4 non-negotiable features you need for a successful online store

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What makes an e-merchant successful? It’s certainly not just about high profit margins or a high conversion rate.

Many businesses made a lot of money (at least initially) and had to close due to other issues. Toys”R”Us has certainly been a success on paper, often buying out competitors and generating billions in annual revenue. However, after some poor financial decisions, the company was forced to close due to increasing debt from past transactions.

You could say that creating a strong connection with your audience and retaining your audience is a sign of success. However, many customers loved Blockbuster and were loyal customers – until it filed for bankruptcy when it couldn’t keep up with emerging technology and the popularity of streaming entertainment.

What about a trustworthy reputation, a healthy internal culture, great products, or exceptional customer service?

The truth is that there are many things that go into a business, and every aspect contributes to its success. In the world of e-commerce, it’s often easier to ignore these small details and, unfortunately, many online entrepreneurs are caught off guard.

While there is certainly a long list of elements that contribute to the success of an e-commerce business, four key factors are absolutely necessary.

1. Authentic and reliable reviews

As an online retailer, your reputation is paramount. Customers can’t come in to see and touch your product, so they have to rely on other people’s opinions and experiences to guide them. According to BrightLocal’s report, consumers read about 10 online reviews to form opinions about a brand, and 27% research reviews before every purchasing decision they make.

It’s also important to note that having nothing but flawless, perfect reviews can actually hurt your brand reputation. Here’s why: Consumers are generally leery when interacting with businesses online. They know that some companies buy fake reviews and also likely encountered a company whose products did not meet their expectations. Therefore, it’s best to invite your customers to provide a 360-degree view of their experience, even if it means getting negative feedback.

These Trustpilot customer review prompts are designed to encourage people to leave a detailed opinion about the product.

Source: Trustpilot

Instead of asking for a general opinion, customers are asked to specifically share the good and bad sides. Reviewers are even asked to give advice and recommendations to future customers so other consumers really know what to expect.

It’s a fantastic way to build trust and build a library of in-depth reviews that can help future customers with some really useful information.

2. Multiple payment options

The checkout page is where the majority of your visitors’ fears will resurface. Two main issues could stop a conversion in its tracks at this point: fear of risk and issues with the buying process.

As more consumers become concerned about the security of their sensitive data, they understand the risk of sharing contact and financial information. Unfortunately, only a quarter of customers trust online companies to protect their personal data. Other issues are related to user experience. If a customer encounters difficulties or hiccups in the checkout process, it could influence their purchasing decision.

The best solution to both problems is to offer multiple payment options. Here’s why: in addition to offering SSL encryption and using programs to improve website security, your checkout page should be optimized for a safer and more convenient experience. Consider including additional payment options that customers know and trust. For example, PayPal is highly rated for financial data security, so including this option would make customers feel more secure when entering their credit card details.

Source: Urbanog.com

Multiple payment options also speed up the checkout process. Offering options like Apple Pay and Android Pay is perfect for mobile shoppers who don’t want to enter their full credit card numbers. You can even offer features like AfterPay, which splits large orders into installments.

3. Advantages of the customer account

Increasing the number of customer accounts for your online store database serves several purposes. For one, it provides your marketing team with valuable data for targeting and personalization. Second, it makes it easier for customers to navigate your site and pay.

However, there’s no reason for a customer to create an account if you don’t offer any real incentive to do so. According to Accenture’s survey, 83% of customers would be much more willing to share private information if they received specific benefits, such as discounts and personalized offers. A 10% discount code, a free sample on their birthday, or points towards a discount can increase the likelihood of creating a customer account.

Customer relationships and loyalty play a huge role in retailer bottom lines. Returning customers tend to spend more; your retention rate can have a big impact on your revenue rate. Having a rewards program is a great way to increase the number of loyal customers.

Sephora does a great job of enticing its customers to make repeat purchases through its loyalty program. Shoppers earn points that can be redeemed for free samples, as well as free birthday gifts and frequent shopper benefits. As customers earn more reward points, they can achieve different levels and earn additional rewards. The program incentivizes customers for long-term loyalty and pushes them to make larger purchases more frequently to accumulate more points.

Source: Sephora

4. Personalization details

Personalization is very important to customers today. Fortunately, it can be easier than expected to integrate personalization features into your site, without requiring a lot of data or technology.

The Salesforce report found that the personalization feature that had the strongest influence on purchase decisions displays relevant product recommendations. When online shoppers clicked on a personalized recommendation, they were 4.5 times more likely to buy it and their final purchases were 500% larger.

Your customer account data will come into play here, so make sure you use the information you collect correctly. Take a look at purchase data to see which items are frequently purchased together for relevant cross-sell recommendations. Personalized suggestions should also be heavily based on each individual’s past browsing and purchase history.

Of course, Amazon.com is leading the way by offering hyper-personalized product recommendations. It is important to note that the suggestions are not always directly related or obvious; Amazon uses purchase data from other customers to create “frequently bought together” suggestions that can contribute to higher average order values.

Source: Amazon.com

Conclusion

There is no guaranteed formula for a successful business. Again, there’s a lot to be done to establish and sustain a successful e-commerce business, but these four ingredients lay the foundation for a business that continually pleases its customers.

Manish Dudharejia is the President and Co-founder of E2M Solutions Inc, a digital agency specializing in website design and development as well as SEO for e-commerce.

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