5 ways to create a great online sales experience
Coupled with winning customer service, providing a standout sales experience is key to securing lasting loyalty. Better yet, it will help ensure your business stands out amongst an increasingly crowded market. Whether you’re an emerging online retailer or the local milk bar, this combination is critical to attracting and retaining customers.
But that isn’t to say it’s without its challenges. The next chapter: how to thrive in a changed world – a study conducted by Forrester Consulting – revealed that one in three small businesses named retaining existing customers as their main challenge during the pandemic. While a further 32 per cent found that it was attracting and retaining new customers.
Consumers have incredibly high standards – and rightly so. As Xero’s Sales Director in Australia, I operate on the proviso that a customer’s most outstanding user experience is the yardstick that they compare all others to. But the fact that your small business is suddenly up against the big guys needn't be cause for intimidation. Instead, look to the tips below and use this knowledge to drive you to invest where it counts: creating a friction-free sales experience.
1. Always give customers a reason to choose your business
Conducting a thorough competitor analysis shouldn’t be a one-off event. In order to continue heroing your points of difference, you should be constantly working to uncover what your business offers that others don’t (keep things classy, no naming and shaming here). This could be anything from product range to pure convenience – perhaps you offer free shipping or a grace period for change of mind.
Whatever the case, people are looking to your business to solve a problem or need. Clearly communicate your points of difference across all of your platforms, and keep on giving them a reason to choose you.
2. Make the online experience as streamlined (and human) as possible
Following the arrival of the pandemic, people are spending more time online than ever – with ABS data showing a massive year-on-year growth of 74.5% per cent in online retail sales in September. As a result, consumers now expect nothing less than a seamless digital experience.
Your website should be intuitive to navigate – NAB and others in the financial services space are great examples of this in that everything a user needs to find is displayed front and centre.
Consider, what are the most important things your customers need to know? Keep the user journey as simple as possible. It all comes down to offering people choice without overwhelming them – the rule of providing no more than three options of how to proceed is a sweet-spot in online commerce. And when it comes to your choice of words, keep things human. That means ditching the corporate speak and going for authenticity.
3. Never underestimate the power of a good review
Research shows that more than two thirds of Australian consumers read online reviews about products or services they’re interested in. Humans are social animals, and nothing makes us more inclined to trust a business than hearing others have vouched for it. If you own a physical business – give out loyalty cards and encourage regulars to jump online and share their experience.
In the online space, send repeat buyers a follow up email after they’ve purchased with the gentle encouragement to share a review (you could even incentivise this with the chance to win credit).
4. Seek out customer feedback (even if it hurts)
If you don’t give customers the chance to communicate when they’re aren’t satisfied; that’s a missed opportunity. Instead, you should be constantly seeking out their feedback and using it to further finesse your sales experience. Start by asking if there’s anything more you can do for them via email or short survey (and don’t forget to say thank you in return).
When things go wrong, fronting up and doing right by your customers can actually gain you more loyalty than a straight up positive experience. For this reason, it’s important that neither you or your staff ever have a bad day with a customer. After all, a poor experience often weighs more than the good ones in the world of sales. Always demonstrate that you care by responding to reviews with complete transparency and empathy.
5. Invest in tech and leverage your customer database
Mastering the sales experience is made infinitely easier by investing in the right tech. Embracing a customer relationship management (CRM) system like Salesforce or SharpSpring allows you to reach out to your database. And by drawing on this technology to map your customer journey, you can discover where people are dropping off and work to remedy this. In addition, whatever stage your business is at, there are apps designed to help you with everything from setting up an online store to building lasting relationships with customers.
By automating everything from payment processes to compliance, you’ll win back more time to do what counts: engaging your customers and welcoming them back time and again. So jump right in and start driving more customers to your door, whether that’s in real life, online, or – better yet – all of the above.
Jared Baker is Sales Director, Xero Australia