I’ve recently been reflecting on the success of my business over the last one and a half year. While there have certainly been failures in the past with other ventures, it’s great to be able to take something away from those experiences and apply them to something that ultimately works. Throughout my foray into online retail, I’ve learned that many principles are fundamental to ensuring that customers trust your brand. In no particular order, here they are!
- A generous refund policy. Customers are naturally worried when they’re buying something that they can’t physically touch or see in front of them. The risk factor is always going to be greater. The product may not be as described, it may be faulty or it might not even arrive. As a retailer, you need to reassure your customers by ensuring that their satisfaction is guaranteed.
- Customer service needs to exceed traditional customer service found in bricks and mortar stores, for the same reason mentioned above. 24 hours should be the outer limit in regards to replying to customer enquiries. Canned responses have no place in online retail. Your interaction with the customer, while relatively sterile compared to a face to face encounter, needs to generate goodwill and create a connection.
- Price matters. There’s a perception that Australian stores are way more expensive than they should be. Customers are aware that online retail involves less overheads than your traditional brick and mortar store and they expect these savings to reflected in your pricing. In many (but of course, not all) online operations, turnover is key.
- Speed matters. 40% of visitors aren’t going to stick around if your website takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Work on getting your website optimised to ensure quick loading times.
- Optimise usability. Creating the perfect website requires testing and customer feedback. An out of the box solution is rarely going to cut it unless its been tweaked and adjusted. In fact, the same principle applies for a made-to-order website product.
- Shipping speed counts. So many retailers take way too long to send out orders. In most cases, everything should be sent out within 24 hours. This indicates that you care about your customers and it seeks to reassure them that they’re going to receive their order. A lot of the time, I can buy something from an Australian online retailer and a foreign retailer on the same day. In far too many cases, the overseas order arrives first.