4 Ways for Small Business Owners to Master E-commerce
With e-commerce growing in popularity and value across the globe, business leaders from virtually every industry are quick to jump into the fray and snag their piece of the market. In the US alone, e-commerce market value is projected to rise to a staggering 6.54 trillion dollars by 2022, all thanks to the convenience that online shopping brings to the modern customer.
Bearing that in mind, it’s important for small business owners to take full advantage of online channels in order to increase their sales and boost growth. To help you along, we’re sharing 4 ways you can master e-commerce.
The result should be an increase in website traffic and conversions, but it should also lead to better brand visibility, business efficiency, and a stellar company reputation.
Check out the e-commerce tips below:
1. Simplify the shopping experience on your site
“The checkout is a primary choke point for customers, and a lot don’t even make it past the first step,” says Sourcify. In fact, about a quarter of American online shoppers abandon a shopping cart for no reason other than “the checkout process was too long or complicated.”
How much work do visitors have to put in to place a purchase on your site? Your goal should be to reduce customer effort as much as possible in order to raise user experience and customer satisfaction, and make browsing for products a seamless and enjoyable experience.
Not only is this great for UX and CX, but it also sends a clear signal to the search engines that your website is user-friendly and that people are sticking around because you have something truly valuable to offer. To simplify the shopping experience, do the following:
- Create a simple and straightforward site structure.
- Properly label all subsections and categories of your site.
- Integrate a search function, quick product filters, and a chat function.
- Minimize the number of steps the customer has to take to make a purchase.
- Don’t ask your customers to sign in. Instead, offer to save their information for next time they decide to visit your site.
- Make it easy for customers to manage their carts.
- Provide all purchase information on a single page. Don’t make them click on a bunch of “next step” buttons.
Once you clear the roadblocks that obstruct the customer’s path to purchase, you should begin to notice a nice bump in sales.
2. Integrate an omnichannel sales strategy
In today’s digital world, e-commerce brands typically don’t make their money by selling on a single online platform. Given the fact that the modern customer uses a variety of smart tools, apps, and online platforms to search for and order products, e-commerce business leaders need to adapt by integrating an omnichannel sales approach.
Businesses that adopt omnichannel strategies can achieve 91% greater year-over-year customer retention rates compared to business that don’t, according to a survey conducted by Aspect Software.
With modern consumers using an average of almost six touch-points and 98% of Americans switching between devices in the same day, it’s imperative to make your brand visible on all relevant online platforms. Even more importantly, make it easy for potential customers to place an order with you whether they’re browsing through social media, reaching out via email, calling you on the phone, or actually browsing through your website.
To make omnichannel a seamless experience for you and your customers, invest in an all-in-one retail management solution that syncs the information from your website with your brick and mortar store. Inventory integration makes task management more efficient and provides customers with accurate product information on all the channels they prefer to use. Plus, integrating the right tools allows you to automate tasks and manage business processes across different departments and teams in your company, saving you time and money.
Investing in omnichannel solutions is a smart move toward business growth when you consider that omnichannel customers have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one channel.
3. Implement cross-channel customer support
“Online businesses are facing a highly competitive market. In order to stay ahead and make sure that a new customer becomes a returning customer, businesses need to focus their efforts on customer support,” states Small Business.co.uk.
“Companies with extremely strong omnichannel customer engagement retain on average 89% of their customers, compared to 33% for companies with weak omnichannel customer engagement.”
We mentioned earlier how the modern customer hangs out in numerous places in the online world, which means that they want to be able to communicate with their favorite e-commerce brands wherever they are. Social media, email, your website, SMS and phone calls, it doesn’t matter if the channel is online or offline, you need to be there ready and willing to engage with your customers.
This is called cross-channel or omnichannel customer service and it’s the key for e-commerce retailers in providing exceptional shopping experiences and customer support. Your online business will also need to ensure a positive mobile experience to stay ahead of the competition.
Not only do 64% of customers expect to receive real-time assistance regardless of the channel they use, but they also want a speedy response. How speedy? Information found on Convince & Convert indicates the 42% of customers complaining on social media expect to hear from a support agent within 60 minutes.
“By giving customers access to you in ways that are convenient to them, you show them you value their business,” advises Small Business.co.uk. “In fact, businesses that provide seamless quality service across multiple channels boast an 89 per cent retention rate.“
4. Offer deals, discounts, freebies, and loyalty programs
As far back as 2013, the strategy of offering deals, promotions, freebies and loyalty programs has been a sound business idea for both customer acquisition and retention. At the time, Steve Marshall, director of research at BIA/Kelsey stated:
“Going forward, we believe the proportion of business generated from both loyalty programs and promotions will rise significantly, as SMBs increasingly tailor their offerings to frequent customers and specific customer segments.”
BIA/Kelsey also discovered that, small businesses were estimating almost 20% of their total business over the course of the following year would be generated by customer acquisition promotions such as discount deals, daily deals, coupons, or similar offers.
Today, savvy e-commerce businesses are bolstering their bottom line by using special deals, promotions, etc. over multiple channels. In fact, in 2019 alone, 31 billion digital coupons worldwide were expected to be redeemed.
Used strategically, discounts, promotions, and freebies can increase interest in your product, prevent cart abandonment, influence additional purchases, and increase customer loyalty through the principle of reciprocity. By combining these strategies, you will improve engagement and incentivize your potential customers to interact with your online store.
“Companies that understand the psychology behind special offers create a favorable brand image, deliver happiness to new and returning customers, and boost long-term profitability and sales.”
~ Campaign Monitor
According to statistics shared by 99firms, 95% of all purchases are expected to be via e-commerce by the year 2040.
Not only will nearly all commerce likely move online in the next twenty years, but there is strong reason to believe that most of this online commerce will take place through mobile devices.
If you want your online business to be around in the next two decades, you must ramp up your efforts to improve the e-commerce experience you offer both visitors and returning customers.
The four strategies discussed above will help you master e-commerce and grow your small business as a result.
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