The past two years have been, without a doubt, the most successful years for the eCommerce industry. But while an unfortunate pandemic further expedited its popularity, this business model was already growing before then. Thanks to the power of technology, small-time entrepreneurs and businesses can easily set up an online store and potentially reach millions of customers worldwide.
The industry shows no signs of slowing down, with more and more consumers learning how to shop online. But as the eCommerce industry has skyrocketed, so has competition. Running a business is never easy, but when competition is high, growth can be a challenge.
So how do you make sure that your eCommerce business will continue to grow in 2021? Here are some critical tips and helpful strategies that you can implement in your business.
1. Optimize Your Customer Service
When every transaction is done online, the biggest thing missing is the human aspect. The lack of human interaction may not faze experienced online shoppers, but this is not the case for new ones. Inexperienced customers may have questions or concerns about specific products or the shopping process, and that is why a live chat option is beneficial for eCommerce websites. While most eCommerce stores already have this option, the feature must be easily accessible, so new customers get the assistance they need right away.
An online helpdesk run by a customer service team is essential, but it may not be a financially sound strategy for smaller businesses. Thankfully, there are chatbot software available that can be customized according to business needs and specifications. These are great for frequently asked questions and other customer queries.
2. Make Your eCommerce Store Mobile-Friendly
Most people nowadays have access to mobile devices, and smartphones, for example, are deeply integrated into our everyday lives. In fact, there are more mobile users than desktop or personal computer users in the US. As such, it is necessary to make your eCommerce store mobile-friendly so it can reach its full potential.
Providing the best possible mobile experience means that transactions can be done smoothly, with little to no hang-ups. There are things to consider when optimizing your store for mobile. The first is that it should be responsive. This means that your store is accessible through smartphones, tablets, and even smartwatches.
Another thing to consider is user-friendliness. App users should be able to click on important elements such as pages, posts, links, and other navigational features with ease. The images and videos should be optimized for mobile as well because it affects the website loading time. Pictures and videos should be clear and in the appropriate size for the mobile device used.
While content is essential for search engine optimization and for those looking for more information, it is necessary to reduce some of it for mobile. Too much content may make your eCommerce store on mobile too hard to view with blocks of text, wide spacing, or even confusing white space. And lastly, the store’s mobile app design should be on-brand and eye-catching.
3. Utilize Social Media
Social media is helpful in generating leads and letting customers know about your eCommerce store. It is a powerful tool that allows you to build your brand, tell its story, and gather a following. Social media is your store’s calling card as these social platforms connect you with customers, and, let’s face it, most people online are on social media.
It is important to have a strategy when using social media, make sure you have time to focus on this or try to get a creative virtual assistant who can do the job for you. It is necessary to know which platform is the most useful to your brand. In the case of eCommerce, where it is mostly about products, it is best to utilize image-heavy social media platforms like Instagram. For new businesses, it is sufficient to be on two to three platforms, as it takes time to create and publish posts, promotional or otherwise, for all of them. Make sure to fill out all the important information on all pages, including the link to your website.
Having a following on social media is necessary, and increasing those numbers should be one of your priorities. However, there is such a thing as paid bots that help increase follower counts. Do not fall for this scheme, as while it does make social media pages look good, none of those followers will genuinely engage with your brand and will hurt your marketing efforts in the long run. Instead, focus on building a community of followers with real customers.
4. Offer Free Shipping Promotions
A survey found that respondents are more likely to shop at an online store if it offers free shipping. Depending on the business, you can cap the promotion with or without a minimum spend. Free shipping is an attractive and effective sales tool to drive sales because customers no longer worry about the number of orders they want to get. Usually, delivery fees are calculated based on product weight, but with free shipping, those worries go right out the window and this means potentially larger sales for your business.
5. Incentivize Loyalty
A study found that loyal customers are more profitable because getting them to make a repeat purchase takes fewer resources than acquiring new customers. Customer retention is an important cost-saving strategy that businesses should utilize. Repeat customers who have a good experience with your store are more likely to spend more and are more open to trying new products. Therefore, incentivizing to build trust and loyalty is a great way to keep them from ditching you for the competition.
An excellent example of rewarding loyal customers is to create a loyalty program where they get rewards depending on how much they purchase in a given month. The reward can come in the form of discounts, gifts, or vouchers. Another way is to surprise them with exclusive coupon codes on their birthdays. You can also incentivize them to recruit new customers by offering a referral bonus.
6. Build Credibility with Brand Ambassadors
Credible brand ambassadors increase brand awareness and trust among followers and customers. A brand ambassador helps promote your products to their followers in exchange for cash, gift cards, or free products. Working with brand ambassadors can sometimes be cheaper than running campaign ads on Google, LinkedIn, or social media.
Because the goal is to reach a wider audience and drive sales, the most important thing to note when running this program is that potential brand ambassadors should have a sizable following relevant to your niche. Posts and reviews from individuals with large followings tend to be received better than salesy social media posts from brands.
Additionally, brand ambassadors humanize faceless eCommerce brands. These days, shoppers research products by watching or reading reviews on social media. People tend to trust recommendations from those who have used a product or a service over targeted sales ads.
7. It’s All About Emails
It is important to get in touch with customers and for them to get updates, news, and other important information from your brand. Having an email list comes in handy so you can send newsletters and offers to customers in one fell swoop. There are plenty of ways to grow an email list. One is to build a pop-up signup form for your website and design it with the user in mind. It is crucial to get the timing (or delay) right depending on how much time people spend on your site. Another is to create free valuable resources with compelling call-to-actions (CTAs) that entice email subscribers. You can also create more landing pages and put CTAs on different pages.
The next part is using the list through email marketing. Email campaigns are useful for setting up and informing customers about upcoming sales, promotions, and special offers. There are several ways to utilize email campaigns, which depend on the strategy you want to use. The key to this type of campaign is to use it wisely because obnoxiously crafted messages or sending too many emails in a month will be considered spammy and will lead recipients to unsubscribe from the email list.
To avoid this, create content that will keep customers engaged and fill your email list with quality leads. Make sure initial emails and follow-ups are well-written and scheduled to go out at a good cadence to ensure a smoothly flowing campaign.
There are plenty of strategies that will help you boost sales for your growing eCommerce business. The biggest takeaway is that success doesn’t happen overnight. Strategies take time to implement, and the results may not always be the ones you want. Keep in mind that there is no cookie-cutter sequence or straight road to success. Much of your success will depend on how much effort you are willing to make. Know your customers well, monitor strategies often, and adjust accordingly.
Catherine is president & executive director of 20four7va, a global eCommerce virtual assistance service provider. She is into strategic planning, product development, brand management, and digital marketing.