Nowadays setting up a website or an e-commerce site isn’t really that hard anymore. Anyone, even with minimal technical knowhow can create and launch their own site or online store and start selling their products and services in the shortest possible time.
The truth of the matter is that there’s so much more to online shops and e-commerce undertakings than merely selling products and services online. You have to slowly build and nurture relationship with clients, ensure your website’s security, modernise the process you fulfil orders, provide rich and enticing content, and adopt appropriate SEO techniques and much more.
While learning your way you can always glean learnings and insights from the successes and failures of others. However, remember that there’s no universal recipe to brew success. This means that not all strategies adopted by others can be readily applied by you to achieve the same level of success they have nor do you need to be stymied by the failures of others.
Here we’ve outlined five of the most critical areas where online stores and e-commerce enterprises typically bungles and how you can learn and improve from each of them to boost your online presence and reach your goal to be a successful e-entrepreneur.
1. Build and nurture relationship with clients
No matter how beautifully made or creatively done your website is if you’re just getting started in the online store space, building trust and loyalty with your targeted clients will be an uphill climb and oftentimes, a struggle.
This is because, basically, no one knows you yet nor what you provide; the services and products you sell on your online shop. People—your prospective customers only deals with those that they are familiar with and with whom they’ve done deals with before. Trust, confidence and loyalty take a lot of time to develop. Rather than be frustrated, you as a new online shop owner must realize and recognize this at the onset specially, if you have an online payment gateway which needs inputting of personal information and credit or banking data. This is much true if you are selling items that are not that cheap (expensive, lux items that costs a lot of bucks).
Impress. That’s the keyword for start-up businesses. It’s pretty hard earning trust and confidence unless you done a darn job impressing would-be clients and customers. Additionally, the online retail industry abounds with every products, items and services that may or may not be similar with what you offer that you need to prime-up and know your competitive advantage to start nurturing and taking care of your clients over time.
There are actually quite simply ways and means to begin attracting online store visitors and gaining their trust. Displaying your office address or your brick-and-mortar store, the pictures of your physical store, your staffs’ pictures, testimonials and credibility badges all helps getting that coveted trust of would-be customers. Blog or setting-up a blogging site for your online store also helps building the trust you need.
2. Ensure your website’s security
Reality-wise, not all online businesses and online stores recognize the real threat nor anticipate the need to proactive deal with hackers and the possible breaches on security of a site. You as an online shop owner – whether small or big – should start realizing that you are a potential victim and must begin making preparations the moment you start conceptualizing your online retail store or an ecommerce website.
Security of your website is paramount to your success because if sensitive or private information of your clients start leaking or gets stolen, all your efforts would go down the drain and convincing your customers to trust you again would be a herculean task. As mentioned at the onsite, gaining trust is hard as it is and security breaches and hacks would make it even harder.
Scenarios abound of what could happen when your site is attacked by hackers. If you’re site uses an online payment system, your customers’ payments might be redirected to another site. Attackers can also deface your site or post something else or scramble and tamper with all your contents. The worst attackers can do is to kick you out of your site by revoking your authority to access your own website so that you cannot do anything nor revert any changes those attackers have done.
Identify at the earliest possible time all the conceivable and imaginable weaknesses of your website. Take into consideration the potential security weaknesses of your web hosting provider and the provider of your shopping cart system. Quick cheat you can do to avert this is to regularly change your password and storing your passwords and not to use predictable or easy to guess passwords. Installing database-dependent elements and customizing it to suit your need is also recommended.
3. Modernise the process you fulfil orders
How you fulfil and ultimately deliver your clients’ orders matters. You must realize that not all your products fit the same box. Different items are distinctive and needs to be handled differently. Know your preferred courier or shipping partner helps because not all are equal; they should be able to deliver faster and reliable. Delivery logistics should be considered early on.
This is because the process of getting the product, boxing it and shipping is a tedious task which usually takes time to master. If you fumble with fulfilling your promised turn-out or deliver your clients wouldn’t be happy. Remember, a happy customer will be a loyal customer. Always strive to make your customers happy because they would be the bread-and-butter of your online business. With the advent of online order tracking, customers and clients would always demand for fast and reliable delivery of what they’ve bought from you. In hindsight, fast, efficient and reliability in fulfilling orders should be considered part of an excellent customer service.
4. Provide rich and enticing content
What your prospective clients and customers would always look at is your content. Those text, pictures or videos relating to your products serves as gateway to start enticing and encouraging site visitors to do the ultimate action you or any online shop owners wants—buy. Your products’ pictures should be in high resolution and as much as possible, portrays the actual product you’re selling. Forget about copying or downloading product pictures of others. Your text or product description should be unique and not copied text. Your description should faithfully tell your clients what your product does and why it will help them. While product description should not be that long, it should concisely tell your clients what to expect. However, don’t over-promise. Remember, customers don’t forgive easily.
With search engines getting smarter and smarter each passing day, copying and using text, pictures and videos of others would only expose you to possible difficulties; SEO-wise (that’s search engine optimization, the process used to make you rank online) you might get penalized thus not rank or loose rank, lawsuits (copyright infringements) and getting humiliated for online by the actual owners of what you used. This could spell losing the trust of your clients and customers.
5. Mobile commerce
Mobile devices— smartphones, phablets and the like are dominating the market. Capitalize and seize this opportunity. Optimize your website to be mobile-friendly before your competitors does.
However, optimizing your online shopping site to be mobile-friendly isn’t enough. The checkout process of your site should also be optimized to make sure it stays consistent with what your customers would see across different platforms. There’s a tendency that if your checkout process is not mobile-optimized it wouldn’t be helpful; broken links, incomplete online form or worst, not functioning checkout system which can cause frustrations to your clients.
In order to gain the trust and loyalty of your customers, focus on providing the best user and shopping experience you can possibly give your clients. Take some time to ask some very important questions like is it convenient to browse and navigate your site? Are the pages loading properly? Can your clients easily find what they are looking? Can they effortlessly add items to your shopping cart?
Tremendous opportunity is available in online retail and e-commerce. Planning, anticipating, organizing and preparing are essential components to better equip you in venturing into the multi-billion online shopping industry. If you’re well-prepared and have thought well all the nitty-gritty details of operating an e-commerce website then it would be much easier for you to grow and be successful.
Pay attention to details and examine all possibilities and eventualities that may or may not happen. Time and again remember that chances always favour the prepared. Not paying attention and shrugging-off possibilities or leaving things to chances alone spells disaster.