The Key Pillars of a Successful Online Business
The first online shop was a bookstore established in 1992. Before Jeff Bezos came onto the scene two years later, Charles Stack had set up Book Stacks Unlimited. At the time the internet was still a novel concept but Mr.Stack gave it a try. The business may not have prospered as much as Amazon, but it set a great precedent in uncharted waters.
What was once an exception, is today, the rule. It is highly unusual now for a business to have no online presence. More so this year, with social distancing and shelter-in-place orders, online shopping has become heavily relied upon by consumers. While most businesses used their online platforms as secondary alternatives to their physical shops, current events have reversed that.
If you are working towards establishing yourself in the online business space, the following are some pillars you could strengthen:
The Virtual Visit
When manufacturers automate, they fit production lines with technology such as EVS industrial robot arms to ensure that everything runs smoothly and accurately. In retail, it is a good website that makes your enterprise run with the efficiency of a Swiss watch. Consumers should be able to log on to the site and find what they need with ease. Two essential features of a virtual shop include:
If you were to hire an attendant for a physical store, one of the qualities you would likely seek is eloquent communication skills. In the virtual world, the user interface becomes your store attendant. For this reason, it needs to be pleasant and easy for your clients to get along with. An ideal interface is:
- Compatible with various devices
- Accessible to people of all walks and needs in life
- Safe; customer data should not get acquired and used without their permission
Based on the user interface a customer will either have a good or bad experience on your platform. User experience is about how the customer feels while interacting with your online store.
In physical outlets, some establishments ask their clients to chime in whether they felt satisfied by the service. The same would be applicable for user experience. Was it helpful? Did they enjoy their visit to the site? Were their needs met? Such questions may help you determine how your clients feel about your service.
Digital Marketing and Branding
There are possibly dozens of products that are in the same product market you are in, so why should a buyer choose yours? Answering this question may help you come up with the right kind of marketing strategy. Digital marketing is aimed at getting as many customers as possible to take notice of your brand. Beyond that, it ought to entice them into making a purchase or refer others to do so.
Speaking of brands, you can not go into marketing without building one. A brand is basically a representation of your product and what you want your business to be associated with. Take for instance that you are selling beauty products; your brand could be centered on making customers feel that you can help them achieve their desired look. In turn, your logo, packaging design, and overall customer experience should express the same.
There are many ways to digitally market a brand. It depends though on the kind of product you are selling as well your target market. Social media influencers, for example, have become a popular trend. It is, however, crucial that you pick influencers that understand their role and reflect the values of your business. Some influencer partnerships have gone wrong and you would be better off avoiding such mishaps.
It is a common joke on the interwebs where customers order an item and receive something entirely different from their expectations. Granted, in some instances, the client simply fails to pay attention to the product description. In other cases though, the product was not properly specified on the site.
The distinction of an online business is in how they handle such occurrences. A dissatisfied customer is unlikely to recommend you to anyone else. Worse still, they could put up a post and scare people off your services. Reaching out and making reasonable amends with such clients easily smooths things over and preserves your reputation.
Additionally, great customer service has short turn-around times. If clients have to wait for three or more business days for a response to an inquiry, they feel neglected. Here is a secret: no one wants to spend their money on a business that ignores them. To remedy this, expand your customer care department as your clientele grows so as to cater for everyone. Consider having shifts that rotate around the clock as well.
The last and most crucial part of an online sale is making sure it gets to the consumer in good time and fashion. Everything else will have been for naught if your delivery system is not up to scratch.
It begins with hiring delivery agents that understand the locality you intend for them to serve. They are unlikely to get lost in a familiar neighborhood and are likely to be faster and more efficient. Besides that, given as they are representative of your brand, it is preferable that they are presentable. You may consider providing branded uniforms.
As you choose your mode of delivery, factor in the type of commodity you are transporting. Some items are more fragile than others while some such as food need their freshness preserved.
The delivery is the final product of all your hard work, be as meticulous and responsive with it as possible.
It may have its fair share of teething problems in the beginning but e-commerce can be profitable and easy to run. Think of it as a growing tree, as it sprouts new leaves and branches, you keep pruning it to perfection.
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CEO and co-founder at Cloudsmallbusinessservice.com