Thanks to the technology that innovated online shopping. It’s undoubtedly one of the greatest things to happen to mankind. Online stores make life so much easier now. Especially so for people who always run against time. But as the number of online shops increases by the day, customer demands also multiply. How, then, can we help an online shop get an edge of the competition?

Should I, or should I not?

Have you been caught up in a situation where you needed to decide on which important thing to do first? Like going to the supermarket to buy a need or to proceed with doing a pressing task?

Well, that’s used to be a common scenario before online shopping came to be. And I presume that every other person, including me, had experienced such a situation. Thank goodness that someone had initiated an online store. Shopping has never been so easy since then.

More online stores, more demanding customers

The number of online stores began sprouting here and there since its inception. Everything, or virtually anything, you need and want can now be obtained by a click on a keyboard.

But human nature is insatiable and impatient. When people of this age want something urgent, they literally want it NOW! As we become more comfortable with online shopping, the more meticulous and demanding we have also become. So much so that we get infuriated even for a slight delay in delivery of service. While some of the complaints are valid, there really are demands that are simply ridiculous.

Nevertheless, I believe that online stores have to keep an ear to their customers’ complaints. Competition is becoming more intense by the day.

How to get an edge on competition

Among the most common complaints I hear and read in the online reviews include defective products upon delivery and product not up to expectation. And, take note, Delayed Delivery seems to be on the top spot of complaints.

Because of these, I figured some tips that might be of help to online stores.

Don’t keep the customer guessing. Peak seasons and weather conditions are significant elements that affect delivery service. Courier companies are especially busy during the Christmas season. It’s during this time when delivery service can be at a crawling pace at times. Road congestions in urban areas and bad weather are also culprits in delivery schedule. Although these situations are beyond your control, you can at least do something to ease your customers’ anxiety.

I just want to make this clear: I don’t agree that “the customer is always right”. But, as a retailer, you must understand that your customer has already shelled out money for his order. When his order does not come on time, it’s normal reaction for him to wonder what’s going on. Questions like, ‘will I get my order?’ ‘Is the store legitimate?’ These are valid worries that you should not take for granted.

● Be proactive. When things get delayed, the customer would not run after the courier company. Rather, he will hold you responsible. So, don’t get your hands off the responsibility. Should you have foreseen a delay, contact your customer right away. Honesty matters. Explain to him the reason for the delay. But don’t give false promises. An e-mail update, SMS, or a call will certainly be of great relief to the customer.

● Accurate tracking system. Keep your customer updated with the status of his order. A tracking number or code will help him follow through the delivery schedule.

● In-house courier service. Having your own delivery service gives you more control of the schedule.

Quantity and quality matter. Visitors love to go back over and over to a store’s site that gives them the information they need. Yes, they don’t just buy a product. Rather, they want to be interactive.

● Write shareable content. Customers and prospective buyers love to visit a site that offers updates on the products they bought or are planning to invest in. So, engage them in an active interaction. Evoke reactions from your readers on your content. Remember, readers love to share content that they can relate to. And once they share your content, expect a widened reach of your site through their respective networks.

● Add value to your customers. Internet users are interested in reading tips that can help them make better use of a product. And so, it’s but fitting to capitalize on this nature. Create content that is practical for them. Put yourself in your prospective buyers’ shoes. What do they want? It’s not you, but your customer, that should be the center of your content.

Make your website user-friendly. Nothing is easier to visit than an easy-to-navigate website. Visitors usually spend only a few seconds on a page. When they don’t find what they are looking for in a glance, they would leave and look somewhere else. As much as possible, avoid clutter. Keep directions easy to follow.

Product presentation. Prospective buyers rely on the photographs of the products presented online. They don’t get to read much of its description or touch it. It’s important, therefore, that you provide the necessary information alongside your product. Include also the dimension, sizes available, and other important elements. This way, the buyer wouldn’t get frustrated when they receive something that is short of their expectation. As much as possible, display several pictures of your product. Photograph them from different angles.

Efficient customer service. Competition is stiff. You can’t afford to be branded for poor customer service, can you?

I’ve read many poor reviews regarding customer service in online stores. Most of the complaints are about being put on hold for so long. As I’ve pointed out earlier, customers want to be served right NOW! A minute of waiting on the phone can seem like forever for impatient customers. And so, I think providing a chatbot can ease the issue. Or, something that does not only involve typing your queries but also allows a real-time conversation with a Customer Service agent. Verbal communication allows the customer to better express his sentiment about an issue. And I believe that customers would be willing to pay more for a quick and efficient customer service.

Let’s face it! Cyber marketing is a dog eats dog world. If you are not keen about your customers’ needs, you run the risk of losing them to your competitors. Be innovative so you get an edge on the competition.