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How do I serve online?

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How do I serve online? For the purchase path to move any further from the front page the customer should feel like they came to the right place and that from here on, the service will begin.

Black Friday, Christmas sales, after-holidays sales and bargains. Depending on culture and country, now's the time of the year when eCommerce entrepreneurs make a significant portion of their yearly sales. Despite the hurry and traffic peaks in the store customer service (and the quality of it) should be given special attention to. While browsing through many different webshops potential buyers evaluate and compare the stores they come across with. The ones that serve their customers the best are the ones who set themselves apart from others.

Unlike in brick-and-mortar stores, the buyer doesn't meet the seller face-to-face. Yet a successful purchase experience has many of the same characteristics.

Six cornerstones for better online customer service:

1. Consideration and greeting of the customer

The idiom "First impressions last" is equally true in an online environment. The front page of an online store is basically the same thing as the display window of a brick-and-mortar store. It needs to stand out, appeal to the buyer and be visually pleasing. In an online environment it's even easier to bounce off quickly than in brick-and-mortar stores. If the front page doesn't please the potential buyer, bouncing off it is one click away.

Just as in brick-and-mortar stores, the customer should feel himself welcome and given attention to (Welcome to the store!). For the purchase path to move any further from the front page the customer should feel like they came to the right place and that from this moment on, the service will begin. 

2. Figuring out customer needs

Finding out what the customer needs might sound a bit strange in its most traditional sense. Yet figuring out customer needs can be done in an online environment. We recommend offering clear and precise search functionalities and showing the sorting possibilities to the customer at an early stage of the browsing experience.

Many webstores have already brought a more personal touch to the purchase experience, such as offering a chat window that can be kept open only when staff is available. Our experience has showed that a chat service might have significant influence in getting more sales.

3. Presenting alternatives

Presenting your product range and alternatives is an important part of the purchase experience. In order for the potential buyers to find what they're looking for you need to have a clear categorization of your products. Moreover, good product descriptions and and high quality images of your products are an important part of the shopping experience. Many eMerchants have adopted a variety of new ways to present their products on the product page, such a s videos, user comments and experiences or social media plug-ins. There's nothing wrong about using your imagination as long as you tell enough to convince the customer.

Marketing automations present a new way to tell about the product range and alternatives. By using automated newsletters or dynamic product suggestions, the potential buyer may be approached in a more targeted way.

4. Suggesting the solution

A good salesman has the guts to suggest a solution confidently. The same goes with online purchases where clear and tempting Call-to-Actions are an important factor. Your CTA does not always need to be the traditional "Buy!"-button but it could be a bit different. Urgency, for example, could be used as an incentive, such as: "There are 2 pieces left in stock" or "You'll get this item with the cheaper price for 3 more hours, 22 minutes and 2 seconds..

You could also give recommendations to the buyer: your most sold product, an item from the new season or a popular product for example. Overall we recommend that you carefully analyze the path that leads the buyer to your Call-to-Action: is it tempting enough and is it clear and informative enough?

5. Additional sales

Additional sales could be made along with the purchase or after the purchase. If you decide to offer additional products along with the purchase be careful not to distract your potential buyer with too many things. You can read more about purchase barriers from one of our previous articles: What if shopping groceries was as difficult as shopping online? 

Along with the purchase you could use incentives such as "The buyers of this product also bought" or "Add this item to your cart with 50 % off". Most eMerchants nowadays also utilize email marketing that might bring a significant amount of additional sales. 

6. Saying thank you

Just as saying "Welcome", saying thank you and goodbye in a unique way is important. These things might have a big impact on how your store is remembered and if the buyer is likely to return to your store.

Also, don't forget to take advantage of the check out page. Research has shown that online shoppers often spend a surprisingly big amount of time on the check out page. Therefore it is a great opportunity to market additional services or products, encourage liking your business on Facebook or to subscribe to your newsletter. Once the buyer is on your check out page they've already shown you that they are interested in your products or services.

Saying thank you could also be extended to your order confirmation and thank you email. Here you could offer a discount coupon for the next purchase, encourage tell a friend-functionalities or to subscribe for future campaign prices and discounts sent via e-mail.

The six cornerstones mentioned above are no-brainers yet every eMerchant should return to them every once in a while. It's important to be able to stand in the customer's shoes and look at the store through their eyes. By doing this you might come across many things you could do for better customer service. 

You might also be interested in the following articles:

Contact Liana Technologies' eCommerce experts if you want to discuss more about effective online selling. 

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