Experience shows that having quality products doesn't translate to a successful online business. For a high performing e-commerce store, retailers have to go further from their product to ensure their brand meets the high expectations of today's savvy customers.
Online retail has seen tremendous growth in the last two years, fuelled by the change in customer behaviour and partially caused by the global pandemic. These unprecedented times have caused many people to shop more online and others to give it a try for the first time, making 2020 the year with most e-buyers (2.1 billion worldwide) and more than 4.2 trillion USD dollars spent in e-retail worldwide.
With the rise of digital, to ensure a future in eCommerce, it's more important than ever to have an online store that meets, and even exceeds, customer's expectations. While there are many things to look out for to have an excellent eCom website, we have created a checklist for a high performing store:
- Get your logistics in place
- Offer a fuss-free customer experience
- Build a powerful brand story
- Grow smart by improving customer retention
- Invest in a high-performance website (desktop and mobile)
One of the most critical aspects to run a successful online company is logistics. Increased online sales drive up demand, limit available freight capacity, and increase shipping costs. A study by the Baymard Institute in the USA shows that 'Extra costs too high' (shipping, tax and fees) is the number one reason for abandonments during checkout with 50%. At the same time, it's also important to mention the impact that reverse logistics have on a company's profitability and customer experience.
Today's demanding customer is used to everything being fast and to getting free shipping and returns. Brands feel forced to meet the customers' high requirements to drive sales and sometimes fail to realise that giving too much can negatively impact on mid to long-term haul.
It's essential to implement a process that benefits the company and the customers to ensure that logistics don't become an irreversible problem to the company's profitability.
There are different ways and methods to manage logistics. Depending on your growth phase and strategy, various alternatives are available:
Pros: There is no stock.
Cons: The brand is not in charge of the logistics as merchants will ship for you.
Pros: Usually good at pure logistics, it offers excellent flexibility to start with, like for example, the possibility of taking more space in the warehouse) and the chance to agree to pre-negotiated rates with carriers.
Cons: It's a third party and an old school system, thus limited accountability, integrations and scalability.
E-fulfilment solutions like Cubyn
Pros: Quite similar to traditional 3PL, but it offers more advanced technology.
Cons: Sometimes rely on a network of 3PL with limited accountability. High price.
Pros: You (retailer) is in control; it's your staff, your processes.
Cons: Expensive or quite time-consuming if you don't have the volumes to justify investments.
2. Customer experience
Customer experience must be at the centre of everything your brand does, as it will define your brand's reputation and customer retention. Many actions fit under the customer experience umbrella, but to shake things up a little bit, we're going to talk about three that especially help deliver a fuss-free customer experience.
Investing in customer support
Customer support should be one of the essential pieces of your company, as they are the ones that are in constant interaction with the customers. It's crucial to prioritise customer requests, not overloading the team and failing to respond to all tickets.
To not lose yourself in countless on customer request emails and messages across different platforms we recommend getting a helpdesk. Helpdesks streamline customer support processes and allow your team to be synchronised at all times to boost efficiency and offer a superior customer experience to your customers.
Another customer support tool that minimises customer calls and boost team performance is chatbots. A bot can help solve the more straightforward customer requests without human interaction, thus giving your customer service team time to focus on more important matters.
In parallel, having tracking software, email automation or returns management software can also be quite handy to offload customer support. A tracking page that keeps your customers informed on their shipping or return status in real-time, without the need to interact with a chatbot or call customer support, can reduce to up to 80% of customer calls to customer support related to these matters.
Offering different payment methods at check-out
By allowing more than one payment method, you could significantly reduce the abandonment chart rate. As the world advances and fintech evolves, there are more options than credit or debit cards or bank transfers. Digital wallets like Google Pay, PayPal, Venmo and Apple Pay should be in between the payment options, and so should the growing 'Buy now and pay later' trend, offered by platforms like Klarna and Afterpay.
Offering omnichannel flexibility like pick up or drop off at the store
E-commerce simplifies many things about shopping, and while many people will stick to online shopping, many others might miss the feeling of walking into the store. Allowing your customers to pick up an online purchase and drop-off a return at the store enhances the customer experience and strengthens the bond with the brand.
When at the store, the customer can try out the product and change it for another one on the spot, which does not happen when returning something online. Return and pick-up flexibility can help boost customer loyalty and engagement with the brand.
Outstanding branding is the most powerful card a business can have; it's what can set one apart from the other and be the reason for success. Think Nike. Building a powerful and engaging brand is one of the most important actions for e-commerce owners, in some ways, even more than the product they sell. While it's a KPI that cannot be put on paper or quantified in numbers, building strong branding is the key to success and is worth investing in from day 1. It's not something that happens overnight; in fact, building an outstanding branding is a long-term project; but one worth creating as it's key to customer loyalty.
