As one of the most profitable yet accessible industries for entrepreneurs, the eCommerce marketplace is both crowded and highly competitive. Indeed, having a great website is no longer enough; in order to get ahead, online retailers need to have many strings to their bow.
The Abandoned Shopping Cart
Shopping cart abandonment is perhaps the biggest concern for online retailers and one that has existed as long as eCommerce itself. Whilst there is no way of preventing it entirely, there are several things that you can do to keep it to a minimum. Above all, the checkout process should be kept as simple as possible, so provide the path of least resistance or risk your customers giving up halfway through. Enable the user to make a purchase without creating an account, and accept as many different payment types as possible. Additionally, avoid springing any unexpected costs on the user at the last moment, as this will no doubt cause them to reconsider – and most likely abandon – their purchase.
The Rise of Mobile
A more recent trend that some are calling a major digital tipping point has seen a notable rise in the number of purchases made on mobile devices. Whilst this offers great potential for online sellers, it also means that there is, even more, to lose by not being mobile-ready. To ensure your site performs well across all devices, design it with optimization in mind. Ecommerce packages such as these options, vary depending on your budget and requirements and will also enable you to build an online shop that automatically adapts to different screen sizes. With more and more customers moving away from desktops, a versatile site is crucial for keeping ahead of the curve and remaining competitive.
The Advent of Social Selling
It is not only mobile that is changing consumer habits and driving eCommerce, as social media also looks set to present a new challenge for online retailers. Whilst platforms such as Facebook and Pinterest have long been recognized as crucial drivers of eCommerce traffic, the recent rise of integrated “buy buttons” could see these sites forging a very separate selling channel. Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter are amongst some of the more popular sites to have delved into social selling, and if this trend takes off, e-sellers will certainly need to adapt in order to stay competitive. This means being prepared to showcase your products across the most relevant platforms, enabling consumers to buy them with one click and potentially creating an entirely separate strategy for the social selling channel.
Gaining Customer Loyalty
Another age-old challenge faced by online retailers is gaining trust and forging a loyal customer base. Whilst the internet provides access to a vast audience with practically no geographical limitations, it also makes it easy for smaller businesses to get lost in the crowd. It is, therefore, crucial to incorporate as many human elements into your eCommerce site as possible, including an “About Us” page telling the customer who you are, legitimate contact details and, where possible, photos. Not only will this help to overcome the anonymity that is often associated with the internet, it will also speak to customers on a personal level and encourage them to buy from you.
The Need for Content
Such is the power of great content that simply selling online is no longer enough. Businesses competing in the online sphere are increasingly expected to position themselves as industry experts, not only through quality products but equally by means of valuable content. Even without extensive resources, there are many ways in which smaller companies can rise to the challenge: blogs, short product how-to guides and news or trend summaries are all simple yet effective means for offering additional value to your customers.
Updated on October 2016 : Fixed minor issues, typos, and updated links.