25th July 2012
We are often consulted by clients wishing to take the plunge to sell online. Changing from the traditional retail shop model to trade online can be a very difficult step with lots of pitfalls and traps along they way.
Interacting with customers online is a completed different experience to traditional retail. Customers have far more choice online so it is important to have a unique selling point, offers something different, offer free, friendly advice and be available to talk to your customers. Provide freephone or local rate numbers and be at the end of the line to answer questions, if you can’t commit to answering calls personally then consider using the services of a telephone answering service.
The following points we believe demonstrate good practice when trading online.
1. Transparent Shipping
The majority of the big online retailers work best when they can offer free shipping. Try hard to factor free shipping anywhere in theUKandIrelandinto your price. Remember you don’t have to pay for high street rental so providing free shipping should be easy to factor into your margins.
If you can’t offer free shipping then we recommend offering a flat rate shipping fee with the option to reduce to free for orders over a certain amount.
Don’t charge different prices for shipping to different parts of theUK, this is really going to annoy customers from more inaccessible areas and do nothing for your public relations. Be prepared to make a small loss on shipping an item to a remote location, you won’t get many of these orders and again the cost should be easily absorbed in your margins.
2. Dispatch Times
Once the order has been received and paid for don’t leave the customer waiting. The best online retailers are often micro-businesses trading on auction websites that make sure to dispatch the order immediately. How nice is it to receive the goods the next day? How do you feel when you get something quickly? You’ll use the company again, give them good reviews and refer them to your friends.
3. Friendly Customer Relations lead to good reviews
Make sure to be polite, address customers personally, talk to them on the phone if you can and show them you care. There are so many review sites popping up everywhere and many people are becoming armchair “Ann Robinsons” so make sure you don’t become the next rogue trader!
4. No quibble returns policy
The problem with catalogue and online shopping is that customers can’t try things before they buy, everyone wants to touch a product, hold and, see that its suitable. Most sales will go through no problem but retailers are obliged by law to accept returned goods and issue refunds.
Helping customers to return items means that they’ll buy from you in the future. If you take a product back for repair, keep the customer informed, its easy to send a could of lines on an email describing the problem, what you are doing to rectify it and when the customer should expect their product to be returned to them.
- Start small
Beginning to trade online needn’t be expensive, simple online stores selling a few products can be setup by us for around £60-£100 as an additional add-on to standard websites. Use paypal or google checkout to receive payments, this means that you don’t have to pay any monthly fees and both of these methods offer security to both the trader and the customer.