Typical eCommerce Challenges for a Startup

For a startup company now branching into eCommerce, creating a relevant online store that actively converts visitors to customers can be a daunting task. The first and most immediate goal should be to establish an online customer base. This requires a number of moving parts synchronize harmoniously resulting in a clean effective eCommerce site that your customers trust. I’ve outlined some key points below that should be considered when embarking on such an engagement.

1. Determining Your Customer

Related: Understanding your Customer in the Digital World

Sounds relatively simple but your customer may not be who you think they are. Take Blackberry Messenger (BBM) as an example. From its inception, the business plan behind BBM was to create a secure real-time communication layer for businesses to communicate safely.

What actually happened?

BBM was adopted as the first truly secure communication layer amongst consumers, far surpassing the professional services targets originally planned. Research In Motion (RIM), the creators of BBM, had to rethink their business plan and reconstruct it to cater for the new customer. What does this mean? Ensure your business plan has the flexibility to handle the potential that your idea of who “your customer” is may not be who “your customer” turns out to be (nor should it matter). Once your product / service is  doing what it is supposed to, you’ll be just fine.

2. Attracting Your Customer

“Build it and they will come”

So you’ve determined your customer or maybe they have determined you. Now how do you get them to your door? Naturally the answer is Marketing, Marketing, Marketing right? But what approach? There are so many… SEO, PPC, Print, Radio, TV etc. How do you determine which medium will reach your customer-base? Of all the medium’s I’ve listed one comes with no additional $ required. Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Consider the following:

– Studies show that 92% of people have more confidence in information found online than they do in anything from a salesclerk or other source
70-80% of users ignore the paid ads focusing on the organic results
– SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, which outbound leads (such as direct mail or print ads) have a 1.7% close rate

3. Keeping Your Customer

Related: Customer Retention Strategies in eCommerce

You’ve done the hard part. You’ve stayed focused, determined your customer or vice versa, implemented a brilliant SEO campaign and now the customer is at your doorstep asking to come in.

What’s next?

Make them feel comfortable! Promote what you do well prominently. Ensure the purchase path is smooth, walking them effortlessly through the search, selection, and checkout stages. Communicate your return policy openly and honestly. Transparency is the key here and will play a major role in the willingness of this customer to return and purchase again. In the event you fail to deliver the product / service, accept fault, and offer incentives to purchase again. The immediate hit to the bottom line on an individual purchase will be absorbed several times over when considering the lifetime value of that customer and their returned business.

If you are able to successfully implement these critical items throughout the infancy of your eCommerce years, you’ll be ahead of the game with a healthy customer-base in no time at all.