August 14, 2013
Over the last decade, eCommerce has become increasingly popular with consumers. The technological developments have made online stores more accessible to consumers through Smartphones and tablets and, now that NFC technology is making progress, eCommerce stores are set to become a booming industry.
The versatility and convenience Internet shopping offers consumers is something online business owners can take advantage of if they have a strong SEO strategy that fully engages social media networks. The biggest problem many online business owners face is that it takes a long time for their website to rank well in search engines. Meanwhile they do not get much in the way of ROI. As a consequence, the initial stages of SEO prove expensive.
However, there are alternatives. Stores like Amazon and eBay have proven to be a big hit with online shoppers and business owners alike. Despite adopting two completely different models, the two eCommerce giants have been a huge success — mainly because they offer a variety of products for highly competitive prices. These types of eCommerce sites provide the perfect shopping centre for consumers and an ideal platform for retailers.
Keys to online shopping platforms
To have a successful online business, your products and brand need exposure. While it is true you potentially have access to billions of prospects, consumers can only purchase your merchandise if they are able to find them in an ocean of other online products. Although SEO and social media activity will aid the exposure of your products, there are no guarantees it will be immediate so, in the meantime, you need to find another solution.
Dedicated eCommerce sites give you a shop window that is cost-effective and less time-consuming than maintaining your own site to appease the SEO robots of search engines. Moreover, eCommerce shopping portals are easily accessible and extremely cost effective. However, like all other forms of advertising, they require a strategy.
Promoting your products and brand online
To sell your products, consumers must feel they are worth buying. Therefore, your ads need product descriptions that provoke a desire. To do this, list the advantages of your products by explaining the features and describing the benefits. You should also include at least one photograph that gives the prospect a good feel of what the product looks like.
One of the major concerns some consumers still have about buying online is trust. And this is also one of the reasons why the likes of Amazon and eBay have proven so successful — they allow customers to leave feedback about the seller and the product. The Internet has also made it easier for buyers to fully check out the product and the company before they purchase.
Earning trust on eCommerce platforms
However, even with eCommerce sites, you have to get people to trust you before they are willing to purchase from you. False testaments are not a good idea — they don’t sound genuine. You, therefore, have to earn people’s trust from the outset. To do this, offer them several payment methods, attractive warranties, a return policy and details of your delivery service. Remember, any of the details can be altered once you build a reputable profile through positive feedback.
You should also include images or logos of recognized third-party companies on your eCommerce pages. These accreditation certificates are known as “trustmarks,” and go a long way to demonstrating guarantees. This gives potential customers a sense of security. An example is PayPal which gives visitors confidence to share personal details and purchase online.
Discounts and free shipping
People are very careful with their money and want to feel they are getting a good deal. To attract prospects, you have to give them something that is appealing and worth their while. Because of the competition you face online, your prices have to be competitive, but you can use this to your advantage by advertising them at a discounted price. However, you decide to market the offer, remember everyone is interested in some kind of promo.
And that concept also extends to shipping costs. Online shoppers are more inclined to buy online if the shipping is free — or at least low cost. This is something you need to consider carefully and factor into the cost of using a courier to ship your products to your customers. Most major courier services will offer you cheaper rates if you are using them on a regular basis.
Social Media Networking
Word of mouth is still the best form of advertising and recent surveys have determined that most people will consult reviews on social media sites before they buy online. It is, therefore, imperative that, firstly, you have social media accounts such as Facebook and, secondly, that you integrate a link into your product pages to give prospects instant access to your online reputation.
Not only that, but you should be using social media marketing strategies to attract prospects to your products pages. You can do this by offering deals to new and existing clients, engaging your audience and identifying followers who are most active on your site. Always approach your most active customers with special offers.
Provide a virtual shop assistant
Although your product description should give as much detail as possible, it does no harm to have a virtual shop assistant to answer any questions a prospect may have about your product. Even though consumers are buying online more often than before, there is still some reluctance to click the buy button if they are not convinced a product will do what they want it to do and if they do not know the build quality.
Online shoppers feel more confident about buying if they have had their concerns answered. Therefore, give them some way of getting in touch with you. Although it is best practice to offer a real-time service, this is not practical for all business owners. However, you should aim to respond at the earliest possible moment. Set an alert up in your e-mails with an alarm that you can hear.
The number of opportunities for you to promote your brand and products online are numerous and it makes good business sense to take advantage of them all. Dedicated eCommerce sites together with social media marketing are an excellent way to get your online business up and running while you are building your search engine rank.
+Nikhil Jain is a serial entrepreneur and business blogger dedicated to helping online business owners dance the dance with search engines and compete against the eCommerce giants of the www. He is currently penning his pearls of wisdom for BigCommerce and is available to take comments on his Facebook Account.