a woman buying something using her phone and a tablet

With physical businesses having to close their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the overall increase in online shopping in the U.S., it’s crucial that businesses are able to maintain their shopping experience online. This is because, now more than ever, customers are turning more and more to their favorite stores’ and businesses’ websites as a way of engaging with brands and buying their products.

With this being the case, it’s important for each small business to answer the question: what can our business do to ensure the customer still has a positive buying experience online?

An Extension of your Physical Store

Your online store is an extension of your physical store, and this should be obvious from the moment users land on your website. Making the buying process as simple as possible is critical for retaining customers online.

Focus on the Customer

It takes a person 50 milliseconds to decide if they like a website or not. The Digital Marketing Institute found that 79% of people will leave a website to go to another if the website is difficult to use or they cannot find what they are looking for.

For the online shopper, getting what they want and getting it fast is the main priority. Keep this at the forefront of your mind when considering e-commerce development to ensure your customers stay and continue to come back.

Give the Customer What They Want

At its most basic level, the normal buying process for consumers mainly consists of choosing something that meets their wants and needs. Depending on where the customer is in their buying process (browsing, analyzing needs, and purchasing), they may prefer more or less direct prompting toward certain products or services.

When handling this process online, it can be difficult to determine the needs of customers. That’s why it is important to have an understanding of your target customer’s typical buying habits and try to make it as easy as possible for them to buy online.

79% of people will leave a website to go to another if the website is difficult to use or they cannot find what they are looking for.

Get to know what your customers want and expect from you online by having a feedback survey, or even asking them on social media, depending on the nature of your questions. Knowing exactly what your patrons want in terms of specific products and services will help keep you and your business ahead as you meet these needs.

Reinforce Company Culture

Your unique brand, design, values, and way of interacting with patrons is what keeps people loyal to your company. That should not change as customers use your online store.

Keeping your design consistent, making the tone of every message steady for each product, and highlighting these values from the beginning of the user’s e-commerce experience through to the end can help you with this.

Stay Connected

It is important for businesses to stay in regular contact with their target audience to ensure they are best meeting their needs. Find out how your customers generally like to stay in touch (whether that be through social media, emailing lists, blog posts, or a combination).

Be transparent and let your patrons know what they need to, while also being perceptive to their needs by responding to their questions on social media and even setting up a feedback survey.

What Works and What Doesn’t

Sometimes, certain interactions will garner great success, while others may not. It’s important to be aware of your audience’s preferences by monitoring analytics associated with your online platforms and developing e-commerce from there. For example, if you are not reaching your target audience by promoting your store on one social media platform, it may be helpful to revamp your messaging to better attract business or see if your customers are more responsive elsewhere.

Along with monitoring the data, take feedback and suggestions about what your customers may like about your online shopping experience and how it could improve. This is one of the best ways to know if something is not working for your patrons and how to change it.