It’s common knowledge that technology has accelerated globalization and transformed the world as we know it. Technology has made businesses more efficient at everything from sourcing competitive products to making international wire transfers. It’s also shattered old boundaries—particularly national boundaries—reinventing what’s possible in the global economy. Nowhere is this more evident than in the global opportunities that have opened up for small businesses. Local markets are no longer the limit. With the right global ecommerce strategy, any business—large or small—can now look to the world to sell their products and establish themselves as global enterprises. The opportunities are there, but competition is fierce. Building eTail loyalty is key.
The answer to that question lies at the foundation of all businesses: the customer. It’s crucial that companies look towards the customer for direction and guidance. Customers have expectations from online platforms, and it’s important to adapt one’s business plan and ecommerce strategy to best meet them. Meeting customer expectations—and exceeding them—is the only way for small businesses to grow sustainably.
eTail Loyalty Means Exceeding Consumer Expectations
The first step to mapping out the route to success in the current economy is to look at what consumers expect from ecommerce. These expectations may well differ from those consumers have when they purchase from a physical store or over the phone via a sales representative. Technology impacts patience and increases a consumer’s expectations regarding efficiency and instant gratification. Below are five basic expectations that an ecommerce customer has when transacting online.
It’s crucial that an ecommerce website is fast and there are no lags or delays irrespective of the amount of online traffic. Businesses should make sure they estimate the volume of web traffic well and use servers that can handle the traffic flow. There is a strong correlation between technology and impatience – technology has made consumers less patient, less tolerant of mistakes and more demanding of quick action than ever before.
Diversity of goods
The Internet does not simply connect people across the world — it also gives them access to goods from anywhere. The expectation of product diversity now shapes how customers expect to shop even on a single ecommerce platform. They expect to see a very wide range of products to choose from. To provide a satisfactory experience, diversity of product choice is crucial.
Global supply chains not only help eTailers to develop a diverse product offering, they also help eTailers to reduce costs. A global supply chain enables faster stock movement, which translates to lower holding costs and better cash flow. A 1% investment in international supply chain efficiency yields a far greater return than a 1% investment in domestic supply chain efficiency. Sourcing products globally is more efficient, and can translate into more competitive pricing for the consumer — two important keys to attracting and keeping customers.
Early access to new or innovative products
The internet has also defined itself as a space where consumers can come closer to accessing the future. The “early adopter” mentality is rife among ecommerce shoppers. They want access to the latest and most innovative products, and they are loyal to eTailers who provide them with access to these products on a regular basis.
No global ecommerce strategy should underestimate the power of good recommendations. Consumers want a wide variety of choice, but they also want choices shaped particularly for them. An ecommerce site that provides tailored recommendations (based on the customer’s shopping history and browsing patterns) can make the customer feel understood. Amazon learned this secret early on. After integrating an algorithm that merged recommendations with its ecommerce purchasing process, Amazon saw its sales increase by 12.9% to $12.83 billion compared to the $9.9 billion of the year before.
Making a Splash in the Brave New World of eCommerce Strategy
The economy today is very different from what it was 30 years ago. A large reason for this is technology — it redefines not only how businesses are run, but also how society consumes and experiences products, services and business relationships. The balance of power between businesses and consumers has been utterly upended because of technology.
Consumers today are far more connected than they ever were. They are connected to a range of products across the world at any time of day. This level of connectivity boosts consumer expectations. They expect companies they do business with to be differentiated with diverse offerings. They expect product and service satisfaction, and they want, above all, efficiency and quality. They are looking for companies at the top of their game, those that demonstrate intelligence and innovation with dedication.
The only way for small businesses to meet this level of consumer expectation is to leverage technology to its full potential. The good news is, technology has been the great leveler for US businesses. In the world of ecommerce today, small businesses can be just as competitive – if not more so – than their larger counterparts.