Getting your business online and benefiting from the accessibility that eCommerce offers is one of the best ways to make your small business a success in the age of the internet.
Your overheads are massively reduced when you operate online, and you can welcome customers to your shop any time of the day or night to browse and buy. The biggest challenge in the world of ecommerce is that the market is pretty saturated.
Anyone can start an online shop, which means standing out from the crowd and getting your website noticed is harder than ever.
So how can you make your small business stand out from the crowd? We’ve put together a few tips to get the most from your eCommerce website and keep customers coming back in a landscape of infinite choice.
1. Build a brand
Building a recognisable and consistent brand is really important right from the get go. It helps people notice you, makes you look professional, makes your business more memorable and offers potential customers a sense of what you’re about and whether you’re the right choice for them.
Your brand should be present in everything from your logo, website, business cards, tone of voice, business values and product design. It encompasses how your business is presented, but it’s also about much more than just visual assets.
It’s also about how you treat customers and what is important to you as a business. The visual side of your brand is how you communicate those important messages so people feel like they know your business and want to be part of the story you’re telling.
2. Offer a unique product – or a unique approach
The best way to get people’s attention is to offer something nobody else does. Find a gap in your market and fill it. This doesn’t necessarily mean offering a brand new product; it could be an innovation in an existing niche, or it could simply be that you do what you do better than anyone else.
If you can’t offer a unique product then make your approach stand out instead. Be the best at customer service, make sure customers feel more valued with you than with anyone else and be the most reliable in your industry.
The amount of choice out there isn’t always great for customers either – they are looking for a reason to settle on a decision, so if you can be the best in your market in the areas that really matter to customers you’re much more likely to be successful and see customers coming back to you directly next time they want to buy your product.
3. Build a killer website
Having a strong website is absolutely essential in ecommerce. Your website needs to look great and, most importantly, it needs to give consumers what they want straight away.
That means making it clear exactly what products you offer and using your brand to give customers a sense of your overall ethos and what they can expect if they enter into a customer relationship with you.
It’s really important that consumers can navigate your website easily and find exactly what they are looking for without getting frustrated – people leave websites very quickly if they don’t get what they need immediately.
Your shop pages in particular need to be as slick as possible. When you’re setting up the shop you’re best off either adding a shopping application like Shopify to your existing site or building an ecommerce site from scratch using a well-regarded provider such as Barclaycard.
4. Be a source of useful information
You can build a loyal and engaged customer base by offering more than just products for sale. If you include a blog on your site which provides useful and genuinely interesting information you’ll see massive benefits.
Regularly updating your blog helps to keep customers engaged, it makes it easier for people to find you through search engines and it allows you to become an influential voice in your industry. Ultimately this will drive visits, sales and returning custom.
5. Be active online
To truly engage with consumers and reach new people that haven’t found your business yet, you need to step off your own website and get active in the spaces where people gather to talk online.
Having a presence in social media is essential because it allows you to reach thousands of people that might not otherwise find you. Setting up on Facebook and Twitter is a great start, and you can even automate and link these services to make updating them as easy as possible.
If you have great product pictures or anything else visually appealing then you may see some real benefit from other platforms like Pinterest, which is currently the most used social media site.
Do remember though, maintaining these accounts is just as important as responding to customer email enquiries, and failing to engage properly in these spaces can be a recipe for disaster.
Many people now use social media to communicate with brands, so make sure you respond to people and build up a great relationship with your customers in social media spaces.
6. Understand and learn from your competitors
Researching your competitors will go a long way in making your business the best it can be. If you understand what they are doing well and what they’re doing badly you can learn from them in every way.
Make sure you rise to the challenge they set with their strengths, and make their weaknesses your strengths so you can become the best all round business in your sector.
If you can get all these things right you’ll be well on the way to building a business that really stands out from the crowd, and you’ll win loyal and engaged customers in the process.
Good article, particularly the section on brand building which I think I is very often neglected
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