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How to grow your e-commerce business in five steps?

To increase their visibility, boost conversion rates and build customer loyalty, e-commerce site managers need to redouble their efforts.
Paola Verhusel by Paola Verhulsel
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In recent years, new challenges have arisen as e-commerce has evolved. To maintain their growth, companies need to take a smarter approach.

In terms of e-commerce trends, Covid-19 acted as a major catalyst. Although the pandemic undoubtedly boosted the growth in online sales (in 2020 alone, these grew 27.6% globally), the influx of consumers also brought with it additional e-commerce challenges and difficulties for online retailers.

From supply chain delays to rising costs combined with growing inflation, managing the higher number of orders and the associated product returns, many site managers are now struggling to get their bearings in an ever-changing economy and sector.

Today, let's take a look at five major e-commerce challenges facing e-commerce entrepreneurs, and possible solutions for overcoming these transformations.

 

Ensuring a good conversion rate in e-commerce

While online sales have grown, there has also been a boom in the number of e-commerce websites. In France alone, at the end of 2022 there were no fewer than 207,000 e-commerce sites.

To stand out from this fierce competition, the first step is of course to attract potential customers to your website. This can be achieved through digital advertising on search engines, known as search ads, but not exclusively. From SEO optimization to social media, email and newsletter campaigns, retargeting and partnerships with influencers, there are various means to deploy and data to monitor. You need to combine several tools to win over new customers, then convert their visits into purchases.

To implement this type of omnichannel action plan, it's vital not to overlook external elements that could influence their purchasing decision, such as reviews left by previous customers. The quality of Google reviews is taken into account by the algorithm of the most popular search engine, and will therefore have an impact on your ranking. But it can also make a big difference to people visiting your website, just like good feedback on social media or in a YouTube video, which more and more customers will tend to watch before making a purchase.

Of course, it's also important that your website is pleasant to navigate, from the moment a visitor reaches it, right up to the moment they check out. If you give them the slightest reason to not trust your reliability, your conversion rate will suffer.

So optimize your website, and be sure to include FAQ (frequently asked questions) and return, payment or refund conditions, which your customers will probably want to read.

Finally, work on transparency. Anticipate the questions people might ask about your products, delivery methods, etc. Add customer reviews directly on your platform. Keep in mind that every piece of content has to reinforce the buyer's confidence in your e-commerce site.

 

Delivery costs: how do you stay competitive?

Rising delivery costs have affected all e-commerce players since the Covid pandemic. It’s become difficult to offer low-cost or free deliveries while remaining profitable. Even so, this is one of the expectations customers have: they’re now used to delivery methods that are both inexpensive and very fast and efficient, one example being Amazon.

It's hard for small players to catch up. So you'll have to juggle several factors to strike the best balance for you: one that enables you to ensure customer satisfaction while maintaining a certain level of profitability.

Consumer behavior tells us that buyers expect cheap or free delivery, and you have little choice but to offer this to ensure a good conversion rate. To offset the cost of this, the idea is to increase your margins elsewhere, e.g. offer a minimum purchase for free delivery to boost the total basket amount. Another solution is to outsource your e-commerce logistics to reduce costs. Outsourcing gives you the benefit of better prices on shipping and delivery services, rather than simply negotiating on your own. Speed of delivery will also be enhanced, as logistics providers have a vast network of warehouses and good relationships with the best service providers.

 

Customer loyalty: how to build it ?

Continually acquiring new customers doesn’t come cheap. Fortunately, there's an alternative: focus on the retention of existing customers, and getting them to order from your website again. This is particularly beneficial because your loyal customers will be your best ambassadors: if they're satisfied with the customer experience, they'll be more likely to tell others about it and recommend your platform.

Building customer loyalty starts with ensuring an excellent buying experience. Your website needs to be flawless, but that's not all. The whole purchasing process then has to go smoothly. Make sure your customer service is responsive and efficient, reduce the error rate in orders as much as possible, pack products properly to avoid breakage in transit – and manage returns and refunds efficiently.

 

Product returns and refunds: providing an impeccable service

E-commerce managers often see returns and refunds as a failure. However, this doesn't mean a customer will never order from your website again, or that they'll leave you a negative review. Sometimes, it's simply a question of size or color, or that they need something different. However, it's vital the return and refund process runs smoothly to ensure a positive shopping experience.

Your watchwords should be speed, flexibility, agility, adaptation, fluidity and transparency. Having too many steps in the return process (like calling, then sending an email, then having to create a return slip yourself) will be counter-productive. The customer wants the simplest possible solution.

Because this task is particularly time-consuming, you can also outsource returns management to an e-commerce logistics provider. They can manage RMAs (returns of defective or broken products), conventional returns, check the condition of the items received, repackage them if possible for ecologically sound management, then send all the necessary information for customer reimbursement. This will allow you to spend more time on your core business, such as communication or innovation, while ensuring an improved, seamless customer experience.

 

Staff shortages, stockouts: managing contingencies

Covid showed us to expect the unexpected in the e-commerce sector. There are, of course, product availability issues at suppliers, which can be very problematic and mean you need to take precautions, for example by building up a safety stock.

But there can also be staff shortages. With recruitment becoming increasingly difficult in business, e-commerce managers are inevitably concerned about resignations, quarantine, sick leave or workplace accidents. If they don't have enough employees, they run the risk of delaying shipments and lowering customer satisfaction.

Using a logistics service provider is one solution to consider. It's a way of having less to deal with when the unexpected happens. It's easier for a large e-logistics company to manage inventory, staff absences, returns and other tasks – saving you time and giving you peace of mind!

Thanks to our solutions to these five major logistical challenges facing e-commerce operators today, you should be able to become more competitive, stand out from your rivals, build customer loyalty – and grow your business! To find out more, contact our experts!

 

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