One of the best things about running an e-commerce business today is that doing so is easier and more accessible to anyone now than it’s ever been before. With affordable – and sometimes even free – platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce available, just about anyone can jump in and begin selling products online even without any prior experience running a website.
While accessibility is a great thing, though, the fact that anyone can buy a domain name and have a ready-made e-commerce website also tends to mean that a great many of today’s e-commerce websites look and function largely the same as one another. If you want your e-commerce site to stand out – and you want to establish a recognizable, high-authority brand like V2 Cigs – you’ve got to do better than offering your customers essentially the same shopping experience that they can get anywhere else. You need to give people a reason to remember your company and go directly to your site when they shop in the future instead of simply landing on your site because you have a good ranking on Google. You need to build a better e-commerce experience.
Here’s how to do it.
Create a Unique Visual Image for Your Brand
Whether you’re using WordPress, Shopify or something else, a common feature of all content management systems is the fact that you can download and install a ready-made theme to give your website an appealing and professional appearance. The drawback of using a ready-made website theme, though, is that most of your competitors are using ready-made themes as well. The way that your website works is a major component of establishing a powerful brand, but the way your website looks is arguably even more important than that. If your site looks the same as everyone else’s, no one will remember it.
It’s worth the investment to hire an artist to create a professional logo for your business and to have a developer either create a website theme that’s uniquely your own or customize an existing theme. Remember that your customers spend all day looking at one generic white Shopify site after another. If your website looks like all of the others, no one will ever remember it.
Find Uncommon Products or Create Your Own
Another thing to consider when building your e-commerce site is the product selection that you’re going to offer to your customers. If you’re a reseller, there’s nothing fundamentally unique about what you’re doing. Regardless of the types of products that you sell, there will be no shortage of other companies selling the same types of products – and if your product selection looks the same as everyone else’s, you’ll find it difficult to stand out. When you’re looking for products to add to your stock, take the time to unearth the unusual. If you can’t find any unusual products to carry, then give your store a special flair by curating unique product bundles.
Finding unusual products to sell can certainly make an e-commerce site stand out, but the best way to set your brand apart is by carrying something no one else has – and the way to do that is by creating products of your own. With factories all over the world – particularly in China – set up for rapid product prototyping and development at a reasonable cost, commissioning a line of custom-made products is within the reach of almost any medium business.
Offer Your Customers the Best Product Discovery Features
If your e-commerce site has a large variety of different products, one of the best things that you can do to set your site’s shopping experience apart is make it easy for your customers to find the products they want. Looking at the world’s biggest e-commerce site – Amazon – you can see the enormous benefits that can come when a company invests heavily into product discovery. Amazon’s basic search engine is top notch, and when you view a product page, you’ll see recommendations for other products you might like as well as alternatives in case you decide not to buy that product.
Amazon’s product discovery features are the result of extensive investments into machine learning and more than two decades of data gathering. It might not be possible for you to duplicate what Amazon has done, but you can certainly learn from it. For starters, your website’s e-commerce platform – whether it’s Shopify, WooCommerce or something else – most likely has built-in product recommendation features that you can add to your product pages. Implementing that feature is usually trivial and can be done by installing a plugin or by enabling an option in the administrative area of your website.
The fact that your e-commerce platform can add automatic upsell and cross-sell recommendations to product pages, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that the recommendations will be relevant to your customers. If your site has been around long enough to have an extensive amount of purchase data from which to draw recommendations, that’s ideal. Your e-commerce platform can simply recommend products based on what other customers have purchased. Your e-commerce platform, however, doesn’t know your products as well as you do. Don’t be nervous about editing the product recommendations manually if your e-commerce platform suggests products that aren’t relevant.
Build a Better Customer Reward Program
If you have an e-commerce site that looks great, has a unique product selection and makes it easy for customers to find what they want, you’re probably not going to have much trouble generating repeat business. If you want your website to become a truly powerful machine for building customer loyalty, though, a truly great customer reward program is the piece that completes the puzzle.
Your site’s e-commerce platform most likely has a built-in customer reward program that assigns points to customers based on the amount of money they spend and lets them exchange their points for discounts. Although your customers surely appreciate the discounts, small coupon codes aren’t really the kinds of rewards that generate a significant amount of repeat business.
If you’re going to run a customer reward program, try to make it something better and more interesting than the same type of points-based reward program that everyone else is using. Think about what inspires your loyalty as a consumer, whether it’s bigger discounts, random giveaways, secret sales or something else, and try to add those features to your reward program. Your loyalty program should be fun, and your customers should look forward to engaging with it. If you can accomplish those things, your e-commerce site will have no trouble generating extremely high levels of customer loyalty.