I hear many brick and mortar merchants asking for new ways to ensure customer retention. They have offered rewards programs, discounts, sales, specials for birthdays and holidays, and anything else they could think of to keep their customers coming back for more. However, one solution they often overlook is taking their business online. They forget that we live in a digital era.
Let us take a minute to think this through. If you are one of these business owners I have mentioned above, have you ever considered that you are losing customers because your store is not as easily accessible as your competitors’ stores? Becoming an e-commerce merchant is like creating the ultimate customer retention program!
Don’t get me wrong—I encourage you to keep your physical store location, but I also encourage you to create a website and sell to customers online. Joining the e-commerce world will open up all new opportunities. You will undoubtedly grow your customer base, even if you keep your online sales domestic. By making your website mobile-friendly (yes, there is a difference between a website for a PC and a website for a mobile phone), your customers can shop at your store from anywhere at any time.
Before you start accepting credit cards online, you need to know a few things.
1. Your retail merchant account just won’t do. You will need to apply for an e-commerce merchant account to accept card-not-present transactions to avoid incurring excessive fees for using the wrong type of payment processing terminal.
2. You will need an online shopping cart. When customers shop at your physical store, you provide them with shopping carts to hold their items until they reach your checkout register. The same goes for online. Customers need somewhere to store their purchases until they reach your payments page.
3. PCI compliance is your number one priority. There are already too many cyberattacks and security breaches engulfing the Web. Do your part to keep your customers’ credit card data safe by adhering to the Payment Card Industry’s Data Security Standards.
4. Promote, promote, promote. You need to do more than simply create an e-commerce store. You need to promote it so your customers know it exists. If you don’t have a Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, Fancy, or an account with any other social media website—now’s the time to sign up. Connect with your customers on a social platform they’re familiar with to share sales and discount specials.
Here’s the bottom line: Becoming an e-commerce merchant will not only help you with customer retention, but it’ll also open up doors (or Web browser windows) for new customers to visit your site. Creating loyal customers is an important part of running a business, but so is creating new customers and expanding your business.
About the Author:
Meghan Faye Wolff is the senior copywriter and marketing specialist for Instabill Corporation. Instabill provides e-commerce and MOTO merchant accounts to startup and existing businesses worldwide. Meghan writes about online credit card processing, marketing and business tips, and credit card industry news on the Instabill blog.