Online commerce is considered a real revolution in the way of doing business and the latest data provided by the B2C e-commerce observatory confirm it.
Online commerce “yes”, online commerce “no”. The tendency of the last few years is to lean towards the first solution. In fact, many companies have decided to open their e-store, mainly in the sectors of information technology and consumer electronics, clothing and clothing in general, in tourism, up to more and more niche areas : sports clothing and accessories, furniture, articles for dogs and cats, medical equipment, products for children.
In all these cases it is necessary to create a very strong link between a precise business strategy and an online trading strategy focused on cost optimization and performance evaluation. The activities of an online store do not stop at the choice of the best catalog to be made available to customers, but requires the knowledge of specific regulations, the choice of best online payment solutions and shipping, and the creation of product cards optimized for search engines, the meticulous selection of qualified suppliers.
So what should be considered to make our e-commerce to the maximum and be successful in a reasonable amount of time?
First of all, before taking the first steps in the online commerce sector it is essential to conduct a complete market analysis. There are 2 main aspects to be explored and known in the preliminary stages …
The analysis of competition is essential in order not to run the risk of operating in an area that is almost totally cannibalized by competitors. Evaluate the pros and cons of a given business and analyze the margins of inclusion and growth. Many times, making the difference, are the prices of the products, but first you need to bring customers into our store and give them the opportunity to evaluate their convenience.
2) The most sought after products
Understand, substantially, whether the products we intend to market have or not. Analyzing users’ online research is essential for having the “pulse of trends”, responding better to customer needs, evaluating the geographical areas from which the most important requests come from and at what time of year. Having a “seasonal” or “evergreen” online business makes the difference. The keywords most searched by users on search engines are potential business ideas to invest in.
Here are the 5 main rules to succeed in online commerce …
1) Maximum usability of the site
After selecting the ideal sector in which to open an e-commerce – and streamlined the various paperwork of the case – we address the first technical question: the creation of the online store.
Today there are specialized platforms, free and paid, able to represent an excellent base to work on, model, optimize and customize.
The user experience of positive navigation is fundamental, as is the effective and linear implementation of a process that in a few steps leads to the insertion of the product in the cart, to the transmission of the billing and shipping data, up to the payment and on the next shipment. A clear structure of these steps is definitely a strength that can guarantee positive feedback. Which for those operating in online commerce are essential.
Likewise, having a responsive website (that is, with a structure adaptable to all the different formats of the various devices: desktop, smartphone, tablet) and compatible with mobile devices is a priority.
An e-commerce site must clearly present the categories, products and internal research process, as well as payment information, costs and shipping times.
2) Fast and safe payment methods
One of the strengths of a site dedicated to online commerce is the offer to the customer – if so we can define it – of secure online payment gateways. The main payment methods are: credit card, bank transfer, and cash on delivery. Allowing customers to pay by credit card (through specific circuits) greatly facilitates the management of orders and speeds up their evasion.
Different speech, however, applies to payments by bank transfer and cash on delivery. If accepting payments by bank transfer slows down shipping times – because the site operator generally has to wait to cash in before sending -, cash payments open another problem: the risk of non-acceptance of goods by the recipient, with consequent stock of the products at the warehouses of the shippers, the risk of damage to the products during the handling, the payment of shipping costs without having sold any product.
For these reasons, the tendency of e-store managers is to propose prepayments by credit card.
3) Clear information on costs, shipping methods and returns
The speed of processing orders and delivering products is an important discriminant for receiving positive feedback from customers. Regarding shipping methods, an online commerce site must manage the relevant information with extreme punctuality and clarity. Shipping costs and shipping times must be clear, as well as any extra costs for stocks and delivery times for goods in case the recipient is absent.
In the same way, explaining how the goods are returned by the customer and facilitating them in all the return operations of the products are decisive factors in the assessment of their business. In fact, information on shipments and returns are factors that weigh heavily on customers’ purchasing decisions.
Finally, offering the possibility of directly collecting the products at a physical location (Pick & Pay service) could help to increase the trust of the customer towards the online store.
4) Manage problems quickly and receive positive feedback from customers
Investing in customer care is always important. Customer management plays a decisive role in getting positive feedback and greatly affects the increase of “returning customers” after a wrong purchase or delivery of a damaged product. Courtesy, availability, promptness of intervention, resolution of the problem: these are the keywords of a customer service that works. To do this, you need qualified personnel and well visible contact information, in all purchase steps.
The negative opinion of those who buy on an e-commerce has the power to influence other potential customers.
5) Targeted promotion of the online commerce store
Do not invest in advertising just to do it, but planning advertising campaigns with a clear strategy and clear publishing activities on the main social networks can increase the number of users, make the brand recognizable and create loyal customers. Many vendors take advantage of their social media channels to further reduce their distance with buyers, assist them and engage with them.