As someone responsible for a growing your eCommerce business or channel, many things compete for your attention. In this fast-paced industry, constant adaptation and innovation become the focus, often at the expense of fundamentals.
Of course innovation is important in eCommerce, but no business can thrive without a strong foundation. What’s the good of a cutting edge without a firm hand wielding it? Doing the basics better is an incredibly effective, but often overlooked, strategy for growth.
Many times we have seen 2 critical elements rise to the top of the list of things that show up when a business is either doing very poorly or doing very well. When the business is experiencing hard times these 2 things are being neglected, and conversely when we see a retailer killin it these 2 things are being addressed and are working well.
They are; 1 Empowering a capable eCom director and 2. Proactively listening to their customers.
1. Empowering a Capable eCom Director
My colleague Kali Keesee recently wrote a blog post on building your eCom team. Go read it for yourself—it’s a good one! She touched on the importance of having this position filled, but it’s such a critical point that I’m amplifying it here: Without a capable eCommerce Director who is actively driving all of your business priorities, it will be next to impossible to achieve long-term success. Remember, you’re the one steering the ship, but your eCom Director is the lead in the engine room, keeping your business running smoothly.
At Gauge our best partnerships by far are with retail clients who employ and empower a highly technical, business-minded, intelligent and communicative eCom Director. Without that crucial person in place, it will be very hard to interface well with your digital agency (like us), and any other third party software providers.
We have seen this time and time again. In fact, it’s become a critical point we use to evaluate whether a new client will be a good fit for our agency. If a potential client doesn’t have someone skilled in this role, then we take a pass, because we know it will be impossible for us to drive the results that our clients need and deserve.
2. Proactively Listening To Your Customers
I’m not talking about product reviews. Product reviews are great for your customers, and they can provide insight into what’s working and what isn’t. But reviews are only the starting point; to truly provide customers with the value they want, you will need to go deeper. To cut right to the heart of the issue, ask yourself these questions: What do you do on a weekly basis to make sure you get direct and unfiltered feedback from your customers? What questions are you asking? Do you consistently get feedback on both customer service and products? If you can’t answer these questions quickly and confidently, then you have some work to do.
The most challenging aspect of listening to feedback is that its impact isn’t immediate. Whether you’re doing it well or doing it poorly, the results only show up over the long term. If you stop listening to your customers, you won’t feel it right away. But don’t be fooled; six months down the line, the affect on your bottom line will be undeniable.
The good news is, it’s very easy to start listening to your customers. In fact, it’s so simple that many people overlook it when trying to create a big impact or turn around a decline. So often, our instinct is to reach for something complicated and new—a snazzy campaign on the next big social media platform, or flashy new features on your site. Simple feedback isn’t sexy, and successfully implementing a comprehensive communication loop with your customers won’t win any innovation awards. But great businesses are built by teams who do the basics better, day in and day out. What’s more basic than listening? Your customers live in the same world you do, with merchants clamoring and competing for their attention. In an atmosphere where everyone wants to tell you something, what’s more powerful than genuinely being heard?
What can you do right now to get started?
- Write down 3 simple questions you wish you could get your best customers to answer.
- Write down 3 simple questions you wish you could get your worst performing customer segment to answer.
- Create an incentive program to encourage your customers to answer your questions. Use your email system to drive this initiative.
With the right fundamentals in place, your business will thrive and grow even in this fast-paced and highly competitive industry. Build discipline and structures within your organization to keep these two basics a priority. You won’t regret it.