E-commerce is transforming the world of retail. Over the past few years, we have witnessed many recognisable, familiar high-street brands with physical stores going bankrupt and being forced to close their doors. This state of affairs would have been unimaginable just a decade ago.
In contrast, the online world is becoming increasingly exciting and many business owners are beginning to compete in the online marketplace. Most established retail giants have had to create their own distinctive online presence.
It isn’t easy to make it big online. You have to be aware of some essential elements for success. We’re going to provide you with five key factors you cannot overlook if you want to succeed in the modern world of e-commerce.
The first thing we are going to talk about is why e-commerce businesses can struggle.
Reasons why many e-commerce businesses struggle
There are multiple reasons why ecommerce businesses struggle to thrive. Different businesses will face different challenges depending on the industry they are operating in. However, every ecommerce business will have to overcome certain hurdles in order to succeed. Approximately 80% of online businesses fail. There are three primary reasons for this high rate of failure. Either the navigation through your site is difficult, the value of your products is not clear, or your potential customers don’t know how to use your site. There are simple solutions to these problems, though.
Remember, your visitors are not judging your products as they are, but rather, they are doing so in the context of what they are searching for. The level of customer expectation is usually quite high, particularly when people are shopping online. If you have lots of shipping options on your website, people who want their products quickly are likely to be put off. Studies have shown that the majority of shoppers consider shipping costs and speed of delivery as very influential when they are deciding to buy. This is a good reason to offer customers free, fast shipping wherever possible. This move will make people more likely to buy from you.
The digital world has also served to shorten customer’s attention spans and levels of patience. People are on the lookout for convenience. Apart from confusing shipping options and slow delivery time, customers don’t want to have to deal with tricky return policies.
Failing e-commerce businesses also do not take account of user experience, SEO factors, transparency, engagement and branding. By making sure you consider all these factors before beginning your e-commerce business, you can ensure you stand out from the crowd.
So, how can you build a great brand which incorporates the values of your business?
Your brand as your purpose and business identity
Your brand serves as the core of your business’s identity, whether you’re aware of it or not. To discover your brand identity, you need to think about why you do what you do, and what it is that you actually do. Your brand exemplifies the values surrounding your efforts in business. Brands that do not age well often don’t have a clear goal. Brands can fail to appeal to a new set of customers like millennials, which can cripple them, because the size of that generation is larger than either Baby Boomers or Generation X.
However, keep in mind that deviating from your brand, can lessen the impact of your message, which in turn hurts your brand. Your customers make assumptions about the identity of your brand based on their relationship with your business and their interactions with your company. Therefore, first impressions are vital in e-commerce. People are likely to remember you when they want to buy something else. The way in which people remember you will affect how they review your business or brand. If your e-commerce site has top reviews, people are more likely to spend more on your products and services. Research shows that 85% of people trust online reviews as they would trust personal recommendations. Moreover, unsatisfied customers are more likely to share their experiences with their friends than happy customers are.
This means you’re likely to have more negative stories spread about your business than recommendations. When you are not working to establish your brand as the place for shoppers to go, those in competition with you are working to establish their own brands. If a brand with a stronger identity is selling the same product as you, they will take your share of the market.
Therefore, you need a unique selling proposition (USP) to attract shoppers. You need to use this to differentiate your products from those offered by your competitors. Great marketing extends a brand’s voice and identity so as to generate valuable leads. Your brand will struggle to reach your target audience if you don’t work to develop your brands identity. Match your marketing to the set of values embodied by your brand.
Let’s now discuss the importance of SEO.
Bring traffic to your site with SEO
Google acts as a sort of usher who decides which websites get ranked at the top of search engine results. It’s hard to keep up with the constant updates to its algorithm. Pages that use relevant keywords are more likely to rank higher in Google search results pages. Conducting keyword research can help you learn how to format the content on a page. You can use tools like Ubersuggest or Google Adwords Keyword Planner to help you in this endeavour. You can use it to find words you can target for. Don’t forget to try to rank for your brand too, as a lot of people will search for you using your brand name once they’re aware of it. Be sure to stick to so-called white hat SEO practises as not doing SEO properly can have lots of unwanted, negative consequences, including being penalised by search engines.
Make sure your site has good quality, valuable content which is useful to visitors and relevant to what they are searching for. Avoid including too much ad-centred content on your website. You can check Google’s Search Quality Guidelines to help you judge how much ad-centred content is too much.
It’s worth spending some time to work out some excellent SEO strategies for your site. Once you have got the hang of SEO, you can start to think about creating a good user experience for shoppers.
