Over the last 10 to 15 years, Ecommerce has entirely revolutionized retail business. It not only just developed exponentially but also progressed and transfigured over time to meet the ever-changing desires and requirements of the modern day consumers.
According to Global outlook (2016-’21) of e-commerce business, worldwide marketers can expect steady growth through 2021, when sales will total US$28 Trillion.
Statistics says, e-commerce share of total global retail sales has seen great growth and this tradition will continue in upcoming years as well.
Source: Statista 2018
So, the reason is quite vivid why every offline business owner feels interested in shifting the business to online.
There are multiple advantages of opting for ecommerce business.
- You don’t need a physical store anymore. Yes, you need to host a website, but that is cheaper than paying rent for a brick and mortar shop.
- Ecommerce store requires less staff because the entire process is automated, and the human resources are used only for high-level functions.
- Your market will get wider as compared to a physical store.
- Your store can be opened for any new order 24/7.
- By implementing right ecommerce SEO strategies, you can get great qualified organic search traffic.
- You can track your logistics easily.
- The communication with customers also becomes easy and effective.
Is that it? The answer is a big resounding NO. The coin has another side too.
There are some challenges that every ecommerce business owners have to face at some point of time while running their self-hosted websites. Today I will talk about these challenges and how you can solve them.
So without further ado, let’s start the discussion.
ECommerce Business Problems & It’s Solutions
#1 Poor Product Catalogue
The first problem, for ecommerce businesses, is caused by having poor product catalogue. Listing a product on your ecommerce website is not enough to get high revenue. If you have a substandard product catalogue, then all your effort to launch a product will go in vain.
So when can a product catalog be considered as poor?
Actually, there are some factors that define a product catalog as poor. Let me give you a brief about these factors.
- Shoddy Images
An e-commerce store may have numerous products listed, vary from category, style, color, material, design etc. Not all who visit an ecommerce store have the mindset to buy something particular initially. Firstly, the image of a product catches their’ attention. This is the main tool for convincing them. A potential buyer closely checks a product image by zooming it, this image gives the buyer an idea how it would suit his/her utility. Buyer also likes to see products image in all angles so make sure your product shows everything what it has.
So, if you use poor-quality images for your products, then it will be next to impossible for you to turn your online store visitors into customers and increase conversion.
- Improper product description
By going through detailed product information, customers know more about the purchase they’re considering. It helps in increasing conversion rate. But when the product descriptions are vague and scanty, there’s a chance that you lose valuable customers.
In online retail stores, bare minimum product descriptions are often seen. Let’s have a look at an example of such product description below:
This is a screenshot of a short sleeve denim shirt’s description from the Gap website.
This decent looking shirt appears to be soft and comfortable. But if you cannot see the image, you have to rely on the description above, which only provides the barest information.
Another problem is having incorrect or grammatically errored product description on a website. Let’s have a look at a description of a product listed on Rakuten Global Market Website.
This description is of a coin purse/coin case:
As you can see, there are many grammatical errors in this product description. It does not evoke anything, and for a website visitor, it’s difficult to understand what the product is about. When your prospective customers will not be able to understand your product properly after reading its description, they will lose interest in it, and eventually, you will lose profit.
When you are selling a product, being able to appropriately explain what it does, and how it can be beneficial is very important. Also, having clear images of that product from various angles is crucial.
Here are a few practices that you must follow:
- Review product images listed in renowned ecommerce stores and get an idea
- Hire a professional photographer or the people who have expertise in preparing catalogue
- Address features and benefits in a comprehensive manner in the product description
- Double check after writing to spot any grammatical error
- Make your product description easy to read and skim; use bullet points, subheadings, large fonts etc.
#2 Unexpected Product Returns & Refund
The second and most common challenge of any ecommerce business is unexpected product returns and refund. This problem is costing so much money to any ecommerce business because refunding the amount and product return (shipping cost) is very costly now a days.
