Written by Raúl Carrión
At Human Level I am fortunate to collaborate with clients of diverse industries, sizes and concerns. I learn every day from entrepreneurs who are excited about the 2.0 leap: from their physical store to infinity and beyond. The more cases I know, the more defined are the patterns that determine the success or failure of a new e-commerce start-up. In this article I am going to compile reflections that will help me to advise future clients, I hope they will help you too and of course any comments will be welcome.
Customer transition should be gradual
If you are a neighborhood store, part of your success is due to your proximity: emotional and location. That is your strength and as such you should use it to drive your first online sales. To do this, it is essential that you work on transferring your community of regular customers to friends / fans / followers on social networks. They will be the ones to help you expand by transmitting confidence to new customers.
You can make them part of the change by incorporating into your online store the possibility of picking up orders in the physical store. Customers who choose this option will save shipping costs and if your products need to be reserved in advance, this will now be much more convenient.
If your online store generates a Facebook version, you will provide your community with your product catalog in an environment where they are comfortable. This option usually comes standard with the main e-commerce platforms and it is also automatic so it does not involve any additional management.
New market, new competition
If they opened a store on your street offering your same products, it would take you minutes to visit it to check: prices, product presentation, customer service, etc. Well, when you make the leap to the Internet you will have to do the same, only in this street you are the new one and there are not few stores that sell similar products. Are you ready to make a study of the 5 or 10 online stores that are your competitors? I hope so, because it is the most effective method to be better than them.
I recommend that you develop a control chart – a spreadsheet may be useful – where you periodically review the following parameters:
- Number of products for sale
- Price of shipping and handling
- From what price shipping costs are free of charge?
- Keywords for which your competitors are ranking
- Web traffic estimation
- Estimated investment in Google AdWords
- Active promotions
- Price of a product sample
On the Internet we are unfaithful, or we are less faithful
Unless the entire branding strategy of your website is based on you , you will not be able to recreate the personal bond that is generated in a traditional store: saying good morning, a smile, looking into the eyes… This is the harsh reality: your customers will probably not be loyal to you.
But all is not lost, trust plays a key role in e-commerce and if you make their first shopping experience with you exceptional you have a good chance that they will repeat for fear of a bad experience in another online store.
Unfortunately, confidence is very difficult to gain and very easy to lose, so we cannot afford any slip-ups. Here are some tips to gain the trust of your customers:
- Write more complete product descriptions than the competition, and this will also help you to position yourself better.
- Incorporate your own product images
- Respond to all store comments and encourage customers to comment.
- Maintain an active blog (which is not the same as “having a blog”).
- Being active in social networks
- Inform about your return policy
- Meet expectations: product quality, delivery time, etc.
More products are better
No more problems of space for your exhibition, in your online store there is room for thousands of products. Users are used to browsing through huge catalogs to choose their ideal product and tend to shy away from unpopulated stores.
In my experience, with a few exceptions, stores that receive a high volume of orders have a product catalog of more than 500 references. Below this figure the user may perceive that the product catalog is poor, I give an example:
We have a store with 100 products, a figure that seems correct, well, now imagine that the products in this store are distributed in 10 families. If the products are homogeneously distributed, when a user accesses the listing of a family, this store will only offer 10 product options. Depending on the sector, this figure may be too low.
If you are wondering if there is a maximum number of products, the answer is yes. From about 5,000 products, it may be advisable to create an alternative online store for one or more product families and thus make more visible those families that are “overshadowed” by product families with more visibility.
From about 5,000 products upwards, it may be advisable to create an alternative online store.
I hope you found this article interesting and that it will help you to focus your efforts in the same way I will.