E-Commerce

The challenges of e-commerce

Daniel Parzych profile picture Daniel Parzych

Developing your own e-commerce does not end with finding the answer to the question "how to set up an online store". Even a developed and well-functioning online store requires constant attention. Can you say that you 100% keep up with the changes in the e-commerce environment? What are the biggest e-commerce challenges? Read on to find out.

Identity verification

Data security is a topic that has been on the lips of e-commerce professionals for several years now. It's a live issue, related not only to changing regulations, but also to the active activities of online fraudsters. How many times have you seen posts about online scams? The arising question is, how do you protect yourself from them?

Watch your purchases. 

If you are suspicious about orders, check their details. If in doubt, call the customer to confirm the details match. In such cases, check also:

  • correctness of phone numbers,
  • correctness of tax data, e.g., NIP – in case of invoicing,
  • postal code and address match

Of course, you don't have to do this manually. There are tools to automate such tasks like plugins or additional applications.

Omnichannel in real life

Concepts related to customer purchase paths have become popularized in recent years. New consumer behaviors are shaped by the development of technology and sales channels. 

Every brand today operates many points of contact between the customer and the brand, but the successful brands are those that build synergies between them. A consistent experience across all channels is the only strategy to create an effective omnichannel. The channels where consistency matters most are, for example:

  • Online store
  • Telephone conversation
  • Email correspondence
  • A visit to a showroom
  • A meeting with a salesperson
  • Social media (not only FB and Instagram)

Find the most effective channels first. Then integrate them with each other. This scheme will be useful when working with other channels. Work on expanding your communication until all channels offer an equal experience.

Preventing abandoned shopping carts

Well done marketing will attract the attention of customers and direct them to your store's website. It will be easier to convince the customer to start the buying process. But there is one thing that doesn't give e-commerce companies a break. It's giving up on finalizing the transaction at the shopping cart stage or filling out contact forms. Simply put: it's the moment when a customer is already about to click "pay" but something makes them not buy. 

How to reduce the number of abandoned shopping carts?

  1. Website speed
    Subsequent pages on the path to purchase completion should run smoothly and not make the user wait. The sales process should be fast and leave no time for doubt. An ideal sale is a few clicks. The fewer, the better. So it's important to...👇
  2. Shorten the purchase path
    Minimize the fields that need to be filled out and the consents that need to be checked. Every extra step on the way to closing the purchase increases the likelihood of cart abandonment. Another thing that helps increase the number of sales is...👇
  3. Website and shopping cart design
    Shopping carts, purchase forms, and subsequent order steps should be designed to allow for a quick purchase. Intuitive interfaces are not empty words. It's much more convenient to fill out clear and pretty forms. This is especially important when shopping from mobile devices.
    Recall if you ever abandoned a purchase because the forms wanted too much data. You didn't understand what they were for, why you should provide them. And at the same time, they were bad to fill out on a small screen.
  4. Transparent prices
    Costs need to be known as soon as possible. None of us likes the moment when we learn that we will pay 30% more. Because the system has added incomprehensible fees for everything possible. We feel cheated and cancel the purchase. And when we want to buy something new, we are less likely to come to the seller who gave us the final price when we were ready for the purchase transfer.
    When there are additional costs in the final stages of the purchase - customers often get frustrated. Microaggression at this point influences the abandonment of the customer's purchase intent.
    Ensure visibility of all costs associated with the purchase. Avoid fees that appear at the very end of the purchase.

Building consumer loyalty

Every entrepreneur is aware of the fact that it is much cheaper to re-acquire a customer than to acquire a brand new one. But how do you keep customers coming back and buying from your store again?

Soft ways to build loyalty

Ensure a positive buying experience in your store. A well-designed store as well as a quick and easy sales process are all elements that give a positive buying experience. They will make it easier for users to buy from your store again.

Even the most advanced promotions and programs will not be effective if you do not take care of the user experience.

Loyalty program

A system that supports users in making decisions about future purchases will be effective when it gives customers real value. Loyalty program design is a field of specialists, and tailoring the system to the specific product, industry, and customer group is a challenge faced by the largest corporations.

A loyalty program is not just stickers for which you receive a plush toy. There are customer buying cycles that you can design. This is how you increase awareness and move to the next stages of loyalty.

However, if the expensive process of building a customized loyalty program is not an option for you, you can try solutions already in use in the market. Look around at what methods your competitors or companies in similar industries are using, and try to transfer them to your own field.

Problematic returns and complaints

Returns are an integral part of online sales. They need to be factored into pricing and quoting, and it is not possible and never will be possible to exclude them completely. There is a growing awareness of customer rights, and there are people who check the return policy first before they decide to make a purchase. This should not worry you, because there are ways to make the number of returns as small as possible and their processing as painless as possible for both you and your customers.

Pay attention to your communication regarding returns. Write about merchandise returns in a way that is clear and accessible to the user. Even if your company's return policy isn't the most developed and user-friendly process, it's always better for a user to have easy access to it when making a purchase decision.None of us want to be labeled a dishonest seller.

Train your employees. Everyone in the company who interacts with customers should know what the return policy is and how it is handled.

With a clear return policy, you will avoid unhappy customers and negative online reviews.

Competing on price and delivery costs

There is intense competition in e-commerce, both in terms of sales and marketing. How to deal with price factors online?

Be better than your competition. 

Better does not mean cheaper. 

If competing stores offer the equivalent of your products, the way to win this battle is to find a path to be one step ahead of them.

A positive user experience is one of the more effective ways to stand out in the crowd. If customers have the choice of buying from one of two stores with similar price points, they will choose the one with a better design and an easier to navigate purchase process.

Another way to stay ahead of the competition is to experiment with promotions, bundles, and add-ons. Often, combining a more profitable product with another less profitable one increases sales of both. Notice that apps often offer bundles of several products at a discounted price. Watch how customers put together individual products in their shopping carts. Experiment with bundles and promotions until you find a space where your competition can't put up a fight.

Increasing conversions

Getting traffic to your site is the first step to increasing sales, the next is converting that traffic to the next steps in the buying process. The challenge in this area is to get the maximum percentage of users through the purchase process.

What level of conversion is a good result? It is difficult to find a clear answer to this question. There are industries where 0.5% conversion will be a great result, while in others a 5% or 7% rate will be insufficient. There is only one indicator that can effectively describe whether your conversion rate is good.

It is the profitability of the store.

What should you do to increase the conversion level in your online store? First of all, user experience, i.e. design, smoothness and speed, intuitive user experience, and a good support are flagship factors to improve.

International e-commerce

Growing an online store at some point begins to raise the question of whether going overseas can bring in additional profits. 

The answer is yes.

In order to successfully make sales to other countries, you first need to commit forces in organizing such a process. 

  • Think about the translation of the store into the language of your recipient.
  • Consider shipping costs and options. 
  • Research information about taxes and competition in the new market.
  • Think about channels for answering customer questions directly.
  • Check your platform's capabilities to expand to other regions.

E-commerce challenges - summary

To maintain your position in the market, you need to constantly develop and optimize your online store. The challenges you face in this regard require constant work with your store. The value behind improving the quality of your store is worth the effort. Hopefully, you will effectively improve your store's performance with this article.

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Daniel Parzych
Daniel Parzych
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