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4 common mistakes that damage your brand online, and how to avoid them

11 March 2019

By Drew Smith

Drew is the Director of Product Strategy at Volo and focuses on how technology can help brands and retailers deliver what their customers want.

Brands Consumer Behaviour

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At face value, maintaining a strong online brand image should be pretty easy. After all, the business is proud of its great products and designs, and the team is hardworking and passionate. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple.

Over half of all consumers now prefer online shopping to high street shopping (these figures are even higher among younger generations). That makes the basic issues faced by digital merchandising and ecommerce teams even more urgent. Sadly, the pressure on these teams to constantly be adding new product listings to channels means that lessons can go unlearnt, over and over again.

Given that only 15% of companies take action despite the fact that 58% of executives believe that ‘reputation management’ should be addressed, there is a huge opportunity for your company to flourish by making sure your online presence reflects the quality of your brand.

Let’s take a look at four of the most common problems that could be harming your reputation and sales figures, along with the best ways to rectify the damage that’s been caused.

Problem 1: Not knowing where products are sold

65% of consumers believe that a positive experience with a brand is more influential than direct marketing campaigns. It is critical that all customers are treated in the right manner. While you might be able to improve your internal policies, the danger is that you cannot control how your customers are treated by resellers of your product.

If you don’t understand where your products are being sold, you cannot possibly guarantee that customers are getting the right treatment. Items being sold outside of your visibility could happen on eBay, Amazon, Facebook, and websites created by third-parties. Establishing a greater sense of control regarding affiliates and reseller is essential — or else their shortcomings could seriously damage your reputation by association.

The Fix: regain visibility. Digital merchandising teams need to stay vigilant — tracking where products are sold. Consumer-to-consumer classified listings probably aren’t a concern. However,  any third-party retailer or affiliate that is seen to be connected with the brand must be monitored. Likewise, the company must be sure to fight counterfeit goods that try to make money off the back of the brand’s reputation.

Technology can help you do this — a point to which we will return.

Problem 2: Not having high-quality listings that are easy to find and easy to trust

It’s easy to take the view that products will sell themselves. However, statistics show that 87% of consumers consider product descriptions to have a telling influence on their purchasing decisions. In fact, pricing is the only factor that has a greater impact. After all, online shoppers don’t have the chance to try clothes on, they have to rely on the product content instead.

Ambiguity and uncertainty will inevitably lead to poor conversion. Failure to provide great product content is sure to create an unwanted sense of confusion.

Aside from turning visitors away, shortcomings in product listings will harm the brand’s Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategies. Although not directly related to your reputation, if people can’t find your product, they won't buy it, even if they like your brand. It’s also worth remembering that a strong presence in search results is associated with trust and reliability. Improving the search engine performance of your brand will help your sales and your reputation.

The Fix: upgrade your product content. Product specifications (76%), reviews (71%) and images (66%) are considered the three most significant elements. Videos can be useful too. Keyword-rich descriptions that provide greater insight will boost your search engine visibility to generate leads while also convincing a greater number of visitors to follow up their initial interest by completing the sale. For more detail, check out our guide to creating fashion product listings that sell.

Problem 3: Not understanding your customers’ expectations

Every marketing expert respects the fact that different demographics respond to varying ideas and strategies. Today’s customers are notoriously hard to please thanks to the sheer volume of options at their disposal. Most brands spend thousands of pounds in hopes of understanding consumer behaviour. Sadly, very few ever truly harness the data for maximised results and guidance.

There are many factors that impact the customer journey. If you don’t know what matters to them at every step, you will encounter high bounce rates and other hurdles that will impact sales figures. In fact, 79% of customers state that they actively want to be able to see that brands care about their desires before making a purchase.

Particularly for fashion brands, being able to resonate with your customers is a critical aspect of brand loyalty and making sales. When the business is still uncertain about what its users actually want from an online experience, it will show.

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The Fix: Utilise modern tech systems including AI. Gathering real-time data from the first interaction through to the point of sale and into repeat purchases is vital. Those metrics can be analysed through automation and manual endeavours to pinpoint which ideas the customers respond to. Focus on those items, and you won’t go far wrong. Combine this with data gained from customer surveys and questionnaires for maximum insight.

Problem 4: Not empowering your customer service and social media teams

Customer service is something that business just do, but the vast majority of retailers fall into the trap of viewing this aspect as a chore rather than something that actively helps the company’s reputation and sales. There are literally hundreds of stats that highlight the correlation between customer experiences and future spending. 86% of consumers would pay extra for great client care.

If your fashion brand is guilty of overlooking this aspect or suffocating customer service teams, including social media teams, it will translate into lost sales and reduced enthusiasm for the business and its products. It is vital that every interaction a customer has with your brand before completing a transaction is smooth and positive. That same outcome then needs to be carried through to all post-purchase interactions to maximise the potential of repeat purchases.

The Fix: Be human. While it’s important to retain a sense of professionalism, customer service teams should not be afraid to be personable. This makes it easier for customers to relate. On a similar note, a little job enrichment can go a long way to aiding the cause. Let customer service teams use their initiative by making decisions on refunds, returns, offers, and social media engagements. In addition to building stronger connections, it will keep employees motivated.

Summary: Combine automated research with a human touch

The demands of the modern consumer are greater than ever before, but the online opportunities are also at an all-time high. Using modern technology to gather, collate, and analyse consumer data is now essential because there simply isn’t enough time to do it manually.

A number of ecommerce solutions have been developed specifically to aid in the delivery of improved online conversions and customer experiences. For example, Volo allows ecommerce teams to rapidly create high quality listings on online channels, maximising SEO strategies and customer experiences alike. The AI system constantly monitors data to generate actionable recommendations, which you can even automate.

Technology that removes manual processes enables your teams to spend more time on what matters — planning and customer care. Specifically as discussed here, empowering customer care teams is critical to your online success. They need analytics and demographic information, they also need the freedom to go the extra mile and deliver outcomes that your customers will remember.  

The reputation of your brand is on the line at all times, and resonating with customers by providing an experience that feels personalised to their needs can make a world of difference. Through technology and human understanding, staying on top of the challenge becomes achievable.

Fashion retail guide to online success

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