If you want your e-commerce business to gain a competitive edge, customer service should be placed at the forefront of your growth strategy. 84% of customers say that customer service is one of the main factors helping them decide whether to buy or not from a company. According to another research, most of today’s clients make their purchasing decisions based on customer service rather than on product price so to know more about the best customer service software for e-commerce in the Caribbean, please continue reading.
Ecommerce customer service is aimed to help online buyers with everything, from online purchasing to issue resolving. When building up your ecommerce customer service strategy, I recommend giving special attention to the following best practices.
It’s necessary to measure and analyze which channels your online customers prefer. They can expect easy access to your specialists over chatbots, emails, social media, etc.
Create a knowledge base for customers
Keeping all the necessary information in the form of FAQ or discussion forums in one place is a great benefit both for customers and employees. Thus, customers can find the necessary information independently and save your agents’ time for more challenging tasks. In fact, 90% of customers use self-service capabilities to get answers to their questions.
Provide personalized customer service
70% of customers are looking for a personalized approach. As all customer interactions with your store happen online, you can easily track customer activities. So, when a customer addresses your agent next time, the necessary customer data to provide personalized service may be already available.
Dynamics 365 Customer Service allows your agents to engage with ecommerce customers across different channels (email, social media, chatbots, etc.). You can create a virtual agent via a drag-and-drop editor or a self-service portal for customers to search for information by themselves or request assistance. Moreover, a knowledge base for customers can be integrated right into the virtual agent so that it can send a fitting link helping customers address their issues.
Limitations: Limited number of integrations with third-party services.
Salesforce Service Cloud offers features to automate customer service processes and connect with customers across various communication channels. With Service Cloud, you can create and manage knowledge bases for your agents and customers. A knowledge base for customers can be integrated into a self-service portal and an AI-based Einstein bot to resolve the most common questions without human-agent interaction.
Limitations: No possibility of on-premises implementation.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud offers a comprehensive app suite for B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses to manage sales, marketing, and customer support. For example, it helps store and access all the order-related information from creation to its fulfillment in CRM. Also, with Commerce Cloud, you can create a live chat to resolve clients’ order issues or route a client to the right agent.
Limited customization capabilities.
No possibility of on-premises implementation.
Pricing: Contact the vendor to know B2B and B2C Commerce Cloud pricing.
HubSpot CRM can be integrated with major ecommerce platforms like WooCommerce, Shopify, and Magento. Once you connect your ecommerce business to HubSpot, you can sync your customers’ data, monitor and analyze your online store performance using HubSpot’s pre-built dashboards. Additionally, HubSpot enables your specialist to create live chats and chatbots to give your clients immediate support and gather customer feedback using out-of-the-box feedback tools.
Limited customization capabilities.
For Shopify integration, no possibility to create segments based on customers’ purchases.
Throughout our blog and practice, we always talk about how no two ecommerce businesses are the same and stress the importance of focusing predominantly on your business specifics and goals. Types of Ecommerce in the Caribbean Still, we admit that knowing certain similar patterns can help to launch and to manage an ecommerce business with greater success – after all, most of the failures have already been survived by someone else and now you can learn from the accumulated experience.
There is a number of criteria to classify types of ecommerce. We’ve chosen the three most important: transaction participants, goods for sale and business models.
Within this classification, six types are outlined in ecommerce: Business-to-Business (#B2B) with its subtype Business-to-Government (B2G), Business-to-Consumer (B2C), Consumer-to-Business (C2B), Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C), Government-to-Business (G2B) and Government-to-Consumer (G2C). In general, identifying and then targeting the right audience is a matter of importance. Types of Ecommerce in the Caribbean thakes a general look at the buyer side can only be the starting point, though it provides certain value as well.
Selling to consumers
Companies, where buyers are individual consumers, feature a short sales cycle, price sensitivity and a high possibility of impulse purchases. Sellers win when they bet big on consumers’ emotions:
Personalize customer communication (launching targeted marketing campaigns).
Bond with customers (telling the seller’s story, engaging in social media, responding to customer feedback, extensively using soft selling marketing techniques like valuable content).
Encourage customer loyalty (asking for customer opinion in surveys, incorporating loyalty programs).
