If you haven’t heard, eCommerce sales are simply booming. Just five years ago, eCommerce sales totaled $194.3 billion, and while that number isn’t bad, things have come a long way since then. By the end of the year, the renowned research firm, eMarketer estimates that eCommerce will bring around $1.9 trillion. Not only that but, while the sales are expected to slow over the next couple of years, the firm still predicts that by 2020, sales will surpass $27 trillion.
It seems like most consumers have enthusiastically embraced the convenience of online shopping, which you can’t say was unexpected. People can find basically anything they want or need and order it with just a few keystrokes on their PCs, laptops or smartphones. With the growth in the industry, online merchants can expect to see their sales plummet, but this growth also attracts competition. So in today’s climate, how can you differentiate yourself and stay ahead of the competition? Simply put – by being more efficient.
#1: Have Progress Indicators
As Sale Cycle reports, during the second quarter of 2016 almost 75% of carts were abandoned before the purchase process was complete. During other months, like during the holiday season, that number is only higher. So does this number represent the number of consumers who have changed their mind about their purchase? Or shoppers who are frustrated with the process as a whole? While you may not know the answer, it’s better not to risk driving customers away with an overly-complicated checkout process. You should, therefore, keep every step straightforward, replace any distracting headers and footers with a progress indicator. This bar will reassure your shoppers that the order is moving, smoothly and successfully.
#2: Improve Customer Service
Two years ago, a Gartner survey found that, by 2016, almost 90% of businesses expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer service. While the report wasn’t exactly correct (companies compete on other bases as well), it wasn’t exactly that off, either. Customer service remains one of the most important aspects of eCommerce because no matter how a website can speed up and enhance the shopping experience, not every order decision is seamless. Therefore, you should have at least one service representative available for certain customers who need additional help with their ordering process. You should also keep your contact info in plain sight so that customers won’t leave in frustration if their questions go unanswered.
#3: Go Mobile Right Now
According to statistics from Internet Retailer’s 2016 Mobile 500 report, mobile sales now account for 30% of all eCommerce sales in the United States. In other countries, like the United Kingdom, people are shopping even more through their mobile devices. As the Telegraph reports, 51% of online shoppers in the UK are making their purchases with their smartphones. Clearly, you have to optimize your site for mobile. And while you have to think about the smaller stuff, like properly optimizing images, you should mostly invest into a responsive design, or even build a mobile version of your website, or even choose a mobile responsive eCommerce platform (for information regarding this topic Website Advisor is a helpful resource). Responsive design is probably a better option (it will most likely cost less), because it will provide a better user experience across multiple platforms and devices.
#4: Try To Traffic Spikes
For instance, according to the latest Global B2C eCommerce Report, the B2B eCommerce market grew 20% in 2015, and the experts tend to agree that we’ll see another growth of this magnitude this year. And no matter if you run a B2B or a B2C business, as the market continues to grow, you’ll need to make sure that your platform is capable of managing jumps in traffic. In addition, you’ll need a safe, cloud-based CRM software like Pipeliner, which not only handles traffic spikes but also offer the security your business needs to protect sensitive data and consolidate all your user records.
#5: Optimize the Supply Chain
Probably the hardest truth every business owner has to face is that you cannot do everything yourself. Most eCommerce owners are usually tempted to ship their products on their own. However, once the orders start coming in, and subsequently, piling up, you need to focus on managing the growth of your business, and definitely not schlepping to the closest mail center. Even though most owners believe that shipping software is too expensive, you simply cannot afford not to automate shipping. Simply put, an effective 3pl logistics provider can be the backbone for your growth – the provider will improve your security, productivity, and even the overall customer experience.
So if you were looking to streamline your processes, even though there are many other things you could do, these five steps are a good starting point. As we said earlier, efficiency is key to running any successful business, and of course, an eCommerce online store is no exception. Efficiency doesn’t only mean a greater profit margin, it also means less waste, and in today’s world, where your customers expect nothing less than the speed of light, your efficiency can make all the difference between a regular and a lost customer.