Many retailers are adopting Internet strategies to maximize their marketing efforts and this is especially in the case of small businesses.
This means, as a business owner, Internet Marketing can play an even more important role in terms of marketing & sales.
The same can be said both for online and offline stores; in fact, more and more stores now use the Internet as the primary way to reach potential customers.
Is there Customer Loyalty in Online Retailing?
Locking-in an Internet customer, essentially, means getting that shopper to return to your Website instead of trying out new sites.
Customers “lock-in” to Web sites because they learn to navigate them, understand how they work and don’t want to invest the time to learn new sites.
In fact, it is amazing to see that, although there is a much wider choice for websites, customers will often just go back to several sites for information and product updates. This is almost like watching TV or News, you always go back to the same programs for information; and you tend to buy the same magazine and newspapers all the time ‘” the same can be said for the Internet.
Below are the first 10 points to consider before you start your Internet business, or just to offer a website to keep customers updated about your business.
Require an initial investment . Web sites should require an initial learning effort and/or a set-up fee. Why?
Because if consumers invest time or money on a website, then there is a greater chance for them to be locked in later on. Too many businesses have failed their Internet strategy from the start simply because the owner does not even want to put in $1,000 or $2,000 to build a proper website. I have known many business owners end up developing their own websites, just to save a few hundred or thousand dollars; they end up wasting a lot of their precious time in managing more important business decisions.
Keep it simple. Shoppers should be able to easily navigate through a Web site, with minimal investment of time and energy.
I made that mistake on my first web business; if I find it difficult to find information, imagine a customer! On average, each customer will spend 30 seconds or less on your website to find products; unlike in the shops, if they can’t find it, they will go to another site rather than staying in the shop and keep browsing.
Be cautious about making big changes to your Website.
Once customers learn how to use a site and are familiar with it, changes could turn shoppers off. Not only that, if you have done a lot of back-end programming, you may also lose those programming on the back-end; and may disable important functions on your website.
Clone. Copy your current familiar design when you add new products and services.
That way, customers can transfer their skills, customers will also find it easy to purchase, check out. For instance, a lot of web merchants are using PayPal; this is a very commonly used payment system, so why reinvent and develop new payment systems where you can use a system that customers are familiar with already.
Imitate the design of popular sites within legal limits. It’ll make your customers feel comfortable. You will see, for instance, a large number of websites have similar designs as ebay or Amazon, as they are familiar designs and easy for customers to navigate around.
Develop a site that has easy-to-adopt but difficult-to-imitate features that might be too expensive for an upstart, cash-strapped or technologically weak competitor to reproduce.
Furthermore, this can be developed through your product offering, if you have an existing shop and use online stores as a 2nd revenue source; you can offer exclusive incentives for those shops online.
Create information buffers for customers so they can keep a history of their past purchases, a wish list or a future purchase queue on your site. This is always useful as customers can track back their ordering history and make enquiries; it helps both customers and yourself.
Amazon.com and eBay allow consumers to rate their transaction experience so that sellers and buyers can build reputations by earning higher scores.
Dell.com also takes it to a next stage, where it offers a premier page for customers (mainly large firms that have purchase agreements with Dell). This page allows customers to configure, price and buy systems at discounted prices.
Motivate the next visit
Add value to the next visit to your Web site by offering free shipping for the next purchase or discounts to good customers. Our website also has a membership program, where we offer customers a 15% discount to repeating orders; or 15% discount code for those who have signed up our E-newsletters.
Offer free trial periods, for example, also free report downloads; offer them exclusive items that are only for members. Actively engage with customers by offering them incentives if they participate on surveys. As you do not have a shop or a “face” where customers can associate with, I call this “virtual interaction” with customers.
As you will be relying on texts to communicate with your customers; I have never spoken with 95% of my customers; everything has to be communicated through emails.
I have to be exceptionally careful in the way I write each email, as my customers will associate with what I write and often you have limited opportunities to please them. Sometimes I have to offer them a quick discount to surprise customers and convince them to make quicker decisions.
I found that the trick in the Internet world is to offer your customers more surprises that they cannot find elsewhere in the offline shops.
If you are running a web business, remember one thing, you choose to launch an Internet business because of higher profit margin as the set up and ongoing cost is typically much lower than the actual shops ‘” try not to be too greedy and squeeze every dollar from customers; rather, build up a long term relationship with customers and reward them with unique incentives ‘” then you will actually see Internet customers will become your most loyal customers.