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Created on 22.01.2019

Ensuring e-commerce is successful

Online shopping has now become part of everyday life in Switzerland: around 72% of the Swiss population aged between 16 and 74 regularly shop online. E-commerce offers tremendous potential – including for small and medium-sized companies. We outline which points you need to pay attention to in order to launch a successful online business.

Online retail provides SMEs with the opportunity to sell their products and services from anywhere 24/7 and to develop a new and larger target group. However, e-commerce offers companies much more besides: they obtain access to relevant customer information, such as birthdays and addresses, and – thanks to clever tracking – can also analyse and evaluate purchasing behaviour, interests and preferences. Such information is important in order to develop your products and services. But what makes an online shop really successful?

A good product range, excellent service and user-friendliness are all key to success

However, not all products and services are ideal for sale online, but are instead better suited to bricks-and-mortar retail. Before looking for an e-commerce solution, you should consider whether your product is suitable for Swiss online retail. You also need to reflect on how broad your online product range should be. For example, if you sell dog blankets, it may be worth expanding your range to include leads, collars and toys. Of course, there is much more to it than just the product and range alone – the competition online is generally fiercer than on the high street. After all, online you are vying for business with competitors from all over the world. It’s also worth establishing a unique selling point (USP) online, for example:

  • Are you a source of inspiration in a particular area?
  • In addition to products, do you also provide your customers with added value, such as with an informative blog?
  • Do you offer your customers a service online that is not available elsewhere? (e.g. personalization, special delivery conditions, in-store collection, etc.)

The importance of a user-friendly online presence is often underestimated. How easily and intuitively can users navigate your website? Does it also work on mobile phones and tablets? You should therefore look for a technical solution that provides users with optimal support during the purchasing process. This also means ensuring your shop is easy to find online. Make sure that product descriptions and other texts on your website are search engine optimized (SEO), in other words can be easily identified and found by search engines. Various tools available online help you to write SEO content.

Despite the fact – or precisely because – there is generally no personal customer contact in e-commerce, good service is extremely important. This enables you to achieve customer proximity and to stand out from other retailers. How quick and friendly is your customer service team in responding to queries? Are supplementary services provided, such as personal shopping?

Make an impression with rapid shipping and attractive presentation

Online customers are spoilt: high shipping costs, long delivery times and expensive returns can put customers off. Look for strong partners who will allow you to provide inexpensive and fast shipping of products. Make sure the entire purchasing process is transparent. After placing the order, the customer should receive confirmation containing all key details about their purchase. A second confirmation should be sent as soon as the purchased item has been shipped. Ideally, the consignment can even be tracked online. This allows customers to keep an eye on their delivery. Depending on which products you sell and the price strategy adopted, providing attractive packaging is strongly recommended. Customers who spend a lot of money on an item do not want it to arrive in a plastic bag. Also think about whether you can offer your customers added value with the delivery: if you have a branch network or a bricks-and-mortar shop, provide the option of ordering online and collecting in the store. Could you perhaps even offer local customers same-day delivery?

You also need to ensure your products are well presented in your online shop itself. You should definitely use high-quality photos, videos and texts and convey an authentic impression of the product. However, it also depends on which target group you wish to appeal to. A different kind of presentation is required for industrial products compared to items of clothing. Present your products in a way that appeals to your target group.

Protect your customer data

Security and data protection are extremely important matters in e-commerce. Consumers have long been sensitive to what happens to their data online. That’s why you should also treat your customer data sensitively. Above all, payment information should be protected using SSL encryption.

As regards payment, you should definitely offer your customers various payment options. Not everyone has a credit card or uses Paypal. Not all customers want to hang around to settle invoices after making a purchase. The check-out procedure should be kept as simple as possible, as experience shows that many customers change their minds at the last minute.

Success through targeted marketing

Your online retail site is set up, now you’ve got to attract customers. You should deploy strategic, data-based and targeted marketing measures so that your shop can be found online. A media agency may be able to help if you don’t have any experts in-house. You should definitely allocate a budget for this. You can only persuade customers to buy your products if they can find your online shop.

Use analytics

Continually review your online shop. Use analytics to observe and comprehend the behaviour of your customers in order to improve the shop. What are your customers looking for? Which items are in particular demand? Which functions are used most? At what stage do customers back out?

E-commerce is a synthesis of the arts which requires time and resources to attract customers over the long-term and to achieve success. Even once your online shop has been set up, it needs to be continually optimized and adapted to new circumstances, such as new payment methods or SEO innovations. You therefore need to give full consideration to whether this project is well suited to your company and how you will tackle it. Your online shop can successfully compete with international competition with the right strategy, technology and a professional team.

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