The digital revolution has ushered in a new age of opportunities for the business landscape. The internet has offered organisations of all sizes opportunities to expand their reach further than previously imagined, or even possible. Nearly anyone can launch an online store to sell their products, with solutions that sometimes make it feel all too easy to quickly launch a site in record time. The reality is that launching your website really isn’t the hard part. With great opportunity, also comes great expectations.
With an eCommerce business, your web presence is only the start of the journey. Fostering a feeling of trustworthiness, establishing solid processes around order fulfilment, inventory management, and ensuring your website is secure, marketable and “rankable” on search engines are just some of the more important issues to occupy yourself with.
The positive? Here are 5 of the most common struggles eCommerce businesses have, and what you can do to get through each of them!
1. Trust Building
Even the most interesting, intriguing, and “fancy”, websites don’t sell products themselves. You’re #1 focus should be on building trust with your customers.
With the sheer number of other organisations competing with you, often the main influence over a customer’s buying decision is trust. People will spend more money on a product, just because they have a “better feeling” about the company they are buying from. This “feeling” is almost always trust, even if a customer can’t put their finger on it, it nearly always comes down to this.
There are simple steps you can take to combat this perception though! Including customer testimonials, awards, reference-able accolades, simply displaying contact details, pictures of your staff, and offices can be a big step towards accomplishing this. Other things like ensuring your social media profiles are linked and accessible, that you have a presence on their preferred platforms, and constantly share updates in a relatable, and human way, is just as important as your online store.
Over time it will become easier as you build up a good reputation, but starting out, ensure that you give customers no reason not to trust you and the products you sell. It really is a make or break situation.
2. Website security
It is a harrowing thought, and many businesses never anticipate it happening to them. But security breaches, and hacking are common in today’s world. If you are online, you are a target. No matter how big or small. Though the prospect of leaked customer information, or payments being directed away from you site is a terrifying thought, just because you’re a target, doesn’t mean your site must be vulnerable!
Your priorities, to stay on top of this threat, should be as follows;
- Identify weaknesses within your entire platform (website, hosting provider, or cart system etc.)
- Password changes should be common place, and regular
- Customise the installation of database elements.
- Establish and maintain safe processes around the use of the internet in general.
The only thing worse than never establishing a trust worthy customer base, is losing one to a data-breach. Overall, the best way to shield yourself against any such attacks, is to go with a trusted commerce platform, with a solid security record. Sometimes its pricier, but its pricier for a reason. Most times, a secure platform is your biggest protection against any attack. So, choose wisely!
3. Order fulfilment
From boxes, to couriers, and software, to processes, order fulfilment doesn’t have to be complicated… if managed correctly.
Customer satisfaction is now lynch-pinned by fast, effective and transparent order fulfilment. Not only are you expected to quickly deliver an item, but as a customer, we now expect to be able to fully see where our order is at any given moment. Where years ago, this was impossible, with modern technology, customers now expect access, and self-service, to view and understand where their order is in the process.
The four keys to efficient shipping are as follows;
- The People - With systems and process that are easily followed to fulfil orders more efficiently.
- Software - Manage and track inventory, accounts, payments, efficiency, sales quotes, and the list goes on!
- Hardware - Machines, tools, etc. that help with procuring products in the warehouse
- Logistics - Find and partner with the couriers that are right for you and your product.
No matter what, don’t scrimp on any of these elements, if your website is the face of the watch, this is the mechanism beneath. Buying a phony watch may look good on the outside, but we all know what happens eventually (Well at least I do).
4. Returns, exchanges and refunds
Picking, packing and shipping may be a solidified process for your organisations, but if your returns, exchanges, and refunds processes are lacking, you might just find that level of customer trust start to decline again.
We always talk about creating great experiences for customers, it’s the prime goal of any organisation. Creating a customer journey that is seamless, no matter the issue, is commerce nirvana. Mostly, the only time you will hear someone boast of an organisations customer service, is when something goes wrong, yet said organisation can seamlessly rectify the issue.
Two things are important to cement your processes for returns, exchanges and refunds. Firstly, create a policy, no matter how small your business is, make one, even if it’s simple, have something, and make it available to your customer base. Not only does this create trust and transparency, but it offers security to the customer, and accountability for you!
Secondly, again, ensure you have a system that allows you to rectify any of the above occurrences when they happen. Ensuring you have software that allows you to seamlessly manage this side of your business, is so important to securing your future!
5. Mobile commerce
Back to creating great customer experiences! This is a non-negotiable. Mobile devices are only increasing in number, an upward trend in mobile consumer behaviour is completely tied to this increase. Unfortunately, mobile responsiveness, is still seen as a “nice to have”.
Don’t fall into this trap.
Ensure every touch point of your customer journey is optimised for mobile. From your checkout and shopping cart process, to your home screen and navigation, the customer experience is paramount. I wouldn’t even be able to start to tell you how many times I have begun purchasing a product on a site, to finally jump ship because the process was too frustrating to follow on my iPhone.
If it isn’t easy, your customers will go somewhere else. Trust me, we have all been that customer at one point or another! Don’t lose business because you didn’t cover the mobile requirements of your solution!
There isn’t much more to say on this point other than, ensure the eCommerce solution you have picked allows complete control over you look, feel, and mobile responsiveness. If it doesn’t let you tailor the customer experience to be mobile friendly, don’t use it!
It all boils down to these three points;
- Establish your processes, and scrutinise them regularly.
- Select a platform that keeps your business as connected as possible across all the above touch-points. Don’t scrimp! You wouldn't pay for a crappy looking website, don't pay for a crappy back-end, its just as important!
- Mobile, mobile, MOBILE.
This all boils down to planning and research. Cover all your bases, there are plenty of solutions out there for you, but knowing exactly what you need, over what you want, is the best way to approach this situation. A pretty website isn’t going to be enough to make a customer buy from you.