Copyright 2005 Richard Keir
Succeeding with an eCommerce website is a dream for many these days. It may seem nearly impossible at times, but it can be done. This series covers some of basic success factors - things you must consider in creating, implementing, managing and developing a quality eCommerce web site. There are many ways to do business on internet - and, not surprisingly, a lot of ways to both make and lose money. Mainly, I'm focusing on eCommerce sites intended to sell products of various kinds. Not every factor is going to apply to every site, but since a major failing of many internet entrepreneurs is lack of multiple income streams, you'd do well to carefully consider all factors and apply them as needed in developing alternate revenue streams.
On examining your eCommerce web site, put some serious thought into how you can provide personal attention to each visitor. The idea here is a process of personalization through which each visitor, if they wish, can develop a unique experience of your site.
Provide options through which user can alter layout, colors, etc. Give customers capability to create their own personal pages on your site. Perhaps offer a simple and easy to provide service to registered customers, such as free email accounts.
As well as building loyalty and stickiness, such features also build your customer database. Scripts are also available which will allow on-the-spot personalization based on responses to a series of questions. You can also use this kind of script to focus your sales message more tightly to user's expressed interests. This technique has been reported to substantially increase conversion rates.
Free services which can be provided on autopilot can be a virtually endless source of targeted customers. Everything from free email to blog hosting, opt-in list building to free advertising forums, all operate on same principle as building a list through a newszine, white papers, free ebooks or whatever. In return for registration, e.g. name and confirmed email, you provide a service that your visitors desire. The exchange of value is critical. The more valuable service that you offer, more willing people are to provide their information. Careful structuring can allow you to collect significant marketing information on your registered users which would allow well-targeted marketing campaigns.
Never lose track of a customer. Maintaining a database of customers with any of their prior purchases, interests, and so on, allows you to provide personalized purchase suggestions and special offers. The life-long value of a happy customer may be difficult to estimate accurately, but it's far easier to sell to existing customers than to be continuously forced to acquire new ones.
Even if you only have a single product now, you will eventually have expand your product line(s). Don't throw a buyer away. Stay in touch, offer information, occasionally recommend a high quality product you use and value. Build trust through value and quality. It's nearly impossible to over-emphasize this point. Look to long term and plan ahead. Every serious marketer needs to do this.