The eCommerce industry is booming. With more and more people working from home and looking for ways to supplement their income, an increase in independent, online retailers comes as a surprise to no one. However, starting an eCommerce business is no small feat, and can seem even more daunting when you consider the growing competition. Websites and brands are growing in sophistication and social media savvy is a must. How can you make sure that your business is best represented online?
1. Streamline your social media accounts
It’s not enough to have a website to display and sell your product. Most companies, especially smaller, independent brands, need to have a distinctive and accessible social media presence across various platforms. This ‘omnichannel’ presence will not only make your brand more accessible but more recognizable; consumers are more likely to trust a brand name they’ve seen before, even if it was just in a passing ad or post. Make sure that, where possible, you register your brand name exactly as is as your name or title on every platform; Instagram; TikTok; Snapchat; Facebook; Twitter. This will make it easier for people to find you online, particularly if your brand name is similar to others. Avoid confusion for future customers by clarifying exactly who you are and what you have to offer. Although you can diversify the content you make, your branding should be as streamlined as possible. Use the same font, colours, and graphics where suitable, and check-in with your social media manager to ensure that the message of your brand is not only being communicated how you want but with consistency across platforms.
2. Get creative with content
With regards to content, different sites specialise in different forms of user engagement. Find the best way your product or company can be presented in a short, immediate message for apps like TikTok and Snapchat, and invest in a good photographer to ensure your Instagram account has a sleek, professional finish. Potential customers have to trust a brand if they’re going to buy from it, and you can establish your brand as a trustworthy company by giving your social media content a personal feel. Posting step-by-step tutorial videos, or breaking down the production process in fun but informative videos are great ways to connect with the consumer. By allowing them access to how your brand operates, you de-mystify any doubts a potential customer may have; you want them to have as much faith in your product and delivery as you do. Sites like Instagram and Facebook offer a live function which, if used correctly, can bring a whole new level to the personal approach to eCommerce.
3. Spread positivity, uphold honesty
The rapidly-expanding eCommerce industry is not without a section of inexperienced or mal-intentioned business owners who fail to provide a satisfactory product or service. To continue with the personal approach, make sure that positive reviews of your brand and/or product are easy for people to find. By making them clear on your website, or using direct quotes from customers in marketing copy, you let potential customers know that you are a brand that can be relied on. Showing that your brand is in communication with customers is also important; replying to reviews, either positive or negative, shows a willingness to engage with people beyond the transactional relationship eCommerce is built on. If you do receive a negative response on a public forum such as Yelp or Google Customer Reviews, don’t be defensive or make attempts to downplay it. Instead, communicate with the customer and ask how you can better improve your service. Having an honest approach to customer service and the representation of your brand will foster trust in potential customers, and can win back customers who may have been initially turned off by a previous experience.
4. Improve your website
First impressions are everything, especially when you have a product to sell. But for your customers to want to buy your product, they first have to buy into you. As the channel through which customers will actually be spending their money, you want your website – particularly your payment process – to be as user-friendly as possible. A clunky, outdated website can make buyers frustrated and possibly put them off returning to your brand. There are multiple different companies that offer basic templates if you’re feeling less than confident in your website development skills. Some companies offer custom eCommerce sites that can cater to your brand’s specific needs, and in turn, maximise profits. A custom site allows you more agency in how your business is run, has more of a chance of standing out and an added professional feel. With more control, running your online business will feel easier and more manageable. If your business is particularly artistic, it’s imperative that your website mirrors the creativity your product reflects.
5. Reach out to influencers or possible partner brands
Paying for online advertising is at the discretion of your company’s budget, but can eat into your financial plan. Look for people with a considerable online presence who fit the target audience and/or brand image for your product, and offer them a mutually beneficial sponsorship. Most professional influencers will charge different rates depending on exactly what and how they post. Relationships with influencers are most beneficial to your brand when they engage with your product or brand with genuine interest. If your product is something they would definitely use in real life, not only will a respected influencer be more interested in collaborating with you, but they’ll make more of an effort in the content they produce for you. An endorsement from a well-connected, on-trend influencer means a lot to consumers, particularly if your brand/product has stiff competition from similar companies; you want potential customers to understand that an influencer they admire could partner with numerous other companies, but they’ve put their faith in you. If researched and negotiated correctly, influencer partnerships can make sure your product reaches its target audience with precision and efficiency, and working with those with sizeable followings is a sure-fire way of widening your consumer reach.
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