‘The Importance of Being E-Commerce.’
What is e-commerce?
The term e-commerce describes an online store where you can buy and sell products and never has it been more important.
We are all no doubt fully aware of the recent devastation of the high street. From Beales to Bonmarche, Dorothy Perkins to Debenhams, Topshop to Thomas Cook the list of once well-known names vanishing seems endless.
Many of these names however still exist online, often having been bought out by giants of the e-commerce world. Online retailing has never been so popular. According to the Office for National Statistics, online retail reached a record proportion of total retail in January 2021 at 35.2 %.
As the retailers have moved online clearly so have we, and never has this been more apparent than with the huge shift in consumer behaviour due to the global pandemic (hands up who considers their delivery driver a close friend?!). But we believe this is more than just a temporary boost. There has been a shift in mindset.
An estimated 2.05 billion people in 2020 shopped online (Oberlo) so there’s plenty of custom out there! The key to a successful e-commerce website is ensuring that your customers can find you and crucially, when they do, that their experience is one which will not only make them buy your product or service but shout about it to their friends and come back for more!
With this in mind let’s underline the basics….
The importance of being user-friendly.
“I am sick to death of cleverness. Everybody is clever nowadays.”
Keep it simple.
The design of your website is critical to your success. This is your store front, the shop window enticing customers in. Don't try to be too clever, keep your website, clear, clean and above all simple to use - the focus should be on the sale. Make sure your branding consistent and your website has a professional look and feel.
- The navigation must be easy and intuitive with the checkout process super smooth. Think like your customer and build your navigation around this - what does the customer want?
- To ease the navigation process even further, ensure that you have a search bar and if you have hundreds of products on your website have the functionality to filter these products.
- Display products clearly – a grid layout is often used for e-commerce websites – organised rows and columns work well and when presented clearly make it easy for the user to browse.
- Use high quality imagery and enhance areas of the website with call to action buttons (‘buy now’ ‘basket’, ‘checkout’ etc) and specific use of colour.
- Make sure your website looks good on a mobile device - ensure it is responsive and will adapt to any size of screen or operating system – test to make sure!
The Importance of Being Honest
“It is very vulgar to talk like a dentist when one isn't a dentist. It produces false impression” –
Honesty breeds trust
Transparency and honesty are vital in building a customer relationship – you are the experts in your field so build that trust with your customers and show off your expertise.
Never has the customer had more choice and more power over their shopping decisions.
Consumers will return to a company that they can trust.
- Display pricing clearly including shipping costs – make sure there are no ‘hidden’ surprises along the way as you will risk losing your customer.
- Make sure your returns policy is clear on the website.
- Display testimonials and feedback from other customers – there is nothing better than a word-of-mouth recommendation.
- Get social – link from your website to your social media platforms – this is where your customers are hanging out and where you can really listen to and engage with them.
- Contact details should be clearly displayed on the website and easy to find.
The Importance of Customer Service.
“There is something in that name that inspires absolute confidence.”
Communication is King.
Competition has never been more fierce but excellent customer service inspiring confidence in your brand is where you can really get ahead of the game. Statistics indicate that millennials are willing to pay 21% more to conduct business with companies who excel at customer service.
- Engage! Customers can now interact with companies in a variety of ways - social media, email, phone, live chat – make sure you have as many options available for your customers to contact you as you can realistically monitor.
- Give expert advice and a personalised service where possible.
- FAQs page – this can help reduce queries coming your way and will make the customer feel fully informed.
- Confirmation email and thank you page – once the customer has bought something from your store it is vital that they know the transaction has gone safely through. Follow this with delivery updates – keep your customer updated at every stage of the delivery process and make sure they are informed if there is a delay.
- Be organised and responsive – if there is an ongoing query – ensure that you have a system where any notes that are made can be easily accessed by all members of your company.
The Importance of a Great E-Commerce Platform.
“…it isn't easy to be anything nowadays. There's such a lot of beastly competition about. ”
Invest in help.
Taking into account everything that we have outlined so far, the number one thing that you can invest in is an e-commerce platform that helps with every single one of the points addressed above.
When it comes to e-commerce anything - our 100% top recommendation is Shopify.
Shopify is a joy to work with from the easy, clear interface to the vast array of customisation options. Whatever your needs as an online business, Shopify has the tools you need to make it work.
Top of the Shops…
- User-friendly – this is the number one reason to use Shopify – it makes your life easier!
- Differently priced packages to suit your needs – grows with your business - supports you in utilising additional platforms such as Amazon, eBay etc
- Looks good - vast array of designs - all mobile-friendly
- Easy management of products and ability to import products via a CSV file.
- Vast choice of online payment processors
- Choice of shipping solutions to meet your needs and the leading solution for drop shipping.
- Inbuilt marketing tools
We trust in Shopify because we know it works. There are many e-commerce platforms out there and we’ve trialled nearly all of them. We chose Shopify as our preferred ecommerce partner as the user experience, both front and back end, is unrivalled and we wouldn't choose anything else for our clients.
From the moment your customer lands on your website through to the product purchase and beyond to delivery and after care - each aspect of the customer journey should be a pleasure. Even, as inevitably it will, when things go wrong you can still turn it into a customer service triumph by communicating effectively.
We are Chain specialise in e-commerce management services and we’re proud to be a certified Shopify Partner Agency. Contact us to learn more about how we can help transform the way you promote and sell your products online.