eCommerce has become a hot topic again. After the internet hype and the exaggerated expectations from eCommerce the opportunities for online sales are being evaluated once again soberly and objectively. At the same time eCommerce has developed surprisingly in the past few years. The transformation cannot be stopped and the opportunities offered by eCommerce can be seen by anyone.
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You can read some of the important chapters from the eCommerce Handbook below. The eCommerce Handbook will be sent in PDF format and requires Adobe PDF Reader which you can download free from Adobe.
These are important questions that you will be faced with if you want lasting success with an online sales model. In the end you will want to know if your company is successful or not in selling online. Unfortunately, many business people are still judging the efficiency of their online store on the basis of subjective estimates. In doing so, the success of eCommerce sites is often overestimated – or incorrectly underestimated. Simply being online is no guarantee of success when there are millions of other stores. And the sheer numbers of visitors to your site says just as little about the success of your store.
For this reason, an internet-based sales system always includes efficient and transparent measurements which make it possible to objectively judge success based on reliable information.
The following rule of thumb applies:
The higher the net margin, ratio of regular customers, the turnover per customer and the conversion rate is and the lower the acquisition costs for new customers are, the more efficient your online business is.
We recommend a web analytics system be used to track results. This could be Google Analytics as an example or we use and recommend the “etracker” Web Analytics which allows you to keep an eye on the most important key figures and can measure and judge the performance of your store at any time – all relevant data is generated and clearly displayed at the click of a button.
The following overview shows the key indicators of success that you should regularly retrieve and continually evaluate for your online sales activities:
|Good performance||Poor performance|
|Ratio of regular customers||High||Low|
|Turnover per customer||High||Low|
|Costs for new customer acquisition||Low||High|
These “hard”, distinctly measurable indicators of success can be use to clearly differentiate successful online stores from less successful ones. You should always keep an eye on these key figures if you want long-term and lasting success.
Many potential customers use the internet to help themselves make a purchasing decision and then don’t buy “online”, but “offline” in a bricks and mortar store instead. This “offline” turnover induced by the eCommerce site is often not assessed by companies with both a virtual and physical presence. The “offline purchases” generated by the eCommerce store should always be taken into account when assessing online operations because in the end it really does not matter where your customer made the purchase.
Another key indicator of success is the increase in customer satisfaction through improved service and special offers for regular customers. In the long-term, this increase in customer satisfaction will also be noticeable by improved customer relations and ultimately by rising turnover per customer. The regular assessment of customer satisfaction, e.g. through surveys or customer feedback forms is thus a must for every online merchant.
You should, therefore, ask:
What do my online customers actually expect?
Your online customers primarily expect – beside top prices and service – transparency, convenience, security and reliability when shopping online. Recent studies have shown that a very high proportion of initiated order transactions are broken off before being completed. Very often the reason for abandoned orders is a lack of transparency and clarity in the ordering process. If while buying online doubt arises as to the reliability, security and seriousness of the online operator, e.g. because product prices, claims for warranty or delivery times are not correctly communicated or the ordering process is unclear, the big danger exists that the customer loses trust in your online store and aborts his order. In addition, it is highly likely that this customer will never visit your store again and is lost to your company.
However, if you manage to put across a “good feeling” in using your eCommerce site, you have made a significant step towards success in online commerce. Prospective customers who you do not disappoint in the entire handling process, from product selection to ordering, payment, delivery and after-sales services will become loyal patrons who trust you for a long time.
The following overview summarises the most important demands, needs and wishes of online customers. Companies should consistently orient their eCommerce offerings to these customer demands, to build on online sales success and to secure it for the long term.
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