6 Mistakes Retailers Are Making
Mistake #1: You have bad customer service. I start with this as my #1 mistake because good customer service is the number one most important thing you should always maintain no matter which field you are in. You can have the most amazing products but you don't answer emails, you don't respond on social media to questions, you don't offer support for refunds or issues, and this can and will lead to your demise. If you find yourself feeling unable to respond to emails due to busyness, why don't you find a family friend or an intern to help you out? Someone you trust, of course, because nothing is worse than hiring someone who can't speak politely and you end up having to constantly apologize on their behalf thus giving you 10x more work to get done. I'll let you in on a secret: the NUMBER ONE most AMAZING thing I ever did in terms of customer service is to add a chat option to my site. Let me say that again...ADD A CHAT OPTION TO YOUR SITE. Trust me, it's been unreal.
No one wants to sift through pages to find an email to have to click on a new tab to open said emails and then send you one and wait for your response. If you find yourself drowning in emails, get a chat box! Mine has been unreal because it links to my cell and my desktop. Whenever a customer visits my site (notice here in the bottom left corner) and has a question, all they have to do is type in their name and the question and VOILA - it goes straight to me. Now, you can alter the times you'd like it to operate or you can simply have it operating all the time. I was forced to make mine automatically turn to away around 5PM due to my phone beeping at night - no Bueno. It's been great for sales because I can answer shipping & sizing questions with the snap of a finger!
Mistake #2: Having an awful website.
Websites can be expensive, I know that. That's why I trained myself to design my own and I researched, researched, researched and picked brains about what is best. Did you know there are actually scientifically proven colors that help someone make their purchase design? Crazy, I know! I'm so interested in that type of stuff though and I am constantly redoing little things here & there to make the site better than before. I'll use different backdrops and see how they affect sales. I use different models, I take my time designing each button. If I see something I want on my site, I'll make it myself in photoshop and do the coding to make it do what I want it to do. But if you don't know how to do these things (I've had years of experience!), I suggest you hire someone. Hiring someone doesn't always mean you have to pay them though - take college students for example. Some design students would LOVE to make your site glamorous only in exchange for being able to use it for their credits and portfolio.
Need photos taken but not sure how to use a camera or even what to take photos of? Again, is there a photography student you can get in touch with? Is there someone you know who wants the experience or you can trade off with? I've got tons of photographer friends & sometimes they really just want to A: play or B: get new photos to use - offer a trade, I'll give you this if you give me that. Perfect!
Mistake #3: Having no website at all.
What's even worse than having a bad website is having no website. I'm still shocked at times when I see people operating an online business strictly on social media with no website and maybe that's the Marketing girl in me but I just can't see it working to 100% potential. I am not referring to physical locations as I do not feel you need a website, only social media. Did you know that 68% of online shoppers used Google to research online products? 44% of shoppers start online simply by using a search engine to find what they're looking for. (YOLA, 2013) That means if you have a website, you have a 44% chance higher than those who don't have a website. You have a greater chance of customers finding your products faster & easier! Remember, when a customer googles for say, a long sleeve striped top, your Instagram photo won't be the first thing popping up. Instagram only boutiques might work now but there will be a day that Instagram is done-so, unfortunately. Remember MySpace and all the other long forgotten social media sites? I suggest that if you are running an Instagram or Facebook only shop, to at least secure a backup incase something ever does happen to those social media outlets. Secure your domain name or even make a simple site that just has an "about us" and a "Contact" form on the front page, those are usually free and easy to set up!
Mistake #4: Not clearly stating policies.
50% of websites fail simply because users can't find content. That number is HUGE. I don't think I have to go into depth on this one simply because it is a simple solution: ALWAYS MAKE YOUR POLICIES CLEAR. Customers want to know what you're return policy is. Do you offer exchanges or refunds? What happens if something is defective? How do I contact you if something is wrong with my order? Make a clear & concise return policy, and if you don't offer refunds, please say that. If you're sending invoices through an Instagram selling app or PayPal, they offer places you can put your return policy. If you want to lose a customer, argue your policies with them when they aren't stated anywhere.
Mistake #5: Too many discounts.
Underselling your product can leave you looking desperate and cheap (yuck, I hate that word.) Rather than offering discounts CONSTANTLY, offer flash sales if you need a boost. I absolutely love a good flash sale because it drives the customer to hurry, hurry before the sale ends versus a long sale that goes on for days and leaves the customer forgetting it's even going on. I'm not going against the usual sales for holidays & such, but try to keep them to a minimum as much as possible. Another way to combat this is to offer your newsletter subscribers incentives. One of my favorites is if my customers review a product, they'll get a coupon code for 10% off and entered to win a giveaway. When they review their product, google catches it and brings my product up a page - I call that a win-win!!
Mistake #6: Trying to please too many people at once.
I'm going to shake you if you are trying to sell to 50,000,000 genres at once! What are you doing, girl? Hone in! Let's make a clear decision of who you're selling to and stick with it. Let's offer 1 idea we're GREAT at and not 50 we're mediocre at. Really focus on what makes the sale! Do you love clothes? Me, too girl...me, too. Which is why I am selling just that. You won't find my in men's clothing or kids because let's be real, I know nothing about those areas. I'll stick to what I know best: women's clothing & accessories.
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