Is Your E-Commerce Business Built for Success?

Is your e-commerce business built for success

Shopping online can be an affirming experience for many people, especially when shopping at a web store that has intuitive user design, easily searchable products and services, aesthetically pleasing content, accessible and varied customer service tools and options, and much more.

Customers should always leave your store with a smile and a feeling of satisfaction. An irate, dissatisfied customer could cause a viral social media storm if you are not careful about how you operate your business, and how your customers use and respond to your website. If you are a large company, customer grievances may not have a huge impact, but the same cannot be said for smaller, less established businesses. If this is you, take heed of the tips and tricks offered in this article to help you set up your online business for success. You do not want to be that company about whom customers write derisive songs.

When working towards setting up your web store for success, ask yourself some important questions:

  • What kind of business am I operating? You should know what you are selling so that you can hone in on your target market. If you are all over the map, you will have a harder time appealing to any one demographic of potential customers.
  • What do I offer that my competition does not? Having a competitive edge will help you carve out a niche for yourself and help you satisfy the specific needs of your customer base. If you offer nothing different than any of your competition, ask yourself why anyone would bother shopping with you. Take a look at your business, find something that really makes you proud, and use it to your advantage.
  • Is your website optimised for positive customer experiences? If you are not sure, you can send out a survey to existing customers, or prompt a customer to complete a quick survey at the end of the transaction to get their feedback. There is no one better than your customers to tell if your website is effective at helping them do what they need to do.

If after asking yourself these questions you find that your business is lacking, do not fret. Your business is completely salvageable. All you have to do is make some simple adjustments to your website so that your customers have the best experience possible. Here are some important tips you can put into action immediately:

  • Good site-mapping. People come to your website to find information. If that information is hard to locate, your conversion rates will plummet, and your business will suffer. A good site map lays out the entire structure of your website for the customer so that navigating is easier. Keep in mind that the more complicated your website’s structure, and the more pages you have, the harder your customer will have to work to find what they are looking for.
  • Well-priced products/services. Competitive pricing is key. Customers can tell if you are being greedy if your products and services are more expensive than anywhere else. You might think you are trying to make an easy dollar, euro or krona, but you are just driving customers towards other businesses with better prices. If you are not willing to lower your prices on a general level, think about price-matching (if a customer finds the same product for a lower price, you offer them the product at that price to retain the sale and enhance customer confidence) and promotions in the very least.
  • Attractive product photos. These can go a long way. Not only do they add to the aesthetic value of your website, but they also show the customer what they are thinking of buying from you. It is also fun to feature customer photos. It adds a more human touch, and can show the various ways that customers use the same product. You may even want to consider having a customer photo contest on a social media outlet to create publicity, engagement and excitement.
  • Customer service and support. Your web store should always feature various modes of customer service and support through a questions & answers section or knowledgebase, instant messaging, email, phone, skype, video tutorials, and more. Having a social media presence for these purposes is also good practice, and provides customers with yet another outlet for queries, feedback, and even grievances (which you can publicly and proactively solve).
  • Optimised usability. Think about responsive web design which allows customers to access your site through different devices and platforms. Consider adding an easy-to-find search bar on every page, quick page loading (laying off the Flash can help with this), a quick checkout process with only a few steps, and more.

Selling online can be a great experience for you and your customers. Tony Hsieh of Zappos, the tremendously successful online shoe business, has often quoted that “a great brand is a story that never stops unfolding”. The same can be said for your web store. It is a big part of your brand, and should always be evolving into something better and easier to use.

For more tips on starting and running your online business, visit the DalPay Blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Customer Satisfaction vs Customer Loyalty

Customer-satisfaction-good

Imagine this scenario: a customer is perusing the aisles of his local grocery store in search of a bottle of remoulade (or remúlaði in Icelandic). After he has located a handful of different brands of this most famous mayo-based pickle-infused hot dog condiment, the customer now faces a dilemma: which one to buy? Should he choose the same old bottle he did the last time, the cheapest one on the shelf, or his childhood favourite? What it all adds up to is how the brand connects with the customer, and how this connection influences his buying behaviour.

Our customer decides to buy the remoulade he remembers from his childhood. He sees the familiar font on the label, and is awash with memories of visits to a favourite hot dog stand touting “the best hot dogs in the world”. He also recalls a time when he posted a question on the brand’s Facebook page on how to make his own remoulade from scratch with the brand’s mayonnaise, and received a timely and thoughtful response accompanied by a delicious recipe. He clutches the bottle, drops it into his basket, and walks to the next item on his list with a smile on his face.

The company that produces his chosen brand has made a very deep connection with him on a subconscious level of which he may not even be aware. This emotional connection is a very powerful tool that all companies should be striving for. According to an article published in the Harvard Business Review, “Customer loyalty is the feeling of attachment to or affection for a company’s people, products or services. These feelings manifest themselves in many forms of customer behaviour. The ultimate measure of loyalty, of course, is share of purchases.”  If you can connect with your customers on this level, then they will show their loyalty not only by repeatedly buying your product on future shopping trips, but they will tell other people about how great your brand is.

According to a Gallup article called Customer Satisfaction Doesn’t Count, pursuing the elusive goal of “customer satisfaction” is for naught; rather, companies should be aiming to establish an emotional connection with customers. If a company can connect with a customer on an emotional level, and hence encourage them to be fully loyal to the brand (maybe even become a brand ambassador to convert others), then that company will have a “fully engaged customer”. This customer is not only satisfied with the product and the brand experience but has also become deeply connected to it. A company’s financial and social success can be a testament to their ability to lasso in a torrent of brand-loving-and-promoting customers.

In the 21st century, there has been a more dizzying level of competition for customers than ever before. With the advent of social media technology, brands have to work doubly hard to capture the attention, let alone loyalty, of customers because the market is flooded with companies all trying to do the same thing. It is simply not enough to produce a good product that people like and continuously buy ̶ satisfied customers defect. Customer loyalty always comes with satisfaction, but satisfaction does not always come with loyalty.

With that in mind, there are some strides you can take to enhance your customers’ experiences with you to promote loyalty. Here are a few:

Put the customer first. This sounds so cliché, but there is sound logic to this idea. If you look beyond your desire to make profit, and focus on giving the customers what they need and want, they will bring you the profit you desire through their loyalty and by sharing their good experiences with your brand with other people – which will lead to more profit. It’s a win-win situation.

Be empathetic. If you know how your customers think and feel, you can better meet their needs. This is especially useful when a customer makes a complaint. Really put yourself in their shoes to understand their grievance, then make the effort to help them overcome the issues they experienced with your brand. This could mean the difference between losing an irate and dissatisfied customer to a competing brand, or retaining a customer who is even happier in the end despite the upset because of how hard you worked to rectify their complaint.

Listen to your customers actively. With social media, it is way easier to show that you are listening to your customers because there are so many different platforms through which you can show that you care about what they think, feel and want. A timely response to a question on a Facebook page or Twitter feed shows that you are present and that you are listening.

These are just a few common-sense strategies you can put into action for your customers and for your business. For more ways to optimise your customers’ experiences with your brand, visit the DalPay blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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