Issues Facing Ecommerce Sellers
With ecommerce steadily gaining steam, revenues are expected to surpass $700 billion by 2022. Projections suggest nearly $140 billion of this will be in the U.S. alone. This bodes well for those who have staked their claim in this lucrative territory. However, even with all of this growth, profit isn’t guaranteed. There are a number of issues facing ecommerce sellers to overcome.
Here are some of the most common ones.
While it’s true all boats float in a rising tide, they aren’t all equally buoyant. You have to keep an eye on your competitors. This means conducting thorough competitive analyses on at least an annual basis.
You must also make your case with shoppers at every opportunity to position yourself advantageously in the marketplace. A strong social media presence is crucial, as are effectual promotional efforts to keep your name in front of shoppers. Customer loyalty programs have been proven to drive profitability as well.
Make sure your product lines are comprised of high demand items and shed anything that isn’t selling. Finally, providing outstanding customer service goes a long way toward keeping shoppers in the fold.
Maintaining Customer Loyalty
With so much competition out there, buyers are always going to be able to find somebody willing to sell at prices lower than yours. Further, if you allow yourself to get caught up in a race to the bottom pricewise, you will lose—even if you win.
Instead of competing on price, leverage your competitive advantage to inspire trust in your customer base. Trust is a huge part of loyalty. Consider the following strategies to ensure yours is solid with your patrons.
- Humanize your site with contact information, pictures of key staff members, customer testimonials and security badges.
- Respond to all queries and complaints as quickly as possible.
- Blog prolifically. This helps educate your customers, which leads them to consider you an expert.
- Prioritize your customer’s needs over profit.
- Create loyalty programs to reward repeat shoppers for their continued patronage.
Returns and Refunds
If you want to survive, you’re going to have to offer returns. Shoppers hesitate when they see a no returns policy. Hesitation can lead to cart abandonment. Cart abandonment can lead to lost sales.
Thus, the key is to do everything possible to minimize returns. Accurate product descriptions, crisp and detailed photography, video tutorials and infographics instructions will help ensure the customer knows exactly what they’re getting—and how to use it.
Still, returns are a fact of life and you’re going to get them despite those efforts. Be transparent about your policy and explain it in non-threatening language. Try to get shoppers to exchange merchandise or accept a credit first. However, provide refunds as quickly and cheerfully as possible when it’s the only option.
Thanks to Amazon, fast, free shipping is becoming more the norm than the exception. Granted, Amazon has found a way to make shipping look free when the reality is mainstream customers actually pay $156 a year to get it—along with other perks.
Still, there are ways to bury the expense of shipping in the price, either by setting cost thresholds after which product ships free, or offering a tiered system wherein basic (read slow) shipping is free, while faster methods cost more.
There will always be somebody out there willing to work harder to steal than to earn. This means your site and its servers will always be a target for thieves and interlopers. To believe otherwise is to engage in folly and put your customers at risk.
Your first line of defense should be to ensure your hosting service is PCI DSS compliant, so your site meets Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards. Next, you want make sure your site employs Secure Sockets Layer encoding to keep your transactions as safe as possible.
You should also earn and display trust seals from companies like McAfee, Norton and VeriSign. Most merchants think to run those logos on checkout and payment pages, but they should actually be featured on every page of your site.
There was a time when shoppers looked for products using mobile devices and waited to make purchases when when they had access to desktop machines. This was because mobile was considered less secure.
While there is still a core group of consumers who think this way, more and more people have become comfortable conducting the entire purchase process on mobile devices. To accommodate them, you’ll have to make sure your site looks just as good on a smartphone as it does on a desktop machine. You’ll also have format your pages so they function efficiently as screens in a mobile environment. Fortunately, the best free ecommerce websites, like those provided by Shopify do much of this automatically.
Mobile shoppers tend to be less patient and on the go. Your site needs to load quickly and your forms need to be easy to fill out with just the thumbs, instead of all ten fingers.
These insights will help you overcome some of the most significant issues facing ecommerce sellers. However, this is far from a comprehensive list of the concerns. With that said, there’s nothing out there you can’t learn to overcome. Don’t let these factors dissuade you from going after your share of that $700 billion.