If you’ve recently decided to dive into the world of e-commerce – whether you’re just looking to sell a few home-made items over eBay, or you’re looking to launch the next online supergiant – then you’ll want to absorb as much advice as possible in order to avoid the pitfalls that you’ll encounter on your journey toward success. Let’s take a look at ten of the best of them!
Keep hold of your customers
The old adage is true – it’s far easier to keep hold of existing customers than it is to win over new ones. With every new customer you come into contact with, then, you’ll want to take the opportunity to earn their loyalty for life. Ensure that you’re the sort of business that your customers want to shop from, and incentivise loyalty through reward schemes.
Try a handwritten note
If you’re sending out hundreds of packages to disparate customers, then it’s easy to lose that personal touch that sets apart the small business from the larger one. Include a handwritten note in each package and you’ll bridge the distance between your office and your customers – and help bring them on board for the long-term.
Monitor your customer experience
A physical store should try to get a customer’s-eye-view of how they’re doing by hiring mystery shoppers to anonymously take a look around – and so too should an online store. The outside perspective provided by a professional and impartial mystery shopper report will allow you to improve the experience in ways you might not have considered.
Give your customers options
It’s nice to benefit from free delivery – but some of your customers might prefer to get their items delivered quickly, even if they need to pay a little extra for the privilege. Don’t restrict them – allow them to pick for themselves and they’ll reward you with loyalty in the long-term.
Take social media seriously
Twitter, Facebook and Youtube represent an incredibly powerful means of connecting with new and existing customers. Neglect them and you’ll put yourself at an enormous disadvantage! Just a few choice pictures on Instagram every so often will help you to maintain a presence without being overbearing.
Invest in a franking machine
Postage costs will represent a significant portion of your overall expenditure. You’ll therefore want to take every opportunity to eliminate waste – and by franking your parcels rather than stamping them, you’ll be able to do exactly that. Franking machines can be rented – but in the long-run it’s worth buying one outright.
Consider signing up for a Royal Mail account
If you’re spending more than £5,000 a year on postage, then the chances are that you qualify for a proper Royal Mail account. These come in two sorts: one where you’ll be billed each week for your post, and the other where you’ll need to top up your balance before spending.
Implement an Address Lookup system
It’s also worth considering the harm that lost or damaged mail can inflict on your company’s reputation – to say nothing of the cost of covering deliveries that go awry. In many cases, the cause of these problems is a lack of accurate addressing information. That’s where an Address management system comes into its own – a post code search tool will allow users to pick their address from a list of options having already entered their postcode. This way of doing things will enormous decrease the likelihood of an error occurring.
Look after your physical health
Running a business is an extremely demanding job – it can be isolating, and place a severe strain on your free time. If you’re not careful, your health will begin to suffer as a result – which will surely be detrimental to the long-term prosperity of your business. In order to guard against this effect, be sure to partake in regular physical exercise. That way you’ll stand a better chance of coping with even the most gruelling schedule, and you’ll be better equipped to deal with the knocks that come with getting your project up and running.
Finally, it’s worth noting that despite the many challenges that come with running a small business, there are also innumerable upsides. The responsibility that comes with being entirely in charge of your own income can be exhilarating – and you’ll have the freedom to dictate your own schedule, rather than being at the mercy of a clocking-in machine. On those tough days, be sure to remind yourself of exactly why you do what you do!