E-commerce is on the rise once again. About eight years ago, we witnessed the infamous dot-com “bubble burst.” Once the overinflated technology stocks had transpired into the bubble burst, e-commerce was no longer a priority for business owners, especially small- and midsized retailers.
E-commerce is now back on the scene and flourishing. Today, Web sites are about maximizing profitability, and frequently, they offer more volume online than at an actual store. Nevertheless, with the changing times, what are the strategies for e-commerce success? What is the best way to capture your audience and retain loyal retail Web customers? E-commerce used to be about the aesthetic appeal of the Web site. The site’s look and feel is what lured the customer and produced business. Today, with intense competition, succeeding in the e-commerce world is much more than just a pretty face.
Marketing Your Site Is Essential
In many respects, driving traffic to your site is more challenging than driving customers to your brick-and-mortar location. Competition is no longer limited to just the stores in your vicinity.
Search engine optimization is one way to dramatically improve your Web site traffic and is often overlooked. According to Hitwise.com, Google drives roughly 10% of e-commerce visits. A high ranking on Google’s search engine will yield results and can be achieved with the assistance of a search engine optimization specialist, who can advise you on the necessary techniques to enhance your ranking. However, you cannot just limit yourself to Google’s search engine. According to www.allbusiness.com, it’s estimated that there are upwards of 3,500 search engines out there, but the top four search engines — Google, Yahoo, MSN, and AOL — garner the vast majority of traffic.
You can also interface with the major price comparison sites, including Nextag, Froogle, and Shopzilla. These sites enable the customer to price shop specific products against competition. Another phase of your market strategy could be to consider direct links to Amazon and eBay. These are high traffic shopping sites that increase traffic to your site and sell your products. These marketing methods will dramatically improve your e-commerce presence, but require expertise to execute properly.
Strong Inventory Management Is Your Customer Loyalty Guarantee
The VP of marketing at footwear e-tailer, Zappos.com, told CRM Buyer’s Guide that when the company wanted to stretch dollars to earn customer loyalty, faster shipping seemed the most logical choice. Turning merchandise around quickly and accurately will drive your customers back to your Web site once they encounter a positive customer experience. Perhaps it’s even more important to accurately inform the customer of stock levels. If a product is not in stock, customers should know before they decide to purchase that item. Inaccurate inventory leads to misinformed buying decisions and unhappy customers. Ensuring an accurate infrastructure and inventory management is crucial, and it will keep those customers that your advanced marketing has acquired loyal to your Web site.
Succeeding in e-commerce is fraught with challenge. The creative challenges of marketing coupled with technical execution must be budgeted accordingly. Do not underestimate the cost of this phase. However, the increased traffic to your site will prove well worth it –– including a quick payback. Keep customers loyal and happy with a tightly controlled back end. Accurate and up-to-date inventories with rapid turnaround time on order fulfillment are vital. And, be sure not to forget that a good Web site always has a pretty face!