January 31, 2017
Each year, innumerable eCommerce stores are created and abandoned. In this competitive space, if you’re the last person standing that means you’re doing something right.
It’s the unique look and feel of your store that makes your customers come back for more. Your audience loves it because it is different.
Of course, the quality and uniqueness of your store depend on multiple factors. The tipping points that make your store better than your competitors are:
1. The technology you bank upon
Technology is the backbone of your eCommerce business. The right eCommerce technology platform, be it a CMS or a Web framework, supports all your current and future needs.
a) The search for the right features
A great eCommerce software provides a cost-effective way to launch, run, and manage your store. Besides the storefront and the payment processing tools, advanced features like automation capabilities, Web hosting, back-end functionalities, inventory management, marketing tools, third-party integration, and customer relationship management (CRM) tools give you an edge over your competitors.
b) Features for the long run
Your business requirements determine the set of features that works for you. Selecting the right features can save you time and money as you try to scale your business. With the proper features, your return on investment (ROI) improves with business growth, and your technology infrastructure can handle the additional loads without the need for a technology overhaul.
2. Distinctive design
Does your storefront have a unique appeal that will keep your customers coming back for more? The user interface (UI) of your store is the first impression of your business.
a) Less is “More”
When designing the UI, most businesses concentrate on offering more. The user experience (UX) often suffers due to too many unnecessary features. It is important to strike a balance between the aesthetics and the efficiency of your store.
Your store user interface tells your customers a story about what you stand for. If you’re Apple, your store’s white spaces and clean lines are the defining factors. If you’re Amazon, your recommendations are your strength.
b) User experience is the king
If UI is the face of your store, then UX is your store’s soul. Your great UX design provides minimum hops to the end goal. Your mobile design ensures that users don’t get bogged down by unnecessary popups and other distracting elements.
Your customers return because they get a unique and smooth experience from your business.
3. Customer ratings & reviews
Building a relationship based on honesty and trust is not unique to the online business world. It is a classic principle that works.
a) No black hat strategies
As a business owner, you ensure the integrity of your customer reviews. Avoidance of black hat strategies is an integral part of your business plan.
b) Bad reviews do not mean bad business
Store owners are often afraid of bad reviews. However, bad reviews are not equal to bad business. It is important to understand that authentic reviews create a bridge between you and your audience. Your store thrives to reflect that authenticity.
A bad review is an opportunity to improve your business. Also, customers are suspicious of businesses that only have positive reviews. The best eCommerce store is built on trust.
4. Product descriptions to hit your sales
A product description is an opportunity to present your product. It is not a mere description of your product, it is a presentation of your product.
a) Emotional needs met
A proper description entices your customers. Understanding the emotional needs of your buyers is important. Your store gives your buyers a chance to experience a sense of satisfaction. A satisfied customer is more likely to buy again.
b) Written for an ideal buyer
A great product description is created to appeal to the ideal buyer’s imagination. It uses sensory language to tell stories. It leads to sale because it appeals to a unique need. Generic doesn’t sell. Your product descriptions are specific for the ideal buyer.
5. Payment options on your portal
Payment options are the last line of buyer resistance in an online space.
“Variety is the spice of life!” According to a YouGov market research, 50 percent of customers are willing to cancel their purchase in the absence of their preferred method of payment. So, a wide variety of payment methods ensures your store doesn’t lose any potential customers.
a) Security ensured
Any breach of customer data can mean the loss of years of repeat business. Regular audits by security experts guarantee that you have the best and secure payment system.
b) Last line of resistance
Whether your buyers are using traditional credit cards, eWallets or mobile payments, they feel like they are dealing with a seamless, secure commercial service. A good payment experience removes any customer doubts about buying products from your store.
6. Free is common, but how fast is your shipping?
The eCommerce market has adopted free shipping as a standard service. So, the competition has moved into the area of speed and efficiency. Online businesses are trying to distinguish themselves through faster delivery.
a) Changing customer expectations
Your shipping success rate and speed can determine your bottom line. One of the drawbacks of an online purchase is that customers have to wait for the product. Until now, customers assumed that the wait was the cost of doing business online. With speed shipping available from many retailers, this expectation is changing. Customers are gravitating toward services that can deliver faster.
b) You are the domain king
You might not be able to compete with giants like Amazon. But you should be the fastest supplier in your domain. Your inventory management expertise must support the scale and speed of your business.
7. A solid SEO strategy
Relevant keywords and a well-designed SEO architecture will ensure your landing pages have high organic reach. It ensures that your store occupies the top SERP slots. Top slot placement gives you a better chance of increasing your sales and conversions.
a) Keyword research and beyond
Your strategy goes beyond keyword research. Your site architecture is SEO friendly. Your pages aren’t nested too deep. Your images are named properly for SEO. You avoid bad practices like keyword stuffing, optimized anchors, or low-quality link building.
Also, your keywords are focused on searchers’ intent. You have a funnel to properly direct your customers to what they want.
You guarantee that you are providing your customers with the highest quality content. Your store is not only about sales, it is also a valuable source of information for your customers.
b) Long term plan
You revise your long-term SEO plan through education and training to keep it up-to-date with the latest changes. Your well-executed plan keeps you ahead of your competitors.
8. The brands you offer
Brands give you instant recognition. They are not as dominant in the online space as they are in the physical retail market. But still, brands can shape the perception about your eStore.
a) Leveraging the power of brands
You cater to the needs of your customers. Your brand awareness helps your customers find the things they desire. So, you become their preferred vendor.
b) Opportunities for custom brands
The eCommerce marketplace also opens opportunities to build your own custom brands. If you can create a custom product and build up the brand, it will give you more control over your business.
9. Your customer loyalty & rewards
Customer retention is a matter of building a strong relationship over a period. Besides great brands, you provide this through developing a great reward program.
a) Interactive rewards program
Encouraging customers to sign up for accounts gives you direct access to them. You use social media posts and e-mail newsletters to keep them involved in your store. An involved customer is more likely to return for more purchases. You reward the returning buyers with coupons, discounts, and special promotions. In this way, you keep them excited about your eStore.
b) Loyalty is an asset
A returning customer is your best asset. It is easier to sell to an existing customer than to acquire a new one. So, you maintain great loyalty and reward programs for your current clients.
Monitoring business performance is critical. All this is a waste if you don’t track and measure. Through regularly tracking the key performance indicators (KPI), you can keep your competitive edge. Businesses that keep track of KPI and other metrics grow at a faster rate.
Whether you are designing your storefront with secure payments, creating a marketing campaign to offer more brands or implementing a rewards program for your loyal customers, monitoring key performance metrics helps you optimize your efforts. A well-designed plan executed efficiently with regular feedback makes you different from everyone else. It makes you a star of online shopping. It makes your store one of a kind.
Do you think there are other factors that differentiate you from your competitors? Feel free to brag about what makes your store unique in the comments.
Mahima Anand Sharma is a digital marketing strategist at Kays Harbor Technologies. She loves SEO and is responsible for search engine marketing and social media campaigns. Writing on topics regarding mobile apps, eCommerce, enterprise IT and all things digital intrigues her.