The US Commerce Department’s statistics indicate that customers in the US spent upwards of $517 billion online in 2018, contributing to a whopping 14% of total retail sales, and these figures are only expected to rise further in 2019. Reduced capital and operational expenses associated with online businesses, combined with a host of accessible online tools and services for all supporting functions, make eCommerce ventures an easy to launch, low-risk investment.
Setting up the website using tools like Shopify or Magento is only the first step in launching your business. There are three important pillars that set a successful eCommerce business apart from others – Great products, relevant marketing and excellent customer service.
- High-quality products and service:
The most important factor in ensuring good quality products is working with reliable suppliers. Having the right supplier/s will ensure that your business has access to the best products at the right rates with timely, reliable deliveries. Based on the nature and scale of your business, there are 2 models that can work for you:
- Manufacturers: You can use B2B marketplaces like eBay or AliExpress to easily find large manufacturers, either close to you or in a specific country. For more niche products or to contact smaller manufacturers who can give you more personalized service, there are specialized tools that you can use to reach out to potential manufacturing leads. When you work with manufacturers, you are responsible for inventory planning, stocking and delivery.
- Dropshipping: If you are worried about significant finances being tied up in stocks and do not want to rent your own warehouse or worry about packaging and delivery, drop shipping is the best option. Reliable dropshipping services ensure that products are sent directly to customers and lets you concentrate on Marketing and customer service.
- Relevant Marketing:
No matter how good your products are, you will need on-point marketing to ensure that customers are aware of your products and prefer you to competitors. Your marketing should serve a two-fold agenda – it should help you gain new customers every month while ensuring that your existing customers remain loyal to you and keep increasing their purchase frequency.
Creating social media buzz around your brand and a coupon based discount strategy using tools like ViralContentBee can help attract new users while rewarding existing users for being loyal. Consumer surveys show that 63% of customers find coupons to be the most valuable feature while shopping, while 91% of customers who used a coupon express an interest in visiting the site again.
Another element of a successful marketing strategy is branding. With tons of competition in every niche, it can be extremely challenging to stand out from the competition. This is especially true if you have chosen a platform like Amazon where customers routinely filter by brand while picking a product. Use a service like Logaster to create a high-quality logo and pick a brand name that stands out – and establish a marketing strategy that helps reinforce your brand in the minds of customers. This could be contests or influencer marketing campaigns where your customers are exposed several times to your brand.
- Customer experience:
For your online venture to be successful, in addition to having good products at the right price and getting customers to visit your site, it is imperative that you provide excellent customer service – both pre-order and post-order. A Gartner survey indicates that 64% consumers value CX over price while making a purchase decision. A recent McKinsey study shows that brands that invest in providing good customer experience see an increased revenue of 10%-15%, while being able to lower costs by 15%-20%. Hence, it is essential for an eCommerce business to invest in the right customer support system:
- Set up a 24*7 customer helpline: Customers should be able to contact you for any query and investing in multiple helpdesk channels like chat, email and call support will go a long way in making this process efficient. Setting up a business phone service will provide a professional setting to all calls, without breaking the bank or requiring high manpower.
- Establish a support desk and interaction points: One of the biggest pain points that eCommerce businesses face is credit card chargebacks. Such chargebacks lead not only to loss of revenue (an estimated $7 bn. loss through chargebacks in the US in 2016) and time for the merchant but an increase in chargebacks can lead to payment service providers penalizing or suspending your service. The primary way to avoid this is to have multiple interaction points for the customer throughout his purchase journey and a support desk to answer any questions and handle payment disputes.
With barriers to entry to eCommerce being very low, it is now more important than ever before for businesses to adopt a 360-degree framework to be successful – best quality product and service, innovative marketing for reach and retention and superior Customer Experience.
If you have this kind of question! How do you think your messaging would be different if you knew what someone wanted it and WHY they wanted it? What makes them tick as individuals? That’s the question psychographic segmentation answers.
Author: Anand Srinivasan