We know you’re busy and need to get working on your ecommerce business, so we did all the “must know” reading for you.
Why go online?
– You can reach more customers, and reach them quicker.
– You transcend geographic (and chronological!) limitations.
– It’s a growing market, projections are rosy (more business, and at lower costs)
– Small businesses can compete with large ones.
The planning process
– Does the web make sense for this business?
– What are other companies doing? Do your research and differentiate yourself!
– What type of resources will the business need? Will you work alone? With a team? Hire freelancers?
– Who is your target audience? Identify them as precisely as you can.
– How far will your business cast its net, geographically?
– What about shipping charges?
– What are the elements of the customer service policy?
Design and navigation
– Immediately tell visitors on the site what the company does.
– Get users to the information they want in two clicks.
– show a “link tree” branching from the homepage to the current page.
– Visitors should know where they are within the website at all times.
– Allow visitors to find answers to questions easily.
– Think about making your site accessible to users with disabilities.
– Ensure that the text is written well and spelled correctly.
– Use buzz words sparingly.
– Link to the homepage on every page so that in one click, users can be led there.
– Develop visuals that are useful, not flashy and distracting.
– Useful visuals include illustrations or photos of products, graphics that separate categories of products, or maps with directions.
– Avoid overkill (excessive flash animation, heavy graphics, etc). Serve the sale.
Product Marketing on the website
– Take great pictures. Use a variety of angles and make sure the viewer gets a clear sense of scale.
– Avoid over-describing or over-selling offerings on the site. Everything must serve the sale.
– Offer complementary products or partnerships to bolster a store’s offerings. Businesses that don’t carry a wide variety of products often partner with other merchants to offer complementary items.
Attracting New Customers Online
– SEO Figure out the keywords that your customers use to look for you. Buy appropriate ads.
– Email: Have an opt-in newsletter, and give useful information rather than hard-sell your subscribers.
Editor’s note: There are many other ways to do this, of course! Blog content, social media.
Understanding Technology Needs
– URL. Get a good one and keep page load times as short as possible.
– Shopping Cart. Pick one that works well for your customers.
– Turning shoppers into buyers. Make it as simple and easy as possible for them to give you their money.
Accepting Payments Online
– Processing payments through a merchant account.
– Intergrating online payments service
– Ensuring transaction security
1. Ecommerce transcends “products.”
It’s about services, branding, relationships. You can sell yoga classes and game tickets.
“It all comes down to recreating the in-person sales experience and packing all our values, loves and goofiness into our online presence.” – Dave Radparvar, founder of Holstee, a clothing and accessories company
2. “Embrace the shift.”
“Focus on a manageable number of initiatives in any given time period. It is easy to see the 100 things you could be doing to improve your business. What is hard is picking the five things to tackle first and doing them well.“ – Craig Dalton, DODOcase founder
3. Retain the bargain hunter, but avoid the cheapskate.
“Find your most passionate and dedicated customers and fans and celebrate what they do as much as they celebrate what you do.” – Dave Radparvar
– You MUST learn to use Google Analytics. There is unanimous agreement on this. You’re blind without it. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by how much information these create, so hone in on the important signals.
– ‘Bounce rate’ = interest level of your visitors. A high bounce rate can mean you aren’t attracting the right customers to your site or that you need to make some changes or updates to products or services to make the offering more interesting.
– ‘Conversion rate’ = amount of friction your customer is experiencing. Low conversion rate? Walk through your check-out flow, identify and remove obstructions.
– ‘Average $ per visitor’ = is a helps ballpark figure. It helps you understand how much you can afford to spend on driving a customer to your site and can be useful as a guide to making marketing decisions.
4. Get social.
Nielsen stats: We trust our friends more than other sources. (90% surveyed trust friends, 70% trusted consumer opinions online) Other stats: We buy stuff from brands we follow more than brands we don’t.
You’re disadvantaging yourself if you’re not tapping into referrals and recommendations from friends and family.
“When a referral comes from a trusted source such as a friend or family, you’re way more likely to check it out and potentially purchase it. Before social networks you used to rely on friends recommending products and services by word of mouth. Let’s say you’re in the market for a new pair of shoes and a friend recommends a particular brand or model. When you finally make it to the shoe store, you will be more inclined to search for that brand — if you can remember the name of it. Social networks allow you to do the same, but with a wider reach and instant response.” – Chris Peters, founder of Opena Case
5. Go mobile.
Nielsen stats show that about half of Americans access ecommerce sites on mobile. You’d be crazy to ignore them.
The 10 essential features:
1: Clear logo. So they recognize and remember you.
2: Deals, Freebies, Free Shipping. Everybody loves sales, deals, etc. Read up about their psychological effects, then implement them as appropriate for your brand.
3: Latest news / most popular products. Guide people’s attention so they don’t get overwhelmed by the entire catalogue.
4: Brand Products “have the most eye-catching and interesting offers readily accessible. This trick makes a huge difference for retailers who have a huge product catalog.” Shop by brands (shoes, power tools, beauty products?)
5: Shopping cart, login, search. Especially important for big stores.
6: Payment systems icons Let people know what they can pay with. Warm them up to the idea of paying.
7: Social Media Links. Make sure your social media profiles are active.
8: Phone Numbers & Online Chats. People like being able to talk to other people. This makes them trust you better.
9: Store finder. For offline stores, this makes it easier (and therefore likelier) for your customers to find you and buy from you.
10: Trust Marks. Small images that show a security guarantee. (Editor’s note: I’m not so sure if this really matters to people. Better to have a very professionally designed site, active social media profiles, etc. It’s easy to fake a trust mark.)