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4 tips to get started with e-commerce

Offer more convenience and value to customers

Read time: 3 minutes

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We are increasingly living in a hyper-connected, high-speed world. The rapid adoption of the Internet and mobile devices in Canada and around the world is completely changing the way consumers search for products, get recommendations, interact with companies and make payments.

For example, a 2016 BDC study found that 90% of consumers systematically visit a company’s website before contacting it for information. The same is true of business clients. More than half (57%) of the business-to-business buying process is done online before a salesperson is contacted.

Both retail and business-to-business companies are missing out on huge opportunities if they ignore the online sales revolution, says Ravi Dindayal, Director, Marketing with BDC Advisory Services.

Offering customers an e-commerce option can boost sales, give you an edge on competitors and improve productivity, Dindayal says.

Dindayal offers these four tips to help business owners take full advantage of e-commerce.

1. Deepen customer relationships

Use e-commerce as an opportunity to deepen customer relationships.

For example, while customers are shopping at your site, you can offer promotions, tell them about new products and invite them to company events.

Also think about offering high-quality content such as blogs, tutorials and how-to-videos to increase your credibility as an expert in your field. You may also want to consider offering live chat support to reassure customers and answer their questions.

These are cost-effective ways to promote your brand and foster a community of loyal clients who may become ambassadors for your company.

2. Focus on cross-channel marketing

If you offer a promotion on your website or Facebook page, make sure salespeople in your store are aware of the campaign.

They should be ready to promote specials, honour coupons and update loyalty cards.

This is called cross-channel marketing (or omnichannel marketing)—coordinating online and in-store efforts to make sure the customer experience is smooth.

“When you do something online, make sure it comes alive in the store,” Dindayal says.

The same applies to business-to-business companies. Sales reps should be aware of your online campaigns and other web efforts.

3. Improve your customer knowledge

An online store makes it easier to collect data on customer behaviour to improve operations and marketing.

Using data tools, you can automate data collection on your website and quickly analyze the results to gain more insights. For instance, web analytics applications can help you:

  • Understand your website visitor experience
  • Learn what keywords bring in the best prospects
  • Improve your sales conversion
  • Identify trends and improve website usability to maximize your return on investment

You can also use a CRM system to centralize all your customer information. By combining the data you collect from your website with the one in your CRM system, you can offer your clients personalized products and services according to their needs and tastes. What’s more, customers will generally pay more for a product that is personalized.

4. Don’t forget mobile

Mobile-responsive websites are now a must-have for consumers. In fact, over one-quarter of consumers claim they will simply leave a site if it is not mobile optimized, according to a BDC survey. Google and other search engines also favour mobile optimized websites.

“The more convenience and value you create for clients, the more loyalty they will have to your brand,” Dindayal says. “It’s the future, so you have to do it.”

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