It’s been long and you all (especially those who’re into ecommerce) must have heard about ‘Goldman Sachs’ prediction: Global ecommerce sales would nearly touch the one trillion dollar mark by 2013. Many of you may have seen this as the tip of the iceberg. And I’m quite sure you must have been racing through the hurdles all this while, trying to figure out the ways in which you can survive in this dog-eat-dog ecommerce industry. Ecommerce is not about doing the right things but more about implementing the right things in the right manner. In this post I’ll will often put myself in the consumers’ shoes and will try to help you understand what they want – and what you should give them. Some of the points discussed here are like the things our mothers penetrate in us from childhood (the first point especially), some are based upon the behavior of online buyers and some on what I have observed over the years.
Organize your way to more and more customers
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Left: Perfectly organized store; Right: Stupidly organized store (or is it the other way round? Oh, and by the way, which one is yours?)
Seeing the above picture I’m half back to my literature books, remembering John Wesley reiterating the old proverb – cleanliness is godliness – in one of his sermons. Back to ecommerce – a well-maintained estore can (and should) be cleaner and better looking than a well-maintained retail store. And this is why web developers (not all of them though) nowadays stress so much on the look and structure when it comes to developing an online store. Attractive design speaks volumes about your brand and you should be able to grab a customer’s attention immediately after they land on your site.
Develop a DNA for your brand
One of the things that you need to stress on the design from is uniqueness. Your customers must differentiate you from the dozens of other stores that they come across each day. For this, you need to develop a DNA for your brand with the use of your logo, customized look and feel, use of attractive colors etc. And sometimes simple (yet all-encompassing) estores just win you customers.
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And you needed no image to visualize what Amazon estore looks like, did you? Keeping aside its global popularity, observe how Amazon has developed a DNA for its brand.
Hate scammers? Don’t look like one!
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Image source – http://www.amway.com/
This is how the bottom of Amway’s homepage looks like. You have got to accept that there are many online scammers and this very reason makes many customers apprehensive about shopping online. Thus to run a successful ecommerce business it is very important that you instill confidence in the minds of customers. For this you need to adopt a two-pronged approach. To start with prominently display your policies, trust certificates, security badges and contact information. Mention your complete physical address along with contact numbers, email ids which customers should reach in times of need. Also give details about your shipping and return policy and the expected time it takes to deliver the products. In case of unexpected delays you need to inform customers about the same, citing reasons. All these create a sense of security and trust in the minds of customers. Secondly you need to ensure customers about the quality of the products. For this display the complete information including specifications and description of the products along with multiple images which you can source from the product manufacturer. This becomes key when you are selling lesser known brands as customers are wary of purchasing the same online.
Do you like waiting? No! Neither do your customers
The speed at which your webpages load has a direct impact on your bottom line. In an era of tabbed browsing most customers browse through multiple stores while buying a product the speed at which your website loads often determines the success of your website. All your efforts of designing, promotion and great deals can go in vain if you have a store which runs at snail’s pace. Studies have shown than an average visitor spends as little as 10-20 seconds on a webpage. Thus a second of delay can be the difference between a product sale or page view. There are a few things that you can do to speed up your online store. Always hire the services of a good web hosting providers even if than means shelling how a few extra dollars. Secondly optimize the page to reduce its size and do away with unnecessary elements. Cut down on unnecessary queries and scripts which do more harm than good to your store.
Customers love freedom, not brute force!
No customer likes being force fed and this is one of the most important things that you need to keep in mind when it comes to the ecommerce. You need to offer them the freedom to choose the products they like instead of annoying them with meaningless popups and suggestions. You can always offer them a list of related and similar products but pop-ups are a strict no. Also don’t force any of the first time customers into the registration process. They should have the freedom to purchase a product without registering. Once the sale is done you can request them to register using the email that they provide during purchase of the product.
Ecommerce ain’t Cartoon Network – and your customers won’t like seeing your behind a mask!
Customers should find the product they are looking for with ease. For this you need to work on four fronts – search, navigation, filtering and bread crumbs. Create a comprehensive search mechanism within your online store which allows customers to search for products easily with the store typing the brand name or the product. Customers should have the option to customize the search based on their own choice.
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You need to also streamline the navigation and categorize all the products in the store into logical categories making it easy for customers to reach the end product they are looking for. Try adopting the ‘three-click’ rule where every product page is three clicks away from the homepage. This however can be a problem at times for an online store which has tons of products divided into categories and sub-categories. Filtering is another important factor in making the search easier for the users. Customers should be able filter or sort products based on brands, price, discounts etc. Apart from this you can also place breadcrumbs in the page footer which allows you to showcase more categories in every page.
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Your customers may not be kids, but they like being pampered
Every customer likes being pampered and you should always make them feel special. One of the ways to do is to send them customary mails. For example you can send a personalized mail to a customer asking about feedback on the product that they had purchased recently say within one or two weeks from the purchase. If they reply, you can send them additional list of products that they can buy. This called permission marketing. Alternately create a database of all your customers and study their behavior such as the kind of products that they bought, how often have they bought from your website and based on such data send them promotional emails based on their areas of interest and offer discounts codes and other freebies. This helps in turning a onetime customer into a loyal one and keeping the loyal one hooked to you.
I hope this post helped you. But I truly don’t want it to end right here. So, let’s meet and start the discussion in the comments section below. May be we can figure out some more trends, some more ways in which we all can help improve online commerce.
Mark Wilston is a Content Writer and marketing professional working with pixelcrayons.com (a reputed Web & Mobile Application development company). He loves to read and write different blogs related to web design and technologies. Contributing in a blog post aids him spreading the words online with a new set of people.