Here is a handy checklist of critical elements for e-commerce success:
1) Get Good at Social Media
The social-media universe is virtually infinite, and so it’s a challenge to find the best way to use it. Dabbling in all available social-media platforms is fine, but we recommend picking one and mastering it, with this objective -- creating an environment where customers can exchange information, and where you can post announcements.
2) Minimize Shopping Cart Abandonment
Approximately 60-70% of online customers abandon their shopping carts before making a purchase. The main cause is often additional fees that get tacked on at the end of the sale, such as shipping charges. Try to announce ancillary fees at the beginning of the process so customers aren’t surprised at the end. Another important strategy is to send a follow-up email to customers if they abandon their shopping cart. There are many automated email programs that can do this for you.
3) Up-Sell and Cross-Sell
Let’s say a customer is ready to buy one of your products. This is the perfect time to sell them something else, either additional items that enhance the usefulness of your product (such as shaving cream specifically formulated to work best with a particular razor), or combining items to allow the customer to achieve a volume discount. Another strategy is to offer an inexpensive entry-level sale. A good example of this was employed by Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, who sold ice-cream at cost in front of his first brick-and-mortar store, attracting customers with the low price and then ushering them in to make more purchases.
4) Leverage a 3PL
If you start small, you might want to try fulfilling and shipping your product yourself, but third-party logistics companies (3PLs) can usually handle this function better and cheaper than you, once volume and order-complexity levels have been reached.
5) Offer Free Shipping
Everybody likes free shipping, and you need to offer it, though you probably aren’t in a position to emulate Amazon and lose $20 billion dollars a year on it. Instead do the next best thing and offer free shipping at a minimum purchase-price point, encouraging customers to buy more.
6) Get Your Mobile Capabilities Up to Speed
Sixty-two percent of smartphone owners made a purchase via mobile in the past six months. Mobile usage is growing faster than any other communications segment. Your mobile site should be user-friendly, with an easy-to-navigate shopping-cart function.
7) Outsource, Outsource, Outsource
Good leaders keep their eyes on the big picture, which means staying out of the weeds. Entrepreneurs and small-business owners often feel the need to do everything themselves, and while it’s good to understand the details of your operation, trying to do everything is ultimately a loser. Pick an area where you feel most skilled (sales and marketing are good) and outsource as much of the rest as possible.
8) Create Original Content
Recipes, blogs, newsletters - there are many ways to keep a flow of information going to your customers and prospects. Tilt your content toward information more than sales. People like content that teaches them something.
9) Get Customer Feedback
Your customers are your best critics, and their feedback is a gold mine of information. Many e-commerce platforms have plugins that allow you to collect and display customer reviews. If that isn’t available, there are other apps that allow you to integrate customer testimonials into your product page.
10) Connect With Affiliates
Affiliates are associates (such as bloggers) who refer customers to your website and then collect a commission on the sales. This serves as free marketing for you. There are reputable networks that make it easy for affiliates to integrate with you. Be generous with your commissions because this is one of the more efficient marketing tools available.