22 FebFebruary 22, 2016
HERE’S EXACTLY WHY MOST FMCG BRANDS FAIL IN E-COMMERCE
In the past week, I had the opportunity to talk to a number of clients and business associates (always great to catch up with people in the industry; so much new insights to learn from) in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry, and the conversations invariably turned towards the impact of e-commerce and how evolving consumer buying behaviour in the digital age changes the way FMCG brands market their products.
One prevailing sentiment that I got out of the conversations is that while everyone recognises that e-commerce is an undeniable aspect of modern business that all companies need to address and tackle these days, FMCG brands in particular face more challenges in making it work.
One of the main difficulties is of course managing the delicate relationships with existing distribution channels, and avoiding cannibalisation in the meanwhile (Actually, not true; over 50% of all online purchases made in China are additional revenue for retailers and brands, in line with global trends).
Another challenge is justifying the investment for e-commerce setup and operations, especially for mono-brands considering establishing their own online storefronts, when online sales percentage against total global sales still hover in the single-digit range across all FMCG categories.
So over the last few days I’ve given this topic some thoughts and come to realise that more often than not, e-commerce in traditional FMCG brands is largely separated from the decision-making processes that drive offline sales. In some cases, e-commerce is also separated from the digital branding and marketing processes.
The lack of integration among these functions prevents FMCG brands from tapping into and unleashing the potential of holistic, omni-channel marketing and sales.
FMCG brands have been slow to realise that consumer consideration in the shopper path-to-purchase has irrevocably changed in the digital age; the first touchpoint of all consumer interactions with a brand is now a digital one.
It is puzzling to see that many FMCG brands’ digital marketing and e-commerce presence serve simply as signposts to bring the consumer back to the retail outlets, when a concerted effort to connect with the consumers directly and immediately on the e-commerce platform could have resulted in a much impactful customer acquisition and sales conversion.
A large reason why the disconnect exist in many FMCG brands could be due to the fact that traditionally, marketing and sales are separate functions that report to separate hierarchical lines with different business objectives.
But in the age of the internet, marketing and selling occurs at the same moment, first described by Google as the “Zero Moment of Truth” back in 2011.
While a world where a majority of shampoos is bought online is still some days away, the influence of e-commerce on consumer buying decisions can already be felt, with as much as 25% of all retail sales influenced by e-commerce interactions consumers made leading up to the point of purchase.
Established FMCG brands should also recognise that on the internet, away from the protection of traditional retail visibility accorded to them through scale and relationships with distribution channels, every brand has an equal chance to make a connection with consumers, whether it is a decades-long leader or a just-launched newbie.
This means that to win the hearts (and purses) of the consumers, FMCG brands have to put in more effort to tell a compelling brand story on the digital media, and use e-commerce as a primary destination to start the consumers on the brand journey, rather than just viewing it as simply another distribution channel.
In short, FMCG brands need to rethink how e-commerce should fit into the larger brand narrative that is being told to the consumers. Specifically, FMCG brands should formulate a clear strategy of integrating e-commerce into their overall brand communications, using it as the initial springboard from which all further consumer interactions down the path-to-purchase are influenced, eventually leading towards the overall objectives of customer acquisition and sale conversion, online or otherwise.
Is your FMCG brand facing similar challenges? Talk to us today and find out how we can help you formulate a winning e-commerce strategy and implement it effectively. Email us at: email@example.com.
15 FebFebruary 15, 2016
3 COMPELLING REASONS TO LEAVE ONLINE MARKETPLACES & START YOUR OWN ONLINE STORE
Just over the weekend, woke up to surprising news that Rakuten is shutting down its e-commerce sites in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia beginning March, 2016. Against the backdrop of an intensively competitive e-commerce environment in Southeast Asia, the war of attrition among the online marketplace giants (Lazada, Qoo10 being the other 2 leading ones) has claimed a major casualty.
This development would undoubtedly have an impact on the e-commerce strategies for hundreds of brands and many more merchants that are currently selling on Rakuten marketplaces in the 3 countries.
Besides shifting more resources and focus to the remaining online marketplaces (and simply hoping they survive longer), businesses should now seriously consider the need to set up their own e-commerce storefronts, instead of relying only on online marketplaces whose destinies they have no control over.
