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The Rise of Online Retail and How Managed Support Services Can Help You Get Ahead of the Curve

The Rise of Online Retail and How Managed Support Services Can Help You Get Ahead of the Curve

By | Backend Support Services, Business Improvement, Call Center Support, Customer Service, Ecommerce Support Services | No Comments

“Online retail is booming and is the next big thing!” Rest assured, this is not an overly-enthusiastic rhetorical claim by some zealous internet purist. Economists and retail analysts agree that online retail has shown steady progress over the last few years and is here to stay.

According to Business Insider, worldwide ecommerce sales increased by 15.5% this year from 2017. In stark contrast, traditional brick-and-mortar sales only increased by a paltry 3.1%. In the US alone, ecommerce sales accounted for 10% of all retail sales—up from 8.2% a year ago. Not only that, online shopping is estimated to be a $526 billion industry in the US, with more than 80% of internet users expected to make an online purchase in 2019.

Statistics for Growth of Ecommerce Sales

Why the Shift to Online Retail?

So why this aggressive shift towards online retail? The most obvious answer is the convenience it provides to its users. Online shopping is hassle-free, usually offers free delivery, and saves so much time! For retailers, it eliminates the pressure to continuously expand physically and open costly brick-and-mortar outlets; an online ecommerce portal ensures an additional revenue stream, not to mention the automatic promotion of the brand.

The Secret to Online Retail Success

Online retail, despite all its pros, is not for the complacent or lazy business owner/manager. It requires constant innovation, which includes providing impeccable and super-responsive human and technical support.

The human part of ensuring a seamless online retail experience includes offering attentive customer care center support and omnichannel customer experience management. The biggest pitfall is not responding to customer queries and/or comments quickly and efficiently—rub a customer the wrong way and brace yourself for some irreparable (and fast-spiraling) brand bashing on Facebook or Twitter! On the other hand, handle a customer with the due care and diligence, and bask in the generous lauding and viral exponential appraisals of your brand! The customer is truly the king (and queen) in the online retail world!

Now come to the second part of innovation—the technical aspect. Technology changes fast. For an online business to run smoothly, it needs to be supported by a solid and scalable online inventory management system and strong backend support that tolerates no downtime.

Nothing puts off an eager shopper who has liberally filled up his/her shopping cart and excitedly clicked check-out more than encountering an annoyingly slow response time, and worse, inefficient or insecure online payment services. According to Statista, 42% of online shoppers worldwide prefer to make their payments via credit cards, while 39% prefer Paypal; imagine the volume of business you would lose if an insecure payment system is in place! Your potential customer will be replaced by a sulky user ready to vent out their frustration on social media. Your listing and inventory management must also be par excellence to ensure all the information is up-to-date and you have no surplus or shortages.

Importance of Secure Online Payment System

Another important aspect is the content on your website, whether it fully describes all aspects of your service or product and resolves all queries of the average customer. Poor quality content and brochure websites do not garner high conversion rates.

Did you know that you only have 0 to 8 seconds to get the visitor’s attention through the headline and the landing page, and even a one second delay can result in a 7% reduced conversion rate? Moreover, detailed product content is considered extremely important by 88% of online shoppers. Not only should the website be aesthetically pleasing and fast, it should be intuitive and interactive, with grammatically correct content that highlights your unique value proposition.

Important Figures for Online Retail

So how to juggle the tricky trinity of online retail, which is maintain the quality of your product/service, ensure a flawless customer care service, and provide solid operational support and backend support systems?

The solution is delegate! A prudent business always focuses on its core product and delegates the ancillary and supporting (but equally important) workflows and tasks to the experts! For online retail, the optimal approach is to get onboard a reputed and well-established support services provider that provides all these services at lower cost than an in-house setup. Doing so ensures a unified and seamless customer experience, translating into higher brand loyalty and return on investment.

Checklist for Getting Ahead of the Curve

  • Get call center support to
    • answer queries of potential customers,
    • resolve any issues that arise with current ones
    • provide omnichannel support: email, social media, text, phone, fax etc.
    • manage your customer database to keep track of purchasing history and loyal customers
    • manage your feedback and reviews to convey a positive brand image and transform disgruntled customers to satisfied repeat customers, and
    • give technical support in case glitches appear on the online platform.
  • Invest in backend support for your online retail platform to ensure
    • fast loading speeds, working links, pages, and graphics,
    • a responsive shopping cart, and
    • a secure online payment system.
  • Partner with an ecommerce support services provider to
    • manage your ecommerce brand,
    • ensure up-to-date listing and inventory management,
    • optimize product information through data entry, data cleansing, product catalog management, and indexing services and
    • provide order processing and tracking services.
  • Get an expert content writer to ensure your website’s content is
    • search engine optimized and
    • grammatically correct.

Case in Point

PatPat a 24 hour call center support client of IdeasUnlimited

PatPat, an online apparel company that aims to make affordable quality apparel for moms and kids, seems to have nailed the online shopping experience just right. They focus on providing reasonable, trendy, and quality wear. But what truly makes them stand out in the jungle of online apparel sites is their attentive customer care. Did they deviate from their core competency of providing apparel to focus on managing the omnichannel customer experience?

Of course not, they simply recruited a customer care center expert. Initially, they only needed two customer care agents but the number grew exponentially as their business flourished, and they now have 30-plus agents ensuring an empathetic customer care service. The increase in this number shows how important a well-equipped customer care center is! Their 24 hour call center manages their brand image by providing customer service, omnichannel support, and ecommerce support services.

PatPat is flourishing because the work is done in unison—PatPat focuses on and provides the core product while IdeasUnlimited helps add value to PatPat’s value proposition. Indeed, a win-win situation!

