8 keys to ecommerce success

Ecommerce business owners and experts discuss how you can make your online store stand out from the crowd.

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“Having product reviews drives traffic and conversion, [by] up to 44 percent,” says Erik Skurka, vice president of Product at PowerReviews. “Shoppers expect unbiased and informative reviews from fellow shoppers to help drive their purchase decisions. Make sure those star ratings snippets are on your category pages, and above the fold on product detail pages to help drive visibility.”

[ Related: 5 ways ecommerce businesses can improve customer service ]

6. Your ecommerce site should provide excellent customer service (and not just on the site). “When you launch an ecommerce [site], you immediately have a 24x7 global business,” says Alan Berkson, director of Community Outreach, Freshdesk, a customer support software company. And “your customers will require pre-sale and [post-sale] customer service from you. A critical success factor is setting and managing the expectations for the availability and speed of your responses… and being prepared to track, manage [and respond to] all inquiries [in a timely fashion].”

“Focusing on your customers and making sure their expectations are consistently met is critical to your website’s success,” says Buffy Simoni, president, Paper Mart.  “For Paper Mart, that includes being available to our customers through whichever channel they prefer. [Whether] it’s though our call center, chat, email or our social media channels, everyone gets the same great service and attention.” Something not just Paper Mart but all good ecommerce companies do.

“One essential tool that we use constantly is a chat box,” says Rob Boirun, CEO, Flagtopia.com. “Once we added this to our ecommerce store we saw a 245 percent increase in sales. What we offer typically needs customization, and by offering an easy entryway to start communication when the customer is needing it, we are now able to provide the expected customer service in real time. [Live chat is] becoming more popular these days and I would suggest that this is a required component going forward.”

7. Checkout should be fast and easy. “The more steps it takes for customers to pay, the greater the chance they'll drop out,” says Sajal Agarwal, chief innovation officer, Ingenico ePayments. “Ecommerce sites should offer a range of solutions to help speed up payments, from one-page checkouts to recurring purchases and the ability to save card details.”

“Shoppers don't always want to create an account, but many ecommerce systems still require consumers to register for one before purchasing,” says Craig Smith, founder & CEO, Trinity Insight, an ecommerce consulting and optimization company. To ensure shopping carts aren’t abandoned, “ecommerce businesses should [also] have a guest checkout option.”

[ Related: 12 tips for creating a must-read business blog ]

8. Your ecommerce site – and team – should be social. You may have a fabulous site, but if no one knows about, or is talking about it, it doesn’t matter. That’s why you need to promote your ecommerce business – and get others to promote it – on the popular social networks (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest).

“[We are on] all the social media platforms where customers could possibly connect to us,” says Daisy Jing, founder & CEO, Banish, a skin care solution company. “[And] we reply [to and] assist them and constantly post [content] to connect with our customers [and] followers [on social media]. We also use these platforms to advertise [and] connect with the influencers [on] each platform to gain more exposure/potential buyers.” As a result, Banish has attracted many loyal followers.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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