When it comes to eCommerce, customers are faced with more options than ever before and this has led to a substantial shift in not only their buying behaviour, but perhaps even more importantly their expectations.
With competition high, it is integral that as a business, you are meeting these customer expectations and ultimately doing all you can to avoid disappointing them and risking both loss of business and a bad reputation. With this in mind, here are five key considerations that will not only help you meet these expectations, but ultimately exceed them.
1. Convenient and reliable delivery
With an increasing number of customers demanding convenient and flexible delivery options, specifically wanting their goods to be delivered exactly where and when they want them, it is becoming more and more important that you can successfully 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 & collect, you risk losing sales.
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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.
Now 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. 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, a significantly wider product offering and often an increased chance of finding an item in the correct size, although 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 descriptions, helping them to make an informed decision about your product. This also saves you a whole lot of 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 colour 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 you’re listings are actually 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? Probably 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, synchronising your stock levels in real-time, as and when you make a sale.
While you can indeed 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 near 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 buyer’s 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 personalised 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 1 way of turning a one-time buyer into a long-term returning customer, so it really is in your interest to invest in after-sales and it will really help you grow your customer base.