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The not-so-common “common sense” about e-commerce

You think you know e-commerce inside out because you buy a lot from online stores?

No, you don’t.

You think you know e-commerce inside out because you have been in traditional retail for more than 30 years?

Probably not.

The following are some “common senses” that people always get wrong, so common that you learned them in retail 101, and I still hear some C-level management say these things from time to time. When these mistaken ideas from the C-level are implemented by associates, it can properly break everything.

“We don’t need a customer service team because it all happens online!”

Operational cost should not be underestimated. Actually we need an even better, faster CS team. Now that live chat has already been flooding the online retail scene, and had proven to provide better customer experience for customers, we should leverage inquiries as a way to build relationships with customers. Helpful, energetic communications really make a difference.

“Ask visitors to login first, before they can do anything.”

Management knows loyalty is important, and prioritises them. There is nothing wrong about this thinking, but it sometimes goes too far. It is like asking users to show their ID/driver license at the entrance. Sadly we have not only heard this one just once, but a few C-level managers have requested this.

“We just need a shopping cart website”

Data is the core of e-commerce. We will need a digital team to help track, analyse, refine and improve everything online, on a daily basis. Today, we put an A/B test on the checkout page, tomorrow we need to work with the marketing team launching a new promotion on four different channels. And there is data cleansing work needed. At least, get a digital partner that can work with brand and marketing efforts.

Just a side note, a digital team is not the same as IT team.

“Branding is everything”

Branding is very important, but the sense of the brand should lay in between site’s design, the tagline, products, packaging, even during delivery. Focus on how your products can provide value to customers. Always think from your customer’s point of view. They may be interested in your brand stories, but only after they already like your products.

So branding will come naturally when customers like our products.

In 2016, only 7% of retail happened online. It is easy to see the figure will keep rising. Do not stick to the old retail book, jump in and make a difference!

By Joe Tsui, CEO at Digiology HK.

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