A cat in the sack in e-Commerce: How to avoid screw-ups?
Crises, bloopers and little slip-ups happen in every industry. That is why a part of the world of business has stopped to carefully hide bloopers. Quite often, businesses do the opposite – they talk about the mistakes loudly, so that others can learn from their mistakes. Some are even using this trend to organise series of meet-ups, such as “Fuckup Nights”. During these sessions, the visiting speakers tell tales about the greatest, or should I say – the worst screw-ups in the history of their companies. The bloopers are most of the time, quite typical for the type of the industry they relate to, but sometimes they can really be something absurdly random. It’s a worthwhile experience to listen about what preceded such mistakes and avoid unnecessary risk-takings. Where does it pay to stay cautious when it comes to e-commerce?
As today is the International Cat Day, we will tell you how to avoid buying a cat in the sack!
Do not sign a deal with a cat in the sack
Certainly, at some point in your life you have purchased a product that didn’t meet your expectations. You surely remember your disappointment, don’t you? A situation like this could relate to any item: from small things, like accessories, to a much more serious and expensive purchase, for example, a car. With cheaper products the financial harm is not that big of a deal. However, when it comes to more costly transactions and the seller hides the flaws of the product or products from us, it may lead to a multitude of unforeseen extra costs that can often exceed the value of the bought item.
No matter how big or small the enterprise is, a situation where the commodity being sold to the customer is faulty, flawed or outright non-functional cannot be allowed. This kind of action may affect your business in a very bad way. You probably would have to deal with unsatisfied customers, and negative opinions, which could discourage potential buyers – not to mention the possibility of refund claims.
Consider getting advice
Have you decided to go with the dropshipping sales model? It’s a quite popular solution, which can bring profit for both parties, given that, of course, the appropriate safety measures are put in place. Remember that, as a seller, you are responsible for the quality of the sold products, not your supplier. That’s because the customers buy the items through your website – a facade of your company. Therefore, if you cannot guarantee fair cooperation with a reliable supplier, you should not risk disappointing your customers. Always go for certainty and safety when it comes to providers.
The success of your company depends on the quality of the products that your customers get. If the state of your goods differs from the one presented on the website, the most optimistic scenario will be a disappointed client and little to no chance of future purchases.
The most experienced agencies implement comprehensive service packages for clients from many industries and they can share their knowledge, which could help you avoid getting unsuited solutions. That is why, when working with such an agency, don’t be afraid to ask them about their experiences and thoughts about particular ideas for your project.
It’s about incorrect prices of services. Surely, you have come across a situation where, while checking a drawn up invoice, the costs were different than those suggested at the beginning of a cooperation. It usually occurs when agencies incorrectly estimate work hours or there some additional services were needed to complete the project, which had not been a part of the deal in the first place. Software houses have various methods for working out this delicate and sensitive phase of a project. In Global4Net we are working according to our own methodology which requires the price of a contract to be verified not once, but twice. What’s more we distinguish ourselves from other software companies with the transparency of our work. As a client you can always participate in our weekly meetings and you have permanent access to JIRA software, a website in which you can see as we plan out the tasks and assess the costs of the procedures.
It’s all about how you look at it. If you are the shop owner you have ensure that when the user of your webstore verifies the products’ prices in the virtual cart it is the same as the one on the subpage. Otherwise, he will probably resign from making the purchase. This customer will then see if the competition offers the same product at a cheaper price. However, this does not have to be the only motivation. The customer may think that if the pricing procedure is chaotic and in mess, the website may be unreliable and even dangerous altogether. That could definitely stop them from making any future purchases. Remember, lack of consistency can lose you a client.
But these types of mistakes can happen both ways, actually. The seller can also suffer from costs that should not be applied. Sometimes, as a result of poor price administering, it can turn out that products are affected by discounts that lower their market value. In cases like that, there is a risk of ending up with a trading loss if one decides to sell your goods at such an inviable price. But how can one get out of this situation?
To save face and avoid discouraging customers, the transaction must be completed in its original form – that means selling the goods at its original price with no rebates.
As always the best safety measure is precaution and making sure these situations never happen. To do that, make sure your offers are always correct.
Ask, ask, ask again…
We know nobody likes when their mailbox is filled to the brim with e-mails. Nevertheless, when signing a contract you cannot allow yourself to make a mistake. You need to know everything about what you’re buying. If it isn’t your first rodeo, you know what’s coming, don’t you? However, if it is your first ever online store or you’ll have to work with a software you have not encountered or used before, now is the only time to allay any doubts and ask questions. You have to do your research. As we mentioned before, in Global4Net you’ll have permanent contact with our experts. Should you have any questions or doubts, our Project Manager will help you or you can just ask us at the weekly meetings.
