Online selling is steadily rising not only in the Philippines but also in other parts of the world. The huge demand for online selling has been amplified when the pandemic hit in early 2020. When the lockdown policy was implemented, the safest way to get our basic needs such as food, medicine, clothing, etc, was thru ordering online. With the continuous rise in the number of online sellers around the world, how can you, as an online seller, stay on top of the game? The answer is -to become a Customer-centric Online Seller!
A Quick Background
I have been selling online for a couple of years now. I started with selling preloved bags and then I transitioned to selling preloved clothes, accessories, and even some vintage arts and some home decors.
In my years of experience in online selling, the most important thing that I have learned is to always put your customers first.
I made my customers the core of my business.
Thankfully, this strategy helped me to continuously grow this business steadily.
I’m here to share with you guys, especially to those who are thinking of starting an online selling business how to become a customer-centric online seller.
What is Customer-centricity?
Customer-centricity simply means putting your customer first.
Customer-centricity means providing the utmost value to your customers and making sure that their overall experience, from the moment they contact you until they receive their order (and even after that – after-sales support), is a positive one.
This is to ensure that you build a healthy, long-term relationship with every customer that you get to interact with.
I’m sure that most of us who were once employed by any company in any industry, would’ve heard of this term before. Maybe you’re thinking, that companies were able to achieve a customer-centric organization because they have massive resources to do it.
Maybe you’re asking now, how can you as a solo entrepreneur (solopreneur) selling a variety of things online achieve a customer-centric business?
Maybe you’re also asking yourself, how you can, as an online seller ensure customer satisfaction even with limited resources.
If you find yourself, asking these questions and if you’re set to become one of the best online sellers in your country, then read on.
Why is it Important to Have a Customer-centric Business?
Before we discuss the steps that you need to take in order to become a customer-centric online seller, let’s discuss first why having a customer-centric business is important – even for small businesses like online selling.
Having a customer-centric online selling business helps you:
Make Customers Happy
If your online selling business is customer-centric then you will surely make your customers happy. Happy customers help the online selling business grow in a variety of ways. Some of the positive effects of making your customers happy include (but not limited to):
- Positive Feedback on Online Selling Platforms: Customers who are happy usually leave a positive feedback to the sellers that they buy from. Various online platforms such as eBay Philippines, Carousell and Shopee, have a feedback system that is available to the public or users of the app/website. Your previous customers’ feedback, either positive or negative, affects how prospective customers see your business. The more positive feedback that you have, the more trustworthy you become in the eyes of prospective customers, thus, improving the chance of generating more sales.
- Market Your Business for Free: Happy customers do not just leave feedback on the online selling platforms, they also often share this experience with their family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. We’ve all done this as well. The happier we are with the products and services that we purchase, the more inclined we are to promote and support the businesses that provided us an amazing customer experience.
This action is even more amplified in the era of Social Media. People are sharing their experiences online via Facebook, Twitter, review sites, etc.
Of course, this goes the other way of the spectrum too. If your customers received poor service from your business, then expect that they will also let people know about it.
Customer acquisition is so difficult regardless of any industry. And, the biggest mistake of most businesses, regardless of size, is taking for granted the customers that they have already acquired.
If your business (big or small) is customer-centric, then your focus is making sure that the needs of customers are met and as much as possible – exceeded.
Having a strong focus on delivering the best customer service to each and every customer you interact with helps retain the customers and thus helps your business achieve repeat orders or repeat sales.
Grow and Sustain your Business
If you keep on growing the number of your happy customers, then you will be ensured of the continuous growth and success of your online selling business.
Just try to imagine what would happen if you have a growing number of customers who order repeatedly month after month. Will it not ensure the financial success of your online store? Of course, it will, right?
Customers are the lifeline of any business and without them, our businesses will cease to exist.
How to Become a Customer-Centric Online Seller
As I have mentioned earlier, I am an online seller of preloved goods and I have made online selling my full-time gig. In my years of experience selling online, I learned a variety of ways on how to ensure customer satisfaction in every transaction that I get.
Please note that this is based on my experience and may or may not exactly be the right solution to your own needs so please take this advice with a grain of salt and do your own diligence as well.