Customer and brand centricity
It's essential always to remember who is the target audience of your brand. Knowing the wants and needs of your audience is vital as they'll dictate your business' actions. Look at data to see how they act through the whole customer journey and test and constantly adjust to find the winning formula that converts and, most importantly, retains.
By putting the brand at the centre, customers will feel safe and comforted, two feelings that will positively impact brand perception and keep them returning again and again.
Share the brand's story.
There's nothing better than a powerful brand story that emotionally connects with users. With the high competition, it's not enough to emphasise only why you started. The why and what you care about, what you stand for and how your product relates to all of it are powerful statements that differentiate one brand from the one next door.
4. Customer retention and loyalty
If you invest money on methods to improve customer retention and loyalty, you may gain ten repeat sales for every coin spend to obtain one new customer to place an order. Long story short, e-commerce growth is all about retention.
Some years ago, attracting new customers was the winning formula of e-commerce. Nowadays, as online retail becomes more and more competitive, getting an order from a recurrent customer is easier and less expensive than getting and converting a new user.
What's the key to customer retention?
Now that we know that the key to e-commerce growth is customer retention, how do we retain customers? Through an impeccable customer experience during the entire customer journey, and especially after checkout.
Many brands have a clear idea of all the marketing and sale actions through the awareness and consideration process, but what happens after a customer checks out and pays? It can go two ways; either the customer is happy with the purchase and keeps the item or is unhappy with it and decides to return it. The post-purchase journey plays a big part in getting customers to keep returning to your store; therefore, providing a fuss-free return process is essential.
Digital post-purchase journey
If your brand has a fair load of returns a month, a manual returns process might overcomplicate things in the long run. Before it gets out of hand and dramatically impacts the brand's reputation and customer loyalty, you might want to start thinking about implementing a returns management solution to your online store.
Returns management software like yayloh becomes an essential part of an online business as it impacts both ends, the retail team and its customers. The team gains access to a return management platform that automates operations, boosting overall productivity and effectivity whilst significantly offloading the customer service team from customer calls.
On the other end, customers get access to a fully digital and self-service return process that keeps them informed about the status of their return and engaged with the brand at all times. With the digital process, the brand is present at all times, making customers feel more safe and secure about their refund and more likely to shop again soon.
5. Investing in a high-performing website (especially for mobile)
eCommerce is one of the fastest-growing industries across the world. At the speed it has grown and will continue to do so, it's essential to invest in a high performing website that, aside from being fast, is easily navigable and is built to drive conversion.
In 2020 there was a total of $4.2 trillion spent in e-retail and more than 3.4 billion e-commerce users worldwide. There are many ways to set a brand apart from another one, but one of the most important ones, at least during the purchase process, is having a high performing website.
Choosing the right eCommerce platform
It all starts with the not so simple decision of choosing between the many eCommerce platforms available in the market. When making the verdict, it's essential to check the SSL configuration, site architecture, payment options, available integrations, page load speed and design freedom. On top of all these characteristics, it's also vital to mention scalability. When you start a business, one of the main goals should be to scale it; the platform you choose should allow your brand to grow over time and internationally.
The boom of m-commerce: mobile optimisation is a must
According to Adsmurai, m-commerce is expected to hit 54% of total eCommerce sales in 2021, meaning that a little more than half of the eCommerce sales will come from mobile devices.
Having a mobile optimised e-commerce store goes further than just the homepage and store. The checkout and post-purchase process also have to be mobile optimised to ensure that customers don't drop out before purchasing or don't purchase again after a lousy return process.
If you don't have a mobile optimised e-commerce store, you must focus on doing so really soon, as 30% of online shoppers are likely to abandon their carts mid-shopping if they see that the website is not mobile-friendly.
SEO for eCommerce
Did you know that 44% of people start their online shopping experience with a search engine, and 23.6% of e-commerce orders are directly linked to organic traffic? SEO for eCommerce is a big deal, and you should have it in mind for the present and future of your eCommerce store.
Many brands rely on the power of organic and paid social media and ads on search engines to drive sales. While that's not a bad thing per se, these actions are precisely thought to drive short-term results, whereas SEO is in it for the long haul. SEO requires time, but in the end, if done well and optimised correctly, it lives forever.
Branding, customer experience and retention are three things to keep in mind and invest in to take your online store to the next level and win 2022. yayloh can be the perfect partner in ensuring that your brand is present throughout the post-purchase journey to boost customer loyalty and get your customer to return your store again and again.
If you think about it, the following year is just five months away, and the autumn and winter seasons are just around the corner. Don't panic, though; there's still time to check a few, of not all the actions on this list.
Best of luck!