With a 40 percent uptick in sales and an estimated 900 million more shoppers, eCommerce set some impressive records in 2021. As customers get more comfortable with online shopping, their expectations for the overall experience are higher. By tracking these expectations and making enhancements to eCommerce capabilities, multi-level marketing (MLM) companies are well-positioned to capitalize on the trends.
From relationship building through customer retention, here’s a checklist of 11 customer eCommerce expectations for MLM companies to meet and exceed.
1. Make a good first impression.
You’ve heard the saying, “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” It’s particularly true for today’s consumers. Often, a customer’s first interaction with an MLM brand and sales representative takes place online. That makes your web experience – and integrated replicated web page capabilities that provide customized URLs for each independent sales representative – critical.
Consumers value simple web designs with visually appealing layouts that facilitate the ability to find products and information and navigate the checkout process. And they expect the experience to be just as appealing and easily navigated whether they access it from their desktop, tablet, or smartphone. The top MLM software platforms enable companies to create mobile responsive site designs that are easily delivered via replicated websites with unique web addresses for each sales representative.
2. Focus on convenience first.
Today’s shoppers prioritize convenience, with 83 percent saying it’s even more important to them now compared with five years ago. And almost all – 97 percent – say they’ve abandoned a purchase when it felt too complicated.
Convenience starts with making shopping easily accessible from multiple channels, including traditional eCommerce sites, mobile devices, and social media. More people are multi-tasking when it comes to shopping. Sixty-one percent of consumers report spending more time shopping on mobile devices in the past year – and two-thirds say they shop via social media.
For MLM companies, convenience is built into integrated MLM software platforms that enable companies to link their eCommerce sites to both their pre-sale marketing efforts and their back-end operations. That translates into convenient online shopping and purchase experiences for customers and the ability for reps to connect with customers on social media and bring them back to their specific URL to shop.
3. Enhance search-ability.
Customers are savvy searchers. They expect to be able to find what they’re looking for within a few clicks. And, if they’re not quite sure what they want, they value functionality that helps them browse by narrowing their search with filters by price, color, sizes, or customer reviews.
Leverage your MLM software to enhance search capabilities by grouping products into categories and consider creating category-specific landing pages to further highlight a product through images and descriptions. Exceed expectations by building in tags that alert customers to best-selling items, limited availability, or discounts.
4. Deliver shopping cart ease.
Ease is essential as customers choose items to purchase and continue to shop. Making sure that customers can easily add – and delete – items to their shopping cart as they browse creates a differentiated experience that drives sales. Enable the customer to see what’s in their cart as they shop rather than taking them out of browsing mode if they want to check their total or make a change.
In addition, look for MLM software that gives you options to support shopping by providing “you might also like” suggestions based on the products chosen and offering autoship so that customers can opt into automatic recurring purchases of their favorite items. Even when shoppers decide not to make a purchase, make it easy for them to create a “wish list” for future visits.
5. Streamline the checkout process.
The checkout process can make or break a shopper’s eCommerce experience. One in four online shoppers reports they abandon their shopping cart when the checkout experience is too complicated or takes too much time.
Keep the process simple by capturing just the information that’s needed. Too many required fill-in fields can prompt shoppers to click away to another site. A best practice is to clearly show customers how many steps there are in the checkout process so they know what to expect and how many steps are left. When customers can see their progress, they’re more likely to complete the purchase.
Providing a range of payment options is also key. Today’s shoppers expect to use their preferred payment method, including credit, debit, mobile, contactless, and digital wallet payments. And they expect MLM companies to keep the data provided at checkout secure. MLM companies must carefully vet and select their payment processing provider to ensure they can provide the highest levels of security and comply with the latest payment security standards. Look for experienced payment processing partners with experience in the direct selling industry and the ability to integrate seamlessly with your MLM software.
6. Provide plenty of visuals and videos.
Here’s another old saying that applies to eCommerce expectations. A picture is worth a thousand words. Customers expect to be able to view their potential purchases from several different angles and zoom in for a closer look. Nearly half of consumers cite high-quality product images as one of the top reasons they decide to make an online purchase.
