Is ecommerce right for your business?
One of the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic has, unsurprisingly, been the immense growth of ecommerce.
It really didn’t matter in 2020 whether or not you were a B2B or B2C business or one that was global or local. It didn’t even matter whether or not you had ever attempted online retail before or whether you were simply a novice to the whole game.
Basically – you had to get online, and quickly.
As physical stores were forced to shut across the world, people turned online.
At the start of the pandemic, consumers flocked online to buy everything from toilet paper to non-perishables to hand sanitiser.
But, as people were stuck and stressed and isolated at home they also moved to look for other ways of fulfilling their needs. This often meant they looked to buy more healthcare-related products as well as self-care ones which ranged from face masks to at-home activities and gift packages for friends and families.
This became the norm for much of the year, and as people became more and more used to it, they started to like the convenience it offered more and more.
All of this means that if you’re not currently online with your business, now is most definitely the time to do so.
Who’s online, now?
The thing is, everybody is online now! A lot of the growth that occurred last year actually happened in demographics that would not necessarily.
Shopify says that 84% of consumers shopped online during the pandemic!
This meant that older demographics that would not necessarily be online suddenly jumped on-board with the trend.
How to stand out
Of course, you need to beware of the fact that as more and more businesses get online, customer expectations will also increase. Obviously, the retail market will expand quite considerably, allowing consumers to look interstate and abroad for products and services which fulfil their needs. Increased competition allows consumers to be fussier and more specific with their demands – think direct same or next-day delivery, free shipping and sustainable packaging.
These will be around everything from customer experience requirements to things such as security, greater offerings and better payment options.
More people online means more competition – which will make it harder for smaller businesses to compete with the big guys.
Some of these effects will be really noticeable – higher ad costs, for example.
So, how exactly can you stand out in such a crowded market? If money is not an issue, consider hiring the services of a digital marketing agency that specialises in ecommerce.
But what if you can’t?
Well, there are a couple of good places to get started.
Firstly, you need to think about the customer journey with you. From the moment they click on your website to the minute they get their package in the mail or need to do a return or leave some feedback, they need to feel as if they are getting services as good as they would in a store (if not even better).
On the website itself, it needs to be responsible – and especially quick at loading on mobile phones, tablets and desktops.
The checkout experience is also really important. You can ensure that it’s quick and secure so that customers feel safe about spending money online. Similarly, attaching your online checkout to a real POS is a good way of ensuring customers can make purchases online but then come and pick them up in store.
You can also simply eradicate the adding to cart process so that the site itself is a little more streamlined.
Obviously, you want options like Afterpay or other buy, now pay later tools included to entice more reluctant purchasers to take the plunge.
By the time it gets to the delivery stage, ensure you’ve got branded packaging and that it’s sustainable. Do something to make sure that your packaging stands out from the others.
This is the most obvious way that customers see the environmental impact of their purchases, and nobody ever feels good about unwrapping a hundred thousand plastic pellets with their purchase they know will end up in landfill.
Customer service is obviously more difficult when shopping online because there is no in-person interaction. There are ways, however, to have a 24/7 helpline or customer support service. The more you can simulate in-person experiences, the better. Chat with them via email, publish helpful comparative articles about products or split products by occasion or event as well as type.
These can either be bots that are on the website, an email service or a physical phone line and support centre.
Oftentimes, the trickiest part of online shopping is what you do when it’s wrong. The returns process is often difficult, and can be expensive.
Whatever you can do to make this easier – it will really be noticeable.
Above all, make sure you keep on updating your offerings, targeting your customers differently through emails and incentivising loyalty and data-sharing.