Business tips

Going the extra mile: Three strategies to make your business stand out from the competition

With increasingly savvy shoppers who have millions of stores at their fingertips, how do you stand out from the crowd, attract first-time customers and build customer loyalty?

Before the days of online retail we shopped locally. Not from our couches but down the road, in our neighbourhood, close to work. And we tended to follow the same often-trod path to the shops we knew well, sometimes even greeting the familiar face behind the counter.

Generating traffic and customer loyalty can be far harder when your “shop” is jammed in with millions of others. You can’t rely on foot traffic or chatting to potential shoppers to draw them in and help them search for what they’re looking for. But the interesting thing that keeps coming up in online retail surveys is that many of the same elements that encourage custom with bricks-and-mortar stores are also the things that separate one e-commerce store from another. Customer service? An elegant store? Check! Read on for a few ways to stand out from the competition.

1. Consumer security

Buying things on the internet can be easier than heading to the shops, but it can also be riskier. Depending on the product it can be a gamble to buy something you can’t hold, look at closely, try on, show the kids… and often people are wary about it. Then there is the factor of putting credit card details online, which no matter how many times we do it can still feel a little scary. According to a 2014 survey by global information security company NCC Group, nearly eight out of 10 people (77 per cent) still don’t feel safe when shopping online.

Helping your customers to feel secure about purchasing from you is the best way to overcome this issue. There are a few ways to do this:

  • Offer a money-back guarantee: this is the most effective way to remove the sense of risk customers may feel buying something they can’t hold and try. When e-commerce guru Neil Patel played with different ways to increase conversions, he experienced a 21 per cent rise in sales when he offered a money-back guarantee, and of those people only 12 per cent asked for their money back. This simple gesture can help people over the stumbling block of first-time purchasing at your store.
  • Don’t ask for too much information at checkout: while customer information can be great for data gathering, it can also lead to serious shopping cart abandonment. This can be because people don’t feel comfortable giving much information online or because they want to check out quickly or are using a device like a smartphone, which makes form filling difficult. Create a sign-in option and a quick checkout option, with limited information required.
  • Give people payment options: some people are very nervous about putting their credit card details online and so having options such as PayPal or SecurePay’s POLi – which enables customers to pay through bank transfer – gets them past this hurdle.

2. Offer an elegant website experience

In the same way people enjoy browsing in a beautiful store, they’ll actually spend more time and money when shopping on a well-designed and attractive website. E-commerce consultant Tess Harnett, of Ecommerce Uncovered, found that when she moved from selling products on eBay to her own online store, she could sell an item for three times the price she was asking on eBay. The reason was branding. She found that with a beautiful website and a price-point to match, people actually had more faith in the product.

Some of the user experience design rules to keep in mind when designing your website are: including large, good quality images – preferably with a beautiful hero shot on the homepage; being aware of the science of colours including the elegance of simple black and white (check out an article on colour science and website design here) and keeping the look clean, uncluttered and easy to navigate.

Our recent case study Cable Melbourne has a simple, stylish and appealing homepage.

3. Thank your customers

Time and again surveys are finding that going the extra mile with customers impresses and creates customer loyalty. There are so many ways to thank your customers for visiting your site or purchasing. Here is a handful:

  • Create a loyalty program
  • Reward for referrals
  • Send a digital gift voucher for their birthday
  • Wrap the product or include a handwritten thank you note
  • Educate or entertain with written content and videos
  • Invite them to send in personal photos with your products and post them online
  • Send a freebie or sample with their purchase
  • Offer VIP status and have VIP sales
  • Respond to their feedback.

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