, it will not be of the same quality shown in the image shown on the product page. This can be diffused by including pictures taken by other customers, or posting popular unboxing videos of the product on the product page. In addition, real reviews written by customers rather than hired writers is always an excellent addition to any product page, as customers are much more likely to purchase a product with excellent reviews than one with none at all.
Finally, it’s important to recognize that not all shoppers know exactly what they want when they are shopping. Many are simply browsing, and may come across an item they have little knowledge of. In this scenario, the customer must be educated on the product, and it’s up to you to educate them.
Educating your customers comes from an understanding of their needs or wants, often based on their browsing history on your site. Creating a website that delivers a personalized experience, offering recommendations based on a shopper’s browsing trends, is one of the greatest ways to improve the experience of your shoppers, as this allows them to more quickly find the product they need. In addition, include product refreshment reminders from time to time is a particularly efficient way to encourage customers to remember not only your products, but their need for your products. For example, a company selling soap may want to send out replenishment reminders every month, to encourage happy customers to make another purchase. By using this process, customers no longer have to remind themselves of their upcoming purchase, and they will be more likely to continue working with your company with the need for your product arises again.
By combining the following essentials above with fast web pages and infinitely scrolling pages, you can deliver a more robust shopping experience that your customers are sure to appreciate. Evaluate your store, and take note of any factors that may be incomplete or missing, and you may be surprised at the changes in conversion and retention you’ll find when you include each of the essentials listed above.