Here are 3 compelling reasons to leave online marketplaces and start your own e-commerce storefront.
1. Build your own brand
When you use online marketplaces, you do get the benefit of the brand names. After all, most online shoppers know what Lazada, Qoo10 and Rakuten are. You can be assured and even guaranteed of shopper traffic and eyeballs on your products listed on these marketplaces, that’s for sure.
With their seemingly infinite financial firepower, these marketplaces can advertise and attract many more customers than your own e-commerce storefront can.
However, when someone buys whatever that you are selling from one of these marketplaces, who do you think they will say they bought it from? Your company? Nope. They’ll say Lazada/Qoo10/Rakuten.
Without the ability to create your own content and build your own brand to differentiate yourself from a sea of similar sellers, you’re just a needle in a haystack.
In fact, you’re continuing to build someone else’s brand when you sell within the online marketplaces. Lazada and Qoo10 will just keep getting bigger and bigger, while your brand is just one of the many that contributes to their phenomenal, not yours.
And if one of these key players falters and cease operations the way Rakuten did, then you have to scramble for the next online marketplace to peddle and start the building process all over again.
Never hand over control of your business’ destiny to someone else.
2. Be in control of your marketing budget
Online marketplaces typically make money by either charging merchants a flat monthly subscription fee, or a % commission per transaction, or both.
Additional fees apply for benefits and features such as premium listing and highlighted marketing blitz, which many times you would need to be able to get your products noticed in the crowdedness of the marketplaces amid intense competition from other sellers vying for the same consumer dollar.
When all these costs add up, the cost of selling could end up being as high as 40% of your selling price, which leaves you with little profitability to show for after all the hard work that you have put in!
And you most likely have to keep doing it to attract new eyeballs and consumer interest to your products in a vicious cycle that you cannot get out of, not unlike the “Groupon effect” where customer-merchant relationships are reduced to the individual transactions with little to no impact on long-term loyalty and retention.
Given the proliferation of digital and social marketing options currently available and accessible to merchants, you would be better off channeling funds that you spend on online marketplaces instead to marketing campaigns that help can you build a loyal customer base and following right from the start.
3. Your efforts should reward yourself, not others
Notice how all the marketing advice that you get from online marketplaces always center around promotions, offers and special deals to attract consumers to buy more of your products, but never quite mention anything about building your brand?
This is simply because online marketplaces do not have any incentive to help you build your brand; they are only keen on raising your product sale volume, which contributes to their Gross Merchandise Volume, or GMV, which aids in their market valuation and hence appeal to shareholders and investors.
Sure, you get the boost to sales in the short term, but all the efforts (and resources) that you put into packaging and marketing your products on these marketplaces only end up serving their long-term brand objectives, not yours. Consumers attracted by your offers are going to the marketplaces to buy, not your own site.
In other words, you make them look good. Not yourself.
With your own brand and e-commerce storefront, everything you do, every single dollar you spend, to market your brand, your products, and your company, serves to elevate only yourself. No other company will receive benefits from the blogs and articles you write, the social media posts you share, or the interesting product clips that you post to YouTube.<
Everything that you do should only be towards realising your dream, and not someone else’s.
There is no doubt that online marketplaces have helped spur online shopping and created a compelling case for both buyers and sellers alike to jump onboard the e-commerce bandwagon, kickstarting many a successful online business in the process.
However, as a business with serious and long-term brand building intent, you should look beyond immediate convenience and benefits, and start immediately on developing your own e-commerce storefront to take control of your destiny towards a much more rewarding goal.
We recently helped a watch retailer build an e-commerce storefront that quickly outsold its product listings on Amazon marketplace. To find out how we can help achieve the same for your business, contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
15 DecDecember 15, 2015
5 WAYS TO DRAMATICALLY INCREASE B2B SALES VIA E-COMMERCE
Imagine: a typical B2B buyer, after a hard week at the office, goes home, maybe binge watch on missed korean drama episodes of the week, while spending hours flipping screens after screens of online shopping sites in fun, engaging, anytime, anywhere consumer therapy.
Come Monday morning, our B2B buyer heads back to office, and after the second cup of coffee kicks in, decides to refill the required supplies and inventory for the next couple of months.