Provide smart assistance throughout a shopping journey (offering product recommendations based on a customer’s browsing activity, a comprehensive customer profile with previous and abandoned orders, preferences and wish list, and proper customer support).
Types of Ecommerce in the Caribbean the B2C type is the most widespread in ecommerce, thus the market in each product line is really competitive. Here, focusing on smaller, yet profit-generating, target audience is business-critical. This goes without saying that in our practice we frame B2C projects around the target audience.
B2C project example
The company offers a delivery service of organic product boxes across the country. What their customers are expecting is convenience – a time-saving ordering process and no delays in delivery. On the website, we design a smooth journey – customers may vary products in the boxes, subscribe for regular delivery and reorder instantly. Also, we integrate #eCommerce with the company’s back office to organize order processing, dispatch and delivery properly.
Within the C2C type, consumers sell assets or services to other consumers online. To place sales advertisements and connect to potential buyers, individuals use a third-party business (an ecommerce website or an online marketplace). Ebay and Amazon are two prominent C2C ecommerce providers.
Online transactions can streamline communication between governmental organizations and citizens. Possible activities may include information sharing, paying fees (for education, rent, consulting services, etc.), renewing licenses and more.
G2C project example
A telecommunications company provides government-subsidized mobile networking services. They don’t need complex, heavily-customized business logic on the website as their ecommerce operations are pretty straightforward. However, they use a feature-rich ecommerce platform that is license-free, yet expensive in terms of support. We start the cooperation with the analysis of the ecommerce functionality needed to support the business. As a result, we offer and then migrate the website to an alternative platform – commercially viable and with sufficient functionality. Now, the company stays within their support budget.
Selling to businesses
Having businesses as potential buyers comes with its pros and cons. On the bright side, sellers have a larger average order value and a high chance of wholesale purchases (the two are often interconnected). On the downside, a sales cycle is generally longer and several decision-makers may be involved. Thus, the focus should be on establishing the trust-based long-term relationship with customers. Given that the purchasing process is far less emotional but rather rational, sellers’ most favored techniques include:
At first sight, it seems that the name explicitly suggests that both participants in B2B ecommerce are businesses, for example a manufacturer or a wholesale supplier selling to a retailer. However, B2B ecommerce has one more face – multi-vendor marketplaces. Though end buyers are individual consumers, a marketplace owner sells digital space to business vendors, thus conducting B2B transactions.
Tips to manage a multi-vendor marketplace effectively
Having launched a number of marketplaces, we strongly recommend – automate as much as possible and give vendors self-service tools to accelerate time-to-market. If you want to reward vendors with the highest sales – set rules to track sales activity and trigger loyalty bonuses automatically. Consider attribute-based product information management – vendors will clearly see what product characteristics they need to provide.
We mention B2G (business-to-government) companies as part of the B2B type as the core idea of this classification is to distinguish between individual and corporate ecommerce participants. Thus, we see both private and governmental organizations as a business, as opposed to an individual participant.
In the C2B model, individuals – entrepreneurs or freelancers – offer goods or services to companies. For example:
A web designer building a company’s website.
A photographer picturing product catalogs.
A caterer working on corporate events, conferences or business meetings.
As for individuals, they can (and should) employ diverse marketing channels to sell their services effectively: for example, they showcase portfolio and collect customer feedback on an ecommerce website and expand their online presence via job listings and social media.
G2B is online commercial interaction between governmental and private corporations. As a rule, a G2B model gives companies a convenient way to deal with payments and legal procedures, like document renewal, cutting down significantly on bureaucratic foot-dragging and paper work. A classic G2B example is a government website where businesses go to pay taxes.
This classification is important as the product profile in ecommerce largely defines a seller’s business plan.
Choosing to sell physical goods, online retailers compete with traditional brick-and-mortar businesses and their major competitive strength of a real-life purchasing experience where a possibility to view and try on goods leads to more informed purchasing decisions. Consequently, ecommerce businesses need to show how online shopping can be a worthy alternative – accurate images and detailed product descriptions help with the purchasing choice, prompt expert assistance and how-to guides cover the role of sales assistants, customer-friendly delivery and return terms add to customer risk-taking. Moreover, there are so many advanced technologies and approaches to power your ecommerce for superior customer experience. We took time to outline the possibilities within our custom ecommerce development offering.
