The future of commerce is online – are you?

The world has gone digital. Your customers are just as busy as you are and are better connected than ever before. Never have they had so much choice in what they buy, how they buy it, and who from. Competition and expectation are high; inconvenience and tolerance are low. It’s not a trend. It’s not a temporary blip in the history of commerce. It’s the future. Selling online is crucial to business success. And an eStore is a necessity. So what? Build it and they will come?

Put yourself on the scene – get social

While many small businesses may think that once you build a website, it is inevitable that over time the right people will naturally come across your website. But without the right investments and strategy, it’s all too easy for potential customers to get lost in the myriad other websites and end up on a rival businesses page. So, you first need to let people know that you’re online and have the right product or service to fit their need.

Cheap and easy, engaging potential customers by creating rich and visually exciting content across social platforms is still one of the most effective ways of getting your brand out there and getting people interested.

Remember, however, it’s not your website – it’s a social space. So, share videos of how you create products, posts on fun product facts, or photos of the new office dog. (Nothing gets attention quite like a cute puppy!) This kind of content helps fill the digital void between you and your potential customer and encourages interaction and engagement – your first step to getting people in the door and learning more about them.

Social platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, offer sophisticated tools like post boosting and targeted advertising based on demographics specific to your business – so your content is pushed to the people who are most likely to be interested in what you’re offering, and there’s a greater chance they’ll visit your online store.

What about your eStore?

Make sure you’ve chosen an eCommerce solution that’s up for the job, and then make the most of its super-sophisticated tools. Personalise the page to the customer’s location (e.g. free delivery to Helena, Melbourne), make smart product recommendations based on other users’ preferences (e.g., customers who bought this scarf bought these gloves to match), offer first-time customer or volume discounts (e.g., only $9 each when you buy three), and ensure the whole customer journey is smooth from start to finish (e.g., multilingual content, fast loading pages, easy-to-navigate architecture, useful product filters, images and video in product descriptions, customer reviews and ratings, easy options for payment via multiple gateways in multiple currencies, and automated thank you confirmations.)

And while you’re at it, get them to sign up to your automated monthly newsletter detailing all new products and special deals, offer them voucher codes in return for recommendations on Facebook or for filling out an online questionnaire, reward their loyalty with free shipping or discounts, automatically remind them about abandoned baskets, and encourage them to use wish lists and share them with friends (aka potential new customers).

Exceed expectations – plan for success

Today, it isn’t enough to simply build a website, integrate an online store, and wait. You need to be engaging those potential customers, pulling them in with your creative and catchy content. Business owners must tailor online shopping experiences assisting customers with purchase decisions, and making parting with their money the least painful thing they’ve done all day. And when you get the hang of it, you’ll not just have customers that love your brand and what you offer, but you’ll have dramatically increased sales, glowing referrals, and customers for the long-term.

Wayne Jasek, Director-APAC, Kentico

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