IEcommerce is bigger than ever before.
In fact, eCommerce sales are on pace to reach 17.5% of all worldwide retail sales by 2021.
That’s a staggering number for those that understand what it means, which is that there are now more people than ever who regularly purchase online and that it’s a perfect opportunity to launch your own eCommerce store and start tapping into that market.
However, just because there are plenty of opportunities, it doesn’t mean that merely putting together an eCommerce site is going to guarantee you success.
Out of millions of stores that are operating today, only a fraction are making any sales, and an even smaller percentage is able to sustain growth. And as any ecommerce business broker will tell you, while there are certainly plenty of stores, only a small percentage are making sales consistently.
The reason for that is that those eCommerce stores that follow the best practices are dominating their competition and taking over the market, leaving most of the stores without customers.
So, if you want your site to be one of the success stories, here are a few things you must consider that will increase your chances of making it in 2019.
Start with Your Target Audience
Every success story of an eCommerce store can be traced to a solid understanding of who they were trying to reach.
After all, you can have the best selection of products, but if you’re targeting the wrong audience, that won’t matter because they simply won’t be interested.
But how to get started with audience research?
Well, even though the process can be lengthy and difficult, the good news is that you can take a structured approach and effectively compile the information that you need.
Start by looking at the basic demographic information that you know – the region, age, gender, education, and anything else that you know about your ideal customers.
Then, build on this information by looking into their interests, fears, passions, desires, online habits, and whatever other aspects of their unique traits could be relevant.
Finally, look at what your competition is doing and how they’re interacting with their customers, as that will give you plenty of ideas that you can implement yourself, as well as help you see opportunities for doing something different.
Once you have enough information, you will have a much easier time figuring out how to put together your selection of products, how to brand your website, and what online marketing strategies will be the most effective.
By having a unified strategy for reaching your prospects, you will be able to get the most out of all of your efforts and will already separate yourself from the majority of your competitors.
Select the Right Products
Once you have a good understanding of your target audience, you need to take the time to put together a selection of products that will cater to their needs.
It’s important to find a balance between offering a wide-enough selection so that you can meet all of your prospect’s expectations, while at the same time not having too many products and paying too much for overhead costs while not being able to move some of the products at a satisfactory rate.
Obviously, this is an ongoing process, and as you launch your site, you will start seeing what products sell the best and can tweak your selection accordingly.
Another crucial aspect you must consider is making the right choices in terms of specific types of products – depending on the market you want to reach, you may want to go for the more high-end options, the best value-deals, or both.
The important thing to remember either way is that you want to leave yourself enough room in terms of profit margins so that you don’t have to struggle with turning a profit at the end of the month.
When thinking about pricing, you should think about how you want to handle your shipping fulfillment and come up with a proven and effective strategy that maximizes sales.
Some audiences prefer to have a lower product price and don’t mind paying for shipping, while others will respond much better to a higher product price and free shipping, even if the overall price is more or less the same.
Make Your Site Look Professional
Earning the trust of your prospects can be a challenge – because selling on the internet has become so big, there are many scammers trying to take advantage, and thus consumers have become more careful about which sites they trust enough to buy from.
So, to improve your chances, you need to take the time to make your site look professional and reassure your visitors that they can trust you with their personal and credit card information.
And a crucial part of making that happen is developing a consistent brand throughout your site – you want to have a trustworthy brand image that is in line with what your target audience responds to so that you can not only draw their attention but keep it once they get to your site.
You should also make sure that your site is easy to use – making it mobile-friendly is a given, but you should also consider creating a mobile app if you want to provide additional functionality to your mobile audience and make their shopping experience better.
Finally, consider investing in professional image retouching for e-commerce, as presenting your products can make a huge difference in the way that your website is perceived and give your sales a significant boost.
Utilize Email Marketing
Email marketing is the most powerful strategy that e-commerce businesses can use, and that’s not even debatable.
You can’t expect to sustain your business entirely on first-time visitors, so you need to have a way to capture the contact information of your prospects and continue to engage them through email, turning them into loyal customers in the process.
The reason why you must use email marketing is that it’s ideally suited for eCommerce – it allows you to get the most out of every single prospect and customer, and ensure that they return to your store and not go to the competition.
For one thing, email marketing allows you to re-engage with users who haven’t completed their purchase – if you have their email address, you can use reminder email campaigns to let them know that they abandoned their cart and even offer an incentive such as a limited-time discount to complete their purchase.
You can also use emails to reward your most loyal customers or subscribers by giving them exclusive deals based on their purchasing habits, which can help you generate more sales leads whenever you need it.
Finally, email marketing allows you to roll out new products more effectively by educating your target audience, introducing the new products in the best light, and incentivizing action by creating customized offers based on their past behaviors.
Offer Excellent Customer Support
There’s no quicker way to sink an eCommerce business than with poor customer support.
Even if your store is performing great and is growing quickly, just a few consecutive bad interactions with your audience can snowball into a social media frenzy that tarnishes your reputation and makes restoring trust an uphill battle that many companies fail to win.
There’s really no way to avoid making mistakes when you run an online store – payments fail, websites crash and packages fail to reach their destination.
These are occurrences that you won’t be able to eliminate no matter how streamlined your system may be, so having excellent customer support is the last frontier that you can use to mitigate the situation.
Train your team on handling various situations, and use knowledge base software to establish a resource that can be used by both your staff and your customers for finding solutions to various problems.
When a problem occurs, you need to have a clear process for how it is going to be handled because then, your employees won’t have to feel stressed and can help offer a helpful solution to every customer, turning that potentially disastrous situation into another positive review for your store.