Think about adjustment implementation
Remember that the product’s net result is affected by many factors. The most prominent aspects are technical and visual, certainly. However, some functions and integrations will differ. Why is that? Every solution has its restrictions. Good for us the IT industry is known for its readiness to beat those restrictions – this, of course, calls for extra resources, and that is why you probably will have to implement certain adjustments. These are dependent on you, other decision-making people in your organisation and the concept of the project and its potential changes.
The most important thing to do is to, together with Magento software house, come up with a clear schedule that can foresee such changes and act upon them. The second important issue is of course the cost of these changes. Much of it relies upon the cooperation model. Our clients use Fixed Price, Time & Materials or the combined model, which enables us to increase flexibility of working.
Look at the customer service
Can you remember how you felt when you ordered a product or a service and it was not delivered or performed in a timely and professional manner? You want answers but instead of those, when you call or write the other party to claim a refund, you only get more forms, telemarketers and ever distant deadlines. Surely you wouldn’t want your customers to face the same situation when dealing with your e-store, would you?
That is why you have to look at the customer service. It must be of a very high standard. Check the time of response. Ensure you have a SPoC (Single Point of Contact), which is a person that you can call at any time, knowing well that on the other end of the line appropriate specialists wait to help you. Swift, smooth and friendly problem-solving and allaying doubts of customers is crucial. You want your customers to be happy with your service, don’t you? That is why we approach our clients with transparency in every step of cooperation.
Remember of your website’s usefulness
Websites have different goals – some inform, others compare services, and others sell things. Keep in mind that your own website must be designed to help you achieve your goal.
When it comes to online shops there are some ground rules you’ll have to follow.
The customers have already got used to the fact that e-stores are usually highly organised; every product has a category, item descriptions include vital information, the images are of high quality, etc. Remember that now, you have to meet those expectations.
If, for example, you sell sweatshirts and you don’t put in the information about the size or material composition, the web user will probably resign from purchasing because of the little amount of data. This concerns other information too: payment shipping methods, probable time of parcel delivery, contact information and the like – all of these are crucial during a purchase. Remember that the modern web users are very sensitive to “fake shops”. The “fake shops” are infamous for having the copied products descriptions and not providing any contact information. So do not omit any company-related subpages with contact details. Thanks to them you won’t look like a fraud.
Do not generate extra costs
There are many sales models out there. One of the worst of them is the one based on artificially generated costs. How does it work? Usually, it’s when the customer reaches the final summary of a purchase that the hidden charges or rates apply. These hidden costs are most frequently additional commission for card payment or transfer handling fee. Sometimes, when you buy something from abroad, a so-called dispatch guarantee can also be placed in the summary of the purchase. These all are methods aiming at compensating for a low product price. Unfortunately, in the client’s view, it’s seen as a scam and trickery.
If you don’t want to be seen as an unfair seller, stay away from these methods altogether.
Keep your customers secure
Cybersecurity is a very hot topic nowadays. You know well, you cannot skip it in your online business. Hackers can attack anyone and you won’t know if you’re not going to be their next target. That’s why security of your customers is the key issue. So, what can you do about it?
First off, you ensure that the software house you’re working with equips with appropriate tools that will help to secure your customers’ data. Knowing the estimated number of online visitors will enable them to spot abnormalities, which can be a sign of malpractice attempts. Also, they will be able to check the speed with which your website operates. Any slow-downs or lags caused by factors independent of your server can indicate an incursion from the outside.
Ask them about data encryption, as well. You must remember that all information conveyed by clients – invoices, receipts, etc. – must be encrypted. Make sure that only the trusted persons have access to them and that the data is used only for professional purposes. Remind your clients not to use the same passwords for logging in to the stores and the social media accounts. It’s crucial to expand their awareness and prompt them to create unique and strong passwords that are hard to crack.
Running your own online store requires lots of engagement, a solid chunk of knowledge and willingness to chase and meet the needs and expectations of your customers. As we highlighted it in the beginning, screw-ups happen. A good start is to look for a software house that will meet your expectations and requirements. Doing so, will help you in avoiding many potential bloopers and, instead of worrying about buying a cat in the sack, you’ll have time to focus on running a profitable business.