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9 tricks for greater customer proximity

Amazon sets standards: Like no other, the US online retailer manages to develop

services and move ever closer to its customers. No wonder that more than half of

the e-commerce business in Germany already comes from Amazon. According

to a study by the University of St. Gallen, the company achieves double-digit

market shares in product segments such as books, electronics and toys, thus

putting even long-established retailers in distress. Or they learn from it.

Nine tricks reveal how large online retailers ensure greater relevance for


The secret: service and goodwill. The status of the order, from the buy button to

the mailbox at home, is always visible. Anyone who makes a complaint

immediately gets their money back without long discussions. To name just two of

the services that Amazon, for example, can use to score points with the public.

Shop operators can learn from the e-commerce giants what they can do better.

On the other hand: "Even the big online retailers do not operate perfectly in all

phases," says the Regensburg-based IBI Research. For some years now, the

market research institute has been shopping at the best-known German shops

and comparing services. Strategies for better customer service can be derived.

Successful on-line retailers examine hidden test purchases regularly, not only

their own quality, but confirm with competitors, what they can make better. Many

relevant factors are only verifiable, says the Shopper of IBI Research, if actual

purchase experiences are systematically analyzed.

What needs to be considered is summarized here in nine points.

1. Facilitate the product search

Every shop today has a product search. But 14 percent of the shops, according

to the IBI test buyers, only show them the goods desired by the customer - and

therefore miss the opportunity to draw attention to alternatives or additional

articles, and inspire customers by not only showing them individual products, but

also showing them alternatives on the product pages - perhaps the more

sophisticated, definitely the ones popular with other customers, possibly the

cheaper ones. Filters can also be used to pre-sort search results by color,

functionality and other categories. Only four percent of the shops present

clothing, furniture, sports equipment or electronics in an all-round view. Only

about every tenth company relies on explanatory videos or links to instructions in

words and pictures. Especially in the sports sector, for functional clothing or also

in the DIY segment, clear explanations promote purchase decisions. And it is not

only in the fashion trade that you can save returns by describing the sizes,

materials, dimensions and weight of products in detail.

2. Communicate intensively with customers

Of course, online merchants offer telephone advice and advice by e-mail. But too

many leave the possibilities of social media untouched. 88 percent of popular

shops link their pages to Facebook, but only half succeed in answering questions

within an hour, a pity. Messengers Facebook and Whatsapp offer even more

opportunities to get in touch with customers: Questions can be answered and

regular customers can be made aware of special offers and promotions.

Transparency is also important when it comes to ordering. Customers want to

know when their goods will be shipped and delivered to their homes. If retailers

can arrange a delivery date, no additional routes have to be taken.

3. Creating trust with evaluations

Consumers trust the judgements of others. Reviews offer many opportunities to

promote their services and products. However, about one in three shops do not

use this confidence-building measure, with which assortments and services can

even be adapted in the long term. In the medium term, customer evaluations can

help to replace the common quality seals such as Trusted Shop and TÜV

because they build more trust.

4. Mobilize the shop

Use waiting times for shopping. Smartphones and tablets make this possible.

Popular shops have long since adapted their sites to mobile devices, therefore

increasing sales and reach. Even more, convenience is created when customers

create a profile with important data in the online shop and can order on-the-go

with just a few clicks. If selected goods can be stored in the shopping basket or a

watch list via various devices, consumers can select on the go and check again

at home before buying.

5. Practice data protection

After many scandals, consumers have become suspicious and are reluctant to

hand over personal data. Good retailers respect the concerns: 68 percent of the

top-selling shops therefore offer to buy without registering. "Every shop should

think carefully about what data it collects," the experts at IBI Research

recommend. The date of birth is not always necessary, and those who do not

always use useful information on salutation, country, state in their forms simplify

orders. By the way, it is much more friendly if customers are not asked to create

a customer account at the beginning of the ordering process, but if they can save

all entered data at the end - in order to simplify future orders or track the status.

6. Simplify Checkout

On average, only four steps are necessary to check the shopping basket before

making a purchase decision. When the input of personal data and payment are

short and easy, customers like to shop. Pop-up windows, however, lead to

interruptions. Merchants can help their customers and show them how many

steps they need to take to make a purchase during the entire ordering process.

Checkout includes payment, and merchants can meet their customers' needs by

integrating the most popular payment methods, i.e. Paypal, Applepay, Alipay,

Googlepay and Amazonpay as well as credit cards.

7. Offer more shipping options

Amazing - Amazon attracts many customers with delivery in 24 hours.

Nevertheless, only 47 percent of popular online shops offer more options than

standard shipping. For an express delivery or delivery on the same day,

customers are happy to pay a surcharge, if the resulting costs are shown to them

transparently and clearly. Clever dealers fair better; they also let buyers choose

the delivery service, because the next post office for pickup may be further away

than a branch office. An increasingly popular option, is the option to store at a

previously agreed location. Garages, sheds or garbage cans are suited for this

and save both parties additional effort.

8. More inspiration in the package

A beautiful scarf or trousers to go with your jeans jacket, side dishes in the

packages are welcome if they inspire and fit. Dealers can even earn money by

opening their packages to others to advertise complementary offers. Specialized

suppliers such as Adnymics or Prudsys even produce personalized inserts in the form of multi-page magazines. This is not only worthwhile in the fashion trade,

but also leads to customer loyalty, follow-up purchases and sales increases for

electronics or DIY supplies.

9. Simplify returns

No retailer likes to exchange or take back goods, but customers like it when they

can sleep on decisions, but even from the popular online shops, only 47 percent

enclose a return slip and a return label. Electronics and furniture retailers have a

lot of catching up to do. 17 percent demand an announcement of the return

shipment by e-mail, and then wait for an answer. Customer proximity looks

different. A surprising 44 percent of online shops now only send invoices by e-

mail and do not enclose any information on terms and conditions or revocation

with their parcels. Every tenth retailer misses to notify the receipt of a return, and

he could also advertise alternative products in the mail.

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