It is no longer news that your customers are researching independently before they purchase a product. The internet, for all its conveniences and curiosities, has made it easier than ever to gather information without exchanging a word with another human. It is possible to research solutions, view competitive products and choose a reasonable price from your smartphone, without setting foot in a physical store.
Consumers have more choice than ever over potential products; often, they have already made the decision to purchase before they start looking around. Ecommerce (sometimes referred to as your digital storefront) gives you the opportunity to showcase your products and make sure that potential buyers see them whilst browsing options. In this widened landscape of competitors, it is of the utmost importance that your products are sold as effectively as they would be if you had your best sales person pitching them.
Being judged online
What makes ecommerce more than just a web shop? The continued uptake of the internet and social media has connected professional and personal lives; making it easier to voice and share positive and negative feedback in the form of public-facing reviews. Any interaction you receive from internet-based customers is based entirely on the online performance of your product and services; and their feedback and reviews are also visible to other users researching your brand.
Furthermore, the tolerance for a sub-standard service or product is lower than ever. If something is wrong with your product or service, not only do your customers have a variety of ways to let you know but they also increasingly expect to receive compensation for it. This makes your online presence crucial for communicating the identity and values of your company. Responses to criticism are incredibly important for demonstrating commitment to service standards and it is becoming increasingly normal for potential customers to investigate how issues are dealt with.
3 things you can do to improve your buyer’s journey.
Below are 3 suggestions on how to strengthen your digital presence based on online consumer buying tendencies.
- Answer your buyer’s questions with your product listings.
Your buyers will either be searching for answers to their questions using search engines, or by figuring out which product they need and searching for a specific product term (e.g. a related term such as brick block calculator or a direct term such as concrete floor beams). Either way, you need to ensure that you are appearing on the search results. Think about the questions your buyers might have, and why your product solves them; can you explain why your option is the best for the job? Using the appropriate keywords in your product listings will increase the chances of a web user finding your product or service.
- Know the steps you want your buyer to take.
For most salespeople, the ideal scenario is to sell while in front of the customer, as it is easier to judge which next step is the most appropriate (if a customer is ready to buy, the purchase progresses. If they need more information, more can be given). Online, we rarely have the luxury of responsive human intervention. Your website needs to cater for customers at every point of their buying journey; whether they are researching products, asking questions or about to make a purchase. Can they purchase a product from the page that they are on? How easy is it to complete a purchase? If they need more information, are your contact details readily available?
- Make sure those steps are easily and quickly available to the user.
Once you know which actions you want your buyer to take, make sure they are easily available to the user. Use call to actions to prompt them to find out more information or pick up the phone and give you a call. Make sure your contact details are easy to find. If they are not ready to make a purchase, do you offer alternative ways to keep in touch? Is it possible for them to sign up to a mailing list, or follow your company on social media? Considering the journey that your buyers will take through your website will help you to iron out difficulties in navigation, or potential confusion which could lead to missed sales.
The online experience
Ecommerce is more than just a web shop because your online presence requires time and attention to get right. It is so much more than products on a page. Try putting yourself in your buyer’s shoes; ask yourself (or survey your customers) if your online buying process is informative and easy to follow. If your website is difficult to navigate, or your products are not accompanied by multiple pictures and detailed product information, then you might be losing sales.
Reviews are important; especially in this industry, where tradespeople rely on reviews to endorse their skills. In a similar way, online shoppers rely on reviews to help them make the final step in placing their trust in the product they have chosen. Along the same lines, consider the tone of your communications and use the language of your audience. These are important factors in building trust and should not be overlooked.
Taking a modern approach to ecommerce and technology can help you to stay ahead of your competitors in such a competitive online environment. Using an ERP software solution that allows you to link your back office to your ecommerce presence will help you to further inform your customers of up-to-date, correct information (such as quantity of stock, or new product listings).