Ecommerce is a hot plate right now and will continue to flourish moving forward. Ecommerce businesses that predated the pandemic smoothly went on like nothing happened when COVID-19 hit. Businesses that were largely or solely brick and mortar had to transition to eCommerce. That is how most businesses survived but unfortunately, not all could or can transition into eCommerce. Overall, it is abundantly apparent that more and more people are entering the eCommerce space. It is, however, not enough to just know that eCommerce is booming. You must know exactly what constitutes a robust eCommerce business. In this article, I look at some of the most essential elements of an eCommerce business.
Multichannel Customer Support
Customers should be able to contact you through several channels. They should be able to contact you via voice calls, SMSes, and instant messaging (on the site or through WhatsApp, Telegram, and the like). They should also be able to live chat (on the site), and contact you through social media platforms, and also email, amongst other possible channels. You should also ensure that this multichannel framework is so streamlined that a customer does not have to repeat themselves. What I mean is that a customer can contact you via email this time and then via WhatsApp another time. Your framework must be such that you can immediately refer to their previous communication.
Easy And Smooth Navigation
I usually say that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. It does not matter how complex or intricate your user interface looks, if it is not easy and smooth to navigate it is pointless. When users visit your eCommerce site it should be user-friendly. If not so, users will leave your site without purchasing anything. Many other sites are competing for people’s attention, so do not take this lightly. Most of the successful eCommerce platforms I have seen are characterized by simplicity. Less is more so it is wise to use a minimalist user interface design.
Optimization For Mobile
You probably might have heard me before talking about the need for a website to be responsive. By responsive I am referring to a site being optimized for mobile or mobile responsive. Let me highlight some stats for you so that you get the picture. There are over 6 billion smartphone users in the world right now – over 80 per cent of the world population. On average, people spend at least 3 hours on their smartphones daily. Roughly 70 per cent look up products or services they want to buy online using their smartphones. Just over 69 per cent of internet users use eCommerce sites to buy stuff online. About 60 per cent will settle for a brand if it sells online.
That points to the importance of having your eCommerce site optimized for mobile or mobile-responsive. This means your eCommerce site must smoothly function despite whatever mobile device it is used on. This also means that its structural integrity must remain intact and must still look aesthetic or visually appealing. In essence, your eCommerce site must easily adapt to any mobile device it is used on. If this is not the case then users will gladly explore other options.
What is it that you want users to do once they get onto your site? They should not wonder what they must do once they are there. This calls upon you to have clear calls to action on your site. Do you want them to sign up for a newsletter? Do you want them to place an order? Do you want them to make a purchase? Do you want them to participate in a survey? The possible things you might want them to do are infinite; make it clear though.
Realistic And Well-Structured Catalogues
Remember that people have to make decisions based on what they see. Thus for starters, your eCommerce site must have a catalogue. That catalogue must have high-quality real-life images of the stuff you are selling. We have seen many people complaining about how images they saw are far removed from what gets delivered to them. This seriously dents any efforts in getting people to trust your brand. Ensure that what people see is what they get – do not mislead or deceive people.
Data security and privacy are now a big deal to internet users. Given the surge in online activity, it comes as no surprise since cybercrime is also spiking. Users want to bask in the assurance of knowing your site is secure. Remember eCommerce entails availing things like baking details in making payments. Make sure your site is secure and users’ data privacy is guaranteed. One of the ways is to ensure your site has an SSL certificate – SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. Ecommerce entails users registering, signing up and making transactions online thus having this certificate is non-negotiable. Web developers can help you in making your site secure.
When someone gets to this stage then you can be sure you have done great. However, you can lose prospective customers at this stage if you are not careful. Picture a brick and mortar scenario where someone moves around with a trolley and gets to the E-POS to pay. Most people are used to that since it has always been so since time immemorial. With eCommerce, you should be able to replicate that experience and even make it better. Just like how seamless paying for your goods is in a physical outlet typically is, the same should be for eCommerce. Payment options should be flexible and the actual transactions should easily sail through.
Repeatable And Efficient Delivery Framework
This could be the reason why most eCommerce businesses fail to succeed. You can have all the other elements in check but if this one is poor it derails everything. When a customer buys something or places an order through your eCommerce site they expect prompt delivery. In Zimbabwe, I have heard many people complaining about late deliveries. At times it is the high incidence of receiving incorrect orders. This is one of the reasons why most Zimbabweans are still sceptical about buying stuff online. Your eCommerce business must sow and boost confidence in people. In my experience and observations, an eCommerce business that always delivers as should be growing.
We cannot talk of an eCommerce business without digital marketing. Digital marketing is now the hallmark of even brick and mortar businesses, what more online ones. You have to put in place a solid digital marketing strategy. You have to leverage the internet and social media to roll out your online marketing campaigns. Some of the common digital marketing approaches to use are content marketing, affiliate marketing, and email marketing, amongst others.
I deliberately did this article from the perspective of an eCommerce business with an eCommerce website. This is because this is what every eCommerce business should strive for. A professional eCommerce website can cost around US$500 – invest towards that! I appreciate that you can run an eCommerce business without an eCommerce website. If well-constituted that actually works for many but aim to have an eCommerce website. It broadens your reach because once a website is up it can be accessed by anyone in the world. All the best in your pursuits to establish yourself in eCommerce!