Starting or growing a business during a recession can be a tumultuous experience. Despite a less-than-stellar economic performance, online retail sales is expected to steadily climb in the coming years.
With planned strategies for success and a set of best e-commerce business practices in place, entrepreneurs stand a much better chance of thriving in the online business economy.
E-Commerce Web Development and Maintenance Best Business Practices
Experienced designers share the worst e-commerce web development mistakes in this article – poor functionality, sacrificing usability for aesthetics, and adding too many “cool” effects as a few of the worst mistakes e-commerce business owners can make in building their storefront.
Designers would say that once an e-commerce site is built, test, test, test! Never rely on the designer or programmer to complete the final round of testing. When possible, assemble a review panel of preferred customers or trusted business acquaintances to ensure that all order forms, catalogs, payment processors, links, and other components are working properly. Launching a site with simple, overlooked problems is embarrassing and may drive away customers.
Back-End Best Practices
Automate as many business systems as possible. It is impossible to project just how fast a business may grow, so choose solutions that have the capacity to expand and grow quickly. Many accounting software systems also offer inventory tracking, payroll, tax preparation, report writing, and more. Consider what the program needs to do now, and what it may need to do in the future.
Choosing a content management system is an important decision. The organization and storage of digital documents, pictures, and videos can be daunting without the right support. A good CMS solution allows the business owner to automate certain business processes, monitor and track items and processes, and quickly import or export information.
Customer Service Best Practices
The most obvious customer service strategies are also amongst the most often overlooked:
- Display contact information for questions, sales, returns, and billing, at a minimum.
- Build loyalty programs through email marketing, promotions for loyal customers, etc.
- Anticipate customers’ needs to make the sale a seamless experience, right through to the checkout.
- Give the customer several communication options, such as email, chat and phone service. Remember that online business often deals in an international marketplace; don’t alienate overseas customers with limited customer service hours.
- Also, consider interactive CS strategies, such as a social media campaign. Resolve customer technical issues you encounter through different social media channels.
How Front and Back-End Best E-Commerce Practices Work Together
There are many things to consider when starting and growing an online business. With different systems for inventory and ordering, payment processing, shipping, bookkeeping, customer service and more operating simultaneously, it is crucial that each process complements the other.
Ongoing tweaking is always necessary. So is starting out on the right foot with a thoroughly tested e-commerce site, good back-end systems and a set of best practices to give the customer a consistently positive experience.