Alibaba is one of the largest e-commerce players in the APAC region. Source: AFP

Alibaba is one of the largest e-commerce players in the APAC region. Source: AFP

Want to win in e-commerce? Humanize your business

Today, most retailers and entrepreneurs are looking to migrate, or even build their business entirely on digital platforms.

While this is the right way to go, they must recognize that building a successful e-commerce business is drastically different from old-school retail. E-commerce goes beyond just selling products; it is not transactional, but relational.

To survive, it is key to humanize businesses and create meaningful relationships with customers.

To forge deeper connections, companies must first have a purpose. Today’s consumers are purpose-driven, so loyalty will come when they identify a business whose purpose they can resonate with.

Put yourself in the customer’s shoes: what do they care about, and why? Make this the focal point of your brand and product, and then create a community around it.

For the modern consumer, being loyal to a brand extends beyond liking a product or its values, it is also about the connections they make with other like-minded customers. Hence, community is important – e-commerce companies that thrive are those that have a ‘less about the brand, more about the people’ community, where people that share the same goals, life experiences and values can interact with one another.

But there is a high chance that other companies will share these same generic purpose, such as saving the environment or other charitable causes. With the e-commerce market saturated as it is right now, how then, can a business stand out in a sea of countless competitors? By not being afraid to be different. Curiosity gets piqued when something new appears, so if a business is bold and unique, people will gravitate towards it.

Entering into the world of e-commerce may be more accessible than ever before – thanks to plug-and-play services now available – but there is no blueprint or equation to follow; it is important to think outside the box, and use innovative solutions to solve the problems facing your target audience.

Finally, take true ownership of the business. Its purpose must be one that you absolutely believe in, something that you will be willing to go the extra mile for.

Being in it ‘just for the money’ is not a sustainable approach, and is only going to lead to the downfall of the business in the long run.

Morals should also be kept to the highest standard, and dishonesty must have no place – online shoppers are not very forgiving, and they have a lot of other choices. One bad experience can turn them away forever, and they might even take a few other customers with them if word gets around.

Whether you’re retailer operating in e-commerce, or in another industry altogether, being known as a business that cares for people is so much more important than day-by-day sales.

Find a purpose, develop an innovative strategy to execute that business purpose, and prioritize relationships with customers – this would be a good start towards building a sustainable, successful e-commerce business that flourishes for the long haul.