After another turbulent year’s trading, it’s time to take a well-earned break and enjoy some quality downtime with family and friends. It’s also a good time to pause and think about how you want your business to evolve over the coming year. Talking to experts for an update on the new trends and possibilities 2022 has in store is a great idea. It’s an easy way to understand what options may be available to grow your business in 2022, and should be part of every business’s January Health Check. We can all make New Year’s resolutions and some of us might even keep a few of them. But if there’s one resolution worth making (and keeping) for your business’s sake it’s to review whether your online business can keep up with changing markets and consumer demands.
Without a crystal ball it’s impossible to see into the future and know for certain what next year’s trading will bring. Nowhere has unpredictability been felt more than on the High Street, or in trying to understand the long-term impact COVID has had on shopping habits and expectations of consumers. For existing business owners and prospective business owners alike, ‘doing business online’ is more than a trend; it’s here to stay and will continue to evolve. According to research by Statista, there was an 80% increase in online sales in the UK from March 2020 to September 2021.
Whether you’re about to launch a new venture or grow an established company, managing your business throughout the year means using a business model fit for the new digital age we’re living in. To help you get started, here our 5 Top Tips for your online business’s New Year’s resolutions:
1. Review your website from your customers' perspective
Your website reflects your values as much as it does your products and brand. Do your customers see what you want them to see in your current website? Is your home page truly giving off the wow-factor you’d hoped for? Or at least making sufficient impact to entice visitors beyond the initial headlines? As a business owner, it’s likely you’ve become so familiar with your website that you’re no longer able to see it with the fresh eyes of a new visitor. That means you can’t gauge what kind of first impression it’s making. If your customers experience delays or uncertainties at any point along their journey towards the products or services you offer, they’re likely to leave your site and look for a similar offering elsewhere. 48% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content or layout is unattractive (Source, SWEAO).
2. Enhance customer care
How you communicate your business values to your customers can be second nature to someone managing a retail operation - it’s in the positioning of eye-catching products, it’s the look and feel of the store and the welcome someone receives. It’s how you manage customer issues face-to-face when a product is returned or saved for later collection, or the returning of goods. For services companies, these values are communicated by the tone of every client-facing person in your business, as well as your ability to deliver on the promises you make. High-quality customer care online is a major contributor to customer satisfaction, and satisfied customers are more likely to report on your excellent service, return to make further purchases, and encourage others to do so too. Customer care is about showing your customers that they matter. Keeping them up to date with product availability, where things are in the order process, and providing accurate information about delivery charges, for example. All this helps make the buying process a simple and enjoyable one, increasing the likelihood that any issues which crop up are likely to be resolved successfully. Globally, 54% of consumers say that they have higher customer service expectations than they did just one year ago. (Source, Nextiva.)
3. Ensure consistency across all channels (touch points with your customers)
Disparate, out of synch, or unconnected sales channels - website, social media, brick-and-mortar - not only make managing your business time-consuming and, ultimately, unprofitable, but drive your potential customers to a competitor. If you’re not able to match or exceed the high-level of service customers experience face to face in the online world, you’re in danger of losing them to an alternative seller. Consistency across desktop, tablet and mobile devises is critical to increase the likelihood of purchases being made. 85% of adults think that a company’s website when viewed on a mobile device should be as good or better than its desktop website (Source, SWEAO).
4. Gain control over your online business
Many businesses experience a surge in demand towards the end of the year, which is to be expected. Spikes in revenue occur at other known times of the year too, but uncertainty around demand means that business owners will have to show more savvy around customer care, stock control, forecasting and cashflow management. Hybrid purchasing (online as well as in person) has become ingrained in the lives of consumers and this approach to business models can help spread revenue generating opportunities for the business owner. Control over levels of stock, as well as knowing who is buying from which channels and when, leads to better buying decisions for the owner.
Whether you think that your competitors trade from the shop across the road from you, or think that they’re the sleek operator out of Seattle, Washington, you’re right on both counts! And you’re also competing with everyone in between. Gone are the days when your competitor checks out your pricing by calling your store, or dials up pretending to be a customer. It’s important to remember, if you want your ecommerce strategy to be successful in 2022, that you are competing in an ever-widening market place against more and more rivals… so you’d better be competitive! Showcasing your products or services around the globe, 24/7, means so much more than just having a website that ‘looks OK’. Does it look credible in the market place you’re trading in? Does it connect with the right audience? Is it intuitive to use and are you in control of it as a business owner?
Kick-start 2022 with a New Year’s Resolution to review your ecommerce plans, and let Thrive help you grow your business. As experts in ecommerce, we specialise in working closely with business owners to fully understand their needs and visions, tailoring effective eCommerce solutions to them.
To learn more about what’s possible with Shopify, contact Thrive on 01675 446101 or via our contact form. Our friendly team of ecommerce experts can help you determine the best approach for your business, whatever product or service it sells.