View Full Version : Ecommerce sites supported by forums

08-25-2006, 08:53 AM
I just wanted to say I'm slowly venturing into ecommerce and something I didn't realise was the power that a dedicated customer forum can have. I haven't seen or read a lot about it elsewhere either. But I really believe it's noteworthy for anyone either already in ecommerce or those thinking of setting an ecommerce store up.

At the moment, I'm only selling products (~£100/each) through ebay. I use the fact that I have a dedicated customer support forum as a major selling point. It's a place where they can get access to and exchange ideas and tips to get the most out of their purchases. Something that costs so little to do can add huge value your business. Here are some of the advantages (off the top of my head)...

1) The traffic is free, as you include info about the forum along with each purchase.

2) I've found users are usually quite active, so building the forum is relatively pain free. As they've put money into their purchase, the topic is naturally important to them - and they're ready to talk about it! In this respect your ecommerce store actually makes it easier to carry out one of the harder aspects of web publishing - building a strong community. The forum doesn't need to be large anyway. But the forum will grow naturally over time as you sell more products.

3) You're building up a community around a specific niche which is always valuable. If you ever decide to sell your ecommerce business, it should add considerable value to it.

4) It's probably easier to maintain long term customer relationships in a forum environment than it would be otherwise. A lot of store owners are already using newsletter mailing lists. They're great - but obviously not interactive. So a forum is a natural extension of this.

5) Observing posts and user experiences is a great way to discover new directions and opportunities for your ecommerce store. Growth is much easier and made less of a guessing game as you will get first hand knowledge of what your paying customers want and would be willing to pay for.

6) It's much easier to turn customers into repeat customers, as you've built a trusting relationship with your community. They're much more likely to buy from you again as a result. The forum becomes a great platform to inform your customers about new products.

7) Everyone knows how powerful customer testimonials can be. A customer forum is a great way to collect them!

8) It immediately sets you apart from your competition. If your users are enjoying the community - they will want to remain loyal to it, and by extension also remain loyal to your ecommerce store, over and above your competition.

9) Access to a dedicated forum adds real bonus value to your product, and the best thing is it costs you nothing! It can easily be used as a really attractive selling point to help close a sale.

10) There is an element of "peer pressure" that a forum can create. This can be great for your business. For example - someone buys one of your products and posts about how much they're enjoying it. Before long other members own it off the back of his review. Other forum members think, "They all have one, I don't want to be left out of this, so I'm going to get one too!" Etc etc

11) The forum is a great place to create a "buzz" about a new product you're planning on selling. You can have people queuing up to buy it before it even hits your site.


Of course, all this depends on you selling a good product in the first place. There's no value in a community of customers *****ing about terrible products and non existent customer service. ;)

08-25-2006, 12:29 PM
Oh ya sure, I bought a forum to go with my ecommerce site.

08-26-2006, 10:02 AM
Yeah, I forgot to mention that. It's just surprising how little this seems to be exploited and yet it's just such a valuable asset. People are *slowwwwwwwwwly* catching on though.