If you have spent time online in the last decade, chances are that you’re no stranger to doing some form of business over the internet, even if the only thing you have ever purchased were concert tickets on Craigslist. However, it is more likely that you have placed at least one order on Amazon, eBay, Etsy, or Facebook Marketplace.
If your startup is not already riding the eCommerce train, it is high time to hop aboard. Despite brick-and-mortar retail shops still doing brisk business, they can hardly compete with direct-to-consumer (DTC) transactions. The rate of digital transactions is accelerating at a faster pace every year, and its projected growth is astronomical. Wise entrepreneurs will take note of eCommerce trends, consider how their business can use them to its advantage, and determine where they might presently be falling short.
Of course, the rapid increase in DTC sales is not lost on most industries, so your business will likely have a good amount of healthy competition. It costs more to advertise online than ever before, so sometimes the companies that can afford the juiciest ad spots rise to the top. This doesn’t mean that all hope is lost for smaller startups who are still finding their footing; in fact, it could actually be a good thing since small businesses have something that big corporations don’t: a human touch that can translate into greater customer retention and loyalty.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you wade through the rushing rapids of eCommerce.
You can use social media to your advantage
Since consumers don’t have a way to physically handle objects or see services in person, the next best option is to seek answers online. These days, attention spans are short. If you have great content—that is, quippy, well-designed, and preferably in a picture or video format—you will reach far more eyes than if you only stick to occasionally updating your brand’s Facebook status. You already have accounts with every major social media platform out there, so remember to diversify and try to sell across platforms.
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You might have noticed that Instagram has rolled out a shopping feature that allows brands to link their entire product catalogs, making it easy for Instagram users to purchase from your business directly through the app. If you are eligible and in a supported market, why not give that a try?
qCommerce might be the new name of the game
“Wait,” you might be thinking, “I thought we were talking about eCommerce.” We are. qCommerce is eCommerce but faster (the q stands for “quick”). It focuses on those micro transactions that people make far more often than big purchases, like running to the 7-11 for eggs because you forgot to grab some at the supermarket. Think apps like Postmates. Businesses that use qCommerce are more likely to utilize distribution centers so that products get to consumers as fast as is humanly possible. We now live in a one-click-ordering culture where people tend to finalize the purchase and then immediately start twiddling their thumbs.
qCommerce truly found its footing during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the market is projected to reach over $70 billion by 2025, so don’t miss out on this phenomenon. Consider teaming up with a third-party delivery platform if you have physical products to sell. The faster you can get them to your customers, the better.
That human touch we mentioned? Don’t let it fall by the wayside
One thing that will never change about doing business is that customers like to feel respected and supported. If giving yours a rewarding experience is not an intrinsic part of your brand identity, you might not get very far. Every time your customers click on the button to check out and purchase something from your company, they should feel appreciated. What incentive can you offer them for shopping online and choosing to do so directly with you? A free gift, a discount, a coupon to use in the future, and/or a warm thank you message speak volumes about your values as a company.
Don’t forget to continue interacting with your customers and be open to feedback. They might just have some great suggestions for how to manage better your sales process! As Bill Gates once said, “Your most unhappy customers are your most important source of learning.”
With so many purchasing options, it is important to make things as seamless as possible for your customers. As long as we are dependent on the internet, eCommerce will be the most convenient method of making purchases. Make sure that your company isn’t left in the dust.