As smart phones and web platforms become more and more powerful, today’s customers are far more likely than ever to make most of their purchases online. Businesses in all sectors are responding to this wave by breaking into the e-commerce market, taking advantage of new trends in mobile design, social media, and web 2.0 browsers not only to advertise, but also to facilitate transactions.
Now, the good thing about young trends is that not everyone is good at it yet, creating a space for you to carve out an advantage for your business. “Generally, if two websites provide the same service, but one looks like it was designed in 1999 and the other looks like it’s updated every day, the latter is going to get the business,” said Issa Asad, a social media expert, entrepreneur, and businessman from South Florida. Mr. Asad is the CEO of 2 companies located in Florida, including Q Link Wireless and Quadrant Holdings.
So how can you be sure that you’re on the winning side of these trends? Here are 3 ways to improve your ecommerce strategy to ensure that your business comes out ahead.
1. Create a User-Oriented Experience—Collect and Listen to Feedback
The great hurdle that online businesses have to overcome is that customers can’t actually interact with the products that you’re selling them. An important part of overcoming this is by ensuring that your website is as user-friendly and appealing as possible. That means making smart aesthetic and design choices: if you don’t trust yourself or anyone already on your staff to do this, invest in a graphic designer. If your user experience is pleasant and unique, this will drive up customer loyalty. It’s also important that your website is relatively simple and intuitive to use—ideally anyone should be able to go on your site and make a purchase without any of the interface being explained to them.
How can you be sure that you’re providing a service that customers like? It’s actually quite easy: ask them for feedback. In the era of Yelp, customers are used to being asked to evaluate what they’re using—simply provide an easy-to-find button that solicits users to give feedback on the website, and ask pointed, pertinent questions. Some websites go so far as to have a pop-up window ask for feedback after a customer has used the service for some time, and, while this may increase the amount of feedback you receive, it can also annoy customers.
2. Go Mobile!
This is simply not an option: 4 out of 5 smartphone users shop on their phones, and you cannot afford to miss out on that. From an economic perspective, the advent of mobile shopping is a miracle, as it means that people can now literally shop anywhere, at any time, no longer restricted by storefronts or Wi-Fi service. This doesn’t just mean you should have a “mobile version” of your website—go all out and make an app. There is no shortage of app developers out there looking to contribute to a project: find the right one for you, and watch your business grow.
3. Offer Incentives
It’s surprisingly expensive to acquire customers in the e-commerce arena – think of all of the work necessary to build the platforms, advertise them, and keep them up to date – which means that you simply won’t survive if all of your customers only use your service once. I’ve suggested that having a vibrant and unique website is one way to encourage customer loyalty. Another way is to offer your customers incentives. This means creating an email list for registered customers that does more than tell them when new products are released: you’ll need free shipping weekends, coupon codes, referral rewards, and even a VIP system like Amazon Prime. This will create a positive association of your brand with customers, who are then more likely to come back as well as tell their friends about your awesome new service.