Does our buyer start calling vendors for pricing? Browse through stacks of print catalogues collecting dust on the desk? Not a chance. Instead, our buyer goes online, expecting to find the same high quality e-commerce experience she enjoyed over the weekend.
Unfortunately, in many cases, she is sorely disappointed by what she finds.
It is quite amazing to find that a majority of B2B brands are still not making a serious effort to embrace and invest in e-commerce. All too often we hear top executives of B2B brands remarked that e-commerce is not relevant to their business and industries (they’re wrong), that nobody buys B2B online (a 2014 Accenture Interactive survey shows that 68% of B2B buyers are making purchases online), and the e-commerce revenue isn’t worth the time and money invested (global e-commerce sales in 2013 was $600 billion).
Many B2B brands fail to realise a simple truth:
B2B customers will come to come to your website because they have to. It is their job.
In the workplace, more than anywhere else, people look for the path of least resistance. So the B2B buyer isn’t thinking of creative ways to find new suppliers; she is thinking of finding the easiest and fastest way to get her procurement needs met. And there is no easier nor faster way than via online order.
So, how then can you transform your B2B website into the best procurement tool that a B2B buyer can ever hope for? Here are 5 things you need to take note of:
1. Mobile, mobile, mobileA Forrester Research study showed that 54% of B2B companies selling online report that their customers are using smartphones to research products and 52% are using their mobile devices to make online B2B purchases. If you can already buy flowers online from your smartphone, why should refilling stationery for the office be any different?
Also consider the fact that being mobile optimised will create positive impact to your search engine rankings. In April this year, Google has announced that moving forward, a site’s mobile optimisation and friendliness will be a factor in determining how well it ranks on Google search results.
2. Make order refills as easy as breathingMost B2B purchases are recurring buys with little variations over time. The typical procurement manager has no time to re-validate her buying list every time she wants to make a re-stock of supplies. Make your customers’ job easier by providing options to make a quick refill of previous orders.
If the products that you sell have a time factor to their continued proper usage (e.g. fire extinguishers or air-con units requiring periodic checks and servicing), consider providing your customers the option of creating standing orders, with automated reminders whenever a renewal is due.
3. Stop making account registration compulsoryRequiring B2B customers to open an account on your site before they can buy from you is an outdated concept from the days of conventional offline trading. Insisting on labourious (and at most times, absolutely unnecessary) company information upfront creates additional resistance in your customers’ path to purchase and increase the chances of them getting turned off and visit your competitors instead.
Focus on encouraging the customer to commit the first purchase and make that transaction experience an awesome one. Make life easy for your B2B customers and they will keep coming back for more.
4. Allow credit card paymentsMany B2B e-commerce sites allow customers to place order, but provide no means of making payments online, perhaps still mired in the conventional mindset of offering credit terms to B2B buyers.
The prevalence of the consumer retail e-commerce experience has significantly changed the way B2B buyers behave on the e-commerce sites they shop for the workplace, and this includes their expectations about payment formats.
The truth is, your customers want to pay you online. A 2014 survey by Forrester Consulting showed that more than 50% of B2B buyers say they’d rather pay for web orders with a credit or debit card rather than be invoiced.
5. Live chat supportMany B2B brands incorrectly assume that by simply putting up a FAQ page or some downloadable PDFs on their product specifications would suffice as customer support, and that the customers can figure out the in-betweens by themselves. Nothing can be further from the truth.
Recall our mantra that your primary objective for B2B e-commerce is to provide the easiest and fastest path-to-purchase for the customer. The availability of live chat support on your site gives you that extra edge in being able to answer customers’ questions and allay their concerns in a matter of minutes, saving them precious time that they otherwise have to spend to comb through your webpages and technical sheets for the exact same answers.
ConclusionLarge, global e-commerce brands like Amazon and Alibaba are starting to zero in on the B2B space, leaving businesses no time to spare when it comes to developing and improving the B2B e-commerce experience they deliver to their customers.
If you have not gotten around to thinking about it, now is the time to do so. Should you need assistance in working out a B2B e-commerce strategy to strengthen your online position for the future, feel free to email us at email@example.com. Read more »30 NovNovember 30, 2015
GOOGLE’S “GO GLOBAL”: 3 KEY TAKEAWAYS FOR SINGAPORE’S SMES
Recently, Stridec was invited to attend the launch of “Go Global”, a Google-led initiative that aims to help Singapore SMEs in their quest to go international. This new programme will equip Singapore-based SMEs with the tools and training needed to quite literally “go global”, using the digital space as a launching pad.
