E-commerce is a growing sales channel. According to research, two billion people made an online purchase in 2020; online retail sales reached 4.2 trillion worldwide in the same year. E-commerce isn’t something any business in any industry can ignore.
But as companies pour into the space, they come across many problems. If a business can anticipate and power through these issues, it can come out of the experience a stronger, more efficient company.
1. Ensuring Security of Customer Data
You may think that you are too small to be a target, but you’re mistaken. As an online business, you will collect a lot of customer data, and criminals value that data. A study found that 57 percent of small businesses don’t believe they will be targets for cybercriminals, yet 43 percent of breaches are on small businesses, making them the number one target.
The false sense of security makes small businesses an easy target. A large enterprise will have security software and policies that make a cyber breach difficult; small businesses leave themselves vulnerable and make slim pickings.
A data breach can have enormous circumstances for your business. It will damage your reputation resulting in customers and business partners avoiding you. Regulators will also punish you if your security isn’t up to standard; you could get a fine, penalty, or even jail.
To avoid a security breach, you can take a few simple steps, such as;
- Ensure that your business complies with industry standards.
- Use robust security software and ensure that you keep it updated.
- Train staff to identify phishing scams, malware, and suspicious websites. They should also know how to create and handle their passwords.
- Adopt cybersecurity best practices like keeping backups and encrypting all data.
2. Developing an Effective Shipping and Fulfillment Strategy
An essential part of any e-commerce endeavor is the order fulfillment process. Order fulfillment revolves around your inventory and logistics. It is vital as customers demand that companies deliver their products to their doorstep overnight.
Large enterprises have the resources to build their own warehouses, trucking and air fleet, adopt the latest tech and negotiate the best shipping rates. Achieving an efficient and cost-effective order fulfillment process requires years of massive investments. Fortunately, there are third party fulfillment center for companies like SMEs and enterprises. With third-party fulfillment centers, the business can immediately get the benefits of an efficient and effective system without years of massive investment. It makes it accessible to any business of any size.
3. Building a Brand That Customers Can Trust
The online market space is vast, with many pitfalls, so customers value trust. Trust determines the weight of your marketing message, customer willingness to buy from your business on first contact, and the conviction of your offering.
Building a trustworthy brand is a continuous process that requires strategizing. You need to create an authentic voice that can resonate with your target audience. When customers give feedback, negative or positive, always recognize it and take it into account. Early in the relationship with the customer, you will need to invest heavily in treating them like a VIP. Satisfying their needs above their expectations is how you can build a foundation for future sales and referrals.
To become more authentic and possibly a thought leader, share your story. The founder and product story gives the audience a glimpse of your values and dedication. Sharing the trials the company went through to bring a product to market can build emotional connections and earn the buy-in of new customers. But never forget that your product, customer experience, and communication always have to build value in the customer’s life.
4. Creating an Engaging E-commerce Experience
The quality of the product or service you offer is important, but it’s not the only metric that counts. Customer experience is usually the differentiating factor among e-commerce brands. Few products are unique in the world; it’s how a customer feels during and after the shopping experience that will impact.
Creating an engaging e-commerce customer experience requires thinking about how the customer will flow through your site. Your site needs to have an intuitive interface so that the customer knows exactly where to go. They will need current, detailed information on every product offering and guidance on getting the most from your products. You will need to provide a unified communication channel so that the customer experiences the same level of service whichever channel they use (chat, social media, email, phone, e.t.c).
You will also need to create proactive, responsive support and engagement. You need to anticipate your customers’ needs and guide them through how your product can assist. That level of intuition is possible through intelligent data solutions. Use data analysis and AI to provide a custom experience for each user.
5. Measuring Success and Optimizing Performance
Every business practice requires measurements and goals; e-commerce is no different. Using metrics, you can measure the success of your business and get a holistic view of your operations. The metrics also show you where you can improve and your strong points. Some key performance indicators (KPIs) for tracking online business include:
- Website traffic
- Conversion rate.
- Bounce rate.
- Average time spent on your site.
- Average order value.
- Site speed.
- Referral traffic.
- Click-through-rate (CTR).
- Pay-per-click (PPC).
Business Is Online
Entering the e-commerce industry can be easily considered a smart business decision. Among the many strategies and remedies, always be transparent and authentic with your audience; in the long run, it will help you get leeway when things go wrong and build your brand when they go right. But you should expect some challenges that are unique to the online space.