The pillars of e-commerce

There are plenty of advantages to running an e-commerce business over traditional bricks and mortar retail – lower overheads, a bigger potential customer base, more flexible working hours – but there are plenty of challenges too. Without foot traffic to help new customers discover you, building a community of customers who trust your brand will be much harder.

Because the online retail market is so crowded digital shoppers have high standards and short attention spans, so ensuring your e-commerce business is successful is all about attention to detail. Here are some tips to help make your ecommerce business a success.

Provide a frictionless experience

The best way to convert visitors to your site into customers is by providing the most frictionless experience you can – the number of steps required to get from selecting an item to a confirmation of purchase should be kept to as few as possible.

Things like enabling autofill, allowing guest checkout, and defaulting to the most common shipping method are all ways to help. Double and triple testing every element of your website for bugs or snags is extremely important too – you could even get all your friends and family to help explore different user journeys.

A strong brand identity is crucial

The visual identity of your brand should be clearly defined before you begin designing anything else. Having a clear brand identity is especially important when it comes to e-commerce because without a physical location you will have to work harder to stand out and be memorable.

Ensuring that your brand tone of voice matches the visual language you use, and then making sure these elements are carried through to every corner of your online presence – from product pages to marketing emails – helps reinforce your unique position in the customer’s mind.

Invest in your infrastructure

Just as you would invest in quality contractors for any renovation work to a store, so you should invest in quality suppliers for your website and logistics. Unless you’re very confident in your digital skills, hiring a web designer to get your site off the ground and ensure it’s top shelf is a smart decision.

Likewise, do your research to make sure that your warehouse and shipping providers are reliable, efficient and consistent – there is nothing worse than disappointing a customer because their package was mishandled or delayed.

Social media is your shop window

Without a shop window to entice passers-by the best way to attract new customers is through social media, which is one of the most important investments you can make in your business. Think about the kind of customers your business wants to attract, and tailor your content to their interest, while being sure to retain the authentic and consistent brand voice you have developed.

Social media strategy is more complex than it appears, and it’s worth hiring a consultant to teach you the basics if you’re not fully up to speed – you don’t want to miss out on crucial exposure because you’ve been posting at the wrong time of day!

Customer service is key

Nowadays customer reviews and complaints have the power to make or break a business, and once someone has given you that dreaded one star review it’s there forever. Making sure that you take customer feedback seriously and act swiftly to rectify it is the best way to prevent this kind of fallout.

Nowadays, customers expect a brand to reply in four hours or less once they have made contact, so think carefully about how you can implement an effective customer service pipeline for any issues that might arise. Likewise think about moments in the customer journey where you can have a positive interaction, and how and when you want to reward loyal customers. Creating positive associations through the service you provide is the best way to cultivate a loyal community.

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