E-commerce sales comprised 9.1% of all U. S. retail sales in the third quarter of 2017, according to the Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce. Up from 8.2% in the same quarter of 2016. In the next three years e-commerce sales are expected to total $708 billion, according to Javelin Strategy & Research.
The big box retailers are consolidating and closing their brick and mortar stores in record numbers. They are putting their resources into their e-commerce sites to try and capture a market dominated by Amazon and primarily directed by Google. Will you follow their lead?
What can you do today to enhance your e-commerce site?
6 simple steps to boost and optimize your e-commerce site:
- Create a Mobile Friendly website. First and foremost even if you are not selling your products or services online, you need to be found online today and in a mobile friendly way. 77% of American’s have a smart phone and are looking for your product or service right now. Is your site mobile friendly? If not, stop everything you are doing and call someone who can help you create a mobile friendly e-commerce site today.
- Collect Customer Data. Make sure you collect as much data as you can through your Point of Sale (POS) or on your site. It’s never been easier to collect your customer’s email or phone number at the POS. There are so many systems to choose from today that do this with ease at the cashier or checkout level. With more and more people using smart phones and going green, you can email receipts, notify of upcoming sales, and simply market your service to them with this collected information.
- Use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program to collect the basic data of your clients and prospects (company name, contact, address, email and phone number). It’s time to drill down to interests, birthdays, colleagues, spouses, children, education, how and why the customer started the business or anything you can discuss. In fact, every time you talk with your customer, note their file. People love to be remembered and this is your powerful insight into your customers needs and wants. Listening to these needs not only builds a strong loyal relationship, it saves everyone time and money by not discussing or pushing out topics that have little or no interest to them or their business.
- Develop a strategy to engage your customers. How do you get your message out to your valued customers. Email, blog post, mail, phone or social media? Quite frankly, you should use all of these to connect and on a regular basis. Use the same information on all platforms as it is unlikely your client will visit all. If they do, great because it takes 5-7 touches before you sell an item. Just begin with one and take baby steps. Remember…”A good plan … now is better than a perfect plan … next week” – General George C. Patton.
- Reward your Customers. Do you have a rewards program? If not start one today. If you have one in store, great. If it isn’t online then talk to someone who specializes in gift cards and rewards programs that will work with your e-commerce site. It doesn’t matter what type of business you own, there is something you can do to reward your clients. Even if it is just a cup of coffee, a $5 gift certificate or maybe a discount on a future purchase. Birthdays, Christmas, Hanukkah, are all great, but what about something more original like an anniversary with you or just to thank them for their business? Think out of the box and send an e-certificate. If they don’t use it, it’s no loss to you.
- Optimize your payment process. Accept Apple Pay and the many new digital wallets to speed up the check out process. Shopping abandonment is a constant battle for e-commerce clients. Make it easy and fast for your clients to buy. Check into the many credit card software systems that not only reach out to clients to pay, for example, Electronic Bill Presentment and Payments (EBPP) but give your customers the ability to finance their purchases.
All in all, e-commerce has evolved and will continue to do so in the coming years. Take advantage of the many tools available to grow your business.
What are you waiting for? Like Nike says “Just do it” and do it today!