What is e-commerce? Secrets to online retail success

Whether it’s putting the most eye-catching, high-profit garments in the front of the store or luring people upstairs with an escalator, high street retailers are not shy of using some good old fashioned tricks to make us buy more.

But with e-commerce taking over, what are the online equivalents of these sales optimising secrets? We already discussed some dos and don’ts of running an online store, but today, we’ll dive a bit deeper into the specifics of driving online success.

Like in the offline world, online stores should revolve around the customer – and all they want is to find what they’re looking for followed by a hassle-free checkout. So making sure your website functions perfectly should be the overall focus point but, in addition, creating a proper online community is essential for developing trust. Let us tell you our 3 secrets of e-commerce.

Secret #1: Master analytics

It may seem daunting at first, but no other resource will be able to tell you as much about your site as Google Analytics does. From the time people spend on specific pages to their entire user journey: analysing the way in which your customers navigate through your site can tell you a lot about the impact of your layout and structure.

Are certain products skipped often? Perhaps you should be advertising these more actively. Do customers tend to go back to the home page after looking at a product? Then it might be worth it to improve your interlinking. Google Analytics will help you establish what features work, and which ones don’t so that you can be constantly improving. Not sure where to start? This free Google Academy course will cover all the essentials.

Secret #2: Perfect the checkout process

Nothing is more frustrating than an iffy checkout process. After finding what you’re looking for, you want to add it to your basket and either continue shopping or go straight to checkout – just like you would in a bricks-and-mortar store. But e-commerce checkouts always seem to hold surprises, whether it’s an unexpected £5 shipping fee or a 3-week delivery time, but it doesn’t have to be that way!

Increase your return on investment by making the checkout process as smooth and simple as possible. No ifs, ands, or buts: make sure your customers know exactly what to expect before they reach for their wallet. And then there’s the technical side of things. Quickly responding to any glitches in the back-end will significantly help in preventing you from missing out on sales.

Secret #3: Build customer trust

One of the main hurdles for online stores is winning the trust of their customers. Being an already established brand will, of course, change this significantly, but for young businesses, it’s not always easy to be seen as a trustworthy source. Luckily, there is a number of ways you can do this, including:

  • Be clear about delivery and return policies throughout the website to avoid surprises at checkout. Not only will this help build trust, but a simple return policy will also encourage customers to purchase more. Is a delivery going to take a bit longer than expected? These things can happen, but always let your customers know.
  • Offer great, personal customer service. For some people the lack of personal contact is the main downside to online shopping, so giving your customers that personal treatment will definitely not go unnoticed. Show them that you’re truly grateful that they’re shopping with you, and make the whole experience a special one.
  • We all know that reviews are vital for business, but not all e-commerce stores put them up on their site. A missed chance, as for new customers it can be the deciding factor in making a purchase.
  • Building a social community around your brand has many benefits. It will help you show your brand’s personal side and raise awareness, but it will also inspire your followers to wear the clothes that you sell, ultimately encouraging them to go over to your site and start shopping. What’s more, it will allow you to interact with potential customers, be it through shopping contests or user-generated styling tips (neverfullydressed does this really well). With all the noise on the internet today, the experience involved with online shopping is more important than ever.

And that’s it! Our top tips for achieving online retail success and having a strong e-commerce presence. Do you have any secrets that you wouldn’t mind sharing? Let us know!

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