eCommerce Services - 7 Must Have Characteristics

eCommerce Services

Nowadays as e-commerce marketing becomes more and more competitive as merchants use all opportunities to attract clients. One of the ways to stand out among competitors is offering some additional service with the products in your store. Service is quite different from a physical product and its features can greatly influence consumers’ behavior.

Understanding Ecommerce Services

There are online stores that specialize in services only. As a Development company for Magento ®, we have had the experience of creating Magento ® online stores for a clearing company, a beauty salon, a training center, etc. But most of the online stores deal with physical products which often go with some services, optional or included. Here are some types of services that can be used in online stores:

  • A service which adds value to the main physical product: delivery, assembly, installation, consultation
  • Warranty service
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Repair service
  • Packaging services, decoration
  • Product replacement service: after a certain period of time the old product is replaced with a new one.

So, services can be very different, but there are significant characteristics which should be taken into account by merchants.

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Characteristics of eCommerce Services

Impalpability and Perishability

Service is intangible. It is a process which can involve equipment, machines, materials, people, and other responsibilities. You can see the steps of this process as well as the final result, but the service itself is impalpable. Differently, from physical products, you can’t keep or collect services, and this fact strongly influences store sales.

For example, if you have been studying a foreign language in a training center and have stopped this process for a few months, most probably you will need to start it over again. You can buy skis and skates in summer and keep them till winter, but you can’t cut your hair in advance.

Quality of eCommerce Services can be Evaluated after It has been Provided

This feature follows from the impalpability of service. You can touch goods like shoes, clothes or any physical products and test them before purchase. Quality of service can only be assessed at the end of the full process.

For instance, the quality of treatment can be evaluated when it is finished as well as the quality of education or training that a program provides. Only when your vacation is over are you able to evaluate the quality of your traveling service.

So, before a service is purchased there are promises about its quality made by a seller, and there are consumers’ expectations of the kind of service they would like to get. If these expectations are too high from the beginning, the consumer would hardly be satisfied and will perceive the service as a poor one. This gap between expectation and perception exists because service is impalpable and can only be evaluated after it has been provided.

Services In eCommerce

Service is inseparable from producer

In order to provide eCommerce services, the producer should usually meet the customer.

The Dentist can treat the teeth only if the patient comes to him and the car can be repaired if it is delivered to a service station. In other words, production and consumption of service are simultaneous. The technical progress has opened so many new opportunities in the sphere of services that some services can be obtained remotely, without a personal meeting.

For example, you can be trained or get an education on Skype. A lot of banking services are available online so that customers do not have to go to the bank.

It is difficult to standardize

In most cases, quality of service greatly depends on the human factor that is why it is so difficult to standardize it.

For example, if a logistics company has delivered a package in time, there is no guarantee that they will always be so accurate, as there are a lot of factors that can influence their operation. When the process is complicated, deviations from the standards take place from time to time.

Quality of service depends on the producer

It is not necessary to give a lot of examples here. People always try to choose the best coaches, trainers, travel agencies, doctors, hairdressers, etc. who are supposed to be professionals in their businesses.

For e-commerce, it is important to remember that even if the online store offers high-quality products, the buyer will probably not be satisfied if their additional services (e. g. shipping) is inappropriate. The main product and the additional services are often perceived as a whole. And if the delivery service is provided by another company, the customer’s impression of the online store will be unpleasant.

Visual confirmation of quality of service

If your service is really good, all elements of your online store should confirm this fact. The customer will never buy an expensive service on the site that looks bad, has bugs, broken features or irrelevant information. If you want to sell expensive and professional services, your online store must look expensive and professional.

But it is not enough.

The online store reputation and the information about it on other online resources greatly influence consumers’ behavior and purchase decisions. Your customers can’t check the quality of service in advance.  In other words, when they buy your service they actually buy your promises what the service will be like because, as it was mentioned above, quality of services can be evaluated after they have been provided.

If your customer receives a bad physical product from the online store, they can evaluate the quality after delivery or some days later, and return it.

With eCommerce services, this approach does not work. In most cases, it is very difficult to get money back that is why people try to confirm the quality in advance by analyzing information about the company on different websites, reading reviews, paying attention to the certificates that prove the skills and experience of the company who produces the service.

For example, if you need to book a room in a hotel. Can you fully trust the reviews on the hotel’s website? Most probably, bad feedback was deleted, so you will need some more real evidence in order to be confident in the quality of their service.

E commerce ServiceAn example of service quality confirmation.

Booking.com is an independent platform which allows people to book accommodations online and provides a lot of support services, as well. It is a great example of an online service company. It has a good reputation and high rating which is not so easy to get. Hotel level and reviews on this independent resource give you more accurate information to evaluate hotel service you are going to buy.

Visualization

Because the service is impalpable, it is not so easy to visualize. You can use text only and describe what your service includes in detail, but a right picture can replace 1,000 words, so the images work more efficiently.

What can be recommended here?

Images demonstrating production or professional equipment involved in the service can help to evaluate the advantages of the company.  Emotional pictures of the people who are satisfied with the service can be effective if they are supported by other elements which prove the service quality.