Much of retail has shifted from brick and mortar to internet shopping. We can shop anytime; the e-commerce site doesn't close at 9:00 PM, no need to find a parking space, and a ton of other conveniences including saving $3.40 per gallon of gas to drive to the stores. Customers are definitely interested in low competitive prices, but if you're a small to medium company, there's going to be a problem competing with the large companies, so the focus is going to have to fall on customer service if you're going to survive.
In a brick and mortar establishment, you have the advantage of a sign, a checkout counter where your customer is handed a receipt, aisle displays, roomy dressing rooms, customer service area, and a sales floor representative helping you to choose your merchandise. Your internet site therefore needs to appeal to a browser and must arouse interest and be meaningful as your potential customer clicks on for a better view.
How do you make your e-commerce site irresistible? Besides the obvious, which is an attractive home page, meaningful information, special offers, and a highlighted area of the most popular items, why not focus on touch points - which are essentially the details that precipitate interaction or contact between your organization and your customer? Here are some suggestions:
- Websites should be attractive, but keep it simple. It can be a turn-off to potential shoppers to click onto a website and have to listen to loud music, ( I can never find the volume control.) pop-ups, forms, surveys, or the need to log in for a membership.
- Email inquiries, suggestions, or complaints must be answered within one shopping day. All emails should be signed by a particular person related to the subject. Generic email messages do not inspire customer loyalty.
- Phone calls should be answered promptly, but employees need to have a particular company protocol where each customer service question can be handled efficiently. Think about the details of the phone calls including the "on-hold music" or message.
- Customer ordering should be user-friendly and methodical. The website should clearly explain security measures for credit cards, returns, receipts, back orders, and deliveries.
- Product packaging should be part of your branding. Quality design and attractiveness impress customers.
- Shipping details should reflect the quality of your business. When merchandise arrives, and it is in great condition because of quality packing which includes stuffing, wrapping, and taping, internet shopping comes off as flawless. One site I shop at uses pink shipping boxes; what a great signature branding idea.
E-commerce customers view you by the way you handle small details, so train your employees well and correct any problems as they occur. Let your hallmark of business be focused on pleasing your customers with quality and great service.