There’s never been a better time to start an e-commerce business. More and more people around the world are getting accustomed to doing all their shopping online and this is only predicted to double by the year 2025.
An increasing number of merchants are entering the foray each day resulting in a market that is becoming oversaturated and difficult to stand out in. With all website layouts beginning to look the same and offering the standard shopping experience - it has become challenging for new and old e-commerce merchants to create a distinction, stand out and grow their business with an influx of new customers each day.
Sure - you can increase your advertising budget and overhaul the experience with a complete redesign - but that adds tremendous costs and a lot of risk without a great payout.
So what can you do to inject some new life into your website’s shopping experience, minimize the risk of being beaten by competition and accelerate your business growth at the same time?
Here are 3 strategic solutions that never seem to fail:
If there’s just one thing all e-commerce businesses could learn from Amazon - it has to be their focus on keeping customers happy. No other merchant comes close to how Amazon ensures their customers experience a safe, and hassle-free shopping session always. This uncompromising stand to always put their customers' needs, opinions and preferences first (sometimes to a fault) means that even if Amazon takes a hit due to an exploitative shopper - it gains 10x more in new customers everyday. The secret is an unbeatable customer shopping experience.
The reasoning behind this gain, despite its seldom losses, is the sense of security Amazon offers its users via its unmatched customer care that listens, caters, and even compensates (need be) if anything should ever go wrong with your shopping session. This begets trust which in turn results in customer loyalty. In a world of zeros and ones - Amazon stands guard between you and every merchant on its website to ensure your shopping experience online is always great.
This isn’t to say your website should pool all its resources into customer care but instead to invest a lot more heavily in delivering a great (read personalized) customer experience. Start with making your customers feel heard and catered to at every step of the shopping experience. For example, Stitch Fix personalized the shopping experience for each of its customers to grow the business upto $2 Billion in just 5 years since its inception.
Action Tip: Start a newsletter to segment your customers by identifying their engagement and preferences. Sending your customers personalized recommendations based on their user activity will not only make your customers resonate more easily with what you have to offer but also make them feel heard and catered to while shopping with you. A newsletter is also a great way to keep your favorite customers in the loop with on-going offers, upcoming promotions or stock updates for best selling products.
The only logical step after making customers fall in love with your customer centric approach to shopping is offering them an opportunity to show you some love - and the most rewarding channel (both ways) to achieve this is starting a referral program that pays for every referral new customer your existing customers bring in.Referral programs are a great addition to your marketing campaigns. They don’t cost much to operate, are easy to implement and thanks to a few great tools - offer the best CPA for every dollar spent.
It works because at its very core, a referral program taps into the most basic instinct of a modern world that lives on the internet - the instinct to share. To be recognized among peers. And to enrich the world in the little ways they can - which in the case of a referral, is sharing about a business that your customer knows from their personal experience will benefit others as well. Its especially a no-brainer for an e-commerce store trying to make it big because in an aforementioned space of new merchants entering the market everyday and standardized shopping experiences across the board - receiving a brand or product referral from someone you already trust tends to convert faster and payout higher in the typical lifetime of a new paying customer.
Action Tip: Set up a referral program with rewards that entice both the referee and the referred to shop more with you. Get creative with your rewards and go beyond the “$15 or 15% off” scheme adopted by 80% of all e-commerce websites. Programs, such as Harry’s, tend to be more successful due to the differentiation they create in its referral setup. You don’t need a large team or investment to make this happen either - in fact you can be ready in record time using a service like Conjured Referrals. It’s fully customizable to represent your brand, requires no technical prowess, tracks all your referrals with subsequent pay-outs and can easily be scaled as your business grows in time.
“Go beyond the “$15 or 15% off” scheme adopted by 80% of all e-commerce websites”
Remember that your customers are individual people too. With nuanced lives, challenges, and stressors. And for 99.9% of the population, life has been challenging for the past couple of years. Don’t make shopping with you an added point of friction. This starts from the way you structure your website navigation and goes all the way to actions beyond the checkout process - returns, referrals, reviews, mailing lists - everything. The internet has accustomed users to an online life that’s relatively easier to access than the alternative. Services like Uber, products like Apple, and conveniences like GrubHub or DoorDash - has led to a modern customer that expects a hassle free shopping experience from start to finish. Zara does this well in the e-commerce space by treating its online and offline shipping or return transactions the same way - leading to a simpler (read better) shopping experience for its customers and thus more sales.
The same rings true when it comes to adapting the above two suggestions - offering a personalized customer experience and starting a referral program. If either of the two require a lot of investment from your customer - in time, effort, or commitment - then its more likely to fail than not. Customers want to share about you - but will only do so if it's quick and the reward is worth it. If you make them do a lot of navigating, reading, or manual work to make a referral that benefits you more in the long run, then they are likely to never make a referral or abandon the referral process midway.
More often than not - a referral program becomes harder to scale due to an non-intuitive process of making a referral or a referral email that loses the connection it could be making with a prospective customer. In other words - it makes it harder for your customers to send out a referral and when someone does manage to - it loses a potential customer by delivering a poor onboarding experience via its referral email. Remember the secret to rapidly growing your Shopify store is by providing a personalized experience and a kick ass referral program.
Action Tip: Be cautious and conscious of keeping your messaging, process, and value offering centered around the customer’s perspective and convenience. Use a Contact Picker like CloudSponge to simplify the sharing process and personalize your referral emails using recipient details to improve your customer sharing and onboarding experience. Up to 90% of your best referrals come from the top 10% of your customers. And if you make this process easy using a contact picker, it could lead to double the number of referrals you get from them.
“90% of your best referrals comes from the top 10% of your customers”
And there you have it. 3 secrets to growing your Shopify store quickly. Get started today with our helpful action tips and a DIY workbook that helps you audit and score your current peer-to-peer sharing readiness.