To continue with our series on applying brick and mortar ideas to your online store, this segment will cover how you can implement tools to make your online shoppers feel as though they have the same customer service that they would at your shop.
When you go to a retail store, one of the first things that will happen is a sales associate will greet you (hopefully in a friendly manner) and ask you what you are looking for or if you need help finding a specific item. The associate might also tell the customer what specials are going on or what products are currently on sale.
You can do several different things to achieve this same effect online, utilizing multiple features to recreate some of the convenience of having a sales associate to reference.
To assume the role of greeter for your web store, you can use bright banner images on your landing page to greet your customers. This will need to be friendly, informative and aesthetically interesting to engage your customers and get them to look further into your shop. Think about what you do when you visit a site for the first time. Do you give the site a chance to load fully and display all of its images? Do you read the full page before deciding to navigate further? Normally, you are going to have less than 10 seconds to get a customer hooked on your page. The landing page will serve as a greeter and hopefully will achieve this for your web store.
In addition to having great content on your landing page, having a chat feature is another wonderful way to engage your customers. A chat feature allows customer to interact with your support staff in an anonymous way (if they choose) that often times gives them a sense of security. It can help your customers who may have anxieties about talking on the phone with a sales rep as it is a digital interface.
Another tip to creating a great service element is having a properly functioning search bar. If a customer can search for a certain product within your site, it is a great tool for them in navigation. It’s almost like having a salesperson there who you can ask what isle you’ll find the product in. This feature should be user-friendly, adapting to misspellings and other factors of human error. Maybe you don’t carry a certain product online but you carry it in store. This tool should be used in the same way a sales person would be. If a customer asks for something that doesn’t exist in your store, can you offer suggestions like a salesperson would?
These simple steps, although they’ll probably take some programming work from your developers, will ensure that you don’t lose sight of customer service on your ecommerce site.
In this series, we will be examining the ways in which retail stores can help us to better optimize online stores. For those of you who already have a brick and mortar, these tips might seem familiar and will be easily implemented. Those who don’t have a storefront might have some trouble with a few concepts, but will ultimately see the value in applying these processes to online marketplaces.
First, let’s talk about window space in retail. When you are at a shopping center or walking down a main street, looking at the shops, the first thing that you’re going to notice is the shop’s windows. These windows stand as a snippet of what the store has to offer. The color stories, the placement, the signage – all of these things are designed to peak your curiosity and get you to come inside. Some stores might even place signage out on the sidewalk or have a greeter, handing out coupons or fliers outside the front door.
In correlation to your web store, the front shop windows are your homepage or landing page. This is the first thing that a customer sees of your store and you have less than 10 seconds to impress them and get them to stay on your page.
Thinking of a retail space, shops are consistently redoing their windows to keep current and interesting. If you passed a store several times and the windows were the same, you probably wouldn’t go in because there wouldn’t be anything new or noteworthy. The same is true of your front/landing page. These need to be changed constantly to keep customers returning.
To recap, treat your landing page like storefront windows – change it up, keep it current and make it interesting to draw in traffic and keep customers coming back for more.
When developing a strong brand identity for your business, there are a few key things you want to have in place. Obviously you should choose a name that is catchy and well-suited for your niche market. Another important aspect of this brand image is going to be your logo. Like everything else going into your business, a logo should be well planned and designed to represent your brand in the marketplace. Everything from the layout to the color scheme should be thought out and given the attention it deserves. It would be a shame to put the capital into opening a business without creating a visual centerpiece that the public can relate to and utilize as a symbol of your brand.
When designing a logo, there are many different avenues that you can take. Some businesses have very intricate, well-designed and colorful logos. There are others that want a simple, clean looking logo that may not be heavily artistic, but conveys a strong message to the audience.
The important thing to remember during the first phase of planning your logo is to pick a consistent theme and stick to it. Choosing colors can be a great way to evoke different emotions in your audience and grab their attention. Often times, marketing and sociological studies alike have proven that certain colors can hold certain meanings for people and can be associated in specific ways. It helps to do some research on which colors you want to use and how they will be perceived by your audience.
Aside from the colors that you use with your new logo, keep in mind the design you want your logo to have. Are you going to incorporate your business’ name? Are you going to use a specific character or mascot as a part of your logo? Plan out and sketch your ideas or work with a graphic designer to create the perfect logo for you.
Fraud is common in retail, regardless of the interface used, but when it comes to the world of e-commerce, there is a greater risk of fraud for three main reasons.
First, and most important, is the fact that you are not handling the payment method. Think about it – if you walked into a gas station with a piece of paper that had all of the right credit card information on it, they still wouldn’t accept that as payment. You would need the physical card in your hand to use it. It’s different in the e-commerce arena. There is no way to be 100% certain that you are dealing with a real person or if they are using real information.
Second, you are not in charge of your merchandise throughout the entire transaction. At the gas station, the cashier decides when it is ok for you to pump the gas, but when someone is shopping online, you ship the order out in good faith, trusting your preventative measures and hoping that you didn’t just ship it out at a loss to your business.
Lastly, there are several different types of fraud that can occur in an e-commerce marketplace. You have to watch out for counterfeit credit cards and gift cards, but also you have to make sure that you aren’t being taken advantage of by chargeback fraud. The internet is a vast space that allows criminals to take unprepared shop owners by surprise.
So how can you take the proper measures and secure your site to the best of your abilities? There are actually quite a few ways that are simple and effective when it comes to preventing e-commerce fraud and fraudulent activities. Make sure that you have a procedure that you follow every time you get an order and keep it consistent. You should be checking the shipping and billing addresses and security codes or CVV2 codes on all orders. If the shipping address and billing address are different, call the customer to verify the order. These are two steps that can go a long way in preventing fraud. You can also check the email that was given with the order to see if it is from a free email site. If an order is large compared to your average dollar sale, you should be calling or emailing that customer to verify the order and be sure it was correct.
In the end, it is better to have called and double checked an order than to be at a loss. No customer who has legitimately placed an order is going to be mad at you for calling. It shows that you are offering the best customer service possible, because your costs go up if you are constantly losing money to fraud.