Using Ecommerce to Enhance Customer Experience

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Will there ever be a time when ecommerce completely replaces brick and mortar stores? This is a question that many businesses have started asking of late.

We can already see how social media has led to a decrease in face-to-face interactions between people. Why go out to meet friends when you can keep in touch with what they're doing and chat with them from the privacy of your home?

Similarly, why go out to brick and mortar shops, fight your way through the crowds, stand in line to try things on and then stand in more lines to pay for what you want? Besides, stores have limited space to stock what you need; you may not find the exact size or color you're looking for.

When you buy things online, on the other hand, you can have a hassle-free experience. And you're more likely to find the exact size and color you need. Plus, when you shop online, you have access to a variety of shops at your fingertips.

So shopping online really helps to enhance customer experience and people have realized this over time. In a short time, we have seen a transition of people being suspicious of online shopping to actually preferring it.

What does this mean for brands? What changes have we already seen as a result of ecommerce? And what does the future hold?

Advantages: Lower Overheads                                         

One of the main advantages of ecommerce is that you don't have to pay rent for a physical store. You don't have to employ salespeople. You don't need to pay electric bills. The overheads of running an ecommerce-based business are a lot lower.

Of course, this doesn't mean that you can close down all your stores right away. That wouldn't be good business strategy. Most brands are going for a combination of both methods of selling their products.

But ecommerce has gone from just an interesting thing to try to being a must for any and all brands. If you can greatly increase the amount you're selling with just a minor increase in cost, why not do so? Most companies are catching on to the idea.

Disadvantages: More Competition

The flip side of ecommerce is that more and more people are able to sell stuff online. People can post products—new and used—on sites like eBay and Craigslist. People making handmade goods have the option of opening their own shops on Etsy and Shopify. And any business—even the smallest one—can afford to set up a website of their own to sell products.

This means there is quite a bit of competition. So if you want your product to be found, you have to put in some more effort. Content marketing, inbound marketing and email marketing are some of the ways in which companies draw attention to themselves on the internet.

SEO or search engine optimization has also become invaluable because it helps you to be found on Google and Bing. The better your rank on search engines, the more likely it is that the consumer is actually going to find you.

The Rise of Inbound Marketing

As ecommerce has taken off, so has inbound marketing. This is because marketing for an ecommerce website is different from marketing for a brick and mortar site.

In order to attract people to their stores, brands generally used outbound marketing. In this kind of marketing, the company reaches out to the consumer to let them know how great their product is. TV ads, print ads, billboards, direct mail marketing and email marketing are all examples of outbound marketing.

But when it comes to the internet, companies are starting to find that inbound marketing works much better. This is the kind of marketing in which the customer discovers the product that the company is selling through an independent source, like a friend or a blogger. Then they proceed to look up the product/company on the internet to get more information.

Inbound marketing involves providing this information which can be done with the help of a website, blog and social media pages. The greater your internet presence, the greater the chances of your being found by your customer.

Inbound marketing also serves to enhance customer experience. Not only does the customer get to follow the advice of a trusted friend or blogger, which gives them a feeling of security, but they also receive all the information they require from your website/online presence, which enables them to make the best decision.

Make sure to check out the Act! blog for more great tips for using ecommerce to enhance customer experience.