In addition, today’s shoppers place a high value on videos that allow them to see the product in action. In fact, 60 percent of customers will watch a video before reading any supporting text about a product, and when videos are featured, shoppers spend more time and click on more pages within the site. As a result, when consumers view a video showcasing a product, they are up to 85% more likely to purchase it, and 45 percent say they’re more likely to return to eCommerce sites that provide helpful product videos.
7. Emphasize product quality.
While high-quality visuals are important, shoppers also want the ability to dive into product detail as part of their decision-making process. Nearly one-third say not having enough information available is the main reason they decide against buying a product online.
MLM companies can gain an eCommerce advantage by taking the opportunity to thoughtfully describe their high-quality products, provide detailed specifications, and answer frequently asked customer questions. The text should be presented in a user-friendly way so that visitors find it easy to find the information they’re looking for and click into additional details. Focus on developing text and visuals that work together to showcase the product. More than half of consumers say they are more likely to make a purchase when they have access to relevant text, images, and videos.
8. Share customer reviews.
In a virtual shopping environment, reviews and recommendations from other customers carry weight. Formally known as social proof, customer reviews provide authentic third-party endorsements that people use to judge whether purchasing a product or service is worthwhile. Customer reviews and ratings are trusted 12 times more than information and marketing shared by the company or a sales representative.
When evaluating MLM software capabilities, look for replicated website functionality that enables customers to submit product reviews and make it an easy and automatic part of your post-sale process. Plus, you shouldn’t have to worry about negative reviews going viral before you have a chance to address them. The best MLM software solutions provide the ability for MLM companies to review, approve, and add reviews to the site.
9. Show your brand personality.
One of the best ways to stand out among the many eCommerce options available is to let your MLM brand’s personality shine through. For MLM companies, brand perception is created through each customer interaction with the company and its MLM sales representatives, eCommerce experience, and products.
Establishing a trusted, recognizable brand is an extremely valuable asset for a direct selling company. Powerful MLM brands deliver messages that are consistent in both tone and look and feel. Taking a strategic approach to determining the core attributes of your brand’s personality and how it’s delivered through online experiences, interactions with sales representatives, and marketing messages are vital. Positive brand perceptions produce increased awareness, preference, and loyalty among customers. When companies consistently present their brand, they achieve an average 33 percent increase in revenue.
10. Connect with customers.
MLM representatives – and companies – succeed when they’re able to create authentic, long-term relationships with customers. Today, social media is an important element of connecting with existing – and potential – customers. Social media can also provide an effective vehicle for driving MLM sales.
Engaging customers on social media is no longer a “nice-to-have” component of direct selling models. Today’s consumers expect the companies they buy from to have a presence on social media. Create customer profiles that go beyond basic demographics to include psychographic details about preferences, expectations, and social media usage.
Then, create easily shareable content that MLM representatives can use as part of their customer outreach strategies. Providing a library of messages – including videos – makes it easy for representatives to communicate regularly with their customer networks and maintains brand consistency at the same time. Across all posts, make sure to build in the ability for customers to click through directly to the representative’s specific shopping page.
11. Reward loyalty.
Online shopping combined with social media engagement offers a perfect opportunity for MLM companies to strengthen and reward customer loyalty. Rewarding customers for the behaviors you want to see more of, such as social media posts, referrals, repeat purchases, and autoship purchases, helps increase loyalty. The rewards can be discounts on future purchases, exclusive access or previews, or free shipping.
Customer loyalty impacts the bottom line. Among customers with high brand loyalty, nearly nine in ten recommend it to their friends and family. MLM companies also have an extra incentive for enhancing customer loyalty. In addition to attracting new customers, reward programs can prompt long-term customers to enroll as sales representatives.
ByDesign Technologies has 25+ years of experience in providing MLM companies with the industry experience, cutting-edge software solutions, and trusted partnerships they need to meet and exceed customer expectations. Visit ByDesign.com to learn more or contact us to schedule a consultation.