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Due to COVID-19, consumer behaviour has changed drastically and instead of doing their shopping in-store, many customers are buying their groceries, clothes and almost everything else online. In response to this, businesses have had to adapt not only their online presence but also their supply chain to keep up with the new normal.

As more and more companies move online, business owners will need to innovate to stand out among the crowd and keep their online marketplace competitive and relevant.

What are the functionalities and ideas that you should consider implementing, which will help potential customers choose your business over other service providers with similar offerings?

1. Accelerate deliveries

In the virtual world of online shopping, the delivery experience is crucial and fast delivery has become non-negotiable. Customers need to feel that once they click on checkout, their goods will be delivered to their door in the ‘wink of an eye’.

In response to the pandemic, and local lockdown restrictions, many of the grocery chain stores embraced the idea of accelerated deliveries in an on-demand economy. Customers are also usually happy to pay a premium to have their groceries delivered within 60 minutes or by the end of the day.

2. Create a personalised experience by communicating

Communication and personalisation is key to the success of any business. When a customer makes an online purchase from your e-commerce site, make sure that you communicate throughout the process to give the impression that their order is important to you. Keep them up to date with the delivery schedule, thank them for their purchase and get feedback once their item is delivered, whether it is to their home, place of business or email inbox. Added to this, consider offering promotions to your buyers based on their past purchases or cart wishlist.

3. Subscription-based models

Relying on a subscription-based model is a great way for your business to steadily grow, as it is easier to forecast, plan and retain customers. Many subscription-based e-commerce businesses boomed during the lockdown – for example, Netflix recently announced that more than 1.4 million people subscribe to their service in Africa alone. Other subscription services like Showmax, Dish of the day, and a wide variety of cloud-based academic programmes like Udemy and Wolksool have also seen unsurpassed growth in the past year.

When looking to create a subscription-based model, make sure to use a platform that supports every part of your process; from when the client signs-up to recurring billing, payment collection and reconciliation.

4. Consider your customer interaction channels

People who buy online often don’t want to pick up the phone to ask questions about the product they are about to purchase and the delivery terms. Instead, you can look to use a live chatbot to answer any common questions – which can be the difference between a buy or not. “Self-service” is seen as a more convenient way to find out what you need to know, instead of waiting for a reply to an e-mail or being forced to listen to elevator music while holding on the phone. Another useful option would be to include a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section on your website or mobile application.

5. Make it easier to buy your product

At the end of the day, the number one objective of any e-commerce business is to create a safe, user-friendly, and convenient environment that speaks to the customer’s needs and gives them value for money in shortest possible time.

When designing your platform, make sure that you think like a visitor and put yourself in their shoes. For example, your website or mobile application should be easy to navigate and scan, with a seamless checkout process, and an estimated time of delivery communicated upfront.

In order to compete in the ever-growing e-commerce space, it’s crucial to have the right processes in place like payment portals, on-demand delivery services, and easy communication channels. The bottom line is, if customers are happy with the service you deliver and the quality of your products, they will be more likely to become returning customers and refer others to your business.

About the Author: Arnold February

Media Releases Arnold February is our Regional Investment Manager and has been with at Business Partners Ltd for 15 years. Originally from Cape Town, he joined the Johannesburg team in the beginning of 2019. Arnold has a great passion for entrepreneurship and has a knack for numbers. He is our go-to-spokesperson for all things business finance and growth, and business management articles.

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