As an e-commerce company, you are in the business of talking to strangers. Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers have the customers right in front of them. The shoppers come from a particular area and are looking for specific products. It’s relatively easy for them to develop a close connection with their clientele.
Online retailers have a different relationship with their customer base. Sales are all done remotely, to people scattered throughout the world. An e-commerce company has to cater to a diverse audience and find their clientele amid the vast multitudes on the Internet.
Like all retailers, e-commerce firms have the challenge of finding customers to make an initial sale. However, they have the added problem of building a long-term relationship with those customers. Not to get too corny about it, but they need to turn those strangers into friends.
If your e-commerce business is going to thrive, you can’t survive on a series of one-time purchases. You need to nurture repeat customers. That involves building a relationship with your customers that will continue into the for seeable future.
It’s a challenge given the mercenary aspects of Internet commerce. But it’s not impossible. Here are a few steps you can take to build a closer connection with your customers:
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Your first goal as an e-commerce provider is to make the process of buying as efficient as possible. Your main competitive advantage is a fast-order sales procedure and a smaller bureaucracy. In other words, you can get things done quick and easy.
To ensure this level of service, make sure your fulfillment process is as streamlined as possible. You want to maximize efficiency, to get products to your customers as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
You can do this by getting products to your customers in an organized and efficient. Standardize the system using techniques like UNSPSC codes. Offer free overnight shipping and provide generous return policy. Provide good enough service and customers will rush to buy from you again.
How do you keep in touch with your closest friends? Text and phone calls, occasionally. But most often you probably reach out using email.
Think of your best customers in the same light. You want to keep them up-to-date with new products and inform them of your ongoing innovations. An email newsletter provides a low cost, a handy way to provide this information. It cultivates an ongoing relationship with your customers that’s both low impact for them and efficient for you.
Dynamic Marketing Content
Reaching your customers on an emotional level is the best way to develop a long-term relationship. You can’t just appeal to their heads. You have to touch their hearts.
Therefore, don’t rely on dry product descriptions or jargon-filled web filler. You have to produce well-made, engaging content to draw in the audience you are looking to serve. That means creating exciting and interesting content.
Upgrade Your Social Media Presence
Social media provides an easy way to link with the outside world. Something that 20 years ago would’ve cost companies millions of dollars to communicate through an aggressive advertising campaign, modern companies can do now virtually for free, only using a few posts.
However, to unlock the true power of social media’s potential, you have to build up your presence. You need to gain followers and build a reputation as a provider of interesting and engaging content.
For large industrial clients, you might consider a real-life physical meeting – like, people actually sitting in a room together. This will create a personal connection between members of your staff and the buyers you want to service.
However, that isn’t practical in most cases. As an e-commerce business, your purpose derives in part from a certain sense of remoteness. You offer the ease of online sales. Even so, you can still mix in aspects of the personal.
Large buyers might warrant an occasional video call, to gather feedback and to develop deeper connections. Meanwhile, for the broad base of your clients, you can offer webinars. These video presentations simulate face-to-face interactions, letting the customers get to know you on a more intimate level. Even though the communication here only moves in one direction, it still personalizes the experience.
Personal Sales Rep
Another way to foster relationships with larger clients is by using personalized sales contacts. Instead of going through the normal processes to receive customer service help, these important clients would have a direct connection to an individual member of your sales team.
Clients would still process most of their orders online. But any additional service they needed could be discussed directly with their assigned rep. This way, they get a more personalized experience than they would be going through anonymous channels, like with a “help@” email address or through a generic online form.
Automated Sales Procedures
The practical result of a close relationship with your clients is there reliance on you as a supplier. You know you have a bond with them if they come back to you again and again. To make this easier, create an ordering process that is as streamlined as possible.
You can accomplish this by building an app that allows customers to order automatically. The speed and ease of this process will help develop a closer connection.
Don’t view communication as only providing information for your clients. It also means learning from them.
In short, work on your listening skills. By soliciting and responding to feedback, you become a better company. You are able to serve your clients better. Customers will like getting the chance to share their feelings, and the information you collect will lead to improvements over time.