In a way, selling digital goods sounds tempting: there are low overheads due to the absence of inventory costs and delivery limits. However, sellers may face tough competition with free content or software and should stress the benefits of purchasing goods rather than getting them for free. For example, when launching an image-sharing resource, entrepreneurs can bet on the high quality of provided assets and the importance to reward contributors.
From our ecommerce consulting practice, we can recall success tips that are likely to work with all kinds of services sold online. Let’s say upsell opportunities are vast as customers may only have a rough idea of how to organize the service most effectively and expect a seller to build on it. And an online calculator will provide for price transparency. Also, ecommerce companies selling services definitely need to engage phone or email communication channels to settle the details and finalize the deal with a customer.
Still, the nature of services impacts a number of business aspects. Companies offering repeat services win with a subscription-based model – for example, a cleaning business can offer customers a possibility to set a regular cleaning schedule. Besides, such a retailer should mind the geographical limits of their business.
The way online retailers organize their supply chain is a constituent of their ecommerce business model. As summarized, there are 4 possible options.
Retailers may partner with a wholesale supplier who stores the inventory and delivers ordered items directly to a customer upon the purchase. Thus, sellers save on inventory costs and don’t keep goods in stock at all. This model seems to offer a fast buck as retailers need only to be present online and serve as an intermediary between customers and a drop shipper. In fact, there are downsides including the low margin, lack of control over the supply chain and high competition. Moreover, drop shipping makes brand image building impossible.
Retailers may purchase goods from a manufacturer, manage their own warehouse and organize the delivery to customers. Undoubtedly, this requires more initial investment into product sourcing and inventory management. Full control over all business processes and flexibility in choosing the product assortment come as a bonus.
Private labeling and manufacturing
Retailers may outsource manufacturing and sell goods under their brand name. On-demand manufacturing allows retailers to have their goods designed in line with their specifications or prototypes and avoid expenditures related to managing their own production.
Retailers may purchase generic products manufactured for multiple companies and offer them under their brand name. Sellers save on the design and development of their product but still have their products communicating a brand message.
Marketing an online business can be challenging given how many competing e-commerce websites are fighting for customers’ attention. Proficiency in e-commerce marketing fundamentals plus creative thinking is a success formula. But with the abundance of techniques, reaching the best combination for your store doesn’t always go on the first try. In this article, we will share our best practices in e-commerce marketing and examples of their implementation with How to market Ecommerce in the Caribbean in a Magento online store.
Ecommerce marketing strategies in the customer lifecycle
Although marketing strategies for brick-and-mortar and online stores differ, a customer lifecycle in ecommerce is similar to that in brick-and-mortar retail. Marketing analysts Jim Sterne and Matt Cutler identify 5 steps in the customer lifecycle: reach, acquisition, conversion, retention and loyalty. Now, we will start from the best ecommerce marketing strategies for each step and then will move from theory to practice to see successful marketing campaigns in effect.
Reach and acquisition
Reaching and acquiring visitors is a starting point for every online business. There are productive and cost-effective techniques to increase the visibility of an ecommerce website and draw visitors.
SEO marketing is the most effective online marketing strategy at this first stage of the customer lifecycle. It makes search engines better see the relevance of your content to search requests of your potential customers. As a result, your online store ranks high in Google and more people find it in Google search when they search How to market Ecommerce in the Caribbean!..
SEO techniques include creating unique content and graphics, building links, adding targeted keywords and descriptive URLs, making the website mobile-friendly, improving website architecture.
By default, Magento is an SEO-friendly ecommerce platform. You can further enhance the efficiency with off-the-shelf extensions. For example, Magento 2 SEO Extension supports on-page technical and on-page content optimization and integrates external factors including social integration and Google services support.
Even if you make the primary focus on increasing organic traffic, take a look at other efficient web marketing strategies in ecommerce aimed at attracting visitors.
Social media marketing. Don’t miss a chance to reach potential customers through social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. Having huge audiences, they can serve as free advertising platforms.
Forum marketing. Find the best topic to promote your products, enter the conversation and sound helpful. Think of creative ways to advertise your products.
