Retail is a customer business. You’re trying to take care of the customer – solve something for the customer. And there’s no way to learn that in the classroom or in the corner office, or away from the customer. You’ve got to be in front of the customer. – Erik Nordstrom, President, Nordstrom Direct
I was invited to go to the Retail Without Borders conference recently where I learned much that I didn’t know about the world of e-commerce.
Or, at least, I had my eyes opened to how hard it is to do the simple stuff well.
For example, the five points in the image above are a mix of points made by different speakers – and if you are in e-commerce it’s worth checking how many of these you get right.
First, you have to start with enriched content.
That means going beyond having basic listings with text – the more useful detail you put on there the more people trust what you are selling.
Pictures help, as do videos – the trick is making sure you have as many as needed.
Then you have to make sure how have the highest retail standards possible.
This means getting your stuff out to the customer as quickly as possible – promising three days and getting it there in two, for example.
If you’re big enough then same day delivery or next day delivery helps you stand out.
Before you do that, however, you have to get payment services that work for the customer.
That means giving them options to pay – using methods like Paypal and credit cards – but also others that work in the regions you’re service.
More on that in a bit.
Now, you’ve also got to make sure that you’ve got inventory under control.
There’s few things that make customers more unhappy than finding what they’ve ordered isn’t in stock or that they have to wait twice as long.
And while we’re talking about customers make sure you have an engagement plan for them – how you talk to them and build a community of customers.
Now, if you live in a developed economy – especially the UK or US – all this seems obvious to you.
These countries lead the way when it comes to digital commerce and the services are pretty slick on each of these points.
In fact, you’ll find it hard to compete if you don’t have all these things sorted for customers in these regions.
Take payments, for example.
If you offer Paypal and credit cards then you have 100% – that’s right – the entire target population pretty much covered.
But once you go further afield it gets more complicated.
People in many countries still prefer to pay cash on delivery – COD.
They don’t trust cards or aren’t allowed to make international payments with the cards they have.
The logistics of shipping to different countries can get frighteningly complex very quickly.
Your goods can be stopped or lost at customs and there’s no way of getting them back.
And if you’re looking at non-English speaking markets then you need to think hard about localisation issues.
Are you using the language that people use – are you using the right dialect.
You can lose a lot of sales if you use only one language.
To some extent this checklist is for product sales but it works pretty much the same way for services – with the exception perhaps that your logistics gets easier if you have no inventory and can email your product.
The basic principles still apply.
But all this is really just about hygiene – about getting the basics really really right.
The thing that really matters is whether you’re giving the customer something of value.
This list helps you deliver it better.