The benefits of growing your business with eCommerce
We got through lockdown 2, the sequel no one wanted.
This year, as everything has leaped years ahead in the migration online, our shopping habits have changed for good. In fact, eCommerce is set to account for 27.5% of total retail sales this year (yep, that’s over a quarter), so we thought we would put together some resources around eCommerce for small businesses looking to up their online game.
An eCommerce website today is literally a virtual extension of your business and deserves the same care and attention as a physical location. Humans now allegedly have shorter attention spans than goldfish and when someone lands on your site, they will decide in the first second whether they like it enough to warrant further exploration. So, how do you create a site that helps drive your business forward?
Benefits of eCommerce for small businessesWhile we are all missing face-to-face interaction, offering a reliable online experience is an act of customer service and a chance to interact with your audience on their terms in their environment. You are bringing them a convenient way to offer you their custom. There are no opening hours, so you can be trading around the clock, eliminating the downtime of a physical shop.
Then there is the widened customer base, you are now able to serve someone who normally would only visit during their summer holiday, all year round.
A smooth online shopping experience that caters for and delights your audience is also a reliable way to build your brand’s reputation which is a major contributor to sales.
Back-office systems are becoming more user-friendly and once set up, are not difficult to manage. Having a well performing eCommerce platform will help convert your website visitors and when that business comes rolling in, you will be set up for an easier scaling process at a lower cost, using the tech and automation tools available to make the most of your and your team’s time.
The internet is a big place and it can seem like a daunting task competing with bigger players, but a smaller operation can allow you to be nimble, offer a stellar customer experience and really shine as the expert in your niche.
Using marketing automation to drive loyaltyIt is no secret that keeping existing customers coming back is more valuable than finding and converting new ones. A good eCommerce set-up is like the barista that remembers how you like your coffee (but with even better memory), and holds the key to the success of a company like Amazon - personalisation. The data collected from previous interactions can help introduce prospects to other products they may like, offer tailored offers and communication. Remind them to check out items in an abandoned cart and create a friction-free shopping experience without multiple fields to fill in. It will allow you to be customer centric and learn from your customers in real time via both behaviour and feedback.
As a founder, you have to wear many hats and often find yourself being both the marketing manager, head of sales and customer service representative, especially now when many companies are operating with reduced teams. So taking advantage of the tech available and utilising marketing automation can help free up time for you to do the jobs that really need to be done by you. When you use marketing automation, it also makes it easy to learn from your customers by accessing and interpreting analytics and feedback. Discovering problems quickly and identifying parts of your operation that are doing well allows you to shift efforts and resources to where they are needed rather than putting out full-blown fires or missing opportunities to develop or pivot. If done right - this will lead to increasing conversions and revenue for the business.
Engaging across the buying journeyWhile we may not put that much thought and research into buying a chocolate bar at the garage, for most bigger purchases we tend to go on a bit of a journey of consideration and research before handing over the cash rather than acting on impulse. This is what is known as the customer or buyer’s journey. People need different types of nurturing and communication depending on where they are in that process. Are they experiencing a problem, looking for a solution or comparing providers? Providing the right type of communication, to the right person at the right time can be both tricky and time-consuming. This is where the tools of a good eComm set-up can help you deliver appropriate content for every stage of the customer journey, be it to attract strangers through eye catching design, engage or delight your customers with blogs and email, guiding them in their decision-making process by publishing reviews from previous customers and giving them an experience that turns them into promoters of your brand.
For example you could offer a personalised birthday offer to re-engage, create educational content to help attract new customers, add a live chat function to your page to answer FAQs and collect feedback after a purchase is made.
It’s emotionalWhile a modern eCommerce platform offers you loads of amazing ways to track how people behave on your site, like bounce rate, number of clicks, A/B testing, heatmaps etc, it’s important to remember that buying and selling is a human-to-human thing. And humans are emotional creatures. We might like to think that we arrive at purchase decisions using logical thinking - what behavioural scientist Daniel Khaneman refers to as System 2 thinking. System 2 is the slow, controlled analytical way of thinking versus System 1, which is the fast, unconscious, intuitive thinking process. More often than not we buy because of how we feel, like at the start of the pandemic with the loo roll situation or why you may be happy to pay out for a new Apple iPhone or MacBook versus other perfectly good phones and laptops (System 2 may try to come up with a rationalisation after the fact).
To successfully sell your products you need to find ways to appeal to both System 1 and 2, balancing facts and information with appealing design, imagery, messaging and copy. When you open a physical shop or destination, most businesses would put a lot of thought, budget and effort into making it an attractive and pleasant place to be, your website deserves the same thought and care.
Although we might like to shop on our own whilst relaxing on the sofa, people are hardwired for social interaction and social codes. That is why letting your customers in on what others think about your products or services works so well. Reviews, expert’s stamp of approval, celebrity endorsement and suggestions of ‘other customers who bought this product’ all tap into the concept of social proof. Whether we like to admit it or not, we all want to fit in and trust in the judgement of the group, our primal brains know that remaining within the tribe increases our chance of survival and success. Harnessing the data from purchases on your site and sharing it with your customers in a useful way, is a great way to utilise data in your marketing.
It all goes back to really listening to and understanding your customer and their needs and then creating an online shopping experience that is pleasant, friction-free and keeps them coming back for more!
Looking to get an online shop up and running? Check out our EasyCommerce package and how we are able to help.