Research says around 30% of all products ordered from an ecommerce store are returned as compared to 8.89% in a physical store. Processing return, exchanges, and refunds are some remarkable problems that most ecommerce businesses face. Even if you have a well-developed packaging and shipping system, it’s not enough to manage returns and exchanges hassle-freely. Especially some customers opt for Cash-On-Delivery (COD) option, and refuse to accept the product – it results in huge revenue losses for many e-commerce companies.
The one and only solution is having a well-thought strategy and making sure that the strategy will be promulgated appropriately. Remember, the more hassle-free your return and refund processes are, the better way you can assist your customers. And when your customer assistance becomes flawless, you get more trust from customers and it will become long time customer. Create a page on your website, detailing all your return and refund policies. Put refund and return policy page link on every product page so customer can get the information easily.
While creating policies, be transparent in your writing, use simple English and maintain clarity to make the content easy to understand. Provide your customers varied options for payments and shipping. You should also educate your customer care executives properly about your policies so, that when they assist your customers, the entire process becomes effective and fast. And finally, be prepared to face the cost of your mistakes. If a product is shipped wrong, then take extra efforts to make the customer happy. Even when the fault is totally of your customer, don’t behave harshly to make him/her angry. Keeping your customers happy will make them come back to your site again and again.
We have seen some examples in past where cost of the product is very low and when customer returns it to ecommerce business than the return cost was higher than the cost of the product. In those cases ecommerce business owner tells customer that keep the item with you and we will either refund or send another item. In this way ecommerce business earns the trust of customer and gets mouth to mouth advertisement as well (Praise from customer) at the cost of minor amount.
#3 Deal with Negative & Suspicious Reviews
It is very common for an ecommerce business to be wrapped up in negative reviews. Anyone, having a running ecommerce business, has dealt with at least a couple of bad reviews.
And if everybody who has received negative product reviews closed up store, ecommerce simply would not exist.
If and when you receive a bad review, remember that it does not mean your product or service is bad. Most likely, the review was a result of mismatched expectations or simply a bad day on the part of the reviewer.
So, what is the best way to deal with bad reviews? Get more good ones!
And what about suspicious reviews? Being an ecommerce business owner, if you have found some reviews as fake or suspicious, let me tell you my friend, you are not alone in this scenario. According to a survey, there was a huge up-tick in the number of suspicious reviews even on Amazon website in 2016-’17.
When it comes to dealing with negative reviews, as I have mentioned earlier, a negative feedback does not define you are selling something wrong. You need to keep in mind that no product can gratify every customer, and negative reviews indicate that. Do not hide your negative reviews. People always trust a business that has both positive and negative reviews on its website, because it signifies that all the reviews are real and the brand is authentic.
When it comes to dealing with suspicious or fake reviews, allow only official buyers to add reviews on your products. Encourage your customers to leave honest reviews after buying a product. And do not enter any fake reviews from yourself.
In reality, you cannot completely protect yourself from fake reviews, but you can reward with great products, superb content in product descriptions and good reviews.
Ecommerce business should send one email to customer after 10-15 days of purchase which consists information –
- Did you liked the product?
- How’s the quality of product?
- How’s the quality of delivery?
- Would you like to add detailed review of this product?.
Business shouldn’t send instant email to customer by saying that “Would you like to add review of this product?”. Because, customer might not used that product instantly and it takes time to use it and review it.
This way you can earn honest review from the customer.
#4 Transparent & Fast Communications with Customers
Lack of transparent communication with customers and slow response to their inquiries make the people distrust your ecommerce store. Also, if your website doesn’t have any separate contact us page with detailed contact information, it becomes difficult for people to follow through and buy your products online.
To instill trust in your customers or website visitors you need to maintain a transparent and effective communication with them. It would be great if you provide contact information easily like phone number, email ID and other direct contact links.
Here are some ways:
- Have a skilled customer care team that can meet every customer’s need as soon as possible and in the most effective manner.
- Avoid sending an automatic response to any customer’s email. Send a personal note.
