So here are a couple of very broad questions - what factors should I consider when setting up an eCommerce website and how do I distinguish myself in the market ?
Well you may think that there are hundreds of things and the truth is that there are but many of them can be introduced a bit later on down the line so lets first focus on the important steps.
We could use virtually any eCommerce website sector as an example as most successful sites have many of the same features and services. However we shall choose the online electronic cigarette market for the purpose of this exercise.
Now the first thing to establish-is your chosen market growing or declining ? it wouldn’t make much commercial sense if your products were in a declining market. So choose a sector with some growth potential or an established market that is on the up.
For example, the e-cigarette market is growing rapidly so this is a sector that can at least support another player in the market and has good growth potential over the next few years.
OK so now we have our sector what products do I sell ? This will depend on your budget and target market, for instance do you want to focus on a niche market within this sector , say have a good range of branded e-liquids or do you offer a one stop shop and offer a whole range of e-cig products. There is no right or wrong way to approach this but its important to understand where you position yourself in the market.
If you have a substantial marketing budget you may choose to create a brand and attempt to establish this in the marketplace and drive volume along with brand recognition. This is clearly an expensive exercise which over time can be very affective. Alternatively you may want to be an "Added value" player, whereby you offer the same basic products as the rest of the market but add "extra" value to them.
How do you do this ?
Taking the electronic cigarette market as an example, this is a fairly new product and the majority of websites seem to be offering the same type of products so how can you distinguish yourself.
Factor No.1 Consider having a contact telephone number that is clearly visible on your website so that potential customers can ring your company for help and advice. This instills confidence in your customer.
Factor No.2 Add relevant information about your products along with high quality images.
Factor No.3 Consider using videos to promote your products. This can be very affective as the customer can see how the products looks and works before purchasing.
Factor No.4 Promote your particular services such as free delivery , money back guarantee and delivery times etc. This demonstrates that there is a level of customer service attached to the product "Added value".
Factor No.5 Make it easy for your customer to contact you and offer them various channels to do so. We have mentioned the telephone number but consider a contact form and email along with a Live Chat system which gives the customer the ability to receive instant information about you and your products.
Factor No.6 Offer alternative purchasing channels. OK you are an online business but some of you customers may not be that confident of ordering online so maybe offer a telephone ordering service. This is a great way to connect with your customers and again adds value to your products.
Factor No.7 Support your products post purchase. Respond quickly to issues and problems that your customers may encounter and offer a fast turnaround for replacement goods. This will encourage your customer to purchase from you again.
You may well think that this is all fairly obvious stuff but you will be amazed at how many websites ignore some of these factors and fail to "add value" to their proposition. During our research for this article we found a number of very good websites within the electronic cigarette sector that were offering a number of "Added value" factors.
A great example of an online e-cigarette retailer that utilizes most if not all of the "Added value" factors is Sparks e-cigs who seem to have established themselves in this competitive market by offering as far as we can see very similar products to their competitors but by elevating the customer experience and service levels have created a niche in this market as an "Added value" player.
In conclusion big is not always best , understand your market , look for opportunities where you can increase the perceived value of your products and try to follow successful examples of this approach.
It works !
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