E-commerce sale opportunities are growing at a rapid rate. However, as we all know, there’s no rose without a thorn! Whether you run an e-commerce business, or are just thinking of starting out, it could be beneficial to be aware of and prepare for certain challenges that may lie ahead.
Finding the right products to sell
Anyone can launch an online store within days and start selling all sorts of products. But does this automatically translate into revenue? Regardless of which industry you are in, there are two types of products you can sell: commoditised products and niche products. To identify what you want to sell, try to find a problem that needs solving. Where is there a gap in the market? How can your product fill that gap or be of service? Is it something that people can be passionate about or fulfill guilty pleasures? By emotionally investing in your product, you can better deliver its value and mission into the market.
One of the biggest e-commerce challenges is to convert visitors into paying customers. An e-commerce website might have a lot of traffic, clicks and impressions without meeting its sales target. If you’re a retailer who started with a brick-and-mortar store, you might find that just like your physical store, not everyone who browses your website will actually convert. Key website elements like SEO aimed at your target audience, messaging that builds a strategic conversion funnel and strong calls-to-action can help improve conversion rates for your website. Always think from a shopper’s perspective and see if you are doing everything possible to make them paying customers.
It is more expensive to attract new customers than retain the ones you already have. Sellers must implement tactics to help them get the most out of their existing customer base. Implementing a loyalty or reward program, or focusing on community building efforts can help you build a stronger customer base as well as help you grow your business faster than your sales and marketing teams.
In today’s oversaturated market, your product isn’t the only thing that matters. Customers want more, expect more, and also know more about your products, prices and competition. There are several ways to improve your customer’s experience on your website, if you haven’t done so already. Constantly assess your customer service by reviewing customer complaints and performing customer surveys. Receive and react to customer feedback and be open to improvement. Taking steps to ensure your customer feels valued and connected to your brand by sending personalised emails or text messages with product updates, shipping alerts, or even birthday messages can make a big difference.
While offering automated customer service is convenient, many customers still prefer to talk to a human on the phone, especially when complex issues about money or payment disputes are involved. Customers want immediate and accurate answers without having to navigate chatbots, which offer a scripted, automated response, and let’s face it – can be immensely frustrating! Collecting feedback by sending out customer satisfaction surveys after they’ve support through calls, email or chat can also help you understand how your customers feel about your support team’s performance.
When shopping online, customers want the flexibility of making a mistake that doesn’t cost them. When an eCommerce site says “no returns or refunds” it makes a shopper less likely to trust the retailer. However, product returns can be a challenge for online retailers since they are sometimes vulnerable to issues like return fraud. Be transparent about your return and refund policies. Ensure your customers can find detailed info on this very easily in your Terms & Conditions, FAQ pages and even your checkout page.
Competition & Competitor Analysis
A simple search for something these days will give you thousands of options in return – how does one make a choice? From a retailer’s standpoint, this means having to stand out from the crowd, and having a competitive difference. Always do a thorough analysis of your competitors. Find out what products they are selling, how they are generating leads and how they keep in touch with their customers. The next step would be to make sure you stand out. Optimise your store page and offer an amazing user experience.
While social media can certainly help to boost your business, integrating e-commerce with social media is not without its challenges. Many sellers feel that they do not have the technical skills necessary and their data structure isn’t up to the task. While social media gives you the chance to build brand awareness and customer loyalty, you also need to have an idea of how to handle negative feedback about your business. Ensure that what you post and how you interact with people presents a professional image, and make a plan for managing online interactions, in a world where content is regularly updated and comments require prompt response.
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