Conclusion

In a nutshell, retailers that have not figured out how to build a powerful presence online, have not invested in doing so, and are not planning to do so in the future will be left behind. Online retail is certainly not a fad—it is here to stay. The way to get ahead of the curve is to focus on your core competencies and partner with a specialist support services provider for support systems—let your product shine on a scalable and efficient ecommerce platform!

Five Reasons Why Ecommerce is Growing

Five Reasons Why Ecommerce is Growing

By | Business Improvement, Customer Service, Ecommerce Support Services | No Comments

Take advantage of these 5 Ecommerce Trends and help grow and transform your customer base.

The last decade witnessed a dramatic shift from physical stores to fewer brick-and-mortar locations or a complete switch to online commerce. Today, this trend shows no signs of abating, with Forbes attributing a 23% year-on-year growth rate to ecommerce. Expanding customer reach from the immediate surroundings of businesses to anywhere in the world was one of the initial promises of ecommerce. What is fueling the growth of this industry beyond that? Here are five major causes of the growth of ecommerce in today’s technology-driven world that you must be aware of and incorporate into your business growth strategy.

1. Mobile Adaptivity

More and more web traffic is generated by smartphones and tablets, driving ecommerce sales. All major brands ensure that their websites are mobile-adaptive—enhancing the customer experience—and more often than not they have native mobile apps to make shopping even easier. If your website is not mobile and tablet adaptive, you will definitely be losing millennial customers and the youth of Generation Z.

In addition to this, technological advancements such as voice-activated shopping and better connectivity have caused a surge in mobile shopping revenue from $3 billion to $31 billion in America alone. Customers get real-time updates of new product launches, exclusive deals and promotional schemes, and the one-touch purchase option has caused an exponential growth in ecommerce. Smartphones also allow for location-specific offerings, building a more intimate customer-business relationship that attracts more customers.

Think about hiring a technical support expert or an ecommerce support virtual assistant to easily transition into this new phase of online commerce.

2. Omnichannel Retailing

Ecommerce has progressed beyond search engine optimization to other channels of marketing to and interacting with customers. Businesses interact with their customers through their websites, email, social media, and physical stores. This creates multiple channels of purchase, receipt, and exchange of goods, with a prevalence of shopper-friendly shipping and return policies. Customers can purchase online, pick their purchases up at a physical store, return any defective items online, and avail discount offers based on a certain number of referrals. This integrated online and physical experience drives more sales.

Your business must manage the omnichannel customer experience so that each channel is a seamless brand extension and the customer can pick up the conversation on any channel without any discordant experiences. Partner with a firm that can ensure a consistent omnichannel brand voice.

3. Convenience

The accessibility of a store is out of the purchase equation now. Ecommerce promises 24/7 accessibility, 365 days a year, with no downtime for public holidays, closing times, bad weather conditions etc. Customers can shop as and when they like, from where they want, be it the comfort of their own bed. Ecommerce makes purchasing faster and easier, without the hassle of crowds, traffic, and awkward social interactions.

Customers can compare offerings online and read up reviews to see how the product or service fared in the view of like-minded individuals to determine which offer has the best value, all without having to go from one shop to the other.

The ability to find the desired product or service, order it, and receive it at the time and in the form convenient to the customer at a single touch or click has transformed buying behavior, encouraging instant gratification and thus boosting ecommerce transactions. In this fast-paced world ecommerce today offers the value proposition of a full shopping experience during the only real free time available to millennials—long commutes.

To take advantage of this trend, your website should be search-engine optimized, have fast loading speeds, should have a functional shopping cart, and have updated product catalogs. Most importantly, your customer service must be par excellence and for ecommerce especially, it should extend to 24 hour call center support since the majority of buyers shop after business hours. This will also significantly enhance your reputation.

4. Greater Range of Offerings

With incredibly low overheads like negligible utility bills, skeletal staff, and the ability to provide a product or service from any location to a worldwide customer base, ecommerce dramatically reduces costs of operations. This allows businesses to transfer some of these onward to price-sensitive customers in the form of cheaper products with automatic replenishment since warehouses are no longer restricted to certain geographic locations.

Ecommerce also allows businesses to outsource their administrative backend operations to specialist support services providers located virtually anywhere in the world. There is no longer a need to have call center support teams for customer service, technical and multilingual support on-site when companies like IdeasUnlimited can do the job for you at a fraction of the cost and with round-the-clock support, switching teams between time zones to ensure zero downtime. The industry has grown to include service offerings that were not possible before, such as hiring virtual assistance for the marketing, healthcare, and real estate needs of your business.

So move with the times and lower your overhead costs by partnering with firms that provide administrative support, backend and operational support, allowing you to focus on your core competencies and grow your business.

5. Individualized Products and Services

More sophisticated algorithms allow companies to offer more personalized, customer centric recommendations. A far cry from recommendations based on typical buying habits and products purchased together, ecommerce today allows businesses to give customer suggestions based on their individual preferences. These encourage customers to purchase items that appear completely necessary since they are so aligned with their personal preferences. Lower start-up costs allow more sellers to operate, targeting niche markets with highly customized options, selling more sizes, colors, personalized designs etc. than would be feasible to offer in a physical store.

Study your typical customers’ characteristics and ensure your offering adds value to their lives. You don’t need to cater to a wide demographic, rather specialize in offering the best value to your target segment.

These new trends in ecommerce and its phenomenal growth open up numerous new avenues to grow your business, if you have a suitable operational support network to pull it off. Shed the extra layers that bog down your business and work with professionals so you are freed up to focus on perfecting your value proposition, making it the most attractive in the market. Get 24/7 coverage, customer service, technical and other forms of call center support as well as multilingual support agents to cater to the needs of your diverse customer base by contacting IdeasUnlimited, a global support services provider.