By Kevin O’Brien, Leading Resolutions
Engage with your customers.
Find out how satisfied they are with every stage of their experience on your site, from arrival, through product searching, to checking out and delivery.
Give customers a platform to rate your products and services. This can be on your site, through your Facebook and Twitter pages or other social media sites. Use social media to help build your brand and develop an audience. Competitions, special offers, web exclusives etc all help to engage people and develop customer loyalty.
Be sure to keep your social sites up-to-date. They also provide an opportunity to fix any problems at a very early stage and turn a bad experience into an excellent one. Don’t ignore complaints – if left unresolved, they will have immediate and long term effects on your online reputation and sales.
Monitor your web usage statistics.
Even a small increase in the number of visitors who exit your site before checking out or contacting you can affect conversion rates. This is the first indication that you may have a problem.
Similarly, downtime – at any time – can seriously affect online sales. Customers unable to access your site or complete a purchase don’t need to wait until your site is back up and running to spend their money. They will go elsewhere and quite possibly never return.
Monitor the competition.
What are your rival’s offering? Check their sites daily to ensure that what you are offering is – at the very least – as compelling and put yourself in a position to respond quickly to protect and build on your market share.
Define your USP (unique selling proposition).
Spell out clearly what makes you different from other sellers. A click-and-collect option, for example, allows customers to choose between the convenience of home delivery or collecting at a time that suits them.
A key factor in Amazon’s success is consistency. No matter what product your customer is looking to purchase, make sure that the look, feel and smoothness of transaction is constant across your entire offering. Through consistency you will develop a strong brand that will appeal to customers, regardless of the product they are seeking or sales channel they are using.
The depth and breadth of your product range is vital to your credibility and is equally important as your site’s user appeal. Cover both bases by making sure you offer a wide range of options – and that visitors to your site understand this as soon as they start their product search.
Provide the best information.
Use the best product images, descriptions, video demos and customer reviews to keep customers coming back. Keep the demo videos short and focused on the product’s main benefits. Provide impartial advice from customers and independent experts.
The freedom to buy almost any product at anytime, from any seller from any place and have it delivered anywhere at any time was once a novelty. Now it’s the norm. Make sure you can meet this level of expectation (consistently) and always be ready to respond to changes in customer needs.
Keep it fresh.
Don’t be afraid to try new ideas. It may be tempting to stick with a model that works, however online retailing moves at a rapid pace: if you provide a new offer (e.g. 2-hour delivery slots) it will very soon be copied. Always look to move things forward.
Test first, then roll out.
Multi-variant testing is a good way to test your new ideas with a small selection of your shoppers without risking your core sales activity. If results are good, roll out the campaign or offer to your full customer base one step at a time.