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THE WEBO CHAT FORUM: eTailing Success and Customer Reviews

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Welcome to the Webo series titled, Get Your Business Growing.
The WEBO Forum is a general discussion area on matters that may be of interest to businesses. The Meetings Communicator showcases content and it manages meeting walls within online meeting rooms. The Webo Forum is open to discuss matters that may be raised on Meeting Agendas. The Meetings Communicator is a division of Webo.
I have presented below a seven-point plan to creating the foundations for e-Tailing Success and on getting good customer reviews?
Firstly, I believe that having an online store does not change your business game however it does add to your business game plan. In many ways, it increases the distance between you and your customer, and in other ways, it brings you closer. You need to maintain your customer focus, but you need to find a way to create and maintain trust without having customer eye contact. Remember that your focus should not change from the customer when you go online. If you can keep this focus, your eTailing venture will be just another channel through which to get close to your customer and exceed their expectations.
Next, you need to be clear about your online objective.
Many strategies seek to use online stores to attract walk-in customers by providing an efficient and swift shopping experience. In these circumstances, customers are coached to order in advance of arriving at the store where they finalise certain bagged and ready to go purchases after closer inspection. This two-step objective is hugely different to the online-only approach to remote customers. Thus, you need to be clear on your target market and approach before building an on-line store dedicated to remote customers.

Online stores must bridge the gap created by not having the item to touch and feel as well as not having eye contact with a company representative. As stated at the outset, to overcome this gap you must build consumer trust. If you can establish a trusting relationship with a remote customer base, they will give you the reviews that you will be proud of.
So, how do you build consumer trust, loyalty and get good customer reviews? I believe that if you use the following seven-point plan in setting your online polices and practices you will have established a solid foundation for online business growth.
In summary, the seven points are as follows:
1.Create awareness.
2.Create a good first impression.
3.Make your online store easy to navigate.
4.Provide complete and accurate product information.
5.Provide the option of a conversation with your clients and be available to chat.
6.Create a service delivery expectation and then exceed it.
7.Meet delivery expectations and costs.
Create awareness.
You need to create awareness of your online presence. If your store is not promoted to your current and prospective customer market, your store will not be found. Even search engines can require you to bring your store to their attention. Promote your store via your normal marketing channels and consider online options such as Google Adwords or upgrade store or your products to be featured on the Webo platform.
Create a good first impression.
Catching the immediate attention of a new possible buyer is a critical success factor to growing your online store business.
It is easier to to go to another online store than it is to walk out of a shop, office, factory, etc.
Get five people to list the Ghee Wiz’s on your site. The chances are that if they cannot spot them, you can improve upon the look and feel of your online store.
Make your online store easy to navigate.
Give attention to your categories.
Where many very similar products are available, listing all of them such that the differences serve to confuse rather than to impress should be avoided. In these circumstances, it may be better to limit the listed varieties if the customer base is new to the product range. Alternatively, suggest an online chat or a phone call to explore the wide range and to narrow the selection in respect of finer needs. This approach makes shopping the online store a more comfortable experience and less of a hit or miss affair.
Provide product “buying guides” on your website.
You need to ensure that your customers know how to shop your online store. They need to know what to expect from a category or keyword searches. How to explore quantity, quality, size or colour options, etc.
Offering buying guides is recommended. Essentially these are “how to” manuals. Examples include how to buy a car, garment, appliance, etc. online. It may also be a “how to” on narrowing down possibilities by using “key word searches” or “category searches”. Physical stores are often “dressed for seasons” so why not dress up the look and feel of your online store. Dress it up for Christmas or Valentines Day etc. by changing the look but also by creating keyword listings or special categories for Xmas gifts, Valentines, Easter, Birthdays, etc.
Do not assume that your online customers can make product selections without the help of a sales assistant.

Provide complete and accurate product information.
The quality and accuracy of product presentation are critical. You generally do this by way of images and text.
Photographs or other graphics must be good and often more than one is preferable. Providing a front and back view gives just that little extra that would be available if the customer was in your store. 
Accurate and detailed online store product descriptions and a listing of product features together with other useful information on the store’s website relating to the company and the companies established user community are essential. Do not hold back information and be sure to provide accurate, crisp and complete accounts on the products and the company. Remember that customers cannot physically inspect the product or the company, so you need to provide more information than you would to an in-store customer. For example, provide garment dimensions and not just sizes as the customer cannot try garments on. Providing dimensions for many products is a good idea as photography generally masks size. Use the store website to provide colour variation swatches for there are many shades of every colour. Spending time and effort on rethinking the way you present your products is seldom wasted. In essence, it’s about packaging and showcasing your products. Your presentation needs to accurately portray the product. Never try to fake what it is not.
Provide customer reviews. Many customers draw great comfort from the experiences of others.
Remember that it is not always about quality or price, but it is always about meeting expectations.
Provide the option of a conversation with your clients and be available to chat.
Always get in touch with a customer if you are in doubt as to any aspect of an online order or contact clients to discuss orders where a product has a high return rate. Set a low goods return rate target and effect changes to the online store until the delivered product meets customer expectations. Simply put, a low goods return rate is a critical success factor. Be sure to monitor it closely.

Consider offering an online blog. This takes the place of chatting to a customer sales person in a store or it takes the place of a phone call. It gives the opportunity to chat with a person, in real time,  who is knowledgeable about the products, without having to wait for email responses.
Make a service delivery and satisfaction promise and keep it.
Provide a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee and as a minimum, if you or your customers get it wrong, keep this promise with a smile, never be grumpy about passing the credit that was promised.

Meet delivery expectations and costs.
Firstly the delivery period. Always meet delivery expectations. Disappointing customers who have paid for the product with availability excuses can ruin a good business.
Secondly, delivery costs. These are a significant barrier to certain product purchases especially low priced items that are generally available. Having bread and milk delivered at a charge of more than the cost of the products purchased is acceptable to purchasers in certain circumstances - but they would be unhappy to find an unexpected charge demanded by a delivery company. Applicable charges should be clearly explained so as not to disappoint or provide unexpected costs. The trade-off between the convenience of door to door delivery and delivery cost needs to be fully explained.
Thirdly, delivery dependability. Use established reliable delivery agents.
Thank you for taking time to consider our seven-point plan.
We look forward to discussing these matters further on this Forum.


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