With COVID-19 induced lockdown our current reality many have turned or are turning to sell online. Whether using fully integrated eCommerce or some form of partial integration and remote selling there are still many mistakes that can be made. A business is considered partially integrated when some of the selling process is carried out manually or offline. Some through questionable business operations while others through a lack of knowledge it’s quite common for some of these mistakes to creep into any business transitioning to online selling. While in most cases the lessons are for full eCommerce businesses they can still be applied to partial integrations.

You cant buy what you cant see

You need to work on getting your products in front of people. A service station owner wanted to create a coffee culture with his customers and the company that supplied coffee beans gave him a budget. He designed a promotion for a free cup of coffee in the morning to every customer that bought fuel worth $20 or more. Great promotion but nobody requested coffee. It was only when we moved the posters promoting the coffee to the till point, where customers made payment, that the requests for coffee started rolling in and after a while, coffee culture was created. Firstly, you need to be seen. Secondly, it helps to be seen in the right places. Get your products out there, advertise, promote, participate in customer communities.

It must end with er

Ecommerce, remote selling and online business all have one requirement- it must end with er. You must provide your customers with some form of improvement. Faster, easier, cheaper and anything else you can put an er on the end of. Be at least one of things to customers in order for it to make sense. If the amount of effort the customer exerts in your online selling is equivalent to the amount of effort required in offline selling, you’re doing it wrong.

Keep it simple

This is somewhat of a rehash of the last point but you must strive by all means to simplify your system for the customer. A web designer I know used to struggle with getting clients to pay hosting fees. They would charge clients for their website design and then ask for hosting fees. How did we simplify it? We created a new charge that included hosting and registration and there was much less resistance from clients. I cannot underscore enough how important it is to simplify the process. If you can layout you purchase process into steps and you have more than 3 you need to revise. 2 is ideal; pick and pay.

The customer is always right!

Before you close this article just hear me out. The customer is always right but not always correct. Zimbabwean businesses do not do too well with criticism from customers but what is a customer really saying when they complain about your business? Perhaps what they are actually saying is “I would like to give you money however this small thing is standing in the way of me doing so, would you be so kind as to remove the impediment so I can put money in your pocket?”. Sure it doesn’t sound like that but we must learn to hear what’s not being said. As I love to say, it’s not a business without a customer.

Make it make sense

I saw a tweet yesterday that urged Zimbabwean businesses who are offering delivery not to overcharge on delivery and it hit home. In my many forays shopping online, I came across a website which would have a $100 item on sale for $30 only to add a delivery fee for that item of $71. And while I’m sure the businesses the aforementioned tweet was targeted at are not doing the same thing it hits just as hard when you start to get the feeling that a business making.money of the delivery charge. I do understand that a lot of businesses are investing in their own delivery infrastructure but that’s no reason to punish your customers for it. Perhaps partnering with an experienced provider until economies of scale are in your favour is a better route.

It is no longer business as usual. eCommerce has never been business as usual as those who have traversed its terrain will tell you for free. That was before COVID-19, now the considerations are compounded.