According to Joanna Flint, Country Director of Google Singapore, about 60% of people around the world either researched about a product or service, or made a purchase online last year. As such, the web is an ideal platform for businesses looking to export their goods and services.
The Singapore government recognises and encourages this, as the “Go Global” initiative is backed by key government agencies, such as IE Singapore and Spring Singapore, with relevant grants and other assistance schemes made available to SMEs that are ready to take the next leap forward with their business.
This is great news for all business owners who have been wanting to get on the e-commerce bandwagon but until now have little or no idea of how and where to start. If you are exposed to this wealth of information for the first time, it can be rather exhilarating but at the same time a little overwhelming. For your benefit, we have filtered away the dry and technical and give you the main points to get you started.
Here are the key takeaways from this initiative that you should take note of:
1. Analyse, analyse, analyseBeing a Google-led initiative, It should be no surprise that one of the most important things that was talked about was the importance of data collection and the intelligence that can be acquired from it through proper analysis.
Without the discipline to collate data and make sense of it, your business is practically flying in the blind, and in the digital age, that is equivalent to committing business suicide.
Fortunately, there are very powerful (and free!) tools such as Google Analytics and Google Trends that can help you extract important information about your target markets, your website audience and the relevance of your website to potential customers, among a whole range of metrics that you can look into.
2. Learn from those who have done itSMEs who have found success online and now span their businesses across multiple regions and cities were showcased at the “Go Global” launch, with their owners coming on stage to relate their stories and how they have grown over the years to reach where they are today.
All of them have something in common: and that is that they embraced the digital space very early on, and committed resources - in terms of both time and money - to integrate the various digital disciplines, such as online selling, social media marketing, data analytics and so on, into their existing operations so that the mentality and culture of going global was ingrained into everyone in the organisation from the beginning.
Their successes - with online sales contributing between 15% and 40% to the total revenue - are testaments to the efforts that these SMEs have been put in to carve a name for themselves on the global stage.
You should be encouraged to know that all these success stories are homegrown and started small, either in a non-descript retail outlet or even from home. Learn what they have gone through, the mistakes they made along the way, and apply such knowledge into your business so that you can also achieve similar success.
3. E-commerce is the future of businessThe writing has been on the wall for many years now, but never so pronounced and obviously until recently. The advent of the web has tore down geographical barriers and transformed the way consumers and businesses buy products and services.
The world is coming to our doorstep, whether we like it or not, as more and more Singaporeans (6 out of every 10) buy online from overseas sites such as Amazon.com, JCPenny.com and the likes. There isn’t a distinction between the domestic and international markets anymore: we now operate in a single global market connected via internet technologies.
Coupled with the increasing costs of rent and manpower among other fixed overheads that come with a business’ physical operations, SMEs can no longer think of online commerce as a peripheral channel that is good to have; it is now critical to their very survival.
ConclusionIn today’s business, internationalisation is one of the key areas companies has to consider to grow and stay competitive. The digital space is the ideal platform for SMEs to reach out to the world directly and it is encouraging that industry leaders such as Google is leading the charge and taking a proactive approach to create a community to help Singapore SMEs grow.
If you want to find more about how the digital space and e-commerce can help your business go global, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find out more about Google's "Go Global" initiative, visit: goglobal.withgoogle.com.24 Nov
HOW TO ACCELERATE E-COMMERCE SUCCESS THROUGH SINGAPORE GOVERNMENT GRANTS
The e-commerce scene in Southeast Asia is set to continue its explosive growth: Frost and Sullivan projects that the B2C e-commerce in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam will is set to jump almost fivefold, from US$7 billion in 2013 to US$34.5 billion by 2018.
For Singaporean SMEs with an eye on the regional e-commerce pie, investment into e-commerce enablement activities such as strategy development, technical implementation, as well as marketing campaigns, can represent significant upfront investment that might lead to cashflow concerns.
Fortunately, the Singapore Government has always been supportive of the SME sector’s ambitions to innovate and expand business outwards beyond local shores, and has a slew of grants and assistance schemes specially designed to help SMEs achieve their e-commerce goals.
