*The author, Phoebe Haig is a Marketing Manager at JH, an eCommerce agency, who helps businesses become global brands through flexible solutions in design and development.
It’s that time of year again. Resolution time. The time that sees us pledging to work-out, to not eat cake, to give up booze, to wear fitness trackers and become a wholly better version of ourselves.
Such resolutions are notoriously hard to keep – but when it comes to setting goals for your business, staying on track is a must – not an option.
The eCommerce landscape changes so fast that in order to survive you need to be keeping on top of what’s new, and what’s next.
5 Resolutions for Your eCommerce Business
1) Be more Omni
The importance of being ‘omnichannel’ won’t be waning anytime soon. An omnichannel approach crucially puts the customer first. It acknowledges that mobile and social media have enabled customers to not only quickly switch between channels, and look at items across devices and in store, but actually use channels simultaneously. Trust is needed for online purchasing, and to trust you your customers need cohesion. They need you to show you understand them and the buying journey that they’re on – and they need to see that your brand is making sense, is true, at every step.
If you’re not in the fashion business, that’s where to look for examples of how this is best done. This uber competitive industry knows the importance of having their branding everywhere their customer is.
At JH one of our most recent launches was for client Couveture and the Garbstore – a brand totally en pointe when it comes to the omnichannel experience. Their high-end brands needed to be reflected with a contemporary online store, just in the way it is in their Notting Hill shop – so that customers know exactly who Couveture and the Garbstore are, what they stand for and represent, wherever they meet them – on or offline.
Brands like these think long and hard about their customers and the entire journey from awareness to purchase. From chatting (what’ve their friends seen on that fashion blog?). They’re on the bus looking at Instagram, seeing on the shop’s feed how the top looks on real customers. They get off the bus, they’re standing outside the store, there’s the look, feel and branding they recognise – all working perfectly.
2) Know the power of reviews
To put it simply, user reviews increase conversions. Over 60% of online shoppers read reviews before making a purchase. It’s for confirmation that others are doing something we’re thinking of doing – Psychologists call this ‘social proof’. Good product descriptions are essential, but reviews are more trusted – around 12 times more apparently.
Online reviews are no new or advanced phenomena for sure, but the reason they’ll be increasingly important over the next year or so is because of the changing way in which we shop. It’s much more conversational, more transient – think bots, think social, think blogs – all examples of how where once online shopping was like a paper catalogue on your computer, now it’s something that’s talking and moving with us all the time.
So there’s the psychology of how we shop now to keep in mind - but also, there’s search engines too. Customers love reviews. Google and other searches rank higher sites that have fresh content, and a continual influx of reviews pretty much guarantees this.
3) Embrace the conversation
Take a typical eCommerce dilemma – you want to buy some new shoes, you know the style you’re after, but you can’t see any in the right size or price bracket. Today’s average eCommerce journey has you travelling from site to site – in the end you’ll either give in to frustration, or settle for some, perhaps not ideal, shoes from a site you know and trust.
A conversational commerce experience would see you sending your preferred store a, for instance, Facebook message telling them what you want and, using AI, they’d respond with suggestions – what’s more, you wouldn’t have to even leave Messenger to make the purchase. Many brands are now enabling consumers to buy from them in this way – they can send order confirmations via Messenger, as well as shipping and delivery notifications – users stay in the Facebook ecosystem throughout, never having to leave.
Conversational commerce was just in its infancy at the beginning of this year, now it’s everywhere, and next year can only see more massive growth in this unstoppable trajectory.
4) Focus on customer loyalty
New customers are great news, loyal ones are the aim. Returning customers spend an average of 67% more than new ones, so keeping customers coming back, in an increasingly competitive marketplace, really is key.
One way is to create a community around your brand. Think Harley-Davidson – their customers being the epitome of this, with many of them going so far as having the company logo tattooed on their bodies. OK, so we doubt many brands will promote their logos inked for life, but thankfully, in the age of social, creating a community can be done with a lot less pain.
There are countless examples. Greggs for instance did a Whatsapp group in the run up to Christmas for some of its hardiest fans, Fit Little Birde use Instagram to post pictures of their customers in their gear. There are countless ways to get your customers chatting with one another, and sharing ideas and opinions around your products.
5) Stop moaning (about returns)
Having a painless returns policy is just what’s expected,so show any stress or delay around it and you’re on a quick route to annoying your customers. Free delivery, free returns – no arguments, make it easy and customers will feel it’s safe to order from you again, and to recommend others do the same.
The process should be approachable, easy to understand and have no hidden disclaimers. Clearly outline the rules regarding returns, share what you’ll provide (like return postage, for example), how to proceed with returns, and whether you accept returns in-store (if you have a bricks and mortar location).