Shopping Cart Software

No matter if you’re new to ecommerce or a seasoned veteran, learning and keeping up with how customers interact with your business is a major challenge. It is the hypothetical ‘golden key’ to understanding how to turn a visitor into a loyal customer.

In our experience, we would estimate that over 95% of online merchants don’t fully understand how to manage their online customers and have them leaving their site feeling fulfilled and happy with the order they have placed.
If you’re not asking yourself “Why and how did I get that sale?” or “Where did that customer come from?” and of course, “How am I going to keep that customer coming back?” Then you simply need to change the way you’ve been looking at online selling.
These days, selling online is just like selling offline, with so much more opportunity. There are hundreds of tools available to help you interact with your customers and monitor how they interact with your online store, so use them. Here’s a link to our own ecommerce tips and tools page which offer a helpful selection, You can find an unlimited supply which is more related to your industry by merely searching Google.
Now imagine yourself as a visitor to an online store, a shoe shop maybe. How would you go about finding the product you’re after, understanding if the product is right and finally following through to a purchase? Here is a quick list of important factors in a site which a potential customer needs to convert to a sale:
1.       Navigation – Display your categories, featured items, sale items, a search tool and important information such as contact us, terms and privacy in an easy to see location. Remember everything they want should be no more than two clicks away.
2.       Information placement – Understand how a visitor views your site. The top left is the hot spot, use it for your logo and categories or information you know they want first. Don’t fill your page with long paragraphs of text, information should be concise, clear and easy to find
3.       Page load times – Over 2 seconds is a no-no.
4.       Make the process of buying easy and without interruption – Many merchants like to place heaps of information and extra offers on the checkout. That simply frustrates customers with the task at hand. Lead them to the checkout and give them exactly what they want.
5.       Knowledge – Product descriptions, information about your company, clear terms. These are all important aspects in making your customers feel comfortable in the purchase they are about to make. Lack of knowledge frustrates a customer and they will simply click away to another site.
6.       Sales, discounts and offers – Sure, these will help visitors to your website but there’s no point offering them if they’re too hard to redeem. Give clear instructions.
7.       Offer live chat – Now this is a revolutionary tool in selling online, a must have. How else can you see the visitors in your site in real-time, offer help in real-time and give out promotions to close a sale right then and there?
8.       Display security logo’s – Secure checkouts are obviously a must, but how does an amateur customer understand? Use your SSL certificate’s logo on your website, assure them that their purchase is secure. After all, it’s their credit card details they’re simply plugging in to a strangers website.
Whilst Ashop Commerce offer you the tools to achieve the above requirements for selling online, it’s up to you, the merchant to ensure you don’t go live until every one of them has been ticked off.
Customer Support
Now this is the big one! It’s seven times more expensive to gain a new customer than it is to retain and resell to a current one. So why lose a customer over poor support?
Once a customer is retained, they can so easily be lost by not receiving enough follow up, lack of order tracking, speedy shipping or receiving the wrong product to name only a few. In this day and age, it’s so easy for a customer to find a competitor who sells exactly the same product and potentially for less. Customers used to say "This company is hopeless, but I have no other choice", but now it's "This company is hopeless, I'll do a quick search for their competitors". This is why you need to look after a customer like they were your best friend, go out of your way to impress them wherever possible. You never know, that one happy customer might be your ticket to ten more in referrals.
Gaining a new customer
Aggressive marketing will put people off. To gain a new customer, you can’t simply send out 1000 banners, leaflets and use Adwords. Why do you stand out from the others doing the same? It's a huge spend for a new online business and the conversions are often low for the dollars spent.
Instead, try offering your advice, tips and tools which are useful in your industry. Find forums and blogs where you can help post information which can help readers. Find other Twitterers (that can’t be right) who can learn from your experience. In other words, be the authority in your industry where people learn to come to you for help, the sales will come.
Knowing your customer and anticipating their needs is every bit as important as displaying the most prominent storefront online. Make it your business to know this business inside out and make use of the advice provided in this document. It can mean the difference between a good ebusiness and a great one. 

Author: Brian Altona
Copyright 2010

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