Congratulations! You’ve finally decided to set up (or upgrade) your online store, and take your business to the next level in the wonderful world of E-Commerce.
In order to give your customers a positive experience (and give your bottom line a positive boost), keep these ideas in mind to avoid common problems that could prove costly:
1. “Easy, Breezy, Beautiful” isn’t just for Cover Girls
Every step in the ordering process needs to be clear and intuitive for the shopper, from finding the product(s) they want and choosing payment and shipping options, to returning it if it doesn’t meet their expectations.
Offering clear graphics, with multiple views of each product is one way to give customers more confidence that the product is EXACTLY what they’re looking for.
Allowing customers to leave product reviews gives shoppers confidence by supplying information about the products so they can make informed decisions.
Letting shoppers know how to access live customer support makes shoppers comfortable in your store, knowing that they can get answers to any questions they may have. Not all shoppers feel comfortable submitting personal and payment information online, but if they can find what they want in your store, they should still have a way to easily make purchases with phone support.
After making the investment to create (or upgrade) your online store, have someone that wasn’t involved with the setup go through the ordering process. If they can easily find what they want and place an order, you are golden!
2. Finding sales with a good site search
If shoppers can’t find what they want in your store, you can trust that they will find it somewhere else.
Even if a shopper isn’t sure of the exact item they want, but have an idea that they might find it in your store, they need to be able to find that out quickly.
Make sure the search function in your store allows users to enter natural keywords and phrases, then filter the relevant results by Brand, Price, Style (if applicable), and Popularity (based on product reviews). There are third party search modules that offer suggestions and account for perceived typos, especially necessary if you have a very large product inventory.
3. Divide and conquer: segmenting users
Customers are more savvy than ever, and know they can purchase any product they want in just a few clicks. You’ve already made sure you have the right products at the best prices; make your online store stand above the competition with your level of service. Know which shoppers are first-time buyers, and which are repeat customers, then tailor specific features to them.
For a first-time shopper, offer a “%-off discount” as soon as they add an item to the shopping cart to thank them (ahead of time) for their first purchase. This little incentive could guarantee that the shopper makes the purchase instead of deciding to abandon their cart.
4. Lather, rinse, REPEAT
Give your customers a reason to want to give you repeat business, and reward their loyalty at the same time:
After a customer makes their first purchase, send them an email thanking them for their business, along with a “Free Shipping Coupon” or a “% off discount code” for their NEXT purchase.
When customers think about making their next purchase, they will absolutely consider the fact that they can get what they want from your store for a lower price.
Just like airlines give points for frequent flier miles, you could give customers “Level Incentives” based on the number of purchases they make. For example:
After your 1st purchase, you’re a GREEN Shopper with us!
After your 10th purchase*, you reach BRONZE Shopper Status!
After your 20th purchase*, you reach SILVER Shopper Status!
After your 30th purchase*, you reach GOLD Shopper Status!
After your 40th purchase*, you reach PLATINUM Shopper Status!
After your 50th purchase*, you reach DIAMOND Shopper Status!
(* in a Calendar Year, or whatever time period is acceptable to your business)
Level incentives can include a guaranteed percentage off each order, free gifts, or special promotions only for customers in that category.
5. Get your fulfillment in order
Imagine that a shopper visits your store, finds exactly what they want, whips out their credit card, and places their order, only to find out that the item they want is no longer available, Do you think they’ll return to your store after this? Would YOU?
Clearly, this is an extreme example, but you certainly wouldn’t want a shopper to have an experience like this in your store. Start by making sure you can provide real-time updates on inventory availability throughout the ordering process. Once the customer places the order, clearly indicate when the product will be delivered, then give customers a way to track the item once it has been shipped.
If the customer needs to exchange or return the item, make sure every step in the exchange/return/refund process is clear, and that the customer still feels satisfied with the experience even if they no longer have the product.
- Joe Chilson
- July 23, 2014