Standing out in the online marketplace

24 May 2018

E-commerce has made it more feasible to run a business. An online store lets you carry more product selections, without having to pay for rental and as much overhead costs that come with a brick-and-mortar store.


Players like Amazon have continually raised the benchmark of e-commerce. While your business may not have the scale of Amazon, you can still operate in the e-commerce space with much success.


The e-commerce market in Singapore amounts to total revenue of S$5 billion and is projected to continue risingi, so you’ll want to consider how it could work for your business if you haven’t already.


Here are some tips for your business to excel in online retail:

Optimising search

Today, customers search for products online before purchasing. With the sheer number of sites talking about and selling such products, how do you stand out?


Search engine optimisation (SEO) can do wonders for the visibility of your online store, sometimes even more than advertising and promotional activities. The higher you rank in search engines, the more traffic and potential customers you get driven to your e-store. So you have to ensure that your site consistently appears as one of the top search results, by having strong search-friendly features such as website structure and links, tags, keywords and meta-data.

Growing customer loyalty by lead-nurturing

Gaining customer interest is trickier than initial awareness. For your business to more effectively convert casual browsers into buyers, offering free shipping for the first purchase or crossing a minimum spending is an attractive incentive to offer.


After the first purchase, you can build a loyal customer base that will keep returning by having them sign up for your e-newsletters, regularly handing out exclusive content and promotions. What’s more, you can capture valuable customer data that will allow you to better target them with new products.


Singapore-headquarted e-commerce company Lazada aggressively employs email marketing to feed its customers with product recommendations and exclusive, time-sensitive promotions.

The shopping experience

While the experience of shopping in a physical shop typically gets more attention, you should not neglect the experience of the users shopping online.

“If [customers] want to shop and checkout in a few clicks, they have to [be able to] do that. If they want to spend 10 minutes and have an experience watching product and brand videos, they need to be able to do that as well.”

– Frank Weil, Chief Customer Officer at retail software company KWIii

Your business needs to be personalised, relevant and targeted to deliver to your customers exactly what they want.


On your site, you can also suggest alternative products that customers might like through tagging and their shopping history. Another solution you can adopt is to retarget your customers with reminders that prompt them to purchase items that they have viewed or added to their cart but did not purchase.

Building trust through reviews and security

Some interesting numbers around online reviews: 91% of people read them, 84% of people trust them as much as their own friends’ recommendations, and 68% of people form an opinion after reading up to six of themiii.


Word of mouth is still the best affirmation on your product quality. Create and maintain a system for customers to write reviews and encourage them to do so by rewarding them with loyalty points or rebates. Monitor the reviews they leave and improve on any negative ones you might receive.


That way, you will accumulate good reviews for your brand, which in turn encourage other customers to visit your site and make purchases.


When it comes to making purchases, security plays a vital role in the online transaction process. Make sure you use verified reputable payment gateways like PayPal that make customers feel at ease when inputting their personal and credit card information.


Shipping, tracking and returns

Convenience and seamlessness are particularly important benefits to the customers when it comes to e-commerce. Shipping has to be fast, customisable and reliable – customers want minimal shipping time, and the option to choose when and how they receive their orders. Tracking also plays a big part for customers to be better-informed when they can expect to receive their orders. They will not be pleased to find that they have to collect their parcels at a post office, not to mention having to wait for a re-delivery.


Reliability and aftersales service are also key concerns. You have to deliver on your promised timeline. Furthermore, due to the nature of having never seen what they’re buying, exchange, return and refund policies are no longer simply a ‘good-to-have’ for customers – make sure you have robust ones in place to maximise customer satisfaction and loyalty.


For example, Singapore-based fashion e-retailer Zalora offers a 30-day free returns policy – especially useful for its customers since the site carries clothing from a wide range of brands that they can’t try on and get fitted for size.


While it’s not hard to set up an e-commerce platform, maintaining and improving it to drive sales and business success for you requires comprehensive and careful planning and management. With these tips in mind, you should have a clearer picture of the different areas that can help e-commerce do wonders for your business.


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