Having helped over 200 SMEs embark on their e-commerce enablement journey, we recommend the following 3-step approach with the relevant supporting grants that SMEs can adopt to realise their e-commerce capabilities:
1. Formulate an E-commerce Enablement Strategy with Spring Singapore’s Capability Development Grant (CDG)Far too often, companies jump into e-commerce with the simplistic mindset that all they need is an online shopping cart addition to their existing website. Nothing can be further from the truth.
E-commerce enablement for the uninitiated can take serious toll on existing operations such as administration and operations, not to mention customer service. Is your staff mentally prepared and adequately trained to handle the differences between servicing customers in a physical setting as compared to a virtual one? How would you accept payments and how would you protect yourself from fraudulent purchases? What is your delivery policy and what kind of logistical advantages you can offer to customers that would give you an edge over the competition? These are just some examples of questions that you need to ask yourself to properly assess the business’ ability to perform an e-commerce rollout.
To be successful in your e-commerce endeavors, a well-thought enablement strategy and roadmap must be crafted and put in place, to give direction and focus to the overall e-commerce efforts.
In support of this, Spring Singapore provides the Capability Development Grant (CDG) that SMEs can tap on to engage an e-commerce consultant to guide you through the entire process of analysing your strengths and weakness, identify the key areas of improvement and work with you to formulate an overall strategy and roadmap to develop your e-commerce capabilities.
CDG provides grant support of up to 70% of the consultancy costs in developing your e-commerce enablement strategy.
2. Offset E-commerce Development Using IRAS’ Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC)Now that you have the strategy and action plan, it’s time to implement your e-commerce offering. Sometimes it can mean enhancing and extending upon your existing website platform to provide a section that allows customers to browse products and select for direct purchase (B2C) or order (B2B). Other times it may require a total revamp of your existing website architecture to provide a unique e-commerce shopping and buying experience from the ground up.
A more ambitious e-commerce enablement strategy can also lead you to an omni-channel approach where your e-commerce storefront is integrated with your physical retail and social media touchpoints, creating a seamless offline-to-online experience for your customers.
Such developments require one or more IT solution providers with the requisite technical expertise to deliver a solution that caters to your current needs and at the same time support your future expansion plans.
SMEs can leverage on the Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) scheme administered by IRAS to offset up to 60% of the development costs in cash payout, or 400% in tax deductions/allowances.
3. Tap on IE Singapore’s Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) Grant to Sell to the WorldYou have formulated a plan and you have developed your e-commerce platform. Now it is time to go out to the world and start selling.
Depending on the nature of your product and/or services, the country or region you are targeting, as well as the customer demographic that you are selling to, the marketing campaign can be any combination of search engine marketing and/or optimisation, social media outreach, and listing subscriptions on popular international online marketplaces such as Amazon.com and eBay.
If your offering is B2B, you may also consider engaging a marketing agency to plan and carry out awareness programmes in the region that you are targeting to reach out to your prospective customers.
IE Singapore supports such activities undertaken by SMEs with the Market Readiness Assistance (MRA) grant, which helps defray up to 70% of the costs incurred, capped at $20,000 per company per fiscal year for the next 3 years.
Your Next StepsWith global e-ecommerce players such as Rocket Internet, Sequoia Capital and SoftBank Corp investing millions into ecommerce start-ups, e-commerce space is THE sector to be in for any business with serious regional and even global ambitions. Coupled with the strong Singapore government support, now is the perfect time for local SMEs to utilize government grants and take their e-commerce business to the next level.
Feel free to email us at email@example.com if you wish to know more about how your company can tap on the grants to accelerate your e-commerce success.16 NovNovember 16, 2015
5 REASONS FOR RETAILERS TO DUMP CARD TERMINALS FOR E-PAYMENT
As e-commerce technology progresses, the lines between offline and online retail are beginning to blur. Innovative businesses have started to adapt to this new trend by incorporating e-commerce processes into their conventional brick-and-mortar retail operations.
In the recently concluded Affordable Art Fair (Singapore) Autumn Edition, one of our clients, Tembusu Art Gallery did just that, offering art buyers the ability to pay using their credit cards via an e-payment facility that STRIDEC provided.
