Starting an eCommerce website, whether for gluten-free cookies or tekkies, is a bit overwhelming once you start realizing the problems that can eventually arise. And let me tell you, problems always arise. It seems like smooth sailing at first, sitting back and seeing the cash roll in with an eCommerce site that you only have to set up and do nothing after, but the logistics of eCommerce websites are far more complicated than that. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t prepare for this and power through them like the eCommerce hero you are. Let’s take a look at some of the hardest parts of running an eCommerce store and how to prepare and master them.
Starting Out With Low Sales
After setting up your eCommerce store in next to no time, thanks to BeNimble, you now sit and wait for your first 10, 50 or 100 sales. The only problem is that sales usually start low, very low, for brand new eCommerce sites. Unless you end up pitching your product on some famous TV show before you launch the website you can’t really expect many sales to move through the site.
How do you overcome this problem?Focus on website marketing. Spend this time figuring out ways to make your core competencies clearer on the website and testing your website, like you are a shopper on your site. You’ll kick yourself if you just sit around the first few months, then once you get sales you are not ready to get it over the line. Marketing is also an obvious point to spend time on when your sales are low or stagnant. Think about optimizing your social media pages to boost sales through sites like Facebook. Hit the grind and start making calls to influence makers in the industry. Share free products and give them a chance to fall in love with your product.
Providing Enough Support for Customers (Fielding Angry People)
Many companies pride themselves on premium customer service, but working with online customers is a bit different. Honestly, South Africa is not known for great customer service, and if you spent time in setting up the correct channels and getting customer services down to an art, you have won half the battle. Make a commitment to providing exceptional customer support through various different mediums. Customer support is such a pain for online retailers, but think about how frustrating it is when you have to sit on the phone with a company for hours. Customers have no problem yelling or posting horrible blogs about how your company “appalled them with the lack of service.” Yes, customers go overboard, but you can ease this drama with a few simple tips: Offer multiple points of contact like email, phone, live chat on your BeNimble store and social media. The more options your customers have to get support, the less are the odds that they will not be happy. Remember that shoppers prefer their method of contact so the more the better. Track your interactions so you know what each customer talked about last time you spoke. Be sure to complete an interaction with a client. The worst experience for any potential shopper will be that they got an email to say you will respond to their query, and then they don't hear back or it takes a long time for an answer. Be fast, efficient and thorough. Respond to inquiries quickly. Even if it is just to say that you will investigate and get back with an answer. This will give the potential shopper faith that someone is listening. But be sure to never promise something you can't deliver. Saying "we will get back in an hour", and only getting back after 3, will break the trust very quickly. Offer promotions or freebies to talk people down. Inevitably some shoppers will get angry. Some with good reason and some with, well not so good reason. Sometimes it is worthwhile to offer shoppers some incentive to resolve their current issues. Make the conversations personal. If your shopper feels that a real person is listening to their problem, you have their trust and it will be easier to help them resolve the issue.
You Lose Sales Due to Couriers and returns
One of the unexpected burdens of running an eCommerce store is that you have to manage the problems that arise not of your own fault. This happens when your chosen courier loses a package, a customer returns an item or a fraudulent purchase is made to try and take advantage of your company. It’s rare, but on occasion the courier loses a package or delivery is just taking very long. There are instances where the courier delivers to the wrong address as well. The only solution is to bite the bullet and manage the problem with your shopper. Sometimes you will have to re dispatch the shipment to ensure customer satisfaction, without having resolved the original dispatch. Using a reputable courier in this regard helps. Even better to have a personal relationship with the courier so that when issues like this arise, you can resolve it as speedily as possible. Don't fool yourself that it will not happen, and rather be prepared. BeNimble eCommerce stores are partnered with the 4 leading eCommerce courier companies in South Africa. This will ensure that when working with your dispatch partner you will be dealing with the best of the best.
Returns tie into customer service and following up with customers. Send out emails to figure out why they didn’t like the product, and maybe even offer them a discount for their next order. Be sure to have a look at your returns policy and to make sure clients understand their rights in this regard. If possible do not dismiss returns completely, as there will be instances where your shopper has a valid reason to want to return the product they bought. As to getting the shipment returned, you can only bite the bullet and see which one of your couriers is the cheapest. Luckily with multiple courier options on BeNimble you will be able to get all the pricing options in one place and can choose from the best option.
Fraud is the biggest problem of them all. Imagine receiving an order for R10,000, jumping for joy and then shipping out the product only to learn the company or person just stole all that product from you. According to KissMetrics there are various ways to prevent eCommerce fraud, ranging from choosing the right eCommerce platform to choosing reputable eCommerce Payment options to use. The short answer is to always research before shipping your items out, especially for the large orders. Call the customer if you suspect fraud or if the area codes don’t match up.
Another huge headache that comes with an eCommerce site is the overall inventory management. What happens when the holidays come along and you run out of your best selling product? How will you respond if a customer orders twice as much as you can provide? The key to inventory management is staying organized. Do you know exactly how many shoes you have in-stock for each color and design? You should have a look at your current inventory every single day to understand where your inventory stands. Nimbl makes this very easy, with a comprehensive Inventory list with live statuses and the option to not sell a product when it is out of stock, ensuring that you do not run into oversold stock. Another primary factor is selecting a system that easily tags and manages every item you have in the store. You need a platform that lets you quickly change a page to Out of Stock and a product ID system to have a real-time view of your shelves.
Competing With Sites Like Amazon
You may love Amazon while shopping for your family birthday presents, but when it comes to business, the tides turn quickly. It’s no secret Amazon has single-handedly crushed thousands of online businesses, so how can you compete?
The goal is to differentiate your company by creating a niche that focuses on expertise and guidance. You can’t just sell a product that Amazon currently offers for cheaper, but you can make a site that includes blog posts, tutorials, videos and other guides to dominate the market. Shoppers do want a good price, but they also resonate with a story. If you can sell your story as part of your products, shoppers will connect on an emotional level, and this helps your odds of getting the sale over the line.
Nimbl helps you to build this story with multiple tools:
- Create pages for your website to add content as you need
- Blog platform to help build your story and SEO authority
- Beautiful images with our partner Pexels to visually help your story and connect with your potential shoppers
- Fast website and easy navigable stores to build confidence with your shoppers
- The best payment providers and courier partners to build confidence in your story with your shoppers
- People will stumble upon your site if they want to learn about a product, and they are often willing to pay a premium since you helped guide them. Some other tips include selling products that only you create or choosing a mission that people can connect with. Charity comes to mind on this one.
Just having an ecommerce store will not guarantee you sales. You still have to put in the effort and be ready for when those sales start rolling in. Luckily with a partner like BeNimble eCommerce, selling online is just that little bit easier.