Our customer’s journey to selling online

By Boobesh Ramalingam

Local businesses build ecommerce sites and never use it. Turns out, its 2 main objectives — gaining credibility with customers and processing online orders — are better served by other tools.

Whenever we ask a local business if they have an ecommerce site, their answer is always yes. However, they don’t use it to take online orders. So, why did they create an ecommerce site in the first place? If it doesn’t work for them, what are the alternatives?

Gain credibility with customers

Unlike a local shop, an ecommerce site can sell to everyone around the world 24/7. That’s why shop owners create a website. But, their strength is their product and fans in their neighborhood, not technology or website design. When they don’t recognize it, they end up in this long winded journey:

Building an eCommerce site:

Shop owners spend a lot of time and money designing the website to make it look great. They think it will improve credibility and build trust with new customers who visit their website. While this is true, the biggest problem is getting new customers to their website. It takes 10x more time and money than designing a great website.

Listing on Amazon:

When ecommerce sites don't work, shop owners list their products on Amazon. They hope it will give them new customers. While it can get them sales, they cannot convert them into loyal customers and build a large customer base. Amazon never shares any customer information and it also prevents one-on-one communication. It's like taking a drug - once addicted you can't quit Amazon.

Creating fanbase on Instagram:

The best compromise to get credibility without being imprisoned by Amazon is to create a fan page on Instagram. Local shops can get existing customers to like, share and write reviews. This can get credibility among customers’ friends on Instagram and facebook. It also plays to their strength i.e. product that customers love instead of their weakness i.e. tech/design of ecommerce site.

Processing online orders

Instagram usually works great for credibility, but when it comes to taking online orders, DMs (Instagram Direct Messenger) doesn't work well. We often see businesses take one of these journeys to establish their ordering process:

Google Forms Journey:

Shop owners create an order form using Google Forms and add this form link on their Instagram page to take online orders from their customers. While Google Forms is simple and easy to use, it does not support calculations. When a customer fills the form and submits it, the shop owner has to manually calculate the amount and then send a message to the customer to collect payments. It becomes tedious to manage online orders with just Google Forms.

Shop owners use Neartail to add calculations in their order form so that customers can see a summary of their order along with the order amount before they submit it. They can also enable payments in their order form to further streamline their ordering process.

WhatsApp Journey:

Shop owners use WhatsApp to run their business. When a customer wants to place an order, they just send a WhatsApp message with the list of items they need. Older customers also tend to write their shopping list on paper, take a photo of this shopping list and send this on WhatsApp to the shop owner. While WhatsApp is convenient for both the customers and show owners to communicate, it is very difficult for the shop owners to track and manage their orders. They have to manually create a sheet with the order details and update it every time.

Shop owners use WhatsTarget to create an order form and link it with their WhatsApp number. They share this form link with their customers on WhatsApp to take online orders. Customers can click on this link to open the form, add products to cart and then place their order. When they submit the form, the order summary is sent as a WhatsApp message to the shop owner. Now, shop owners can continue to use WhatsApp to communicate with their customers and see all their orders in one place, manage them easily using WhatsTarget.

The road ahead

At the start of the pandemic in 2020, we created a Google Forms add-on that enabled shop owners to calculate the order amount in their google form. Since then, we had the opportunity to speak with hundreds of our customers to understand their needs better and built our own form builder to create order forms. You can read more about it here.

At Neartail, we help food businesses connect directly with their customers, bypassing the need for delivery apps. We empower them to take control of their delivery and customer service, ensuring better quality and profitability.