The e-commerce sector is growing in strength. Every year there are new online shops. Although there is still much space for new companies online, competition has become very strong in many sectors. Among e-shops, only those that focus on effective development will stand out. These are the four critical success factors of an online shop!
Online shop development – what does it depend on?
Setting up an online shop is only the beginning of the whole venture. The enormous competition on the market makes it necessary to work continuously to achieve success. The development of online business is influenced by many factors, which we look at in this article.
1. Sales strategy
Every online business owner knows how vital a skilfully planned sales strategy is. When starting a shop on the Internet, a detailed e-commerce action plan should be developed. Its creation is worth starting from an exact market and competition analysis. Observation of already functioning businesses allows you to identify many useful solutions which are also worth adopting in your shop, as well as to point out mistakes that should be avoided. It is equally important to properly define the segment in which we intend to position our shop and consciously build the brand.
Another essential element of the analysis is to define the target customer and their preferences precisely – this is necessary to specify the actions taken. Nevertheless, a critical stage is to prepare a plan to reach customers and estimate the budget for selected advertising tools. The essential element is the communication strategy, i.e. defining the ways of communicating with shoppers.
Such a comprehensive plan will help not only at the initial stage of running a shop but also in its further development. A good strategy serves both to define the direction of activities and the tools necessary for their implementation, as well as to analyse the results achieved and create development plans.
2. Shop logistics
Online retailers must take care of many aspects of their business development. One of the most important is the organisation of logistics in the shop. Especially today, as a result of increased customer expectations, it is almost necessary to shorten the time and reduce the costs of order delivery. The logistics model of the e-shop, i.e. all activities needed to deliver an order to the customer, includes such tasks as storage, completion, packing, the shipment of goods or return handling. The three most popular logistics models in e-commerce are: own warehouse (processing orders directly from the shop), drop shipping (shipping goods from the producer or supplier when the shop processes the order) and fulfilment (the whole logistics is transferred to an external company).
At the stage of selecting a specific logistics model, it is worth taking into account the nature of sales, as well as the necessary financial outlays and possible profits resulting from its implementation. An appropriate solution may significantly improve the quality of purchasing processes, thus increasing customer satisfaction and sales levels. Along with an increase in consumer environmental awareness, care should also be taken to make the logistics model environmentally friendly. It is worth implementing materials for packing shipments – biodegradable or reusable, as well as delivery to collection points.
3. Data analysis
One of the elements determining the success of an online shop is analytics which is the foundation of every e-commerce business. Running an online shop is a challenge and without a skilful assessment of the effectiveness of the actions taken, it becomes even impossible to develop your business.
Data analysis gives full insight into the current situation of the business – it allows you to track such important indicators (Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs for short) as conversion, sources of traffic, cost of acquiring a customer, the average value of orders, value of a customer's life or the number of cart abandonments. It is also worthwhile to monitor the mention of the brand and follow the actions of the competition. This makes it possible to react in real time to the changes taking place and adapt one's further actions to them.
4. Customer service
Due to the specificity of e-commerce, customer service in an online shop is one of the most important aspects of doing business. Many sellers, instead of focusing on offering low prices of goods or services, should focus on the needs and expectations of customers. The key to success in dealing with website users is to make the purchasing process as easy as possible for them. Intuitive website navigation plays a key role in the sales process. Customer satisfaction can also be determined by the response time to e-mail and telephone enquiries. Apart from traditional communication channels, it is also worthwhile to provide the option of contact through social media or chat on the shop's website. For the customer's benefit, it is worth taking care of the transparency of rules related to returns and complaints. The total cost of the order should not cause any doubts for the buyer – that is why the website, apart from the purchasing rules, returns and complaints policy, should contain visible information about costs and delivery methods. This is not the end of it – good customer service means informing the customer about the current status of the order.
Transaction security is another essential factor in determining high-quality customer service in the e-commerce industry. An SSL certificate is critical to every e-shop, ensuring data confidentiality and thus increasing customer confidence. The pro-consumer attitude will pay off with shop development – acquiring regular customers whose positive opinions will have a real impact on the purchase decisions of others.