(6) Ramp up for busy times Whether you are waiting in line for a coffee or buying a ticket at the station, no one likes to queue, but whatever the business, this commonly happens where demand outstrips supply. So when e-tailers experience peaks and troughs, whether it’s for Valentine?s Day or the New Year sales, it is crucial to be prepared and have sufficient staff to manage the additional orders. While some blips in demand may be completely unpredictable, whether you are expecting them or not, it is simple and cost-effective to build in contingency, so you can scale your labour resources up or down without notice. (7) Differentiate with service One of the reasons customers go elsewhere is down to “comparison shopping”, when they find the same product but at a better price from another store. If you want to find a way of beating the competition that isn?t purely reliant on price then service can be a great way to stand out. Why is this so powerful? Because as recent research has shown especially amongst the younger millennial generation, as many as 83 per cent of consumers decide NOT to complete an intended purchase due to poor customer service. The correlation between building strong customer relationships and sales is backed up by research from Gallup and The Disney Institute that suggests that organisations that focus on emotional connections outperform their competitors by 26 per cent in gross margin and 85 per cent in sales growth. (8) Invest in post-sales care Your existing customers are your future customers, so allocating additional resources to after-sales including fulfilment, logistics and returns can pay huge dividends in the shape of long-term loyalty and repeat buying. A “ship and forget” mentality should be replaced with a robust delivery and returns infrastructure, backed up by a professional, friendly, knowledgeable and responsive customer service team. (9) Expand into new territories If you have a successful e-operation in the UK, then why not consider targeting overseas markets too. Don?t be put off by language barriers or geographical borders because with a virtual store there is no need to hire in-country staff, as you could rely on a centralised team in the UK where you can draw on a ready-made pool of native language speakers from German through to Portuguese. (10) Nurture repeat business The 80/20 rule suggests that the lion?s share of sales will come from one in five of your clients, but what if you could magnify this effect? Make all of your customers feel valued before and after they make a purchase and you will increase their propensity to buy. Take the time to know your customers and then communicate with them regularly with personalised offers, promotions or advice that they will appreciate. Building an ongoing relationship will not only endear you to customers but will also turn them into lifetime advocates for your brand. Dino Forte is founder and managing director of Ventrica.
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