When lawmakers responded to the coronavirus pandemic by shuttering non-essential stores, consumers turned to the Internet to purchase everything from groceries to work-from-home necessities. There was almost no choice but to shop online, so consumers adapted—many of them trying ecommerce for the first time. Brick-and-mortar retailers launched online stores. Hobbyists who suddenly had a surplus of free time turned to virtual artisan marketplaces. It all marked a massive shift, and ecommerce as a whole saw 10 years of growth in just 90 days.
The result was a crowded landscape of e-tailers all jockeying for position at the top of Google’s search results. There are more online stores than ever, which means more competition than there was pre-pandemic. But as veteran e-tailers know, the vital component for staying ahead of the curve is taking care of customers. Your customers keep your business afloat, so you should keep them in mind when making tweaks to your operations. Fortunately, there are plenty of strategies you can implement right now that are mutually beneficial.
Try these five ecommerce hacks to boost your goodwill—and your bottom line.
Let Customers Leave Reviews
Today’s consumers have nearly limitless options when shopping online, which presents a challenge of how to discern which brands sell high-quality products and provide a top-tier customer experience. After all, there’s no way to touch or try out products before purchasing. This is why savvy shoppers turn to product reviews to glean information about the items they’re looking to buy. Reviewers usually have no reason to be dishonest, which makes them more trustworthy than brands with their polished messaging. In fact, studies show 91% of consumers trust product reviews as much as recommendations from peers.
E-tailers can use this to their advantage by empowering their customers to leave ratings and reviews—and shoppers will love it. Just be sure to verify buyers before letting them leave their comments. Honest reviews boost your online store’s trustworthiness because they show you are confident that your products’ quality will inspire positive feedback. Fake reviews, on the other hand, hurt your store’s reputation more than no reviews do. Even negative reviews are beneficial because they make the positive responses seem more authentic.
Most ecommerce platforms offer apps or plugins to enable product reviews on your online store, and there is a massive return on investment. Considering nine in 10 shoppers read reviews before purchasing, verified customer feedback is often the difference between a bounce and a sale.
Launch a Loyalty Program
When shoppers visit a brick-and-mortar store, they’re greeted by sales associates who make conversation and develop relationships with them during their time in the store. Friendly and helpful employees show shoppers that the brand is trustworthy, and the shoppers feel good about the interactions. In turn, these experiences make consumers more likely to make a purchase because they feel recognized as individuals, rather than numbers. And continually positive experiences turn one-time buyers into loyal customers for years.
How, though, can e-tailers replicate this process without face-to-face interactions? Early steps include creating a user-friendly website, providing easy access to customer support and categorizing products intuitively. If you have a customer base, you’re probably familiar with the necessities for establishing these crucial relationships, but perhaps your goal is to increase retention by creating positive experiences again and again. Here’s something to help you hit your target that your customers will love: a loyalty program.
Loyalty programs give exclusive perks to members, such as early access to new products, members-only sales and points that can be redeemed for store credit. There are tangible incentives for your customers to repeatedly shop with you, and they are recognized as “part of the club”. E-tailers see massive benefits, too. Brands with strong loyalty programs increase revenue twice as fast as their competitors and generate up to 400% higher returns to shareholders.
Deliver Fast with eCommerce Shipping Software
Every e-tailer knows how much more difficult it is to fulfill online orders than simply sending customers home with their purchased items, like retailers do in brick-and-mortar stores. It’s expensive, too—research shows fulfillment costs roughly 70% of a store’s average order value. However, if you try to pass on those costs to your customers, fewer people will want to shop with you. It seems like a lose-lose situation, but ecommerce shipping software solves both problems of complexity and cost. Your customers will love it, too.
In today’s on-demand world, consumers can summon everything from their favorite foods to rideshare cars in a matter of minutes. Amazon has set the standard delivery speed at two days, but next-day and same-day delivery are growing increasingly popular. It’s no wonder why shoppers have such high expectations. But most e-tailers aren’t Amazon, and the shipping carriers you rely on are also serving everyone else. Using shipping software is the key. It’s the easiest way to speed up your fulfillment by accessing a high-performing multi-carrier shipping network that gets orders to customers fast.
Software also gives e-tailers and customers real-time insights into order status. Whether an order is being picked and packed or the shipment is out for delivery, you can track every step of the fulfillment process and stay informed. Your customers will appreciate the transparency, and they’ll be thrilled when their items arrive on—or ahead of—schedule.
Offer Multiple Support Channels
Customer support is a pillar of every business, and ecommerce is no different. Try as you might to achieve perfection in your operations, your customers will need to reach you for assistance or for issue resolution. Think of it as an opportunity to build relationships with the very people who can offer valuable feedback about your processes and products. After all, they’re the reason you’re even in business. Having an outstanding support team also attracts new shoppers who will feel more confident buying from a brand that takes care of its customers. And, it’s more cost-effective—it costs up to 25 times more to invest in new customers than retain current ones.
Right now it’s more than likely that you have a phone number customers can call for support, but nobody has the time (or patience) to wait in a queue while instrumental hold music plays on the other end. People are constantly on the go, so they need the ability to communicate with customer support reps at their own convenience. This makes email a popular channel used by many e-tailers. Additionally, social media sites are being used more frequently as support channels so consumers can seek assistance on a familiar platform.
If your online store already offers phone and email customer support, it’s time to implement live chat. It’s become the top choice among consumers over the last few years with 41% of shoppers preferring the convenience of live chat over any other channel. Adding a chat widget to your website is simple, and your team already knows how to provide top-tier customer support. Though this channel will demand more time and attention, the return on investment is worth it. More than half (57%) of consumers in a recent study said they prefer digital communication over voice-based support, so offering new support channels is a change your customers will love.
Save Customers’ Carts
It’s a process e-tailers know all too well: Shoppers visit your online store, add items to their carts and then bounce from the site, never to return. Those incomplete purchases total more than $18 billion in revenue every single year, making abandoned carts one of the most expensive problems in ecommerce. But with the right tools in place, you can alleviate some of the burn.
There are countless reasons why shoppers abandon their carts. Of course, they might find a better deal at another store or find a brick-and-mortar retailer who carries the items they want, which eliminates time spent waiting for the order to arrive. They might also balk at shipping times or costs. The most common reasons include unexpected fees, unwillingness to create an account and concerns about payment security. However, plenty of shoppers leave items in their carts for reasons that aren’t the e-tailer’s fault. The Internet is full of distractions, as is life. Prospective customers may simply turn their attention elsewhere and forget about the products they were going to buy. In these instances, saving their carts can help.
E-tailers can easily install plugins and automations to help with abandoned cart recovery. Website pop-ups encourage shoppers to complete their purchases before exiting the page, and cart recovery emails send reminders directly to their inboxes. Some brands even include a small discount code with these emails as a final attempt to persuade the consumer to purchase. If you don’t capture emails, you can set up retargeting ads that are served to your prospective customers on other sites. Seeing images of the items they had in their carts will remind shoppers to return to your store. They’ll be excited to receive their order, and you’ll get another sale.
When optimizing your eCommerce operations, it’s best to put your customers first. Keep these hacks in mind for not only increasing revenue but also improving their experiences.
Customers’ satisfaction is definitely the backbone of the business success. Therefore, any merchants should be paying attention to that and taking action to ensure their delightful experience on the webstore. With this article, I hope that you can find some useful pieces of information, draw up proper strategies for your customers and increase sales.
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