The old sales myths don’t apply online. In order to sell more, brands need to focus on making people happier. Ecommerce businesses in 2017 are at an exciting crossroads; VR and AR are throwing up new technological opportunities, whereas customers are challenging brands for better, more authentic experiences. Here are some common ecommerce misconceptions that businesses need to leave behind this year.
1. Fulfillment isn’t that important.
People wrongly focus on the customer experience before the sale, obsessing over how to convert leads into customers, but customer experience crunch time often comes much later.
Fulfillment is the nuts and bolts stuff of ecommerce – you absolutely need a good fulfillment strategy in order to please customers and build a brand that will last.
- A bad delivery experience can sour a customer’s experience of a brand. 60% of people will shop somewhere else after a bad delivery. Fact. Wrong delivery times, inaccurate delivery times, little insight into tracking, ambiguous delivery instructions – these will all make a busy customer see red and take the joy out of (convenient) online shopping.
- Packaging says a lot about how much you value your products, your customers, and your brand. Make sure yours is saying the right things. Unboxing has become a public event – don’t ruin yours with cheap packaging or comedy sized boxes that dwarf your products.
- Customers are looking for loads of different delivery options with efficient tracking. Use a fulfillment solution that integrates with your stock and customer management for a seamless fulfillment solution. (Here’s how to choose the right fulfilment partner who will deliver).
2. Customer support and marketing are totally different departments
Supportive selling is essential for ecommerce brands – sales and support aren’t mutually exclusive and need to learn how to work together. Both teams need to work together for a smarter customer experience.
- You want your customer to reach the buying decision almost independently– if they make it themselves, they will hold onto it. Discourage pushy sales tactics and make sure that people on the sales team are as clued up on the product as the support team. They should be able to walk the customer through the entire process so that they feel confident that it really is right product for them.
- Giving more support during the sales process means that your customers will ultimately be happier; you will get better reviews, less returns, and less support calls.
3. The best content is focused on sales
Ecommerce merchants who are too focused on sales forget to put themselves in their customers’ shoes. This is a very dangerous habit, especially when it comes to inbound marketing. Effective inbound marketing is all about building relationships and creating great content – not droning on about products.
- There is a reason why the sales guy always talks to you and asks you how you’re doing first – being hard sold to is off-putting (and ineffective). Your content strategy needs to focus on building trust, consideration, and awareness with your prospects. Going in too hard with selling will make your content seem awkward and clumsy. A varied and successful ecommerce content strategy executed by committed marketers hinges on a delicate balance between audience insight and needs on one side, brand tone of voice on the other.
- A good ecommerce blog has to have a wide variety of content – some of it not about selling at all. This mountain bike and cycling brand have a great subdomain blog that covers loads of industry news – it’s a place to share great stories and content, not just products.
- Blog content should always be seasonal – make sure you cover interesting events and seasonal dates in detail.
4.“These product images will do”
Often, they won’t. For better sales revenue, you need to invest in high-quality product photography. The right lighting, setting, and model can make all the difference to conversions.
- Think about the setting and context of your photos – what can you say about your brand with your background? Use every opportunity to put your products forward in the best possible light. Interesting colors and juxtapositions are a great way to add a narrative to your products.
- More accurate product imagery will save you grief down the line – make sure people can tell how big products are and what they will actually look like (different angles and shots will help here).
- Work with the right product photographer who can help you manage the whole photography project efficiently.
5. Customers will do what we ask them to do
Or…they’ll do exactly the opposite. Customers are unpredictable and you can never 100 % say what they will (or won’t do). You should develop buyer personas and map out a coherent user journey, but don’t ever assume that you know what people will do. It’s easy to look at something internally, think that it’s ‘obvious’, only to discover that customers don’t have a clue what you mean.
- The best web information architecture is as clear as possible and factors in common usability conventions – fancy designs often tend to confuse, rather than delight, customers. Make sure that your search bar is prominent for those customers who don’t want to use your product categories or menus.
- Check your analytics on a regular basis to see how users are using your site – which pages are they finding engaging (and why? React to user behavior by updating pages accordingly.
- Customer service departments need to be ready to deal with anything that is thrown at them – and they must always have a ready reply. Make sure that their contact details are easy to find.
6. You need a big investment to thrive
These days there are loads of DIY solutions and platforms that are opening the ecommerce playing field up to more and more people. Though business investment is still appreciated (and needed), it’s refreshing to see a new breed of ecommerce hustlers coming up through the ranks.
- With the increase of virtual teams and software developments like chatbots, it’s easier for one person to run a large and successful ecommerce outfit. Size isn’t such a problem anymore, and bigger and more traditional companies might feel the squeeze (and the need to downsize).
- Want to try out ecommerce on the side for yourself? Sign up for a customizable store builder from Shopify to growth hack your way to web success. Using a SaaS platform means that you can get on with selling products much faster than before, foregoing some of the traditional ecommerce steps.
- Whether you are big or small, just starting out or a seasoned pro; learn how to be agile and clever about how you run your company and manage investments. Spend more money on customer experiences; make sure company processes are built around customer satisfaction.
Don’t get seduced by the honey trap of quick wins and easy solutions – you can definitely automate things to save time, but running an ecommerce business is still a lot of hard work. Put your energy into getting the basics right and pleasing customers, and you’ll do just fine!
This post was written by Patrick Foster, ecommerce entrepreneur, coach & writer.
Patrick currently writes for EcommerceTips.org where he shares engaging ecommerce content for entrepreneurs and business owners. You can follow him on Twitter here.