Every company lives and dies by its customers. This is just as true for a brick-and-mortar shop as it is for an e-commerce business, but online businesses often face challenges that more traditional ones do not.
In the highly competitive world of e-commerce, it’s all too easy to lose a prospective customer with just the swipe of a finger or the click of a mouse. Because e-commerce businesses don’t have the advantage of face-to-face interaction, they have to work especially hard to provide personalized, customer-friendly experiences in order to attract and retain customers.
Here are some of the key ingredients for making an e-commerce business customer-friendly:
Use Customer Data for Personalized Marketing and Sales
If you want to position yourself as an e-commerce business that focuses on its customers, you’ll need to identify and act on emerging consumer trends as quickly as possible. The best way to do so is through the careful application of real-time analytics. This can provide a slew of actionable data on how customers use your website — and how they don’t.
Whether you’re looking for feedback on a newly-launched promotion to see if it’s attracting new customers or examining past Cyber Monday shopping performance to plan for next year, gathering real-time analytics will help your e-commerce company target customers on a personal level. There are, of course, any number of data analytics companies out there, but one example is the well-known brand Kissmetrics.
Develop a Mobile App for On-the-Go Customers
Mobile connectivity drives e-commerce like nothing else. With an increasing number of people relying on their phones and tablets for everything from reading their email to checking in at their favorite coffee shop, it’s only natural that these same devices are used for shopping.
That being said, shopping apps need to be quick and intuitive to keep up with the fast-paced lifestyle of the modern consumer. There’s nothing more frustrating than a slow, cumbersome e-commerce app experience.
Ensuring your e-commerce site has a well-functioning mobile app should be a priority. There are a number of app development services out there. Some, such as Mobify, are used by big corporate clients like Eddie Bauer, ThinkGeek, and Carnival Cruises, but they can just as well be used by small to medium sized e-commerce businesses.
Earn a Reputation for Efficient and Reliable Delivery
Unless you deal exclusively with digital goods and services, you’ll need to figure out a delivery strategy that is as convenient as possible for your customers. In a world filled with e-commerce giants like Amazon guaranteeing two-day delivery, it’s an uphill battle for smaller e-commerce companies to remain viable. While competing with these giants is tough, a delivery strategy that is smooth and easy for customers will help your company stand out.
There’s any number of global or national large-scale delivery companies that you can use for long-distance shipping. However, one of the greatest ways to differentiate your e-commerce brand is in local service and delivery. Hand-delivering orders can help you add the personal touch that large providers and delivery companies lack. Rather than rely on a delivery company to do the work for you, you can plan professional routes yourself using a web-based route planner.
Use Live Chat to Interact with Customers on Your Site
The most important thing in developing a customer-friendly strategy is to make every customer interaction as hassle-free as possible. When customers have questions about a product, they aren’t going to want to open up their email inbox or wait around for a reply. Expecting a customer to call you isn’t a good option, either; many customers have bad experiences being put on hold for 30 minutes while waiting to speak with a sales rep.
The easiest way for customers to contact your business is through a live chat system on your website. Not only will this make the buying process more convenient for customers, but it will also help you drive sales by engaging customers right away. Many live chat platforms, like LiveChat, even offer a 30-day trial for you to test-drive the service to see if it’s a good fit.
Live chat options, as well as reliable custom delivery and targeted marketing and sales, provide a personal touch that’s often absent from e-commerce sites. For many customers, the feeling that there’s a real human being on the other end of a screen can be the deciding factor when making a purchase.