Influencer marketing. At the age when blogging is a job, you can promote your products by sending free samples to influencers with a large audience. Their review based on the personal experience will have weight.
You can evaluate the success of your customer acquisition campaign by the following KPIs: site traffic, revenue by traffic source, social shares, bounce rates.
So, you have visitors coming to your online store. Now, your aim is to help them find what they are looking for and beat your competitors with a better offer. Here are ecommerce marketing tips to encourage visitors for the first purchase.
Engage in online merchandising. While a merchandiser in a brick-and-mortar store uses shelves for a product layout, an online merchandiser works with precious online space. Attract customers with personal suggestions and best offers placed at the top positions.
Make special offers for new customers. Place a banner with coupons and discounts for first-time buyers on the home page.
Launchemail campaigns for subscribers. If a visitor has subscribed but didn’t make a purchase, return him or her by sending the announcement of new offers, seasonal sales or special discounts for new customers. You can track unopened emails and launch a repeat mailing with a new email subject in a while. This time, target only those who haven’t opened the initial email, thus increasing the number of opens while avoiding spamming with the same email.
Make your online store interactive. Add live chats and contact forms to ensure a quick response to a visitor’s request.
Magento offers some features to increase the conversion rate. For example, the Abandoned Cart Recovery option allows you to address potential customers who provided their contact information but didn’t complete the order. At the same time, Magento 2 boasts the cutting-edge elasticsearch technology that improves search functionality and enhances customer experience. The PayPal in-context checkout and saved credit cards feature offers customers to use PayPal without leaving the online store and shortens the check-out time.
Use the following KPIs at this stage of the customer life cycle: conversion rate, shopping cart abandon rate, page views per visit, newsletter subscribers, chat sessions initiated.
It’s safe to say that getting new customers is more complicated than retaining old ones. Choosing among multiple solutions, pay attention to ecommerce email marketing as a powerful tool to make customers keep up with your offers.
Your email marketing campaign can include:
Regular new product offerings.
Exclusive coupons for repeat customers.
Early access to new offerings.
Dedicated refer-a-friend prompts.
Win-back reminder emails.
Holiday and seasonal sales.
It is important to understand that people are bombarded with communication every day. Stand out and make each email worth taking your customers’ time and inbox space with a personalized message, eye-catching graphics and straightforward call-to-action. The integration of Magento and MailChimp allows identifying key customer segments and launching a targeted email marketing campaign.
The trick to getting the highest engagement is to have the right timing. But you can’t be relevant all of the time, so that is why automated email marketing campaigns do so well. The options are pretty much endless when you start to combine customer data, marketing automation and a little bit of creativity. Let’s say you can launch a weather-based campaign to catch your shoppers with suncare products when the local temperature runs high.
KPIs for the customer retention stage are email-opening rate, email-clickability rate and revenue from email visits.
We have put together four efficient ecommerce marketing solutions to make customers stay with you.
Promotional campaigns. You can encourage customers to come back to your online store by offering ongoing and time-limited discounts and informing customers about promotions by email.
Loyalty programs. The TheLoyalty Program extension allows for flexible reward systems. Instead of targeting the whole customer pool, merchants can generate various promo offers for different loyalty program steps.
Upselling. By demonstrating similar products, other versions or models on a detailed product page, you ensure that the customer leaves most satisfied with the purchase.
Cross-selling. This marketing tactic invites customers to purchase related or complementary items with you. For example, shoe care products can be cross-sold to footwear.
You don’t need to extend the functionality of Magento to add up-sell and cross-sell products: both options go out-of-the-box.
Sales rate, number of loyalty program participants, revenue from loyalty program participants, and gross margin from loyalty program participants are the KPIs to track while building customer loyalty when learning How to market Ecommerce in the Caribbean!.
Pricing as an essential part of e-commerce marketing
There are multiple approaches to price configuration. You can find the right formula for retail markup by trial and error. Or you can look through our summary of fundamental pricing principles and choose the one that suits your product offerings when looking at How to market Ecommerce in the Caribbean!..
The Cost plus pricing method implies that you add the desired margin to the first cost of the product.
If you choose to use the competitor-based pricing method, you need to research competitors’ prices for similar products and set the price somewhere in between.
