Ecommerce is the name given to any business activity which depends upon electronically buying, selling and paying for goods and services over the internet. This can be B2C (Business to Consumer) or B2B (Business to Business). Most of these businesses will be selling tangible items, which then require a physical delivery service. The whole process from purchasing online to delivery to location is all part of ecommerce. We have all probably bought something online, either for work or as a consumer. Many took to online ordering for the first time in this year’s pandemic and it changed shopping habits forever. Waitrose have stated that increase demand of online grocery shopping as a result of 2020 is now irreversible. But let’s take a look back to how this all started and what the future might hold for ecommerce.
How did ecommerce start?
The very first online buying and selling transactions were recorded around 40 years ago. An early UK inventor came up with an idea for ‘teleshopping’ – connecting a television set, a computer and a phone line! Then in the early 1990’s, the opening up of the internet was quickly taken advantage of by companies such as Amazon. Accelerating growth over the next 20-30 years has recently become exponential. As previously mentioned, this has been assisted by the global Covid crisis. It resulted in projections for UK ecommerce sales in 2020 exceeding original levels that were not expected to be reached until 2027!
It’s expected that global mobile ecommerce retail sales will reach $3.5 trillion in 2021. The opportunities are huge, but the pitfalls can be disastrous if you’re not properly prepared. So, here are a few tips for a successful ecommerce business.
Build your ecommerce brand
Your brand is your product, your marketing and your service. Do everything you can to protect this. Registering a trade mark is quite inexpensive, but once you have done this you will need to make sure that the entire customer experience strengthens the brand. Do your market research thoroughly, then relentlessly pursue perfection in providing exactly what your target market demands. Brand is not just a logo, it is the whole customer experience, including the returns process.
Get found online
This is really the cornerstone for the success of your business. Google are championing Mobile First, a reaction to how the vast majority of buyers research and buy products versus desktop purchasing. This means your website not only has to look good, it needs to perform. Tactics from PPC, correct SEO on page formatting, picture optimization (so you come up in image searches too), product descriptions that include keywords – all this helps to build your online profile and ‘findability’. Creating great searchable content will also draw in the enquiries. Get some professional help with site and page loading speeds. Slow loading leads to poor SEO rankings, and high percentages of website abandonment.
Provide every bit of information needed to help your potential customer make a decision right there and then. Make it very simple to find specs, select options, view prices, see when delivery will be and place the order.
Get your ecommerce packaging right
Despatch on time, and package suitably and securely. The first your customer will see of the goods is when they arrive on the doorstep, so make sure they will arrive in first class condition. Eco-friendly packaging is increasingly looked for by consumers, so this will most likely be an important part of your message. Along with this, choose packaging of a suitable quality to reflect the value of the merchandise. Get ready to wow that first time customer with a great un-boxing experience!
Keep your customers updated
Communicate regularly at all stages of the process – don’t leave your customer in the dark. If things do go wrong, make sure you’re the first person to let them know and preferably by phone. A mistake or problem handled properly and empathetically will gain you a loyal customer.
Returns made easy
Ensure the returns process is very simple (a lot of packaging is designed to be easily re-used for returns), and process refunds fast. A seamless returns process, starting with the packaging, will make customers more likely to reorder.
Get the detail right
Small extra personal touches, or a special ‘thank-you’ message mean that the customer knows you really value their business. This will keep them coming back, and more importantly, spread the word!
Word of mouth
Make sure you encourage, and make it easy, for happy customers to post reviews. 55% of all online shoppers say that reviews have an impact on their buying decisions. Pay attention to this important statistic and plan this to into your marketing activity.
Ecommerce presents huge opportunities, giving you access to millions of consumers who will benefit from your products. But do your research first! Make sure there is a market for your product, get your branding message right, have your infrastructure (IT and logistics) in place – then go for gold!
Why not let us know how you get on!
If you’re interested in learning more about packaging, why not take a look at these two further blogs on Plastic vs paper and What does FSC stand for?