Infomercials would have you believe that running a flourishing online business is easy. According to them, all you need to do is set up a website, pick a product, and then watch the money roll in from your mansion in Hollywood Hills. Although the reality is quite different from this profit-driven fantasy, there are definite steps you can take to increase your chances of ecommerce success.
Take your time.
Starting a new venture is exciting. Unfortunately that rush of emotions often prompts new entrepreneurs to launch too quickly. Before you take the plunge, it is imperative that you lay a strong foundation that will keep your fledgling enterprise grounded during those first uncertain months.
The building blocks of this foundation are varied. They include elements such as a robust social media presence, carefully worded search engine optimization (SEO) content, and a multipronged marketing strategy to get the word out. That does not mean that you shouldn’t buy your domain name or design your website, but wait for the big reveal until you are totally prepared.
Focus on providing an optimal user experience.
Online shopping is much more appealing and secure these days thanks to enhanced video innovations and strengthened online security. However, customers are still often alienated by various aspects of the virtual buying experience. Some of these obstacles are unavoidable, such as the inability to directly see or touch your products. However, you can remove other stumbling blocks with relative ease.
Think of your website as the digital ambassador for your brand. With that in mind, make sure that users can navigate your pages easily and intuitively. Images should load quickly, and text content should be clear and descriptive. Perhaps most important, the customer’s checkout experience needs to be fast, frictionless, and secure. In order for that to happen, you should choose a well-known payment gateway company that is in compliance with the credit card industry’s latest data security standards (PCI DSS).
Keep your eye on analytics.
Whether you only serve consumers within the U.S. or you have a global footprint with international payment processing, you should never lose sight of the information you can gain via analytics tools. With this data, you can determine many facts about your customers: their demographics, what they purchase, what items they click away from, and how often they visit your site just to name a few. This information takes much of the guesswork out of your forecasting activities and can be enormously helpful as you decide what direction to take your promotions and product inventory.
Incorporate social media into your business model.
Sites such as Facebook and Instagram are not just mindless places for viewing cat videos or the latest teen dance craze. These days, they are also highly effective marketing avenues that no savvy ecommerce entrepreneur can afford to ignore. Establishing and regularly updating your social media identity opens your business to numerous opportunities, including the following:
- Dynamic chat with current and prospective customers about your products.
- A venue for sharing product images and demonstration videos.
- A place where positive customer testimonials can incentivize others to buy your products or use your services.
- A forum for polling visitors and testing out new ideas.
In other words, think of social media as a portal for the free exchange of information, as well as positive word of mouth about your ecommerce business.
Androids and iPhones are ubiquitous today, and they are poised to become even more popular throughout the world in the coming years. Running a website that is not optimized for browsing and purchasing with a smartphone is akin to shooting your business in the foot. Becoming mobile-friendly involves the following:
- Designing your website to be responsive.
- Removing pop-ups and text blocking ads.
- Optimizing loading speed.
- Simplifying website design.
- Using large font sizes and big buttons with clear calls to action.
Above all, remember that today’s consumers have more choices than ever. If your site frustrates smartphone users, they will quickly click away to a competitor.
Cultivate long-term relationships with your customers.
The people who purchase your goods and services are like gold, and you should consider each one to be precious. That’s because it is far easier to sell to an existing customer than it is to attract a new one.
Connecting with the people who like your products takes work and time, but it is an investment well worth making. Technology such as the customer management features in your point of sale system make gathering and storing valuable intel a breeze. Armed with this data, you can send targeted email newsletters, coupons, and emails customized to appeal to each customer’s unique purchasing history and behaviors. This individual attention helps to form and foster those all-important customer connections.
It is the nimble business that is able to pivot and roll with the changes that it will inevitably encounter. In other words, you cannot afford to be rigid when it comes to your marketing techniques, your products, or your customers’ needs. To that end, keep your eye on the future by doing the following:
- Remain informed of the latest ways to spread the word about your products, including social media sites and SEO trends.
- Regularly experiment with new products that represent a low risk to your profit margin. Consider offering items that complement current bestsellers.
- When trends change, don’t be sentimental about old favorites that are no longer popular. Move on to feature things people want today and tomorrow, not yesterday.
With a flexible, customer-centered approach, your company can remain afloat even during the most tempestuous times.
Launching an ecommerce company and nurturing its growth is a complex undertaking filled with its share of both rewards and pitfalls. If your undertaking is to flourish, you can never take your eye off the ball. Success involves vigilance, creativity, flexibility, customer focus, and passion for what you are doing. Combine them, and you have the recipe for an ecommerce site equipped to thrive for years to come.