Having an e-commerce site or online store has been a very interesting proposition for any business in any industry. The primary reason is easily the cost, which is much lower than opening a brick-and-mortar retail shop. You can also easily target customers all over the country, if not Internationally, instead of just a localized area.
However at the same time, you are also competing with thousands of other sites offering similar products. Most consider the defining factor would be the price, but I tend to disagree. Yes, customers have the tendency to shop around first and likely to make a purchase from a seller who offers the best deal. This is not always the case though, and if you follow this model then it is much harder to make your business sustainable because there is always possibility a competitor to be able to offer even lower prices than yours.
Give your customers a great shopping experience, then they will be back to buy more from your online store
After setting up the most important element: a running e-commerce site, business owners are typically focused on the marketing to attract customers into the website and eventually make it generate some revenue. An understandable strategy, as the the whole idea of creating the website is to make profit from the transactions. But usually first-time customer acquisition cost is higher than the profit generated from the first purchase. To ultimately get them to come back and order more items from your online store which probably costs much less is by giving them a great shopping experience.
The key is to be able to create measurements of your e-commerce operations and continuously monitor the performance of these areas:
Order fulfillment time
Rule #1: do not sell items which are not in-stock, or if you have to then give your customers a very clear lead time and stick to it. Nothing is more upsetting than having to just sit, wait and not getting the items you already paid for. This is an easy situation to get your customers to never come back ever.
Next thing is to calculate the average time required to get your order shipped. Ideally this should be completed within 2 day working days.
Do not hesitate to contact your customers if there are problems with their orders, such as delayed shipment or if you need to validate the transaction or address. This goes the other way, make it clear for your customers how to reach out to you. Customers might change their mind after placing an order more often than you think. Give them an opportunity to amend or cancel their order. It will build trust and next time they will not hesitate to place a different order from you.
Communication is not always limited to contacting through your website. If you manage social media profiles like Twitter, Facebook page, Instagram etc, be sure to check those regularly.
Human interaction is the great opportunity to give the true personality of your business. You will gain valueable feedback which could make your business much better.
Still related with communication, but more specific is customer support. Your customers might have questions or problems when they have received the products they ordered. You and your team need to be an expert with every product that you sell, even it is not your own brand. “No fuss” return policy is always good to have if you can offer it, but often a customer just wants to be guided in using or maintaining a product. For more advanced type of products, you can consider providing them to the manufacturer’s website or document to answer the questions.
Just as important is to measure your response time. Generally customers expect to get a reply within 1 business day for their inquiry. Consider implementing a support ticket system to streamline your customer support process.