Four New Year resolutions for successful ecommerce in 2013

Big Ben strikes midnight

Having survived the widely anticipated Mayan apocalypse  and, I assume, any holiday excesses, we can now safely turn our minds to the dawn of 2013. Let’s be grateful we’re still here and instead of wallowing in guilt-driven detox diets why not focus on four steps a successful ecommerce businesses can take to drive growth into the New Year and beyond.

So under the banner of out with the old and in with the new, here are four New Year resolutions for successful ecommerce businesses to embrace. Whether it's rolling out live chat, increasing social media engagement or committing an act of random kindness, there really is no time like the present to get cracking.

1. Think like a publisher

So you've got a whizz-bang ecommerce website. Whether you've had a bespoke solution built for you, or taken an off-the-shelf package such as those offered by Prestashop or Magento, having great photos and product descriptions is only part of the solution to creating a successful ecommerce business. You need to give people reasons to want to visit your website, and not just at the times when they might be ready to purchase something.

Through blogging and creating great content – articles, whitepapers, videos, reviews, how-to guides etc – you will begin to build a reputation built not just around the quality of your products, but the quality of your content and the depth of your knowledge.

“Oh but we’re not publishers (or journalists, or writers, or whatever),” I hear you protest.

“Oh yes you are,” I respond in my best pantomime voice. "Or at least, you should be."

It’s actually not that difficult, and once you understand the relationship between great content and increased traffic and higher sales you will quickly make space in your busy working week to feed the always-hungry content machine.

Today, those businesses that embrace content, and go out of their way to answer customer (or potential customer) questions, are those businesses that create competitive edge and grow fastest.

2. Deliver excellent personalised customer service

There is simply no excuse for anything other than excellent customer service. Years ago in the pre-Internet age, it was common to wait six weeks for mail-order goods to be delivered. Today, people expect immediate answers and super quick delivery. It’s not that customers have necessarily become more impatient, it is a reflection on how technology and a customer-first mentality have combined to improve the “what’s possible” attitude. It is incredible how many small ecommerce websites still don’t even display a phone number or email address, and instead rely on an impersonal web form.

Think about it from the customer perspective. One of the biggest reasons for people abandoning purchases is having an unanswered question. Offer an immediate answer, hold peoples’ hands online and gently guide them through the purchase process and you will not only create happy customers, you will acquire goodwill and return shoppers.

You should ensure:

  • A content-rich website with intuitive navigation that let’s people quickly and easily find what they’re looking for.
  • Provide 24/7 live chat support. This is more affordable than you think and while you can easily install your own live chat software, unless you have live chat operators standing by to answer questions immediately it will be self defeating. With well-executed live chat support you should see conversion rates increase to 20%, abandonment rates drop by 50% and customer satisfaction scores soar (Hint: have a word with Yomdel to see how we can help!)
  • Provide a freephone telephone number. Too many businesses still view inbound calls as an expensive distraction and will try to dissuade people from calling through using premium rate telephone numbers. While such tactics will no doubt reduce the number of calls, if people don’t get their questions answered they will simply move on to a competitor who can tell them what they need.
  • Ensure an email address is easy to find, and that it offers a simple hyperlink.
  • Respond quickly, always.

3.  Get social and be social

Whatever you do, don't agonise over trying to measure the ROI of social media. Instead spend the time working out how you can build social media into your day-to-day customer engagement and marketing activities. Being social is about listening, contributing and building a dialogue with people who share common interests. It can be fun, it can educate and it will move you closer to your customers and potential customers.

As an absolute minimum you need to become active on Facebook, across Twitter, on YouTube and on Pinterest. Get busy in relevant groups on LinkedIn, and find ways to build your networks and grow your influence.

It is important to remember that successful ecommerce is not just about selling stuff, it is also about making sure you understand your customers and then have the right offering for them. Social media is a powerful way to find out how to do this.

4. Offer random acts of kindness

And for Yomdel's fourth resolution, we thought it might be fun to think of something slightly different. These days, through looking at registration details or social media profiles, it is possible to know more about your customers than ever before.  Rose has just placed a large order, and from looking at her Facebook profile you know that she is keen on knitting. Just imagine the look on her face when she opens her delivery from you to find you have added in a personalised note and a few of balls of wool. Or how about knowing someone is a keen supporter of a particular charity? Why not tell them that because they are such a valued customer you have made a donation on to the charity their behalf? This kind of behaviour will quickly be noticed and will create loads of goodwill that spreads via social media.

Of course, you don't have to do it all the time, but such random acts of kindness will go down a storm.

 

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