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What Customers Taught E-Business

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Posted March 23, 2001 By Robyn Greenspan     Feedback

If e-biz wants to evolve and flourish, it better pay attention to what customers are saying.

Even though there is an extensive array of technology and solutions for enterprise and storefront building, there is no substitute for a key component of e-commerce interaction -- the relationship with the consumer. In many ways, the customer has dictated the changes that need to be made to the e-commerce landscape. And if e-biz wants to evolve and flourish, it better pay attention to what customers are saying.

Here are some of the elements that customers have deemed important if you want to entice them to do business with you:

  • Live 24/7 support -- Whether it's by phone or online chat, shoppers want immediate gratification. There are probably more people than you can imagine surfing at 4:30 a.m., armed with a credit card and wondering, "Is that blue sweater more powder-blue or periwinkle?" Consumers are hoping that a live voice can answer their questions when the mood of impulsivity strikes.

  • Privacy and trust -- A customer's personal information should not be sacrificed in exchange for the value and convenience of online shopping. Your site should carry your guarantee that customer data is not sold to spammers and e-marketers.

  • Convenience -- This includes everything from storing encrypted credit card and billing information to fast page loads. A consumer's personal comfort is vital to your e-business.

  • Liberal return policies and ability to return to an offline component -- Your return policy can actually help your sales because most shoppers take solace in knowing they can return their purchase (even if that isn't their intent).

  • Personal humanization -- There should be some element that shows the customer that they are more than just a dollar sign, such as a special birthday discount or a follow-up note or phone call.

While there is no guarantee that building customer relationships will garner mega-sales, there is a better chance of e-com survival if shoppers have positive experiences at your site. Maintain all other aspects of a good e-business -- an engaging Web site, competitive pricing, quality merchandise -- and your site will very likely enjoy success.

Related article:
8 Convenience Factors

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