eCommerce Survival of the Fittest
Competition is vast. Putting up a website can be fast, free and easy these days. And when a barrier to entry is that low, the market becomes cluttered.
In order to sell, you need to keep your audience engaged and clicking through. Users are fickle. It takes less than a second for them to decide if they like your site or not. So, how can you make sure their complicated journey, their omnichannel experience, incorporates a purchase being made on your store?
#1 Think lifestyle
Understanding your customer’s experience is fundamental to survival. Gone are the days when you could simply picture, for example, Josh: Finishing work, going home and settling at his PC at 7pm to shop for some, let’s say, headphones.
For starters, of course, there’s mobile. Over 50% of online traffic during the 2015 holiday season was on mobile devices. But it’s not that we’ve simply moved our shopping action from PC to smartphones and tablets. More and more people are moving between devices, from the web to mobile to apps, before turning into paying customers.
The journey is complicated: Josh reads a blog about headphones, he figures he could do with some new ones. He sees a picture on Instagram of a brand his friend’s just bought, he Likes the photo, and clicks on their hashtag. He Googles the brand too, to get an idea of costs. For a week Josh puts the idea of new headphones to one side, but then is on Twitter and sees a sponsored tweet that takes him to a site with the brand he was after. Josh makes the purchase on that site – it’s a site he’s used before, has free delivery, and one that always gets good Word of Mouth in his circle.
#2 Know your USP (and tell everyone what it is)
A USP not only helps to describe and align your brand, it also allows you to target your audience effectively, and, in return, attract more buyers. If you haven’t established your USP, then you need to ask yourself two fundamental questions. What sets you apart from your competitors? And why should a customer choose your store over them?
Don’t be afraid to be niche. Sure, you’ll have to be brave, to disengage some, but the engagement with your key audience will be deepened. Many growing retailers are all about the niche lifestyle – fast fashion, food, fitness and pharmacy – and focus on what consumers care about most, including value, quality, health and the environment. They promote how they’re different – they reward loyal customers, create a sense of urgency, and are savvy when it comes to marketing.
#3 Be social
Tweet. Pin. Post. Insta. Do, at the very least, all of these – and often. Social media know-how may have once been a bonus, but now it’s mandatory. Your Twitter profile needs to be polished, representing your brand. You also need to make sure you’re tracking those efforts across every social channel, to know what posts are working and what does no good whatsoever,
#4 Customer service
You may have the most amazing product, but if you don’t deliver on customer service, customers will leave you before purchase – or tarnish your name afterwards. Today’s demanding customer expects quick and friendly responses to queries, checking of products before they’re sent out, and prompt refunds if something goes wrong.
You need to show that you’re a “real” company. Including an easy way to contact the business (a decent contact page, not just an email form) and a customer service / help page, including a returns policy and FAQs section.
Customers feel safer knowing that others have bought your products and are happy that they did so. There’s no getting around it, the opinion of other customers is essential. If you don’t have reviews on a product page, visitors are likely to look elsewhere. Good reviews and / or testimonials show you’re open, honest and qualified for the job.