9 Things you need for a Successful E-commerce site

James Purcell/ February 22, 2016/ blog

The E-Commerce Checklist

E-commerce businesses have been around since the early 90’s and in the time following the new millennium, online stores have exploded to the point where for every bricks and mortar store there are thousands of online retail stores. Furthermore, these brick and mortar stores are now almost obliged to have an online hub of their own for customers who work til 5 pm and wish to window shop from the comfort of their home long after you have shut up shop on the main street.

It can be hard to compete with your Amazon’s and Argos’s etc. For this reason, it is vital that you adhere to the following ideas:

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1. Easy Payment Process

Employing the right e-commerce & shopping cart software is vital for a smooth running website. Shopping cart abandonment due to a poor payment user interface is completely avoidable and your payment page should be tested regularly to ensure it is working well. These user interfaces vary in complexity and the software you choose completely depends on the product you are selling, for example, some include extra features during the buying process, such as Size, Colour, Quantity, Tax Costs, Shipping Costs etc.

2. Multi-Channel Support

This can also be described as Omni-Channel Customer Service or 360-degree customer support. If you are going to have a well designed modern website then, in today’s current climate, you need to have more channels of communication. Channels that are being used by smartphone users and channels that increase promotional opportunities and Pre Sale’s support. The SMS Channel is an example of an underused channel.  This can be used to confirm orders, give tracking orders and can also be used as a promotional tool. People look at text messages a lot faster than emails and with work, many people simply cannot answer calls, therefore you can avoid lots of call backs and back and forth emails.

3. Social Media

In today’s competitive market it is all about personalisation. Highlighting your loyal customers by Retweeting on Twitter or sharing on Facebook is always a good idea. In many ways, the larger companies have learned a lot from the small/medium businesses on this one. The high level of competition in online retail has been a catalyst for some amazingly creative marketing campaigns. Having a unique/catchy hashtag campaign that is aligned with your brand can dramatically increase website traffic. These can also be run as competitions, for example, #CastMeMarc by the fashion company Marc Jacobs which allowed winners to become the face of the brand. It brought 70,000 applications on Instagram.

4. Customer Tracking

By tracking all customer interactions you can save time and confusion as customers interact on a multitude of channels. This establishes affinity with customers because support agents can easily gain access to data records and this aids in first call resolution. Database management comes into play here also. Having an up to date Customer Relationship Management system will streamline customer support interactions.

5. Customer Support Page

According to the Huffington Post, 90% of customers go to a company’s website first, before calling or emailing. This is why any retail website must have a FAQ page. This support section can preemptively answer customer questions regarding price, shipping costs, delivery times etc. This is especially prominent when it comes to luxury items such as fashion apparel, customers like to do research and having all the relevant information in one place is not only aesthetically pleasing but also a key ingredient for increasing online sales.

6. Online Chat

This is a great option for customers. It gives them immediate support while they are on your website. In a brick and mortars store, a customer can call a salesperson over to ask “Does this shirt come in navy?”. On a website, this immediate response is difficult when emailing or calling. Live chat can be your salesperson and increase sales dramatically.

7. Timely Responses

This includes callbacks, email and social media responses in particular. 42 Percent of Consumers Complaining in Social Media Expect 60 Minute Response Time [Convince&Convert]. It is vital that you either have the in-house team to meet these demands or if you do not then you outsource to a reputable contact centre to handle the volumes of email, call and social media follow-ups. 

8. Customer Service Over the Phone

The telephone is still by far the most popular channel of customer support. This is because it is still the fastest way to obtain information.

The Advantages:

Discover new trends developing in the market. This can include feedback on a promotion you are running, for example, you may be offering a discount deal when a customer spends a certain amount but these same customers may be more concerned with shipping costs. Find out quickly so you can resolve these issues immediately and create advocates for your brand. Nothing encourages a customer to buy from you more than knowing that their concerns are being listened to.

Faster Service. No matter how fast your email or social media responses are, customer service over the phone is faster. A call centre agent can identify the problem on the call and take the relevant details there and then whereas it may take 2 -3 emails to discover exactly what the issue is.

It is more personal. It is far easier to build rapport over the phone. There are so many subtle details that can be picked up through having a conversation which also allows for greater up-selling opportunities.

Trust. There is still a certain amount of trepidation for customers when buying online. Speaking with an agent over the phone builds a level of trust. This is especially the case for high-end products.

9. Creating the WOW factor

This final point is about going above and beyond what is ‘expected’. Surprise customers with extra support if they are struggling. Add the personal touch when guiding a customer in the right direction. Creating the WOW factor can be quite vague but it is simply turning a normal run of the mill interaction into an exceptional one. It can come down to simply being there for customers if your website ships products overseas then a 24/7 customer support line is a must. By having these extremely positive interactions you create loyal customers and advocates of your brand. These kinds of customers should be the goal of any small/medium sized business.