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6 tips to survive the cutthroat world of e-commerce

By Al Gomez

The world of e-commerce is not just growing – it’s evolving. From simple pick and click systems, users now enjoy varied features when shopping online: from mobile browsing to virtual fitting rooms. It’s no wonder most people prefer to make purchases on the Web today. Consumers in the Philippines especially, have grown to love e-commerce so much that 9 out of 10 Filipinos said they favor online shopping.

Also Read: Millennial female consumers set to dominate e-commerce market; here’s why, and how you can reach them

From Lazada, Hallo-Hallo Mall, to Shopinas: there’s no stopping the local e-commerce trend. But with so many jumping on the bandwagon – not to mention the industry’s heavy weights such as Amazon and eBay – competition can be fierce. If you have an online store or you’re planning on setting one up, keep these six tips in mind and you might just survive.

Stay visible

There are more than a dozen e-commerce websites in the Philippines alone. Most, if not all, are employing modern means to stay within customers’ radars. These include social media, ads, and press releases. If you’re going head to head with giants (or independent sellers), remaining visible is key so that potential customers won’t forget you. Aside from the digital marketing efforts mentioned earlier, you can also utilize email and offline events to promote your online store.

Think outside the box! Ask yourself: WHO is my target market and WHERE do they usually hang out (online)? Remember: people can’t buy what they don’t see.

Offer seasonal promos or deals

One of the main reasons consumers choose online shopping is because of special deals and prices that are usually not available in brick-and-mortar stores. Take advantage of this selling point by providing seasonal promos or deals. Depending on your area target market, you can customize these offers to coincide with special dates when consumers are most likely to buy.

For example: the months of May to June in the Philippines are crucial due to the start of the school year. A ‘back-to-school sale’ featuring more than 50 per cent off on buys is a great way to attract parents on a budget.

‘Payday sales’ is another lucrative promo that can be done once or twice a month.

Stay consistent to your unique selling point (USP)

A unique selling point (USP) is what separates you from your competitors. Being clear on this aspect helps e-commerceers a) strategically target consumers, thus b) successfully converting clicks to sales. If you’re in the online shopping business, ask yourself: what makes YOUR store different than the many others on the Web? Are you offering one-of-a-kind products? Or is your focus on customer loyalty?

Local startup Unlideals for instance, uses superb customer service from pre- to post-purchase as their unique selling point. Unlike other e-commerceers, this online shop has very attentive customer representatives who quickly answer queries – online or on phones. This means customers can quickly get access to live assistance without having to wait long queues or being put on-hold.

Optimise your website for maximum usability

The online shopping craze is not just sweeping desktops – mobile shopping is quickly becoming an option for many consumers. In the Philippines, 51 per cent of users use smartphones to browse e-commerce sites, and 29 per cent of those proceed to check-out their picks. Tablet users, although not many in number, also play a role in online sales, accounting for 17 per cent of purchases.

Also Read: E-commerce players, copy an experience that you like and make it yours: Tyson Hackwood

e-commerceers need to ensure that their websites can cater to these types of potential customers. A mobile-friendly interface will give your customers confidence and peace of mind, knowing they can shop for goods – anytime, anywhere, and across any device. Users who can’t find what they’re looking for, or are made to wait too long until a page loads, will most likely leave. And it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for an unresolved negative experience. So make that first impression count!

Guarantee privacy and convenience

Perhaps one of the main concerns with e-commerce is privacy and security. In the event of a breach, sensitive information such as billing addresses and credit card data could easily go to the wrong hands. Such was the case when Home Depot was hacked in September 2014. Work with your web developer or IT specialist to ensure shoppers’ information is protected at all times.

Create lasting customer connections

Did you know that loyal customers are worth up to 10 times more than their first buy? Never underestimate the power of repeat purchases. Even up and coming e-commerceers can compete with giants simply by connecting with their customers. Do this by providing memorable shopping experience on your website, through exceptional customer service, or by offering loyalty programs.

Every business knows how hard it is to acquire new customers. Although they are important to keep an enterprise relevant, the time and effort it takes to convert them to actual paying clients can often take a toll on retailers. With existing customers, there’s already a 60 to 70 per cent chance of selling to them. And this extends throughout the business’ lifetime.

Also Read: Not 5, not 10, but 25 most powerful e-commerce hacks for your platform

Just because a sector is saturated doesn’t mean there’s little chance of success. Businesses that tend to do well, especially online, have a clear grasp of WHAT they want to achieve. This vision should be reflected in everything that the entrepreneur does. Don’t just follow the pack – LEAD. As with the cutthroat world of e-commerce, setting the trend can mean all the difference.

This article entitled “6 tips to survive the cutthroat world of e-commerce” originally appeared in e27.

SEO consultant Al Gomez is the man behind, Dlinkers and UnliDeals. With more than nine years of experience in digital marketing, he enjoys supporting smartpreneurs like himself achieve online success.

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