Would you be surprised if you went to a business’ website and found no way of buying the products they have on display? You most certainly will be surprised, if not shocked. We have reached that stage of digital evolution that it is now inevitable for a business to have an online presence and equally unheard of that you can’t make a purchase on the said business’ site.
Setting up eCommerce business was never easier.
This is especially so because it is now so easy to get an eCommerce site set-up. A basic, functional yet pleasing is not expensive to set-up, can be done in a few hours and doesn’t require too much technical knowledge. So, no online business has an excuse not to have a shopping or “buy” option to their product line-up.
Entry barriers to the eCommerce world have become even smoother to overcome with the lesser processing required to get approval from payment gateways like Visa and MasterCard. Also, newer payment options like e-wallets by different companies are widely acceptable. This acceptability is going to only increase in the coming years.
Shopping online was never easier.
Consumers can now purchase what they want when they want right from their hand-held device. They don’t even need to have a computer. In fact, most bigger eCommerce companies find that a lot of their conversions are coming from mobile devices.
In addition, eCommerce business and the payment software is trying to make it easier and easier for people to purchase through their phones and tablets. For example, we will soon see zooming in and entering 16 digit credit card numbers being replaced by fingerprints and voice recognition on touch devices.
To top it off now, we have apps and browser extensions which allow you to compare products and prices across eCommerce sites.
How will eCommerce businesses differentiate themselves?
As all the things mentioned above get standardised with every passing day, the entire online shopping experience is going to be homogenized. Products in the said space will be more or less the same. Prices will have to be competitive. What is it then that will differentiate your business from your competitors?
Your customer engagement strategy.
What brought the customer to your site? How long does she spend on your site? Does he come back to your site the next time he needs something? What do you do to turn these things favorable in your direction?
Answers to these questions are one of the very few things that will keep you above the herd in the near future.
The question then is:
How to improve customer engagement?
Standard product descriptions are no longer enough. You have to go beyond these to increase customer engagement. The trick is to do that while keeping it short and to-the-point (non-flowery) and yet either educate or entertain.
Text or other content on the eCommerce website cannot be the only focus. The content you put up on your social media pages is as important too.
These platforms too recognise the importance of the how important it is to engage customers. Many social media platforms have begun to offer the capability for business pages to add a “buy” button on the social media page itself. This makes purchases directly from their platform possible – increasing the ease of purchase for the customer and inching towards making the customer come back to your social media page. A win-win for all involved.
Reviews and ratings
Another answer to “how to engage customers” is to keep a constant eye out on the reviews and ratings – especially the not so pleasant ones. What you might have lost in terms of product quality or delivery or whatever the complaint is about, you can gain through empathy – by showing the customer you care.
Communicate after transaction
As an eCommerce business, you are not interested in one sale; you want repeat sales. One of the ways to achieve that is through keeping yourself in the minds of the customer. Without bombarding the customer on SMS and email, a regular reminder about discounts and other offers is a good way to keep the consumer engaged.
Another way is to keep track of time and approach the customer when you think it is time for their next purchase. A classic example is a different size of diapers is offered as a baby grows. Or asking the customer if they are out of stock on a particular item that they purchased a month ago.
There is no escaping the competition that is to get fiercer in the years to come in the eCommerce space. The only way ahead is to face it head on, embrace it and start differentiating yourself. Engaging your customer is the first step in this direction.