For new e-commerce businesses entering the market, the start-up phase can feel daunting – where do you start? In this article, we share some of the best tips for new e-commerce companies, and explore some of the ways to ensure your success as a newbie.

1. Use Social Media

You probably know this one already, right? For successful online e-commerce stores, a social media presence is borderline obligatory.

Organically, depending on your product or sector, Instagram and Pinterest (two of the leading global image-focused social media networks) are brilliant platforms to use when building brand and product awareness. On both of these platforms, you can publish content for free, and you might also consider promoting your content with their PPC (Pay Per Click) marketing platforms. These allow you to show targeted ads of your products to your audience, and only pay for the advertising if they click your ads.

Outside of sales and marketing strategy, social media is a great way of managing your customer service operation, and building a community. The right social media platforms allow you to use hashtags to find your niche, engage with other brands in your sector and to build a community of old and new customers alike – more on this later!

2. Demonstrate Credibility, Build Trust

A big consideration for e-commerce businesses, and often a hurdle for online-only stores is that it can be difficult to create credibility in order to build trust. One big indicator of a trustworthy site is an active SSL certificate, which makes your website eligible for the https:// URL rather than http://.

An SSL certificate ensures that any connections to your website are secure and encrypted, and that any data that your customers enter is kept securely and shared safely with your website. Not only is this a trust-building factor, having an active SSL certificate also helps with your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and any social media paid advertising such as Google Ads or Bing Ads, where the search engines deem you more trustworthy than other websites – giving your traffic a boost.

Another universally acknowledged way of building trust is with customer reviews. Research into the subject has frequently shown that consumers use reviews to ascertain the trustworthiness of a website, and would hunt for product and company reviews prior to making a purchase online.

Setting up reviews for your product is simple. By working with a review platform, you can automate your review gathering process and keep all of your reviews in one place. Research has even shown that products displaying five-star reviews are up to 270% more likely to be purchased than those without. Reviews should be a crucial part of your customer acquisition strategy and conversion rate optimisation efforts.

3. Lead With Imagery

Selling your product online means leading with great product content – strong product photography, descriptive product titles and nimble product descriptions. Using powerful and persuasive imagery is truly the difference between an e-commerce store that really works and one that doesn’t. Good product photography is a key indicator of trustworthiness and product quality, and multiple product images can really help a user get to grips with what they’re purchasing before they buy. Not only does this increase customer trust, but it will lead to better customer satisfaction and a lower rate of returns and refunds – a win-win situation.

Consider taking images from multiple angles, show the product in full (perhaps including packaging in one of the pictures) and, where appropriate, use models to highlight the scale and size of the product. Beyond product imagery, video content can also be a captivating method of showcasing your products – feel free to get creative!

4. Put Your Customer Experience First

One of the big barriers for e-commerce stores is the level of competition online now. Coupled with a lack of pre-sale customer service, it’s important that your website speaks for itself, negating the need for sales staff or large percentage discounts to convert your visitors.

The central theme to your customer experience needs to be your website. Not only does your website need to look appealing and convey credibility, but it’s also important that your website is optimised for the customer experience.

What does this mean? Well, you need to ensure that your website loads quickly, works on all devices and is accessible to all users. One of the biggest issues e-commerce stores face is a poor mobile experience, and with global mobile internet access now exceeding desktop access, a mobile-first strategy is important when it comes to building an effective online store.

Beyond a speedy website, there are other key considerations when putting customers first. Think about the ways you can deliver customer service and go above and beyond online. Can you install a 24/7 live chat option, for example? Do you have FAQs, a fair returns policy, clear pricing, flexible payment and shipping options? All of these things contribute to creating a good customer experience, and ultimately boosting your conversion rates.

5. Build A community

Last, of all, it’s important to prioritise building a community when striving for longevity with an e-commerce store. This means engaging with your customers, particularly on social media. Here are some quick tips on building a cult following for your product online:

  • Encourage UGC (user-generated content) by creating a product hashtag and adding a small card to each order to remind your customers to post about their purchase online.
  • Like, comment on and share any UGC that you see.
  • Consider giving all customers a promo code for a 10%-15% discount for friends and family, or on their next purchase.
  • Engage with social media influencers and have them use your product.
  • Consider a referral programme using promo codes – people like to think of themselves as influencers and will share your product for free, especially if there is a reward in return for referring their friends and family.

There’s no shortcut to building a successful e-commerce store overnight. But by putting your customer experience first, creating a (fast) website with high-quality product images and demonstrating trustworthiness and credibility, your e-commerce start-up is sure to be on its way to long-term success.