Online marketplaces are becoming even more essential for small businesses in most parts of the world, especially with the new challenges posed by the global pandemic.
In Malaysia, the implementation of different variations of the Movement Control Order (MCO) since March 2020 has affected businesses and livelihoods, forcing entrepreneurs to adapt to this buzz phrase: the new normal.
The good news is that online marketplaces like Shopee, Lazada, Carousell, Mudah.my or Amazon have become the new shopping malls, gathering big brands and small businesses alike. Malaysians are starting to rely on these marketplaces for all their daily needs, and we believe this trend will continue even after COVID-19.
In the post-pandemic world, building your brand online will no longer be just an alternative option. This method of marketing is and will remain fundamental to your growth as a business.
But fret not, here are some actionable insights courtesy of Yellow Pages to help you accelerate your business and boost sales on online marketplaces!
Tip #1: Think like your customers
Ask yourself this: If you are an Internet user who wants to purchase a product online, where would you go? A recent survey by Yellow Pages Malaysia revealed that Google and social media are the most used platforms by Malaysians to search for information before making any purchases.
Did you know that you can further amplify your marketing tactics by displaying your products at the top of Google’s search results page? This means that whenever Makcik Kiah browses for rattan furniture on Google, for example, images of various types of rattan furniture (including yours!) can be displayed in the form of an advertisement at the very top of the search!
This will not only allow your brand to stand out from the crowd but also save customers’ time and remove the hassle of having to scroll down the page to explore different providers.
Contrary to popular belief, advertising with Google does not have to cost an arm or a leg. If this is your first time, start with a small budget to reach potential customers. Unfamiliar with Google? Don’t sweat it, because Yellow Pages can assist you with Google advertising.
Tip #2: Use social media to increase your chance of being discovered
Additionally, the survey found that other than e-commerce platforms like Shopee and Lazada, Facebook and Instagram have also become popular marketplace options thanks to their user-friendly e-commerce services. This means that beyond searching on Google, your potential customers are also looking through social media for their desired items, and there is a chance they might stumble upon your product offerings.
Business owners should thus complement their marketing efforts on online marketplaces with equal attention paid to building their social media presence. Here is our advice: don’t be shy about posting more photos of your products on Facebook or Instagram!
For instance, if you own a bakery, populate your social media with enticing images of the different cakes available. And with the impressive selection of filters and editing tools available on social media platforms like Instagram, you will not even need a fancy camera to do the job.
Tip #3: Offer free shipping
How would you feel if you are buying something online and you find out that you won’t be charged for delivery? Feels great, right? And that feeling will probably encourage you to spend more since there is no delivery cost. Also, to encourage customers to buy additional items, implement free delivery based on the amount spent on purchases, eg with a minimum spend of RM100, customers get to enjoy free shipping.
Based on the survey, it is important to note that delivery charges can become a determining factor in whether the customer chooses your brand or turns to your competitors. This minor incentive of excluding shipping fees may seem like a small bonus, but it goes a long way to delight customers who are used to shopping online and are looking for any means to save money.
Tip #4: Give attractive rewards, from discounts to vouchers and more
Generally, discounts improve sales and encourage loyalty among customers. They act like effective ‘appetisers’ for your future releases.
You do not need to be part of a grand seasonal sale akin to 12.12 to rake in the profits. Curated sales and discounts are always appealing to customers as consumers are drawn to the idea of buying the product of their liking at a cheaper price. One marketplace that has been successful at this is megastore Walmart.
What’s interesting about Walmart is that their website curates sales based on seasons, festivities and even a pop culture phenomenon. This model is a creative example of how you can also create your own ‘story’ to organise sales, so that customers are attracted to your brand and would anticipate upcoming discounts.
Take Upin & Ipin, for example. After a successful run on television, they knew the demand for merchandise was high. In conjunction with their movie release, they also released a line of merchandise including items children would need for school, like school bags and uniforms.
This allowed local sellers and even those from neighbouring countries to use the Upin & Ipin hype as part of their marketing plans. As long as you don’t illegally use their IP, you’re free to use your creativity and tie sales around any pop culture phenomenon.
Tip #5: Use single listing of same items with different colours and sizes
When it comes to listing your products on e-commerce platforms, a common mistake made by many businesses is to have multiple listings of the same type of items with different colours and sizes. This mistake will usually cause businesses to lose potential sales.