The Value-based pricing method bases the price on product’s value, the benefits it can provide to consumers. As this approach is rather complicated, let us guide you through value-based pricing configuration step by step:
Determine the price of the next best alternative that customers can buy instead of yours.
Determine what sets your offering apart from this alternative and estimate the worth of these differences.
Determine what makes the competing product better than yours and estimate the worth of these differences.
Use the following formula: Price = step 1 + step 2 – step 3.
Once you have set the prices, keep tabs on the sales volume and competitors and adjust the prices accordingly. Rejecting price flexibility, you risk losing customers or working at a loss. Here are several reasons to increase or decreases prices.
Initially, you underpriced the products.
Production expenses have increased.
You want to test the market.
Initially, you overpriced the products.
Production expenses have decreased.
You are launching a promotional campaign.
Data-driven ecommerce marketing
Ecommerce marketing is a process, not an event, especially when figuring out How to market Ecommerce in the Caribbean!.. It includes setting goals, implementing strategies, and analyzing their effectiveness. That’s why conducting a marketing campaign without analytics is like walking in the dark or fishing without bait. Yes, you can arrive at the destination or catch something in the best-case scenario, but the result will be accidental.
Let’s see how data analytics helps you better understand your business and customers.
Magento customer segmentation can become a starting point for developing a personalized approach to your customers. Segmenting them by demographic, psychographic or behavioristic factors allows you to develop targeted promotional and sales campaigns.
Product performance analysis. Supplement your Magento store with Google Analytics Enhanced Ecommerce extension for valuable insights. The functionality of the extension includes:
Shopping behavior reporting.
Checkout behavior reporting.
Product performance reporting.
Sales performance reporting.
Order coupon reporting.
By conducting customer satisfaction analysis, you will not only get important feedback about everything from products to the buying process and support but will also win customers with the intention to meet their needs. Add product review requests and customer satisfaction surveys to see your business through the eyes of your customers.
Large online retailers running stores with 100K+ SKUs, sizeable staff and multiple suppliers can rely on business intelligence. BI consultants will get your data under professional control and provide expert insights into revenue by the customer group, coupon usage, average customer lifetime value, average spent, daily number of orders, etc.
Once you have a competitive product or service and sell it at a reasonable price, the next thing that matters to your ecommerce business success is the customer experience provided. Website design is its vital part as customers interact with your company via the website and often don’t set the two apart. Therefore, a digital experience designed on the website equals your company’s image in the minds of your customers.
More reasons why website design is worth taking seriously
The role of design goes far beyond the website look. Professionally designed, your online store obtains:
Branding strength. A website is your opportunity to tell customers how your company positions itself on the market and what values or social views it supports.
Enhanced website usability. Design always starts with the UX part to plan each type of customer interaction within the website. What you win is minimized user efforts whenever is possible and increased meaningful engagement with the site content.
Technical excellence. Modern websites are responsive to render well on different screen sizes and provide for convenient viewing and shopping experience across devices. Also, they are mostly designed with SEO purposes in mind to support your customer acquisition plans down the road.
Technology advances. When reasonable, your website design is planned with the latest technologies and approaches in mind (like AR or on-site personalization). Since not all are worth adopting for your business, you should have the ROI of each technology integration estimated to opt for the most rewarding ones.
Different conversion funnels planned. A classic conversion path leads customers from product discovery directly to online buy. But customers don’t always behave as you expect, so professional web designers plan and map on the website more complicated journeys with half-way conversion points such as:
Upsells and cross-sells.
Design elements to add to core ecommerce pages
An ecommerce website may house any number of SKUs and generate any traffic volume – disregarding the size, it always has several typical page types to design.
Homepage. As the most frequent landing page in ecommerce, the homepage pursues a fundamental goal – to entice customers to start a shopping journey. Hence, design elements must:
Establish a brand identity: brand message, mission statements, trust builders.
Provide for easy navigation: a properly organized product menu, shortcuts to products with the highest selling potential.
Trigger immediate interest: promotions and deals, customer service perks.
Catalog page. On a catalog page, you don’t only showcase your products – you start selling them. To prompt customers to product discovery, you should:
Help customers find the products of interest: product filtering.
