The world of eCommerce is constantly evolving, with customers expecting more and more from retailers each passing year. To prove that your online store is reputable, reliable and worthy of their business, here are seven things you need to be working on, right now.

Danbo
photo credit: Ravi Shah / Flickr

Consistent branding

If you’re selling items that your customers can get from a hundred other online stores (and let’s be honest, who isn’t to some degree), your brand is what’s going to make you stand out. Think about the personality of your brand and broadcast this to your potential customers as a reason for choosing you over a competitor. Are you ethical and eco-conscious? Edgy and rebellious? Cutesy and home-made?

Your branding should always be broadcasting the same subliminal message, from your store’s mission, the language and humour you use, your company artwork and every other “touchpoint” between you and your consumers. Marketing guru, Neil Patel has some advice for eCommerce branding here.

Informative, high-quality images

It’s not rocket science that large, high-quality images of your products are going to help customers decide they want to buy them. Include all relevant angles of the product as well as close-ups of any important details like fabric or features. If you have the capacity (and it’s relevant) to include a 360° image or a video, then make an effort to do so. Read a guide to taking beautiful product photos via Shopify.

Remember; you want your photos to show your products in their best light, but there’s no point in editing your pictures or shooting them in such a way that makes them look totally different from what your customers will actually receive. This is a shortcut to disappointment, bad reviews and refund requests.

Detailed product descriptions

With online shopping, customers want as much information as possible before committing to a purchase. If you can’t provide a specific detail, they’ll shop for a similar product at a place that does answer their questions.

The more specific you can be, the better. Include technical information (e.g. specific materials, sizing and closure details), keywords that your customers will be looking for and any “insider knowledge” that a customer might not be able to see from the picture. These are your “features and benefits” that tell someone looking at your listing that your products can fulfil their needs.

Ecommerce business owner running the shop

Reliable partnerships

When launching and growing an eCommerce business, the companies you choose to partner with are going to have a huge impact. For this reason, you should think carefully about how you’re going to bring your products to market.

Will you use your own website or go through a third-party like eBay, Amazon or Etsy? What courier service will you use? Royal Mail might be fine for UK deliveries, but using a specialist service might make international postage much easier. RAND Logistics has an FAQ page that covers most ins and outs of sending parcels abroad efficiently for this very important facet of the business.

Hiring your team

As the business grows and expands, hiring new employees to form your workforce will also become a very serious consideration, and how you go about the hiring process will ultimately play a huge role in the success of the business. Whilst an entrepreneur or CEO will dream of a seamless interview and on-boarding process, in reality a perfect team can take time and many to attempts to curate. In essence, don’t be afraid to either hire or fire en route to building your workforce.

“Everybody makes mistakes sometimes. Even if you feel good about it at first, it’s impossible to know for sure whether your latest hire will work out. In case it turns out to be damaging to your business, don’t hesitate to act quickly. Remember, big corporations might be able to carry dead weight and survive. Startups aren’t. Tomas Ondrejka, co-founder of Kickresume

Customer service representative
photo credit: TK_Presse / Flickr

Transparent customer service

The size of your business and how niche your product is will inform the level of service your customers will generally expect from you. Are you running a one-person show that simply resells a mass-produced product? You probably won’t need to be by your phone all day. A more established operation that offers customisation or an unusual product that people will have questions about? Expect to be answering queries left, right and centre if you want happy customers.

Use your product listing or a page on your website to clearly state how customers can get in touch with you and how soon they are likely to get a response. Stick by the mantra “under-promise and over-deliver” and you shouldn’t run into any hot water. Read this Zendesk blog for ideas about customer service management as your company grows.

A special experience

Once someone has decided to buy from you, you’ve got an opportunity to exceed their expectations and make their purchase unexpectedly memorable (in a good way). You can do this with relatively low effort and minimal cost with just a few tweaks to your packaging.

Printing your own packaging is an excellent way to build the luxuriousness of your brand, but even a simple brand sticker shows that you’ve put a bit of thought into your customer experience beyond the point of sale. Make sure this thoughtfulness continues when they open the package; think about how your product is presented inside and always include a customised ‘thank you’ note to make your buyers feel personally connected to your brand.

Getting customer reviews

Reports from happy customers

Social proof is an excellent form of marketing for eCommerce businesses, particularly in the form of reviews, ratings and customer photos. You might want to send samples of your product out to influencers to get the ball rolling, and then use competitions or other incentives to keep fresh customer-generated content coming in all the time.

Don’t make the mistake of only posting completely positive reviews and make sure you respond appropriately to any public criticism. A balance of good and bad customer feedback is realistic and stops new customers from being suspicious that you’re hiding drawbacks of your goods.