By using STRIDEC’s e-payment facility, Tembusu Art Gallery need not rely on the standard card terminal processing provided by the art fair’s organisers, but instead is able to conduct credit card processing directly at its booth, significantly cutting down queuing time and providing a much smoother buying experience for the customers.
Here are 5 reasons why traditional retail businesses can benefit for offering e-payment facility over the traditional credit card terminal processing:
1. Fees are lowerTraditional card terminals require a subscription and rental agreement with the bank that comes with a fixed setup fee and annual service fee, on top of the processing fee levied per card transaction.
In comparison, an e-payment facility can be turned on without any setup fee and annual subscription fee. Businesses do not have to worry about incurring costs when the e-payment facility is not in use.
Additionally, banks tend to maintain and levy different card processing charges for different types of businesses and transactions, based on an arbitrary risk value that the banks attach to each business type. But with e-payment facility, the processing fee percentage is always the same, regardless of your business nature.
2. Set-ups are fasterRetailers have to submit an application to the bank for a card processing terminal to be made available for use. Such a process can take days or even weeks to get approval. This delays business readiness and is a non-option especially for retailers with active participation and sales activities at trade shows and exhibitions.
By contrast, e-payment facility can be set up and put to live use usually within just 1 working day. This allows retailers the ability to provide payment options to customers in just about any situation under short notice, increasing rate of sales conversion.
3. Multiple checkouts are possibleE-payment does not require specialised hardware to work; it can be used straight out of a tablet or mobile device without configuration. E-payment can also be used across multiple devices at the same time, allowing more customers to be served and transactions processed simultaneously.
4. Payment cycles are shorterRetailers typically get their sales proceeds credited into their bank accounts 6 weeks after the transactions have taken place. This can sometimes create unfavourable cashflow situations especially for smaller-sized businesses.
But with e-payment, sales proceeds are usually credited to the businesses within 2 weeks of the transactions. Depending on the business volume, the time to credit back to retailers can be as short as 5 working days.
5. Compatible with existing POS systemsWithout the technical limitations and constraints imposed proprietary hardware that comes with physical card processing terminals, it is easier, faster and cheaper to integrate e-payment facility into existing software systems, allowing effective information exchange and report generation of sale transaction data.
ConclusionThe proliferation and increasing ease of use of e-commerce technology has allowed alternate means of payment collection such as e-payment becoming a credible replacement for traditional card terminal processing.
Take advantage of e-payment today and start using it in your retail business to improve cost savings and operational effectiveness. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org should you have any queries.2 NovNovember 02, 2015
RETAIL IS DYING: 10 MUST-DOS TO MAKE A MILLION VIA E-COMMERCE INSTEAD
According to SingStat's Monthly Retail Sales and Food & Beverage Service Indices report released in October 2015, retail sales excluding motor vehicles is up only 1.3% year-on-year. In addition to stagnant demand, retailers are facing keen competition, with Straits Times recently reporting that once-successful fashion brand M)phosis has shut all its retail stores in Singapore.
On the other hand, the instant global exposure of an e-commerce storefront means that any business has the potential to become a sensational success in quick time following in the footsteps of giants such as Amazon, Zappos and Alibaba.com as well as regional powerhouses like Zalora and Lazada.
However, just being on the internet does not automatically ensure success; it is just the first step in a series of well-planned and well-executed actions that bring these e-commerce brands to where they are today.
Here are 10 must-dos for your e-commerce operations to bring you closer to your first million dollars in e-commerce sales.
1. Invest in a good websiteWithout a physical storefront, the website is your main touchpoint with customers. Make sure it delivers both a good shopping and transaction experience that will keep your customers coming back for more.
Clean design and layout, ease of navigation, useful tips and product information and speedy accessibility are just some of the factors that go into making your website stand out from the competition.
In e-commerce, failing to make a good first impression can be fatal.
2. Go mobileMore and more people are accessing the internet everyday via mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets as opposed to desktops and laptops.
75% of Singaporeans use the internet on mobile phones to compare products and seek out deals. 64% of mobile users will look elsewhere if the site they visit is not mobile-optimised. Your site could be turning away customers to your competitors right now without knowing it.
Being mobile-optimised or mobile friendly also has positive impact to your search engine rankings. In April this year, Google has announced that moving forward, a site’s mobile optimisation and friendliness will be a factor in determining how well it ranks on Google search results.
