E-commerce continues to eat away markets from traditional offline retail. With every passing year, we see the share of total revenue from e-commerce increasing compared to sales at physical stores. The "retail apocalypse" is a direct result of increased online accessibility and is poised to wipe out many operational methods retailers have banked on for decades.
That said, the competition among e-commerce sites is just as heated. A new online seller, or a small one, finds it extremely difficult to acquire loyal customers or even make themselves seen and heard above the competition. If you're a small-time online retailer are a few critical steps that you can take that can take you from survival to success.
Solicit public evaluation
No matter how great your marketing is, nothing can influence a consumer’s purchase more than another customer's review. According to Pew Research, over half of your customers will check your online reviews before purchasing, yet most consumers admit that they rarely leave a review themselves. It’s your job to make sure you collect any positive recommendations from previous purchases and include them on your website.
To start collecting these powerful and lucrative reviews, all you need to do is ask. Seventy percent of customers will leave a review if they are asked, so setting up an e-commerce site that encourages them to leave feedback is one way to automate the process for online reviews.
Build in a star ranking system like Yelp and Amazon to make it easy for consumers to rate their purchases and also easy for future customers to gauge the usability of the product from those ratings. You can also send out automated follow-up emails requesting a review – such emails have been shown to be more effective than no emails in getting reviews.
Cultivate trust and credibility
For a customer to complete their online purchase, they must feel confident that their private information is secure. If there is even a hint of doubt in the credibility of a website, consumers are very likely to abandon their cart. Concerns like security, poor navigation, unclear payment procedures, unexpected extra costs or even slow loading times can bring sales to a screeching halt.
These details are often what encourage a customer to go through with a sale, so lacking these fundamental features could cause them to doubt your brand or website. For this, it’s essential that you choose the right e-commerce platform and shopping cart platform for your online shop – here are the pros and cons of the major ones. Your site functionality should be smooth and seamlessly lead from one step to another as customers go through the buying process.
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Once you choose the right platform that works for you, make sure you add clear product descriptions with full technical specifications, high-quality images and add-ons that allow for multiple shipping options and payment methods to encourage new customers to make that first purchase.
Never miss an opportunity to include information and features that encourage trust on your website. Displaying trust badges that guarantee security and reliability of your brand also help encourage customer confidence.
How many times do you go to the supermarket and come back with just the items that were originally present in your shopping list? If you're like me, never. Upselling and cross-selling are the oldest tricks in the retail book.
These days, most e-commerce platforms, like the ones we discussed above, have simple plugins and add-ons that serve as recommendation engines. These automatically track visitors and customers on your pages, optimize content according to their location or previous purchases and even send automatic emails reminding them to buy items that they’ve added to cart but haven’t yet bought.
Obviously, product recommendations and upsells work quite well for Amazon, but does that apply to other companies, too? The answer is without a doubt, yes. Online businesses have reported that up to 30 percent of their revenue is generated through upsells, while cross-sells typically hover around a 3 to 4 percent conversion rate.
In order to keep your e-commerce website operating in tip-top shape, it's essential to track analytical data. Tracking down the data for important numbers like sales and conversions can be a hassle, especially if you are new to using Google Analytics for e-commerce. However, staying on top of these important numbers can lead to higher sales and improvements for future customers.
If you want to save time with these reports, you can set up automated tracking with Google Analytics by integrating it with your website. Shopify offers a simple integration system with its hosted sites, making it super simple to track instant data reports from your customers' actions on your webpage.
For instance, if you want to see the information on consumer habits, you can issue a behavior report from Google. This analytical overview will show you everything from bounce rates and typical shopping habits like time spent and purchase amounts to the amount of page views and spikes in visits based off of time and dates. You can set up these analytics to be automatically sent to your email on a regular basis, too, so you don't need to scramble to put together reports for the next business meeting.
An online store with limited resources will always find it difficult to strike an ideal balance between marketing and technology for e-commerce. Luckily, if you get the basics right, you can leave behind a lot of your competitors and build a loyal customer base in the process.