1) Know Thy Customer
Who is your target audience? Most businesses pitch themselves to some target demographic, no matter how vaguely outlined.
If you began as a brick and mortar operation, you probably had a pretty good grip on who might be interested in your products and/or services. They came to your shop, and you showed them around, explained the differences between products, helped them sort through their options. Over time, you may have gotten to know some of them on a more personal level, learned something about their families, their personalities, their values and concerns.
That connection has in many cases become lost or weakened, as people began to look for goods and services online. The process has accelerated during the present CoVid crisis. Additionally, businesses can change substantially over time just by virtue of moving online. What began as a sideline can turn into the core services or products dispensed by your business.
How do you connect? Opt-in mailings and coupons are one potentially effective method of maintaining a connection, but you have to be careful not to demand too much attention or stuff people’s in-boxes, or they are going to tune out. And your pitches will demand, once again, some understanding of whom you are serving. Your language, your message, will have to take into account the sensibilities, wants, and requirements of your clientele, both actual and potential. Post-purchase surveys in exchange for coupons can be an excellent way to begin finding out.
Incentivize feedback of all kinds. This is very valuable information. Let your customers know that you value their time and effort by making it worth their while to share their thoughts and feelings.
2) Know Thy Business
It seems simple enough, but it’s often not. When we’ve been doing something for a long time, we sometimes lose the ability to see what we do objectively, to spend time considering what we can change to make the customer experience better. That may involve changes to products or product lines. It may mean re-evaluating the range of products or services provided, expanding or contracting territories. In this case of eCommerce, it often means sharpening your message.
How do you differentiate your goods and/or services from your competitors’? How do you sharpen your image and make it compelling? Is your branding well integrated, or is it all over the map? What can be simplified and consolidated to strengthen the signal that you are sending out?
Much of your online signal range will be determined by how well you use SEO. What are the best ways of expressing your core products and services to attain the highest rankings? If you are shipping nationally or internationally, or have distributed branches over a large territory, SEO becomes even more important, as does your ability to cut through the noise. SunAnt can help maximize your rankings.
3) Optimize Thy Online Experience
Ease of website navigation and operation from front to back translates into more business, simple as that. If a website is poorly constructed, consumers are going to bug out and look elsewhere.
You’d be appalled to see as many abandoned shopping carts at the local grocery as are often left unfulfilled at eCommerce websites. Difficulty in navigation, unclear information about products, lack of up-front information about availability of sizes/color/options, lack of payment and shipping options, confusing layout and instruction can all cause customers not to follow through.
More and more, customers expect to be able to get immediate feedback and guidance via chat. On the other hand, you don’t want your chat being obtrusive and overbearing, like the sales associate who has to peer over the customer’s shoulder when she just wants to browse.
And just as customers want to visit a retail outlet that is pleasing to the eye, well organized, and clean, they want to visit sites that have the same appeal. Having your website look its best says up front that you care about how your customers perceive your business. It conveys the message that you are on top of things and dedicated to what you do.
SunAnt can help you simplify, beautify, integrate, and optimize your website for the best customer experience, so that they want to return to use your site again.
4) Perform Thy Follow-Through
The sales experience doesn’t necessarily conclude with the customer receiving the shipment. Make sure your returns and exchanges policies are prominently mentioned, and that you have made the process as liberal and as easy as you can. Make sure that your customer service is prompt, well informed, and helpful.
Solicit customer feedback. This goes back to the first point about knowing thy customer. It may be hard to hear criticism, particularly when it’s undeserved, but knowing how to improve is an important part of business. If you do get a review that seems unfair, make sure that your reply shows that you are trying to do everything within reason that you can do to satisfy your customer. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous folks who will try to leverage a bad review into a form of blackmail, and there are unscrupulous competitors who will put people up to inserting bad reviews. It is important that you read and respond to reviews, but most of all the negative ones.
Good follow-through shows that you care even after your money’s in the bank, and customers appreciate that a lot.
5) Accommodate Thy Mobile Device
As cellular data has become cheaper and more widely available, and as cell phones have become more powerful and better able to access and display the internet, eCommerce has increasingly moved in the direction of smart phone access. Make sure that your website is also optimized for these devices. This is among the most obvious and cost-effective ways to drive new revenue for your business.
Page layout, image serving, menus, security, and a host of other aspects of eCommerce websites need to be reconfigured to best serve customers arriving via smart devices. SunAnt has the experience and expertise to unlock this business for you.