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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Persuasion and the Path to Purchase

Path to Purchase Good2

As the e-commerce landscape is becoming increasingly saturated with more and more options for online shoppers, you may wonder what you can do to stay ahead of the competition. A few months ago, we had a few suggestions on how to stand out in a crowded market and how to prevent customer churn. Today, we’re offering some additional tips on how you can use centuries-old wisdom to attract and keep more customers on the path to purchase.

Aristotle for Today’s E-Commerce Business

Back in the 4th century, Aristotle wrote The Art of Rhetoric and explained the three modes of persuasion necessary for developing engaging, effective and persuasive speech. While Aristotle’s target audience were the wannabe-persuaders and philosophers of Ancient Greece, his insight is very relevant to modern day e-commerce marketing, operations and customer retention. Understanding each of these “modes of persuasion” will help you connect with your customers in a credible, emotional and logical way, and will help increase your sales.

Credibility (“ethos”)

Aristotle’s first mode of persuasion, ethos, is the credibility of your business, both the message and the management. In Aristotle’s time, if an audience were suspicious of your claims and motivation, they would not likely “buy in” to what you were saying. Similarly, if your customers are not convinced that your business is trustworthy, your website secure and your marketing message factual, then they’re not likely to purchase from you. Give your customers a reason to believe in you. If your customers believe you can deliver on your promises, then they’ll more likely purchase from you.

Ethos for your e-commerce

Tell customers who you are

While an ‘About Us’ section is important, you shouldn’t stop there. Reach out to customers in a personalised manner through social media, targeted emails and customer loyalty campaigns. Spending a little more time engaging customers one-on-one really pays off: online retailer Indochino saw a 540% jump in revenue after they started engaging with their customers with targeted personalised emails.

Explain why you’re the best

There are over 110,000 live e-commerce websites on the internet right now. With all of this choice, you need to make it clear why customers should choose you over your competition. Do you offer incredibly fast or low-cost shipping? Do you have a returns policy that beats the rest? Do you have the very best deals around? Rave about why you’re awesome and customers will take notice.

Include customer reviews

71% of customers will read a product review before buying it and 63% are more likely to buy a product if it is reviewed and rated. There’s no doubt that positive customer reviews can impact your sales, so make it easy for customers to write a review and even easier for potential buyers to read them.

Emotion (“pathos”)

The second mode, pathos, is the emotional connection you make with your customers. If you’re not aware of how buying from you makes your customers feel, then you’re not likely to have many customers at all.

Pathos for your e-commerce

Up the ‘happy’ factor

Customers need to know how your products or services will make them happier, smarter, more successful or less stressed. Don’t assume that your customers will make this connection on their own and in 15 seconds or less, the average time a buyer stays on a website. Captivate your audience as soon as they land on your homepage with clear, compelling and motivating content and branding.

Provide human customer support

Up to 60% of customers will pay more if they know they’re going to get great service. On the other hand, 89% of customers who’ve had a poor online shopping experience will never revisit that e-commerce website (and will tell all their friends about it!). Make sure your customer support team is helpful, thoughtful, empathetic and human. Love your customers and they’ll love you back.

Logic (“logos”)

The third mode, logos, is the logic behind your business. Once your customers believe that your business is trustworthy and that what (and how) you’re selling will impact their lives, making the purchase will be their next logical step. Just remember to make that path to purchase a logical and intuitive one.

When it comes to your e-commerce website, every step along the way from the landing page to the checkout page is your customer’s path to purchase. How well designed and easy to navigate your website is directly reflect how much effort, time and consideration you’ve devoted to your business and to your customers. Think about your customer’s journey so that they don’t have to think twice about buying from you.

Logos for your e-commerce

Hire a UX Developer

The raison d’être of a UX developer is to keep the customer’s experience in mind. A great looking website with great code isn’t enough – being aware of how your customers will respond to your website and how your website will lead your customers to complete the path to purchase need to be incorporate into the initial design plan, not glued on at the end.

Provide an easy-to-use payment provider and shopping cart

With as many as 74% of shopping carts being abandoned by online shoppers, it’s of the utmost importance that both your payment methods and shopping cart complement your website. Providing several payment options to customers can be advantageous but may also result in some confusion (and an increased chance of abandonment). Research both what’s available to your business and what’s preferred by your targeted audience.

Go mobile (now!)

85% of all online customers will also be mobile customers by next year and 65% of mobile shoppers prefer mobile sites to apps. While many website builders, like WordPress and Wix, incorporate responsive design into their templates, if you’re building your website from scratch, make sure that a mobile version is available. If this isn’t enough reason to go mobile, Google recently announced that it will rank mobile-friendly websites higher for searches initiated on a mobile device.

The three elements Aristotle revealed that would persuade an audience centuries ago are very much applicable today: ethos, pathos and logos. Persuade your customers to complete their purchase from you by making that path to purchase credible, emotional and logical. Oh, and mobile!

For additional conventional and unconventional articles on how to incorporate your customer’s experience at every stage of your e-commerce business, visit the DalPay Blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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