A recent Nielsen study revealed that The New Shopper Normal involves less bulk buying, quicker trips to the shops, or skipping them altogether by switching to shopping online. There is a most definite surge in online sales in South Africa (and abroad) as a direct result of Covid-19. In fact, local eCommerce sales over the past six months have increased by up to 40%. Companies ready to pivot their businesses for online shopping should dive in while the water is hot.
Run a successful eCommerce store with these tips:
Tip 1: Make sure the user-experience is flawless
Online shopping will never be like the “real thing” but it has the convenience-edge that no physical shop can ever give anyone: You can browse or shop anytime from anywhere. Add to this by making the entire shopping experience a pleasure too. Allow customers to easily navigate between products and categories, make adding products to cart and completing the purchase quick and seamless.
Tip 2: Offer incredible customer service
Customer service is the make or break of any eCommerce website. People will have queries that need to be answered. It is important to process orders as quickly as possible and to be clear and upfront about your return/refund policies. Turn visitors into potential customers, and customers into returning customers by offering excellent online support (i.e. an online chat).
Tip 3: Include multiple payment options
Do your statistics show many abandoned shopping carts? People like to have options when it comes to paying for their order. With the various options available online they want familiarity and would like to see one of the payment gateways they know and are comfortable with at checkout.
Tip 4: Make online security a priority
Securing your eCommerce site is in the best interests of your customers and your business. Customers will be looking for the green “Secure” in your URL and would also need confirmation in the form of a visible guarantee (badge) that your site is encrypted and that their personal information will be protected. Do this by adding an appropriate SSL Certificate to your site.
Tip 5: Invest in the right website hosting plan
Fact: If an eCommerce site doesn’t load instantly, it will lose customers. People don’t like waiting for pages or images to display properly, they will lose interest in the product and lose confidence in your brand. Your website hosting must be secure, reliable and fast!
Tip 6: Add reviews on your website
Build buyer’s trust by showcasing several happy customer experiences. Testimonials and reviews of your site are very important! The better your customer service, the more naturally these will start to funnel in.
Tip 7: Make sure your store is mobile responsive
Online shopping via mobile phones equates for nearly half of the total online sales. With 22-million active social media users it is easy to see why mobile shopping is doing so well. Your eCommerce website must therefore be mobile responsive.
Tip 8: Try to offer free or cheaper shipping
If you can offer free shipping for orders over a certain amount, do it. Startups and small businesses will struggle to offer this, particularly as shipping prices are constantly going up. Try to absorb some of the costs so the shipping prices remain under R100. Try to offer various shipping options too. Some people might be happy to wait a few days if it would bring the shipping costs down; others will perhaps pay a little extra to have their parcel delivered the next day!
Tip 9: Display products as best as possible
Give your customers a full sensory experience! In a shop they might be able to see and feel a product but online you would need to display it from all angles. Add photos of your product in action and even showcase videos of your product. Add proper descriptions and reviews etc. Make the most of the online platform.
Tip 10: Market your eCommerce site
Without a proper marketing strategy in place, the best eCommerce sites in the world would go unnoticed. Make use of social media and digital marketing platforms to get the word out online. Make your eCommerce website “sticky” so that customers feel the need to return frequently. Run weekly or monthly specials, incentivise them for reviews or for joining your mailing list etc.