As they choose to market the same items in different variations using multiple listings, instead of having just one, it lessens the possibility of purchase as the product variations are spread out on different pages that might not link back to the main one.
Imagine you’re a customer browsing through an online marketplace to specifically look for a white Guns N’ Roses t-shirt. However, from your initial search, the marketplace only appears to sell black t-shirts. There is a high chance that you will not stay on the website for long to explore, even if they do sell the same t-shirt in the colour you want.
Tip #6: Use more videos or video tutorials to enhance product descriptions
From home-cooked recipes to household gadgets, everything is in video form these days. This is because videos are naturally more attractive and engaging to viewers. Why would anyone read a lengthy manual when they can watch an informative video that guides them through a product’s features and functions?
Many online sellers are already using video content to engage with their potential buyers. Among the types of videos you can create to entice customers is an unboxing video. The video below shows a member of a local band unboxing its latest release in front of the camera:
Another great video idea is a step-by-step tutorial video. If you’re even more resourceful, you can experiment with other video genres to furnish valuable information about your products — because sometimes all it takes is just a smartphone.
Selling woks? Maybe record cooking videos featuring the woks. Action figures? Why not make stop-motion videos with a funny storyline? The potential is limitless, and it is up to you on how creative you want to be.
Tip #7: Encourage happy customers to submit recommendations and genuine reviews on their purchases
Genuine reviews and customer advocates work wonders. Upload photos of your clientele ordering and enjoying your products, and share screenshots of customer reviews. (Make sure you get their approval first!).
Most businesses tend to flourish by word of mouth alone, so take your time to explore various ways of encouraging your customers to post a review. Some businesses offer discounted rates or even exciting prizes for feedback or comments given. This way, your customers will be motivated to provide honest reviews and also enables you to accumulate positive reviews to share on your platform.
Once you collect enough good and genuine reviews, you will be seen as a trustworthy and reliable seller in the eyes of future customers.
Tip #8: Ensure fast response
If buyers are passionate about a particular product, they will usually be asking a number of questions. It is considered as a positive thing since the potential buyer already shows interest in purchasing items from you. But to close the deal, you have to match the same passion that the buyer is displaying, and you can do so by responding promptly. When a customer reaches out to you, it usually means they are ready to make the purchase.
Admit it, if you are at the Digital Mall and you are interested to buy a laptop, but the salesperson is nowhere to be seen, you would most probably walk to another shop with a welcoming salesperson ready to cater to all your questions.
Fast response is an appealing factor for you to gain more customers. Just like you, no one likes to wait when they don’t have to.
Tip #9: Gain trust with secure payment, refund/cancellation policy, warranty, etc
Join or list your products on trusted online marketplace platforms that offer secure payment options such as online bank transfer and e-wallet. As a business owner, you cannot change the purchase journey since it is the developed by the platform. What you can control is offer good customer service, including aftersales service.
For example, when your customer bought a tracksuit in the wrong size, accommodate them with a solid refund or cancellation policy that allows them to return the goods and swap it with another product or get a complete refund.
As a seller, you need to be creative in offering a wide range of solutions to these problems. This way, you get to keep your existing customers and who knows, you might even be able to earn a healthy number of returning customers!
Tip #10: Communicate with customers in real time with live chat
Based on the Yellow Pages survey, 70% of respondents think it is important to chat with the seller first before making a purchase. Business owners need to make sure that they always stay connected, check their notifications, and respond to all messages promptly. This will give them a rating of 90%–100% which will boost consumers’ confidence in dealing with them.
You can also consider running Facebook Live chats so that your customers can view the items and ask questions on the spot. This gives you an added advantage in convincing your prospective clients beyond just 2D images and reviews.
Does all this sound overwhelming? Don’t worry, it will get easier once you get the hang of it. Investing your time to learn about e-commerce is a necessity for an entrepreneur in this day and age because the majority of customers you serve are already well informed.
According to the Yellow Pages survey, 86% of consumers will do their own research and draw comparisons with more than one marketplace before making any purchase. So never underestimate your customers, and make sure you know how to position yourself in the market.
Come on down to yellowpages.my where a team of experts will help you reach out to more customers through Facebook and Google Ads. Each campaign will be catered to a budget you are comfortable with. Together we will help you scale it further as your business starts to grow. In fact, something new and exciting is coming your way soon from Yellow Pages Malaysia, so stay tuned!