Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
As an ecommerce business owner, I get it: the internet is a loud place. There’s information on how to maintain customer loyalty, conflicting SEO practices, and a need to stay abreast of change in your industry. As technology advances and brings us new ecommerce features, such as advanced inventory management and custom APIs, we’re still overwhelmed with a wealth of information, sifting through it all and trying to figure out how to get ahead.
The ecommerce landscape isn’t slowing down. So, here are five tips to help you grow your online business in the new year.
Activate social media.
Social media is tricky for ecommerce business owners because of the amount of time it requires. These days, we’re told that being a social media success can help bolster brand awareness and sales, but in order to reap the benefits we must be active 24/7. However, there are only so many hours in the day. While having a strong social media presence has proven to be beneficial, not every owner has the time.
You don’t have to work every social media platform, but you should at least do one very well. Maybe you’ve chosen to beef up your Facebook presence because you want to take advantage of its strong advertising mechanics and large customer base. In that case, use the time you’ve allotted to social media to create a space where customers can exchange and share, and you can post announcements about your brand. Having a solid social media presence on at least one platform will go a long way to developing a brand following.
Offer free shipping.
Offering free shipping can be a small way to begin to build relationships with your target audience. We offer free domestic shipping for our German cuckoo clocks. Some ecommerce companies offer free shipping over a certain purchase amount or on special items. Regardless of your company policy, the value of free shipping is clear to the customer. It entices shoppers to make a purchase.
In addition, offering free shipping can reduce the amount of abandoned shopping carts in your store. Many customers get to the checkout phase and are dissuaded by the additional shipping prices or popup costs. In the long run, free shipping can turn a casual shopper into a lifelong customer.
Share customer photos.
When you’re working with an ecommerce platform, customers can’t touch and feel your products. Instead, they have to rely on reviews or photos to ensure they’re making the right choice. For this reason, it’s important to share customer photos and experiences on social media and on your site. Prospective customers want to see real people using your products.
Sharing photos also allows past customers to feel more like they’re in the fabric of your brand. If a customer sees his or herself pictured on your website, they will feel more inclined to share information about your store to their friends and family.
Outsource, outsource, outsource.
As ecommerce business owners, we sometimes feel we have to be everything at once.
Outsourcing work is imperative to long-term success. You don’t have to be good at everything — you’ve already proven yourself to be a quality project manager, simply by setting up and running your online store. However, if there’s something you’re not good at, ask for help. Whether it’s advertising, web design, or payroll, know when to outsource so you don’t burn out and can focus on what you do best.
I was able to scale my ecommerce company from initial launch to more than seven figures in revenue in three years by outsourcing our SEO marketing. Outsourcing can help a company stay nimble. If the work being done isn’t up to par or the scope of the project changes, it’s much easier to cut ties with a freelancer or consultant than a full-time employee.
The one thing that will never be outdated is collecting customer feedback. Your customer is a reflection of the state of your business. You need to find out what they want and like.
Many ecommerce platforms have a plugin or feature that allows you to collect and display customer reviews. If not, apps such as Yotpo can help integrate customer testimonials on your product pages. SurveyAnyplace and Typeform are also useful questionnaire tools to assess customer needs and perspective.
Customer feedback is a gold mine for how you should shape your brand and marketing. Do your current customers like your ads? Do potential customers approach you with more questions after visiting your website? Where are you losing people in your sales funnel? With the right feedback, you’ll be better equipped to adjust and implement changes in a way your customers will appreciate.
Using these tips will put you in a better position to grow your business and with developing a niche brand on an ecommerce platform.