Is Your Small Business Preparing to Enter Ecommerce? Here are 5 Things to Consider.
U.S. retail ecommerce sales are expected to exceed $735 billion by 2023, over 1.5x more than 2017 sales. If your small business is considering entering ecommerce, or if you are revamping your current strategy, there are many things to consider in order to stay ahead of the massive competition online.
The Quality of Your Site
Site quality is important for your customer experience, your search engine optimization (SEO), and your conversion rate. To reach your full potential in ecommerce, you need a fast, mobile friendly site, that is optimized for your niche. Mobile is growing more important every year—just last year 79% of customers ordered online via a mobile device. Being optimized for mobile is important for customer experience and SEO alike.
In addition to mobile optimization, your loading times need to be lightning quick if you want to keep shoppers’ attention. Get this: A two-second delay in page load time has been shown to increase bounce rate by over 100%. You are potentially missing out on double the sales just because your site isn’t properly optimized. While you’re making these adjustments to your site, you might as well sweep through to ensure that your image alt tags are properly written, you have great meta descriptions, and even better product descriptions. Without proper tags and formatting, good luck ranking anywhere meaningful on a search engine.
In an age where we accept 500-page privacy policies without even glancing at what we are signing, you might be surprised to hear that more than 60% of consumers take the time to review the return policy before making a buying decision. Your return policy matters in ecommerce, especially with products that require sizing. A local company, Crazy Dog T-Shirts, produces custom printed T’s and offers a great example of a transparent policy. Their returns and store policies page gives the customer clear and easy to understand expectations, reducing customer questions and increasing brand confidence.
When developing your returns page, you need to clearly communicate your:
- Return/exchange policy in full detail
- Accepted payment methods
- Coupon/discount policies
- Shipping options, missing package policies
Retargeting and Abandoned Cart Campaigns
Today’s buyer does more product research and comparison than ever before. It is no wonder why 70% of online shoppers abandon their cart when it is so easy to compare prices and products elsewhere. It’s imperative that your ecommerce site has an abandoned cart or retargeting campaign in place to win back those customers that jumped ship before making a purchase. It is also necessary that your checkout process is as smooth as possible. One bump in the road could send a customer elsewhere. Looking at Crazy Dog as a source of inspiration again, we found that their process is this: Six hours after an abandoned cart, the shopper receives an email reminding them of their intended purchase. In addition to this, they run retargeting campaigns through peak holiday seasons (October-January), to drive customers back to the site. If your company is operating an ecommerce store and you have yet to consider retargeting or abandoned cart campaigns, you are missing out on large opportunities to increase sales and grow your business.
If you plan on utilizing ecommerce and you have yet to take advantage of social media for your company, the time to start is now. Considering that 37% of shoppers use social media to influence their purchases, you are missing out on the opportunity to grow brand recognition and trustworthiness. Not to mention increasing your sales—online stores that have a social presence have 32% more sales on average than online stores that don’t. With little management, and at no cost, you can drive more people to your site and increase conversions. However, there are a few important things to consider:
- You can’t just set it and forget it.
- Social media requires daily upkeep and attendance. Without attention, you may lose control over the conversation surrounding your brand.
- Integrate into your ecommerce wherever applicable.
- Many utilize Facebook Messenger integrations to offer a chat service on their ecommerce site, which is combined with their social direct messages, keeping all customer inquiries in one consolidated place.
- Relate, don’t just advertise
- Best practice says to follow the 80/20 rule with your social media. 80% of your posts should inform, educate, and entertain, while the other 20% advertises your products and promotions.
Customer Service Capabilities
If you go through the processes of implementing chat functions and building up your social media to sell products online, you need to be prepared to answer customer questions and concerns. Amazon, one of the most successful online retailers on Earth, is known for its uniquely helpful customer service offerings. This has shaped expectations for ecommerce customers and raised the bar for online sellers. Customers expect fast, free shipping, and immediate and helpful response to any outreach to your customer service team. No matter your business size, it is extremely important to understand that your relationship with the customer doesn’t end after you drop their package off at the post office. To find success in your ecommerce business, make sure you have a team ready to manage the tools that you have spent time and money implementing.