3. Make it easy for customers to pay youMany online retailers make the mistake of optimising the shopping experience, but not the transaction experience, often leaving the last step of a checkout process - payment - as an afterthought.
45% of all shopping cart abandonments are related to payment during the checkout process. In other words, if you fail to make payment an effortless process during checkout on your site, you risk losing almost half of your potential sales.
Provide the adequate payment methods relevant to the paying preference and behaviour of your target customers. Eliminate unnecessary steps and avoid asking customers for unimportant information during the payment process to increase the chance of the customer completing the transaction and making the sale.
4. Find a need, fill the needWithout a physical limitation, it can at times be tempting to go the way of established online marketplaces such as Ebay, Lazada, Rakuten etc and sell everything under the sun on your e-commerce storefront. Don’t.
Unless you have the resources and financial muscle to go toe-to-toe with the above-mentioned online marketplaces, the most effective way to carve a name for your online business is to focus on a niche market and serve it really, really well.
Some of the most famous and talked-about online brands made their name by selling only a particular type of products. Even the great Amazon started its business selling just books.
5. Offer free delivery/shippingUnless you are selling a service or digital good, at the end of the day, an order made on your website has to be physically delivered to the customer. Savvy online buyers know that delivery/shipping fees add to the total cost of purchase and would be wary and hesitant to buy if such additional charges are not indicated clearly.
Go one better. Beat your competition by making it simple and straightforward for your customers with a free delivery/shipping promise.
The cost you bear to offer free delivery/shipping is really just another kind of advertising to attract more customers to you.
6. Offer superior customer supportAgain, because there is no physical interaction with the customer, it is critical that you offer the best possible customer support.
Nobody understands this better than Amazon. One of its policies is that every staff member is required to serve at customer care desk at least once in a year, and this policy cuts across all personnel within the organisation from the CEO and founder to interns.
Offer a range of channels for the customer to communicate with you, such as email, live chat and internet calling among others. Always be prompt to respond to customer enquiries and concerns so that they feel comfortable parting their dollars with you.
7. Social media marketingWe now live in a world where friends and family members spend more time communicating with one another on social media platforms rather than face-to-face.
Given the pervasiveness of Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and Twitter to name a few of the biggest social media channels, social media is one of the best ways to get the word on your product or service out to your target customers.
Social media allows you to engage and interact with your customers directly and often instantaneously, discussing about your products, address their concerns and questions, as well as offering free advice and tips. Such activities go a long way in creating a strong bond and following with your customers, increasing affinity and loyalty to your brand.
8. Take quality photos of your productsIf your products don’t look good, they are not going to sell. It’s as simple as that.
Conventional retailers know this to be a cardinal truth. Hence the millions of dollars retailers poured into visual merchandising and storefront display year in and year out, just so that their products can be presented in the best possible light.
It is more true for an e-commerce business; your product visual is more often than not the only reference that your customers use to make a judgement on whether to consider your product.
Invest the time and resources to put into place a process for taking high-resolution, beautiful product photos whenever you have new products, so that you can always update your e-commerce storefront with great looking images to attract potential buyers.
9. Encourage product reviewsOnline shoppers love to see what other customers have to say about a product before making a purchase decision. The best examples of reviews in action can be found on airline and hotel booking sites.
It goes without saying that more positive reviews is instrumental in getting high sales. Even with negative reviews, it presents an opportunity for you to respond truthfully about your product and how you will improve it in future, thereby enhancing the authenticity and customer-centric focus of your business.
In addition, search engines such as Google love customer reviews. More reviews will help improve your search engine rankings in the long run.
10. Sell to existing customersAll marketers know that it is much easier and cost a lot less to maintain and sell to existing customers than acquire new ones.
It is easy to keep the relationship with existing customers warm through automated systems such as email marketing, referral campaigns and loyalty reward or membership programmes to name a few.
WIth smart use of your e-commerce platform and available customer data, you can create with little effort a whole ecosystem of continuous engagement with your customers so that they always come back for more.
ConclusionSeveral of Stridec's clients such as SkyWatches and ProCanadaDrugs.com have already put the above must-dos into actions, and well surpassed their first million in e-commerce sales. By following in our clients' tried-and-tested footsteps, your e-commerce business journey can also become highly profitable and rewarding.