Start with Setting the Right Expectation
Regardless if you use eBay, Carousell or Grailed (and even Instagram), or any other online selling websites, you have the opportunity to set the right expectations for your customers. All of these websites have provided a space for online sellers where you can write the descriptions and whatever other information that you think might be of help to your prospective customers.
I also buy a lot online and this is something that I feel not utilized well-enough by a lot of online sellers. In your online selling profile and on each post, you may include important and helpful details such as:
- An honest description of the items including flaws (if there are any)
- Actual Measurements
- Shipping Options
- Shipping/Delivery Timeline
- Payment Options
- Expected Response Time
By providing these pieces of information at the onset, you’re not just helping yourself save time in responding to repetitive queries, but you’re also saving your customers’ time as well.
This will also set the right expectations for your customers and will help minimize the chances of getting negative feedback. Sometimes, we get negative feedback because we made the customer expect something from our product which it couldn’t deliver.
One key thing that I avoid at all costs and the thing that I always keep in mind is to never commit to what you can’t deliver.
Focus on Providing the Best Value
In my case, as a seller of preloved goods, I define the value of my products in multiple ways:
- Competitive Pricing: I always monitor the online selling market to ensure that I stay competitive in the market. I’d like my shop to be, as much as possible, known as one of the most affordable online stores in the market with the highest possible quality of preloved merchandise.
- Highest Possible Quality: When it comes to the quality of the products that I sell since they’re preloved or used items, I always make sure that I check my items multiple times to ensure that I don’t sell anything with damages or flaws. And if there’re any acceptable flaws, I make sure that they’re properly declared in their respective posts (with clear pictures).
All items are cleaned, disinfected, and stored properly as well.
- Provide the Best Customer Service
Another thing that I do to ensure that I provide the best value to my customers is that I try my best to respond to them in a timely manner. In all of my online selling platforms, I set the expectation that I respond within 24 hours. But, most of the time, I respond right away when I’m not very busy or within an hour or two.
I also monitor all shipments and I contact the couriers once I suspect a possible delay. This is o ensure that I’m on top of the shipping situation. Luckily, I have had only very few shipping delays in the past.
Provide Cost-efficient and Effective Options
One of the best ways to ensure customer satisfaction is by providing a lot of cost-efficient and yet effective options to your customers without compromising your commitment to the customers.
In all of my posts on my online selling accounts, I itemized all shipping/courier options that they can choose from depending on their budget. And, if ever, someone requests for a cheaper alternative, then I discuss the possible options as well with the customers. Sometimes, I do decline in shipping with new couriers or smaller couriers because of past problems that I encountered with them. However, if I feel that the customer is really intent on buying and if this is his/her first time to buy from me, then I subsidize the shipping cost (if the price difference is not that much).
This can also apply to payment options. Nowadays, there are tons of payment options to choose from and I try to accommodate the customers’ requests even if I personally prefer online bank transfer as the mode of payment.
Communication is the Key
Most online selling platforms have their own kind of communication features such as Direct Message for Instagram, Messages for eBay, and Real-time Chat with Carousell. I respond to any queries before a sale, customer complaints (if there are any), and shipping status follow-ups.
I feel that this should be a basic thing for every online seller which sadly is not being observed by some online sellers that I have interacted with in the past.
If you are planning to sell online, this is something that you have to think of as an important aspect of your business. Sure, this eats up a lot of time sometimes. However, bear in mind, that this can make or break your business.
As technology advances, a lot of online selling tools/options become cheaper and more effective and this is something that we should always be on the lookout for. Some of the things that we can continuously improve on includes (but not limited to):
- Photography equipment
- Payment Options (such as digital banks and wallets)
- Shipping Options
- Communication Tools/Apps
There are thousands and probably millions of products are posted online. Competition becomes tougher as days go by, continuously improving ourselves in this line of business is the only way to stay on top of the game.
This is an exciting time to be alive and to earn money. It’s so much easier to earn money now compared to decades ago and one of the easiest ways to earn money is by selling online. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a get rich quick scheme, but, it’s not that difficult as well.
As days go by, I see a lot of people from different age groups, including teenagers and senior citizens gaining some success in online selling. If you’re looking for a way to augment your income then consider this kind of business.How to Become a Customer-Centric Online Seller Click To Tweet
If you have additional inputs, feel free to share your ideas in the comment section below.