Customers enjoy a fantastic user experience
If you want to convert visitors into customers and make people more likely to actually buy something from you, you need to make sure a user’s experience is as good as it can possibly be. If visitors to your site become confused, they are likely to leave. You should make it easy for users to navigate your site. You must ensure that people can easily tell what your business does. Remember that what is obvious to you may not be so clear to your customers.
How did your visitors access a particular landing page? Is the information on that page relevant to their search query? Use clear calls to action on each of these pages. Be sure to make viewing and accessing the shopping cart easy and the checkout process simple. Don’t make buying products from you harder than it needs to be. You can use interactive content on your website to enhance user experience. This can include elements like videos, games and animated images, among much else besides. You can use a tool to compare two or more different website page designs to help figure out which version works best in terms of encouraging sales. Make sure your site reinforces your brand.
Optimise the user experience for those using the mobile version of your site, as more and more people are choosing to shop on their phones or tablets. This version of site must be easy to navigate by touch. Make sure your site has fast loading speeds and that the print on your site is large and clear. In short, the mobile version of your site shouldn’t look exactly the same as the desktop version. When you have optimised the user experience for shoppers and have provided people with an enjoyable way to shop, it’s time to think about the role of transparency in building trust in your business.
Transparency encourages trust
If you wish to be successful in e-commerce, you have to be transparent. If you are not transparent in your business practices, people are unlikely to trust you. Making your contact information visible straightaway is a great way to be transparent. This information should be available on each page of your site, so that people know how to contact you. Include your email address and phone number. This also serves to show customers that you are a real business with a physical address. Be upfront about charges, don’t hide any costs as no one likes to find that a purchase includes unexpected costs. Convey all information about shipping and packaging costs before people reach the checkout. Offer deals and free shipping where you can.
Bear in mind that visitors to your site only get to see the information that you make available to them. Therefore, giving potential customers high quality, detailed product information and product images can make all the difference terms of sales. Highlight the key features of your products and emphasise the unique selling point(s) of each one. All your products should also be competitively priced as well. Be careful though, an under-priced product can appear less valuable than other similar, higher-priced products. Don’t charge too much for your products either. Share reviews on your site to build trust with your customers and showcase how useful or beneficial your products are to people.
Boost customer engagement
The simplest way to increase customer engagement is to use social media outlets to promote your business and brand. Content marketing is vital. It’s a good idea to construct a blog about your product lines and the industry you work in. Aid your customers by addressing queries on a Frequently Asked Questions page, and share useful information with them. You could write about new product launches on your blog, and create interest in your customer base before a new product even appears. You can explain to customers why the new product is useful, detail its features and let them know when they can buy it.
Having a blog increases customer engagement because it helps you gain backlinks, which builds brand awareness each time your site is linked to. You may want to spend a portion of your ad budget on social media advertising and direct mail advertising. Of these two options, social media advertising is often more cost-effective in terms of reaching more people for less money. Build a community or forum section of your website. People tend to communicate and identify with others who have similar interests. A forum or community allows customers to comment on their own posts.
You can host some events to build engagement too. You can then create a hashtag for the event and use social media to your advantage to drum up some interest. The event can be centred on your brand and help increase awareness of it. You can talk to customers face to face and give your business a personal touch. Having a business online doesn’t mean you cannot derive benefit from meeting customers in person. You can even have a few giveaways at your launch party to promote interest in your brand.
The domination of the whole retail industry by brick and mortal shops is now a thing of the past.The online world is very much here to stay, meaning that the digital marketplace is now the best place to sell products and services. As we have seen, many e-commerce business fail to make it big online because they don’t know how to make themselves stand out in this saturated marketplace.
We hope this article has shown you how you can take control of your own success in the world of e-commerce. Your brand must stand for something and the values of your brand should match the values of your customers. You must make it clear to customers what your brand stands for. The set of values underpinning your business should serve a purpose and support ethical practises. Use SEO to your advantage to drive traffic to your site and try to rank as high as you can for your keywords. Ensure customers have a great user experience. Make using your website easy and as simple to navigate as possible. Make sure you provide a good user experience to mobile users as well. Be transparent and build trust with your customers by being upfront about costs and sharing reviews. Be active on social media and use effective advertising campaigns to engage with your customers. You can also build a community on your site to boost this aspect of your business.
By keeping these five things in mind, you will be sure to put yourself on the road to success and get your e-commerce business off to a fabulous start.