The rapid growth of ecommerce has opened up many new opportunities for anyone who wants to start a business. At the same time, there’s more competition than ever before. This makes it necessary to stand out. While you can learn a lot by studying the competition, you also need to differentiate yourself and give your customers a reason to shop with you. Here are some ways to make your ecommerce site more appealing and profitable.
1. Add a Chatbot
With today’s technology, chatbots are now feasible even for smaller businesses. They provide you with a powerful way to engage with website visitors. This is an alternative to having customer service representatives available to answer questions live, which is quite costly. Chatbots are a fun and interactive tool that let you answer common questions and help customers navigate your site. When a visitor first arrives on your site, your first goal is to keep him or her there. A chatbot can help you accomplish this, nudging people to check out certain products.
2. Optimize Your Shipping
Delivery service options are an increasingly vital aspect of selling online. Amazon has drastically raised the bar in this area, offering Prime customers 2-day delivery. Future innovations in the works include drone deliveries and self-driving delivery trucks. If you sell products through FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon), you can take advantage of these advancements. Even if you’re responsible for your own deliveries, however, it’s important to offer fast and efficient service. As consumers get ever more demanding, the difference between receiving something in 2 days or a week may be the difference between making the sale or not. Keep in mind that the inconvenience of waiting for items to be delivered was always one of the factors that made people reluctant to order items online (or, in earlier times, by mail). Fast shipping remedies this pain point.
You should also make it as convenient as possible for shoppers by offering as many delivery options as possible. Still another issue to consider is clarity about shipping charges. On both eBay and Amazon, many prices include shipping. Although the cost is factored into the price, this still gives customers the feeling that they’re getting something for free. Just as importantly, it saves them from having to figure out the cost. Whether you offer free shipping or not, make sure that it’s simple for customers to understand shipping costs.
3. Add Mobile Apps
The fact that mobile devices are an important part of ecommerce is no longer news. A mobile-friendly website is essential for reaching a large audience. Beyond this, you might think about adding mobile apps to make the shopping experience even more convenient for your mobile users. Having your own app helps make your brand more familiar. Certain apps are good for creating loyalty programs or coupons to motivate people to visit your site. Raise, for example, is an innovative app for creating gift cards. It also helps if you accept mobile payment apps such as PayPal, Google Wallet and Apple Pay. As more and more shoppers use mobile, it will be more common for people to make purchases directly from their smartphones and tablets.
4. Give Customers a Reason to Come Back
The success of any retail business, online or offline, depends on repeat business. There are several ways to encourage customers to return. Building an email list and encouraging people to follow you on social media is helpful. One of the best ways, though, is to start a loyalty program. This is a familiar concept used by all types of businesses, from Starbucks to major airlines. The way you structure this will depend on the type of products you sell, of course. The idea, though, is that you reward people for coming back and give them incentives to do so.
Another way to encourage customers to return is to create a subscription based service. One of the most successful models of this today is the Dollar Shave Club. You can do something like this for any type of product that needs to be frequently replaced, such as food, supplements, pet supplies, cosmetics and toiletries and many other items. This also works for entertainment or information (such as newsletters). Think of Netflix and Audible. Give customers a noticeably better deal if they sign up for a subscription.
5. Deliver Exceptional UX
User experience (UX) includes many aspects of your website, large and small, including:
- Attractive layout and design.
- Clear and professional images of your products.
- Fast-loading pages.
- Efficient menus and search functions.
- A fast and simple shopping cart and checkout process.
Most customers, unless they’re also web designers, probably don’t think consciously about UX. However, these factors definitely influence their overall feeling about your website and whether or not they decide to buy anything.
6. Build Trust and Social Proof
Trust is now a critical aspect of business success. There are several ways that ecommerce sites can build trust and manage their reputations.
- Have a prominently displayed SSL certificate on your website to reassure shoppers that your site is safe and that their data is secure when they shop with you.
- Build social proof by highlighting positive reviews on your website and social media pages. Contact local media and websites that review your type of product and offer them samples. Building relationships with influencers is another way to build social proof. These don’t have to be people who are household names but anyone with credibility in your niche or industry.
- Offer a generous guarantee and refund policy. This helps you remove the risk people naturally feel when shopping online, especially on a website they’re not familiar with.
Ecommerce success depends on many factors. You obviously need solid fundamentals – quality products that people want, competitive pricing, and great customer support. However, many sites now offer these advantages. You have to look for additional ways to separate yourself from the competition. Even small advantages, such as faster shipping or a more solid guarantee can make a big difference.