Combining Customer Service & Social Media

Whether you’re an ecommerce or retail company, you’ll need a social media presence working alongside your corporate website in order to remain competitive. However, you shouldn't restrict your company's social media activity to marketing and advertising - there is a lot to be gained from using social media to extend your customer service capabilities. When properly executed, social media customer service programs can confer the following advantages.
    

Improved brand perception & customer relations

Because the feature provides a convenience to most consumers, offering customer support through social media is a great competitive differentiator. It's also an excellent opportunity to engage with customers - even the ones who don't need support. By promptly responding to customer issues on social media, you're demonstrating your commitment to customer service to all your followers (not just the ones who need assistance).  

Cost savings

According to a report from the Harvard Business Review, responding to a customer on social media can cost less than $1 per interaction, compared to an average of $6 per telephone interaction. If you’re improving customer retention on top of those savings, you can make a noticeable impact on your overall bottom line.

Product & business improvements

When it comes to social media, you get what you put into it. When a company regularly engages their customers on social media (through customer service or by posting responses and original content) those customers feel heard and appreciated. This makes them much more likely to share candid feedback, questions and complaints. Use this information to better understand your customers, improve your services, and fine-tune your marketing messages.

Are Subscription Services Right for your Ecommerce Site?

A recent consumer insights report from Hitwise found that visits to subscription box-based ecommerce sites have increased by about 3,000% in the U.S. over the past three years. With the success that start-ups in this industry - such as Birchbox, Dollar Shave Club, and Loot Crate - have enjoyed, it’s worthwhile to consider if a subscription model would be a viable extension of your ecommerce site.

Subscription-based services generally fall into two categories. Discovery-based subscriptions provide customers with new products in each delivery. As customers receive packages with some products they like, they return to the company to purchase more of the items. Discovery-based subscriptions can be a great way to market certain areas of your product catalog and generate buzz about the products that come in each delivery. Convenience-based subscriptions deliver customer-specified products on a schedule at a discounted rate, which makes this model great for customer retention.

When deciding whether a subscription model is a good fit for your ecommerce business, there are two main factors to consider: the types of products you sell, and whether you have the bandwidth to monitor customer behavior and preferences to keep the subscription service interesting. A wide variety of products in the low-to-medium price range are well-suited for discovery-based subscription program, while a convenience-based subscription program would require a product catalog mostly comprised of essential consumables.

As for your customers, you need to make sure that your subscription service consistently makes the customer feel special through product variety/novelty (discovery-based) and delivers value (both discovery-based and convenience-based). If you can nail that down, you can make subscriptions a successful dimension of your ecommerce business.

9 Tips to Lower Cart Abandonment Rates

Cart abandonment is one of the most common ways ecommerce sites lose sales. It’s a ubiquitous problem that happens to even the best sites. But fortunately, there are many features and preventative measures you can implement to improve sales and the customers’ experience.

Be clear on the final cost

Many ecommerce sites notice a huge bounce rate once a customer begins the checkout process and sees the final order total - especially if it has increased since the checkout process started. Since increases are usually due to shipping costs, include an estimated shipping fee as early as possible in the checkout process. Or, eliminate shipping charges altogether.

Don't force shoppers to create an account

Forcing a new customer to create an account with your website before completing a purchase has its pros and cons. While account creation helps you track user behavior and preferences, the process can be perceived as an inconvenience - plus, it adds another layer to what should be the simplest part of your website. In addition to adding "guest" or "express" features to your checkout process, try allowing shoppers to easily create an account via their social media login to ensure that your account base continues to grow.
    

Emphasize Security

In this day and age, customers want assurance that their financial data is safe. Highlight the security features of your site so customers can confidently complete a transaction.

Offer Multiple Payment Options

Alternative payment options like Google Wallet, Amazon Payments, PayPal, etc. help simplify the checkout process, come with built-in security features, and cater to shopper preferences.

Accommodate mobile users

Customers are using mobile devices more than ever before. If your checkout process is confusing or cumbersome on mobile devices, then your cart abandonment rate will likely increase. A responsive design that works on all screen sizes can solve this issue.

Highlight customers support options

Every action in the checkout should be easy to find – especially support options like FAQs, live chat, and other customer service features. Make sure they are clearly available during each stage of checkout.

Auto-apply Coupons

Shoppers become understandably frustrated when they get deep into the checkout process only to find that their discount code doesn’t apply to their order. If your store is having a sale or offering a particular discount, automatically apply the coupon code at checkout, or display coupon codes in a site-wide banner for customers.

Include options to modify orders

Make sure customers can change the quantity, color, size, and other attributes of the items in their order without having to leave the checkout.

Maintain site stability and speed

If your checkout process crashes or loads too slowly, it’s going to cost you sales. Make sure to test it thoroughly and account for potential user actions, like using the browser’s back button.