Running your own online store is one of the major challenges facing entrepreneurs even at this late date in the progress of the Internet. In fact, it can often seem like you are revisiting the year 1996 with all the once-thought-to-be-solved problems that seemingly crop up. Customers can be hesitant to trust a random web site, shopping cart interfaces can be unusually confusing and when all the limitations are added to the often razor-thin profit margins on some kinds of products, the results can often be considered inadequate for all the work involved.
It can be instructive to remember all these problems have been solved for the most part. People share their credit and debit cards with strangers constantly in a huge variety of contexts including often more than one ecommerce business. Shopping cart software has had more than 20 years to mature, and profit margins are totally in the business owner’s control when it comes to an independent web site. The real question entrepreneurs should be asking is “what can we do to really impress our customers and not only encourage them to buy today but come back tomorrow?”
All Business Problems are Logistical
The most entertaining technical support call is the one where a user insists nothing has changed but that the system just stopped working anyway. Since solid state electronics rarely fail on their own, at least one of these two simultaneous assertions is almost guaranteed to be inaccurate.
When products aren’t selling, and everything seems to be in order, the disconnect is almost always logistical. If you are selling an app, and it won’t run on your customer’s device, it doesn’t matter how attractively it is priced. If your store doesn’t ship to where your customer is, it doesn’t matter if you have their size in stock.
Solving logistical problems is what sets successful online businesses apart from those who never quite figure out why their sales channels aren’t getting them from here to there. In the case of online businesses, the core issue is almost always shipping.
If you want to handle shipping like the big ecommerce business stores do, you need all the same features. Your Shipping Suite module has to integrate with your sales page such that it is unnecessary for your customer to do any work or thinking. Customers who are asked to think immediately become confused and customers who are asked to work immediately become distracted by whatever nearby interruption presents them with an opportunity to avoid working.
Always remember the majority of e-commerce transactions and shopping excursions happen on mobile devices. What do we know about mobile devices? We know there are hundreds of entertainment options one tap away. We know there are a dozen communications channels and a dozen more social media apps one tap away. There are enough videos one tap away to occupy the average viewer for several million years. Meanwhile, your chance to sell something has about fifteen seconds before the alert tone goes off and whisks your former customer away to never-buy-land.
Do not ask your customer to think or perform any work-like task or your chances of a sale will instantly go to zero. If it is any more complicated than a big giant red button that says “push me,” it’s too complicated.
Doing the Work
If you think about it, you’ll rapidly conclude all the potential problems with online commerce and any associated Shipping Suite have already been solved. In fact, they have not only been solved for your customer, they’ve been solved for you too. What does your store know about your customer once they create an account? Well, they know where the product needs to be shipped, because you have an address. They also know where your customer was when they ordered, because they can geo-locate their IP address. Your store can calculate shipping costs and times automatically.
Don’t look now, but your store already knows everything it needs to know about how to get your product from here to there. All you have to do is provide your customer with a list of options so they can choose when they need the shipment to arrive.
This kind of “do the thinking for the customer and the store owner at the same time” is precisely the problem online commerce was supposed to solve in the first place. Every minute saved in getting products ordered and shipped is a minute you don’t have to finance with your capital or time. You are also impressing your customers, which makes it likely they will return to buy again.
Over the course of dozens, hundreds or thousands of sales, those saved minutes and all those impressed customers add up to the difference between staying in business and getting a part-time job at the local hardware store.
Now suppose you could just plug in the software necessary to make your online shopping cart do all the shipping work for you? What would that be worth over the course of the next month’s or quarter’s sales? If you do any volume at all, any time or money cost will be recovered in a matter of days, perhaps hours.