- Create a Contact Us page and have its link or details on the website’s home page so that people can reach your business easily
- Stay active across all leading social media platforms and engage with your audience. You can resolve any customer’s query on social platform as well.
#5 Confuse to choose right advertisement channel for ecommerce store
When you are running an ecommerce store, it’s natural for you to hope for it to be a runaway success. But no matter how good your products/services are, without a solid advertising strategy your store will not work.
Are you confused about which particular platform will perfectly be suited for advertising your business? Then, you are seriously in trouble. You should not choose any random marketing strategy without having a proper idea. Well, you can do competitor research and have a better idea. But as a matter of fact, it will take a handsome amount of time and cost you well.
OLBUZ have 16 years of digital marketing experience and we know what will be right advertisement channel of platform for different kind of business. For an ecommerce business paid marketing platforms like Google Ads and Bing Ads are the perfect platform. Ecommerce business should run shopping campaign on these platforms because it’s quite cheap compared to display network and search network and can reach maximum audience easily. Here is the one such example of Shopping Ads / PLA Ads.
Once you decide the particular platform than you need to finalize target audience and the budget. Distribute the budget among online and offline advertising. However, depending on your business category and the target audience, you need to decide how much money you’ll spend on online advertisement and how much on the offline ones. Harness the benefits of Google Ads that can give you a high return on a low budget. If you are using social media channels for advertising, pick the right platform according to your business genre.
OLBUZ has plenty of Ecommerce clients, and we run shopping campaigns for them with right strategies, budget, target audience and location. We have always given more than expected results to our clients. One such shopping campaign performance example is below. Check out our Paid Marketing Case Studies for eCommerce Brand here.
#6 Cut-Throat Competitions
Ecommerce retailers often compete on price. There are some sellers who may list same products on their websites. The product is same but the only difference here is the price. They are competing to sell the merchandise to increase their market share. Such competition affects especially small ecommerce businesses very badly.
Another problem is there are some manufacturers and retailers, who may sell the same products, which you are selling on your website, directly to the people. Some even build distributors which make the entire scenario even worse.
To survive the cut-throat competition in this industry, business owners need to distribute their own inventory to fulfillment warehouses, act as resourceful shippers, or offer some extremely unique merchandise.
Online buyers appreciate speedy and free shipping that also at lowest price. Thus proffering a product at less price or with additional benefits can minimize all problems and help you increase your sales.
You should restrict the manufacturers to sell the products directly to customers by applying the policies and strict regulations while making the contract.
eCommerce promotion ideas is also one of the classic example to survive in the industry. Users loves to buy products at discounted rate or with other offers. Here is the list of promotion ideas which business owners can provide to their customers.
- Free Shipping
- Percentage Based Discount
- Buy One Get One (BOGO) Offer
- Free Item on $$$ Purchase
- Coupon Code Discount
- Quantity Based Discount
#7 Customer’s Loyalty
Does your business still struggle despite having amazing products on a superb looking website?
If it does, then the possible reason of it is that you haven’t yet built the customer trust and loyalty.
The main reason why ecommerce businesses find problems while building customer loyalty and trust is because a buyer and a seller are unknown to each other; they can’t see each other while making a transaction unlike shopping from a physical store.
Even loyal customers may switch to other options if they faced any problem with your service earlier.
To earn customer trust and loyalty, it’s a must for you to offer great customer assistance. Make sure your customers feel satisfied with your assistance throughout the process from ordering online to shipping.
Some more ways to instill trust in your customers-
- Your complete address, contact number, photos of your staff, customer testimonials etc. should be visible on your website
- Add live chat option and a blog section to your website
- Provide good offers to existing customers
- Create loyalty programs to encourage the buyers to shop
Considering the factors discussed in today’s post and implementing the solutions over time will contribute to how your ecommerce business grows. So what recent challenge you’ve faced while running your online store? How have you overcome it? Do share your experience in the comment section. I ‘d be glad to know.