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10 common patterns of successful ecommerce stores:

 by zack on 05 Apr 2013 |
1 Comment(s)

There are certain objectives that every ecommerce store should try to meet. Moreover, there are certain commonalities shared by all successful ecommerce ventures. We’ve compiled here for your viewing pleasure the top 10 ecommerce caveats that all online stores need to have in place if they hope to rake in the dough.  So without further ado, let’s get started with your first ecommerce requirement.

1. Engagement:
Every ecommerce store that’s worth its salt at least tries to engage with its customers. With outreach and connectivity at an all-time high, there’s simply no way to just be a store. You have to be a retailer who has relationships with its customers, and the way to build online relationships is through engagement. 

Engagement is the interaction between your customers and your content, as well as the direct interactions between the two of you. All the time your customer spends engaged with some facet of your business is time spent creating a positive impression of your brand in their minds. You’re quickly becoming a trusted resource of some kind. This accruing value will eventually put a customer in a buying mood, and your company/client relationship will become very profitable.

Common methods of engagement include informative articles with topics centering around your niche, newsletters, eBooks, entertaining videos, podcasts, and many other types of content. How you decide to engage your customers is up to you, but it’s an absolute necessity that you make the effort.

2. Credibility
Reputations are funny little things. They take lifetimes to build and seconds to destroy. Your image and credibility are undeniably valuable resources in regards to the way your brand is received. You won’t get anywhere fast without a healthy measure of trust from your customers.  Credibility will take trust and turn it to loyalty, which translates into big money conversions.

Building credibility is a slow process, that basically can only be achieved by consistency. You must always deliver on what you’ve promised, and if you can’t then you have to make it right in the customer’s eyes. Bad customer service will spread a lot quicker than the good kind, so it’s very important to stay consistent in your interactions with your customers. You can also build credibility with a few noticeable additions to your website, like a security badge or utilizing your own payment system rather than outsourcing it to a third party website.

3. Functionality
No one wants to use a wonky website. Functionality, or how well your website works, is an enormously important facet to the ecommerce experience. Customers are impatient, and have very little attention span. If your site is slow or difficult to navigate, you’ll lose most of your business in very short order.

4. User Generated Content
The phrase “Content is King” is bandied about quite often these days. That’s because of the positive effect on-site content has on search engine rankings. The more content you have on your website that’s likely to appeal to your niche’s interest, the more traffic that will be organically driven to your site. This is obviously a highly desirable outcome, but for those who don’t have the time to produce a lot of this content, or the requisite writing acumen to do so, may find content creation a frustrating difficulty to deal with.

A simple solution is to allow your users to create some of your on-site content for you. It’s kind of nice to have your customers pay you and work for you at the same time. You didn’t know that becoming an ecommerce magnate would also make you a criminal mastermind, did you?

In all seriousness though, user generated content is an excellent way to increase engagement and search engine ranking.

You can do this by employing many different common ecommerce tactics. It could be something as simple as opening up your blog to comments, or starting a customer support forum where your companies clients can discuss your service amongst themselves and you can answer support related questions.

5. Versatility
This one isn’t so obvious as the other qualities we’ve discussed so far. But having a versatile online store can attract a lot more conversions. It’s one of the missing ingredients for many would-be successful ecommerce businesses. Basically, to have your ecommerce store be versatile means to present customers with as many options as possible. You need to be able to customize an experience for your users.

Let them make shopping lists, like and favorite items, integrate social media functionality, and be sure that your store accepts a large variety of different payments. That last one is a big point to hit on. Your store needs to accept all the major credit cards, take direct payments from a user’s debit card or bank, and definitely it needs to be compatible with PayPal. Another payment service that’s dawning on the horizon is Google wallet. With Google’s empire status, it’s a good idea to accommodate any product of theirs that looks poised to make a big move in the near future.

6. Customer Support
Quality customer support is another keystone of any ecommerce store. It doesn’t matter if you have the coolest, sleekest, and most exciting website ever. If there’s a breakdown in communication between you and the customer, then you lose business.

It’s inevitable that you’ll have some customer service conflicts. You can’t please everybody all the time. However, that shouldn’t stop you from trying to minimize their reasons for complaining. Work toward customer satisfaction, and providing them with all of the support they need in obtaining your products or using your services. In either case, you need to have an approachable and friendly support team that actually works to be helpful in any way they can.

7. Refunds
It’s frustrating to give refunds. After all, you already had the money; it’s disappointing to have to give it back. Still, a little good will with your return policy can go a long way in building brand loyalty. And who knows? You may end up selling them something more expensive as a result. When offering refunds, it’s an opportunity to try to better meet your customer’s needs, and that means you can offer them some other product or service that might be better suited to their situation.

Avoid difficulty with return policies, by clearly stating them in a visible area on your checkout page. That way there won’t be any confusion. You can give your customers a 30 day grace period to return their items, or a money back satisfaction guarantee. Whatever you feel comfortable with is fine, but make sure you’re being fair to the client. Part of having good customer service means keeping people from having to jump through too many hoops. 

8. Reliable Delivery
People expect a certain standard from their online purchases. The most obvious part of that standard is the expectation of timely and accurate delivery. You wouldn’t buy from an online store that only delivered packages after 6 to 8 weeks after receiving your order, would you? How about one that delivered the wrong items, or broken ones? No, these kinds of things are deal-breakers. So be sure that you choose a safe, reliable, and efficient delivery method for whatever wares you may be slinging.

9. E-mail Marketing
Email marketing is a potent new venue of advertising. It’s also very easy to implement in an online store. Whenever you get a customer to purchase an item, you should require an email address from them. That way you have some limited access to their attention spans, and you always have an effective entry point into their field of vision.

Be forewarned though, you email marketing efforts should be helpful, because if they aren’t then that means they’re annoying. You want to create a positive impression of your ecommerce business in your client’s minds. That means you don’t abuse the generous access they provide you with to their inboxes. So always include an optional checkbox asking them if they want to receive emails from your company. Make an attractive offer with these emails, such as free content, and use this as a hook to continually bring their focus back to your brand and your products.

10. Monitoring Metrics
Every online store needs to be monitoring their metrics if they want to be successful. If you don’t monitor your profits, losses, marketing campaign effectiveness, customer behavior, etc. then you are really just leaving all of your success to chance. And chances are luck won’t be a lady in your favor forever. You need to keep on top of the comings and goings of your online visitors in order to recognize problems with your site, and quickly rectify any outstanding errors.

There is obviously a lot more to running a successful ecommerce business than the few items in this checklist. However, if you can manage to keep on top of these ten directives, you’ll be much better equipped to deal with any of the more complex issues that will come your way down the line. So make sure you’ve got at least this much covered, and stay tuned to the Ashop blog for more ecommerce assistance. 


Karen - Comment
Karen17 Jul 2013Reply
very helpful information

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