When it comes to ecommerce, customers are faced with more options than ever before. Not only has this led to a substantial shift in their buying behaviour, but perhaps even more importantly their expectations.
With such a high level of competition, it is integral that you are meeting these customer expectations and doing all you can to avoid disappointing them, in order to avoid missed sales opportunities and a poor brand reputation.
With this in mind, here are five key considerations that will not only help you meet these customer expectations, but ultimately exceed them:
1. Convenient and reliable delivery.
With an increasing number of customers demanding convenient and flexible delivery options, it is becoming more and more important that you can fulfil these needs by offering a range of favourable options for shipping.
Fortunately, many of these customers are willing to pay more for this service, but what this also means is if you’re not offering the likes of next-day delivery, nominated-day delivery or click and collect, you risk losing sales.
As a small business, if you don’t currently offer this, don’t panic.
There are many courier services out there available to you, which will ensure that your parcels are delivered promptly, with some services even enabling same-day delivery.
While logistics plays a big part in meeting delivery expectations, it’s important that you don’t neglect communications with your customers.
Ensuring that your buyer’s are kept up-to-date with accurate tracking information and an expected delivery date and time can provide reassurance and even improve customer satisfaction.
Speed up your order fulfillment process, in turn increasing the pace at which your customers receive their orders, by exploring your opportunities with an inventory management system.
If you offer a guest check-out option on your page, you should consider giving customers the opportunity to track their product by registering for an account, as this can increase your chances of getting more details about them.
For example, with a guest checkout option they are typically only required to provide their name and email address, however by registering for an account, customers will be more willing to provide a contact number and address.
2. Accurate descriptions.
Online shopping provides customers with a host of advantages, including:
- 24/7 access to buying products
- A significantly wider product offering
- An increased chance of finding an item in the correct size
Despite this, one of the downsides that comes with ecommerce is the lack of ability to physically handle the product prior to purchase.
While there is no way around this, it is still possible to give your potential customer’s detailed and accurate product descriptions, helping them to make an informed decision about the items you sell.
This also saves you time and hassle later on, as it significantly lowers your chances of having to issue refunds and deal with complaints.
We would recommend that you convey as much detail as you can in both the product descriptions – material, texture, sizing, etc – while also providing images that showcase the item at various different angles.
With recent advances in product photography, 3D photos are a great way to show off the entire product on the screen. While more expensive, 3D photos are proven to increase conversion rates.
You should also ensure your photos are well-lit, and reflect the exact color of the image, as this can otherwise have implications and cause significant customer disappointment later on.
You should further consider using a white background in your product photos as these often look more professional, however for certain products, you may want to showcase the item in a more natural environment, an example of this being with home or garden furniture.
3. Having the listing in stock.
There is no denying that overselling is a problem for many businesses and is something that is understandably incredibly frustrating for the customer.
Unfortunately, ensuring that your listings are in stock isn’t always as easy as it may seem, and can become increasingly difficult as your business scales and you expand your selling channels.
So, how exactly do you avoid overselling?
The easiest and most reliable way to ensure your stock levels are accurate, is through the use of an order and inventory management solution.
What this does is integrate all of your selling channels together, synchronizing your stock levels in real-time, as and when you make a sale.
While you can update your stock levels manually, you should consider the possibility that time constraints and overall hassle aside, you could be in a situation where you only have one of a product in stock, and sell two of the same item on different channels at roughly the same time.
Should this happen, it would be nigh on impossible to avoid overselling.
Although it is a general expectation that you have your products in stock, one way to improve the user experience is by showing customer’s your stock levels on the product page.
This not only reassures them that you have stock available in their size and/or colour preference, but if you have low stock levels for an item, it can actually encourage sales by instilling a sense of urgency.
4. Outstanding customer service.
When it comes to business, your reputation is everything and the quality of the customer service you deliver can effectively make or break your brand.
One of the biggest challenges for many SMBs, however, is being able to respond to customer queries and complaints in a timely manner, something that largely comes down to lack of time and resources.
In order to reduce customer response time, we would recommend that you create response templates for common situations such as returns, cancellations and refunds, helping you to save time as and when these issues arise.
Additionally, with the use of a helpdesk solution such as XSellco Fusion, you can see all of your customer messages from all of your selling channels, helping you to deal with any problems quickly and effectively.
Social media is also a key platform for providing customer service and listening to what is being said about your brand online.
With more and more buyers turning to social media to ask questions and vent about problems, it really is a channel that you need to be using for customer support, particularly because it us such an exposed platform.
In other words, failing to provide a timely and appropriate response on social media is something that will be seen by a much larger audience including potential customers and competitors.
5. After-sales support.
After-sales care may be an element of customer service, but it is something that many companies surprisingly fail at.
The fact is, the after-sales period is the best time to show your customers that you are going the extra mile to improve their customer experience, helping to exceed their expectations.
A great way to achieve this is by providing confirmation of item dispatch and including their tracking details in an email or even SMS. You can also make them feel valued by providing a personalized offer or discount following their initial purchase. This may be delivered in an email, or you could even include a discount code within their parcel.
Feedback is also another great way to show that you care about your customer’s opinions and are invested in making changes to improve your offering. Ultimately, each of these examples show that your approachable, while encouraging feedback and repeat custom.
Remember, after-sales activity is the number one way of turning a one-time buyer into a long-term returning customer. So, it really is in your interest to invest in the after-sales experience in order to improve customer retention rates.