Despite the COVID-19 pandemic raging around us, not all industries are running into major difficulties: indeed, the eCommerce industry is doing a roaring trade due to so many people being stuck indoors, bored and unable to get to most conventional stores (with only essential suppliers such as grocery stores still being open).
As a result, any eCommerce seller currently seeing a significant decrease in activity shouldn’t be quick to write it off as the inevitable result of diminished interest. It’s possible that your buyers can’t currently afford to pay for whatever you offer, but it’s also possible that your potential customers are going to your competitors instead.
If that’s the case, then you might be unsure why. What are they doing better than you? What do you need to work on? Remember that there’s nothing that can’t be fixed, and consider these five possible reasons why your eCommerce store is losing customers to alternative stores:
You’re consistently being outranked
People can’t buy from your store if they can’t find it, but they often won’t buy from your store if they find other acceptable stores first. If someone is shopping for a high-end item then they might really take their time, but if they just want to get something ordered as quickly as possible, they might just go with whichever seller shows up as the top result when they search.
If you’re always behind your competitors in the rankings, that could be why you’re losing out. You need to invest in SEO — and if you’re already doing that, then be sure you’re doing the right things, because eCommerce SEO has distinct needs and you need to meet them. You might need more valuable content, or better product descriptions, or structured data markup.
You might stand no chance of competing for certain keywords, in which case you need to stop trying. Find other keywords (likely long-tail) that aren’t being targeted, and build your content around them. Pick your battles so you can actually win them.
Your customer support isn’t great
If shoppers arrive at your site with some important questions and can’t get them answered, they’ll go elsewhere. If existing customers want to know when their orders will be shipped but get messed around by your support assistants (or can’t reach anyone at all), they might cancel their orders and go elsewhere — at a minimum, they’ll be unhappy.
Customer support is vital for earning customer loyalty (more on that later), and you need to respond to queries in a timely fashion and with genuine helpfulness. If you need to hire more assistants and work on a customer service chatbot to cover you outside of office hours or during peak times, do so. It’s worth it.
You don’t have a strong brand identity
These days, it’s important for any B2C company to have a strong brand identity that people can actually remember and want to support. Think about what your customers would say about your store. Would they have any interesting comments to make? Is there something distinctive about the content you write, or the way in which you present your products?
Take a close look at your competitors to see what they’re doing. Monitor their mentions on social media and compare them to yours: who gets the most praise, and why? It’s possible, for instance, that your competitors have made strong commitments to sustainability and started to earn the custom of people who care deeply about the environment.
If that’s the case, then you need to close that gap, either through expressing similar sentiments and making deeper commitments or by finding something else to make your company notably worth supporting over the alternatives.
Your product range is static
When was the last time you updated your product range? Took out an underperforming item or added in something that’s really picking up popularity? If it’s been a while, then that may be why people have lost interest in buying from you. No matter how carefully-curated your products may be, you must change with the times.
Look around to see what other products members of your audience are talking about online. If something is getting a lot of interest that you could viably stock, do so, and focus your promotional efforts on it. Jumping on a hot product has the secondary benefit of reminding people that your store exists: the more traffic, the better.
You don’t reward customer loyalty
Customer loyalty is immensely valuable to any eCommerce seller because the pool of customers isn’t unlimited. If you allow buyers to churn (convincing someone to buy from you, leaving them disappointed, then finding someone new to convince) then you’ll find it harder and harder to source new prospects over time.
It’s also true that loyal customers spend more, return more frequently, contribute more valuable feedback, and provide practically all the referrals. In general, the longer a specific customer continues to buy from your store, the more valuable they become — to the extent that one loyal customer can be worth ten new customers.
If you’re not rewarding that loyalty, then it could be that your longest-serving customers are giving up on you and looking elsewhere. Don’t just thank people for sticking around: offer meaningful incentives such as discounts or free gifts.
Any, some or all of these reasons might explain why your eCommerce store is underperforming relative to its competitors. Take a close look at how the different elements of your operation are performing and take steps to implement meaningful improvements — that’s how you’ll get back on track.
This article is written by our guest author, Rodney Laws from eCommercePlatforms.io. He is an ecommerce expert with over a decade of experience in building online businesses.