Give a quick view possibility.
Instill product quality: a summarized product rating, a number of product reviews.
Offer alternatives of further actions: add to shopping cart or wish list, save for later.
Product page. Customers are already interested in your product. It’s high time to take the stress out of the decision-making process and:
Give comprehensive product information: product description, assembly tutorials, user guides.
Be illustrative: product images, videos, demos.
Help to select the right product configuration: a size chart, a size guide, product builders.
Enhance product credibility: product reviews, social media tags, product labels (‘bestseller’, ‘influencer’s choice’).
Advertise similar products: cross-sells.
Offer personal assistance with the product choice: live chat.
Shopping cart. This page is an intermediate step between a customer’s buying intention and an actual buy. Planning its design, remember to:
Give a summary of selected products: quantity, parameters, price.
Outline delivery options and costs.
Allow customers to edit the order.
Offer complementary products: upsells.
Checkout. The best practices in checkout design dictate to:
Ask for account registration and give an opportunity of guest checkout alike.
Simplify fill-in forms not to demand much of a customer’s time.
Offer several payment options.
Give estimated delivery time depending on the delivery option selected.
Inform customers about what happens next: you send an email with confirmation details, customers can track the order progress in their personal account.
Non-catalog content page. Your content marketing strategy may require diverse content types: a blog, lookbooks, tutorials, deep product dives, interviews, etc. Though designed differently, they all bring you customer engagement and even impulse conversions if you:
Softly sell your expertise or product value.
Openly advertise relevant products that fit the information you share.
Check the correlation between sales and website design
It often happens that an ecommerce company follows general design recommendations and invests a lot in customer acquisition marketing, but the conversion rate remains low. So, here is a very important question to answer before giving way to redesign hassle: ‘Does my design hinders sales?’
Given the abundance of interactions throughout a customer life cycle, ways to frustrate customers with poor experience are numerous too – from a consistent shortage of their favorite products to delays in order delivery. In both cases, customers will end up with a competing company. If you suspect design issues, there are several ways to confirm whether they directly impact your sales volume.
Investigate web analytics. If the analysis shows high traffic generated by your SEO efforts and marketing activities, yet a high bounce rate and short dwell time not ending with conversions at any of your planned points, the digital user experience is obviously flawed. Your website design doesn’t inspire trust, and its usability is begging for improvement.
Request an independent design audit. While UI design is largely a matter of subjective opinion, the UX part can be expertly assessed by designers. Upon audit completion, you get a report with UX flaws uncovered and can make a redesign decision deliberately.
Assess your website experience against web design trends. As for digital user experience and beyond, ecommerce has become truly customer-centric. In website design, trends demand enjoyable experience tailored and convenient for diverse customer groups. Your customers don’t lower their expectations and want from you the same design excellence.
Where to focus your redesign efforts
Even if you are not up for large investments into full website redesign now, you may apply improvements to certain aspects that won’t go unnoticed by your customers. Here are shortlisted best practices for ecommerce web design.
Use quality product images, zoom-in, videos, 360-degree views, 3D models.
Take after a real-life shopping experience with augmented reality.
Ensure elaborate navigation, filtering and search experience.
Go for clean and spacious UI with a light background, which resonates with a larger audience.
Add on-site personalization to serve customers relevant content, promotions and product recommendations.
Make the website responsive to various screen sizes.
Don’t break design consistency across the website.
Avoid visual clutter.
Ecommerce design examples for inspiration
Each product and service line in ecommerce bears its design specifics – some spark designers’ creativity while some demand for a minimalist approach.
Not only a product line, but your business model also impacts the digital experience to design on a website. Study the highlights of B2C and B2B website design rules below illustrated with interactive demos created by ScienceSoft’s team. Don’t miss to play them in the first place!
B2C website design – bet big on convenience and personalization
Personalize website content, promotions and recommended products for customer segments and individuals.
Encourage impulse buys with content marketing, upsells and cross-sells.
Facilitate a customer’s search across the website.
Offer guest checkout.
B2B website design – bet big on trust and loyalty-building
Integrate custom pricing and automated discounting depending on order volume.
Add a possibility of shipment to multiple addresses.