In the past, we’ve written extensively on how to optimize your B2B eCommerce strategy with the right platforms, techniques, and strategies. But often, companies seeking a better eCommerce experience don’t need to worry about fine-tuning the details as much as avoiding common pitfalls.
Specifically, there are six eCommerce mistakes that tend to affect brands at some point in their growth.
In this six-part series, we’ll review the most common mistakes that companies make when setting up their eCommerce storefronts. We’ll also offer insight into which tools offer solutions and how to integrate those tools into your online platform. You might want to bookmark this article and refer back to it as you follow along with the series.
Let’s start with mistake number one, relating to customer focus.
One of the most important aspects of an eCommerce strategy is customer focus. In simple terms, focus means keeping your strategy and customer shopping experience aligned with your target market’s needs.
It sounds like one of those “everyone has it” marketing strategies, but many companies get distracted from their top priority when launching and maintaining a presence online. It’s common to see companies build eCommerce experiences that don’t deliver what their customers actually need. And what customers need can take many forms, from an eCommerce perspective:
Many businesses opt for the quick and dirty approach of add-ons and plugins to see their goals met or try to do everything all at once. Bootstrapping solutions may help you launch quicker, but without a guiding customer focus, you’ll end up getting in your own way. You may prioritize the wrong platform investments or spend money on services that never get used.
Additionally, poor customer focus makes it harder to sell and introduces distractions. Customers may not have a clear idea of whether your brand directly meets their expectations, but you can be sure that their thoughts will be reflected in their purchasing behaviors. Without anticipating what they want through research, how can you expect to turn them into long-term, loyal fans?
Your only chance at earning repeat business is to generate an idea of what your buyers need and tailor your eCommerce storefront accordingly.
Any innovations you make to your online storefront should be focused on customer needs. While it’s fine to go after new business, don’t neglect your faithful patrons! Focus more on doing business with your existing customers – in essence, rather than capture more wallets, capture more of the wallets you already have.
So, what’s involved in prioritizing existing customers? It means making it easy for the same customers to continue to shop, transact and interact with your business. This could be contacting customers to follow up on purchases with messaging for additional accessories, services, or related products as needed. It’s far easier to capture revenue in this way than it is to generate fresh customers in your marketing pipeline. The customer doesn’t have to do anything to be reminded to make those additional purchases - you’re using purchase history to make it easier for them.
Of course, all of this is dependent on having enough customer information to implement change. How well do you know your customers and their behaviors? Does your team have enough data to build these profiles and really learn what it is they want to see?
A true customer focus is tricky to achieve and must be built over time, but the good news is that the right eCommerce platform can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you.
For example, the right solution will give you a complete customer portal for all account management. The portal is a cornerstone of your storefront that can’t be neglected. Support customers by incorporating their information into your platform:
All of this should be centralized and easy to access – two important points that are often overlooked.
Keep in mind what we said above about retaining your loyal customers. When you first launch your online storefront, the biggest group of users will be your existing customers – in other words, the group of customers you least want to alienate with missteps.
Collect this data and make sure everything is presented clearly, both in your backend office systems and in your customer interface. Show your returning customers their value by displaying past orders, preferences, and recommendations for new products they may like.
Make ease of reordering, or repeat purchases, simple for shoppers. This is an easy way to bump up your customer focus, regardless of what industry you’re in. Customers who place frequent orders love the simplicity of quick ordering. (See Amazon’s “one-click purchase” option as a great example). The less work you ask your customers to do, the more likely it is you’ll get the sale.
To implement these processes, you’ll need strong and flexible tools in your customer portal interface. Your platform needs to deliver all the functionality they’ve come to expect when shopping online. This is where solutions for headless commerce can be particularly helpful.
For more digitally mature businesses, modern eCommerce platforms support full suite subscription commerce capabilities that allow your customers to create their own automated, recurring deliveries for orders that need to be shipped on a regular basis. The payments, shipments, and fulfillment happen just as they would for any regularly placed order. Of course, this means the customer portal must have all the tools and management capabilities in place to support these transactions.
With modern, headless commerce solutions powering your eCommerce experience, you get an architecture that enables integrations to reach your customers more intelligently.
Solutions are delivered through a cloud-native software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that seamlessly integrates with all existing core back office business systems. Connecting customer-facing applications (like multi-sites and mobile apps) to your ERP, CRM, and more means that you can increase efficiencies and build better and more accurate customer profiles. No data loss or mismanagement between systems is expected. Another way headless platforms help is by making data accessible for analytics and personalization. There may be some level of manual effort required to achieve true personalization, but don’t shy away from the process. Many companies aren’t quite ready to dive headfirst into full-scale data aggregation and analysis, and that’s okay. You have to walk before you can run.
There’s a reason that our number one mistake is a lack of customer focus. The expectations of your customers change over time and it’s necessary to adapt and shift as your customers do. Failing to deliver means increasing the likelihood that you’re not capturing (new and existing) customers in the most efficient way.
It’s difficult, but eCommerce tools can be your secret weapon. Solutions like Slatwall’s headless commerce platform give you the freedom and flexibility to design your storefront in any way that makes sense for your customers. But even more importantly, it comes with built-in data & reporting tools that let you keep tabs on all customers and continually refine your process over time.
This is the core of customer focus optimization. It’s not the easiest challenge to overcome, but it has the potential to pay dividends in customer acquisition, repeat purchases, and long-term loyalty.