21 Apr Selling more online – branding and personalisation tips
In an increasingly competitive online marketplace, personalisation can make an essential difference. The challenge for any business is how to capture and then hold a customer’s attention long enough to drive them through checkout, as well as making their experience memorable enough to inspire a return visit.
Factors that are important in differentiating your online products
In traditional marketing, the basic theory is that moving a customer through the selling process involves first getting their attention, making them like your brand or product, encouraging them to desire your product or service, and then inspiring them to take action, now. In the online world, there are a lot of distractions to customer’s attention and the playing field is not always level. There many be many businesses selling a product, even one that is traditionally considered “high” in the involvement and shopping around process, and things like social media shorten the attention span of an online customer. You need to get the customer’s attention immediately when they visit your site, and guide them straight to the result they want. If your customer does not find your site appealing enough or relevant enough, they might feel there are so many other businesses that they can buy from that they will simply “churn” away to another site and look there. First impressions are therefore more important than ever in a competitive online world as is clear and simple navigation and a powerful selling proposition.
The good news is, this means that it is not necessarily price that is the most important factor. Even a price sensitive customer will consider the professionalism of the site, as they will not even consider your website if they do not feel that they can trust you.
How to stand out?
So if you’re selling a product sold by many other businesses, how can you make your product and service experience different enough to firstly get customer’s interest and then take them through the process? Many people starting a new business do make the mistake of believing that the only way they can break into the market is through undercutting their competitors, but this is not necessarily true. It depends on what you are selling, what they are selling, and how.
Sources of differentiation
There are many different sources of differentiation in an online store, other than price:
Unfortunately Customers are impatient and frequently don’t read. They expect a site to send out their products promptly after they order, even if your shipping page says otherwise. Then they get frustrated when their item doesn’t arrive and will contact you to find out where their product is. The problem is rife amongst online stores, and there are many online retailers that simply complain that their customers don’t read their shipping pages before they buy and then get angry and frustrated when they don’t get their items.
There’s therefore an opportunity for online businesses that can ship out items quickly to promote this. If you ship out same day, why not promote it with a banner on your homepage? When Ozcart websites are built we can create up to three home page slideshow banners and two inner page banners and one of those banners could be something about your same day shipping – what is your cut off time – orders before noon ship the same day? Say so and customers previously frustrated by shopping at your competitors could try you the next time. And as long as you deliver what you say you do, there’s a good opportunity to get repeat buyers from this strategy.
Even if your competitors sell mostly the same products as you, do they offer all the sizes or the colours that are the most popular? You could specialise in colours or sizes that are least popular, or buy out discontinued lines and find customers searching for those specific products (after the competitors no longer sell them).
Personalisation of products
Are there ways that you could personalise the products that you sell? Could you combine them with something else to provide a complete package of something that your customers will want to buy? You can get better per unit prices from the same products if you bundle them together in a way that is more valuable and more convenient to end customers.
This could be something simple like adding a name label, or something more complex like screenprinting a custom design on a T shirt, or adding groups of products together to make a specific package. The better you understand your customers and what types of packages or customisation they want (and are prepared to pay for), the more successful this stratgy will be. Every customer has their own preferences and if you can better cater for their individuality then this can be a very good way to differentiate yourself from well established competitors, even if they are selling the same or similar things to you.
How much personalisation do you need? Firstly you should look at what your competitors are doing – do they do any personalisation at all? If so, what do they do and how well do they do it? Are there any problems with the level or quality of personalisation that they do? Are there any opportunities for you to improve on the way they personalise their products or service for customers? How would they likely respond to you when you introduce your own personalisation service, and what would you be able do about that? This step is very important, as an established competitor is unlikely to do nothing when a new competitor enters the market and directly competes with their personalisation offering.
The other thing to consider in determining the level of personalisation is how price sensitive the market is. The more price sensitive the market, the more personalisation you may require per dollar. That is you need to offer a higher amount of value for each dollar spent if customers to overcome a customer’s in-built desire to shop for pri ce It’s much harder for a customer to trade off two businesses based on personalised service or product options than it is to compare two similar businesses offering the same product head to head on price.
Branding and Personalisation
If your website doesn’t reflect your business brand then what kind of message are you sending your customers? One that’s weak, confused and vulnerable. What will be more effective is a powerful online store design that is memorable, has both impact and sizzle. Think about the colour scheme that is being used and how it applies to the site, is it inviting? is it overpowering? is it clear? does it reflect what your business stands for? does it match your offline material like business cards and signage?
Branding is more than just your logo – it’s the total collection of everything that represents your business and makes it memorable. Your logo, your colours, the way you write emails, your policies for returns, your pricing strategy, and how quickly you respond to enquiries, your “proposition” (the one sentence reason why your product or service is different), your signage, your telephone manner, every interaction between customers and your business.
Don’t forget that online is ultimately about trust
If a customer doesn’t feel they can trust your business, then you have little chance of converting their visit into a sale, no matter how efficient your checkout or what the quality of your price and product offering. They can’t see who you are online, so how can you establish trust? Third party validation and references are a good starting point – have you won any industry awards? Do you belong to any industry associations? Are you an official reseller or a known and established brand? Can you show clear brand marks for any of those things to give potential customers more confidence in your products? If so display them in the footer of your site or on your about us page. Make sure that your checkout uses SSL encryption (the “lock”) which you will require for mandatory compliance but is also what customers are trained to look for on a checkout.
Also make sure that you have easy to find policies for shipping and payments, privacy, terms and conditions of sale, returns policy etc. Even if your returns policy is no returns, customers will want to know what it is before they buy. Online trust is about making it clear what you do, and then doing it time and again. If you can encourage your buyers to leave third party reviews or reviews of your products on your own website then this will help future customers establish trust in your brand and product.
Personalising the web design and build process for your own website
We can personalise your site for you. If you don’t have the skills to integrate design and colours into your website yourself, then Ozcart can help. Just like a physical store agrees on the design and then gets the interior decorators, signwriters and painters in to do the work, our online stores work in the same way. We’ll understand your business, find out what you want, and build it for you. We set it up at the start, the way you want it, and then you run your store. This means that we personalise one of the base designs in our collection for your business with graphics and colours that say “you”.