PLANTING SEEDS OF LOYALTY IN E-COMMERCE

PLANTING SEEDS OF LOYALTY IN E-COMMERCE

May 13, 2018

By Izbath Tarik

Even after decades spent in the era of internet, millions of businesses being done on the internet, it is still a grey area for lawmakers. Internet is where we spend the highest amount of our day, but it is an area least regulated by the lawmakers. Therefore, there is no word which can explain the importance of ethics in the world of e-business. To much of our surprise, many entrepreneurs fail to realize it, even if they do, they don’t take appropriate measures to control it.

Rezwan is a university student. He plans on purchasing a new cellphone. Well, not exactly new, he wants a second-hand iPhone. He visits a website, searches for the best deal, and pays the money in cash only to receive a broken or dysfunctional cell phone. Worst case? He gets hijacked on his way to the point of sale. This is the story of countless online shoppers across the country. And the management team is to be blamed for it. 

In digital business models like platforms, marketplaces, etc. where buyers and sellers meet, just letting them meet is not enough. The prime duty of every team is to ensure that their vendors/partners/sellers deliver authentic product/service.

DATA

With the freshly peeled Cambridge Analytica Scandal, when we talk about ethics in the internet the first thing that comes into mind is data. Data privacy of the user. Because with the advent of ultramodern plugins like Facebook pixel, etc. the websites have numerous sensible data which can be exploited. For instance, let’s assume you are loyal to brand X. Now brand Y in coalition with e-commerce site C can direct special customized ads towards you which downgrades brand X and changes your perception towards brand Y. Note, this is quite a harmless example. Far worse examples can be drawn from recent incidents around the globe.

PRODUCT LISTING

More often than not, every e-commerce shopper has been through the following incident: they look for a product, finds it and orders it expecting it to be delivered within 3 days. They get a call after 3 days only to know that the product is unavailable.

It is the duty of the company and its vendors to list its products accurately and honestly. Having a huge photo collection of products; with an empty inventory; while claiming to be the largest/biggest is a very short lived path to success.

E-commerce involves low margin in most cases. Thus, profitability mostly depends on customer loyalty. Delight your customers. Surprise them with creative packaging, a small token, better than expected quality or a simple chocolate. Make sure you provide what you promise, you sell what your show. Because the world of internet is fragile. Therefore, ethical operation is a priceless marketing scheme which is free of cost.

ENSURING AUTHENTIC PRODUCTS

Bangladesh is abundant in counterfeit products. Specially textile and leather products. For example, Loafer shoes are sold with similar names like Loaper, Lofer, etc. all around the country. Being a victim of counterfeit either as the e-commerce store or the end customer is not surprising at all. E-Commerce operators might lose track of counterfeit products here and there. But today’s tech savvy customers equipped with powerful tools like Google is more informed than ever. Moreover, every single online customer is very brand conscious. Make no mistake, 9 out of 10 times they’ll be able to say if it is counterfeit or not.

Whether you are a marketplace or a retailer, before listing products make sure they are available in your inventory and most importantly the product’s authenticity. The biggest differentiating factor between e-commerce and traditional retail is that the products cannot be touched, they can only be seen through pictures and videos. Therefore, if your promise and your delivery do not match, you may as well bid farewell to that customer. 

MARKETING

This is the 21st century. All publicity is NOT good publicity. If your prospect feels disturbed by your marketing automation endeavors, he/she will purchase from anyone but you. Simply put, remove clickbait, typo squatting, high frequency messaging/emailing from your to-do list.

A great example is our country’s telecom operators. They have taken SMS marketing to a state where we don’t even open important SMS from people assuming it was ‘insert your telco operator name here’. My suggestion would be to try out novel forms of marketing like inbound marketing and branded content. Because these modes of marketing when done right reaches the right customers at the right time with the right product or service.

POLICIES

Every e-business has a set of policy book that acts as their Bible. Unless you have a supremely innovative business, chances are you have competition. Therefore, it’s your duty to make the customer aware of the required policies before he/she makes a purchase. Why?

A customer buys your products as a birthday gift. She gifts it to the birthday boy. After 7 days, she is informed that the product is defective. However, your policy says, ‘products must be returned within 4 days of purchase.’ Your customer service agent has no option but to abide by the policy. Do you think that customer is coming back? Forget your customer, if she posts a status on Facebook, your total future business opportunity cost would largely outweigh the reverse logistics.

Now imagine you go out of our way to attend to the same customer’s problem. That’s going to delight her, making her feel special. Consequently, it may make her a loyal customer.

To summarize, redesign your business by keeping people at the center. Laws and regulations can only go so far. Ethics are the principles that assist us in differentiating right from wrong. Hence, don’t do something you would not like to be done to you. If you are not ethical, you are not building a sustainable business. Profits do not come from the first or second purchase. Profit comes from long-term loyalty. In marketing terms, that would be customer lifetime value. Delight your customers, treat them the way you would like to be treated and subsequently you will harvest the flowers of loyalty.

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