Over the last several weeks we have all undergone changes in the way e go about our daily lives. For the average retail store those challenges are more pronounced as they were forced to temporarily close.
During this time, the rise of innovation has been able to propel us into a new wave of internet and commerce. Large companies like TJX; the owners of Marshalls, Home Sense, and Winners, have started selling gift cards online, this ensures they have income while they can’t sell products in store. Grocery and hardware stores are investing in their curbside pickup, click and collect and delivery options. Forcing companies online has proven to be beneficial for some. GameStop; EBGames in Canada, and Gap inc. are re-evaluating the need for brick and mortar stores, they will be closing locations and moving most of their sales online.
On a smaller scale some of our local clients selling anything from pool chemicals to landscaping supplies have adapted and moved their store online. Companies large and small have been making the shift towards e-commerce so they can bridge the gap in sales while their retail stores were temporarily closed.
Is e-commerce something you have been considering for a while? We have compiled a list of 10 things to consider when building out your e-commerce. Read on to learn more. Check out our T5 video where we highlight these considerations.
Consideration 1: How is Your Website Built?
A question you will need to consider is, is your current site built in a way to support an ecommerce platform? Or will you need to build out a separate shop? Each of these come with a different set of challenges and timelines.
If you are currently in the process of building a new website, but do not know if you would like to start an ecommerce store, consider building your website on a platform that can support ecommerce in the future. When you decide to move forward with ecommerce you can transition towards an ecommerce website without the need for a new build.
Consideration 2: Product Inventory Master Sheet
In order to easily assess your product inventory a master sheet of all your products should be created. This master list should have all your products with their SKU’s. High resolution professional images should be taken of all your products and the different options available of each product.
This will easily allow you to assess your products, which ones can be easily sold online, and which ones may require more work to set up for better user experience.
Consideration 3: Details That Should Be Found on The Product Master Sheet
In your product master sheet you should also have all the product details such as; sizes, specs, materials, colours, dimensions, weight and all options available for each product. You should have images of each colour or option available, especially if they are visibly different.
The dimensions and weight of each product will be need for the shipping process. Depending on the size and weight of the product you may need to consider special shipping/delivery options to accommodate the product.
Gathering all of this information is time consuming, but in doing so you will have a comprehensive product master list which will make adding products and their details to your website easier. These pictures and details also help the user make an informed decision, enhancing their user experience.
Consideration 4: Payment Gateways
Once you know what products are available to sell, you will have to consider your payment gateway. Simply, a payment gateway allows you to accept credit card payments by transferring money from your customers bank accounts into your merchant (business bank) account. Keep in mind, this is not a free service and the middleman needs to get paid.
Good news, if you already accept credit cards in store you already have a payment gateway. While online terms can be different than the instore terms, generally, there are 2 main fee structures. Flat monthly fee, meaning you will pay for the gateway service regardless of the number or value of entries or a percentage fee, meaning the gateway will take a cut; usually a certain percent, of each sale. You will want to consider each fee structure based on your product pricing and your estimated number of online transactions each month to figure out which one makes sense for you.
Consideration 5: Fulfillment and Shipping
Fulfillment and Shipment simply put is how are you going to get purchases to your customers. This includes gathering the products, packaging them properly and getting them delivered to your customers in a timely and cost-effective manner.
As stated, fulfillment is how the products will be gathered and packaged for delivery. Will you have staff available to prepare the orders for shipping or pick up. Will you require other materials such as boxes bags, tape or labels? How will you keep track of orders and if they have been prepared?
Once the order has been packaged how will it be delivered to the customer. If you are offering delivery you will want to consider some third-party shippers, it may be Canada post, UPS or another shipping company. You may also consider using a larger shipping organizer that may encompass multiple shipping companies. Another option available is to deliver the products yourself. This will require you to hire drivers, possibly purchase trucks and it would also require extra coding. Finally, a simple solution is in-store or curbside pickup.
Though instore or curbside pickup is easier there are still logistical aspects to consider. If they are coming to pick up, is there going to be a designated area for pick up, what will the customer need in order to pick it up? Answering these questions will help you streamline the traffic in store by tracking who is coming in for pick up or to shop instore.
Consideration 6: Management of Inventory
You are set up to get orders, but how will you be managing inventory? Will you instore and online inventory be the same or different? If they are the same, they must be connected dynamically so you can easily keep track of what your instore and online sales are.
What happens when a product is out of stock, will it automatically show on up on the website? What steps need to be taken to accurately portray how much product is left. This would change if your instore and online inventory are the same. These are important things to consider when thinking about products and how to manage your inventory.
Correctly managing your inventory ensures that you have an up to date count on products, and you can continuously order products in a timely manner to fulfill your customers needs.
Consideration 7: Coupons and Promotions
When setting up your e-commerce, are there coupons or promotions that you would like to offer? You will have to determine any limits to the quantity or minimum spend on the coupon or promotion prior to promoting the coupon or promotion.
These offers can help bring customers to your site and entice them to purchase products online.
Consideration 8: Return Policies and Refunds
Like any retail store you likely have a refund/return policy. The same will have to apply to your online store. Some things to consider are, what will your refund/return policy be? Will this policy be different than your instore policy?
One major question to consider is how will the return be facilitated? You will need to consider how customers will return the unwanted product, will it be to the store or will they have to mail it back? Who would cover the return delivery charge?
Consideration 9: Store Platform
You know how your website is built, you have all your products and you have set up payment, now you need to consider which platform you should build your ecommerce site on. There are many options, to name a few you can use Shopify, WooCommerce, Big Commerce and Magento. There are several factors that will need to be considered when choosing a platform such as; customizations, ease of use, features, payment options, integrations, design and support.
Determine which platform works for you and your customer base. Can your customers easily navigate the website, are you able to add additional plug-ins as necessary, when you determine which one works best for your ecommerce site you now need to consider how the rest of your website will look. As a digital marketing company, we know it is very important to have additional content (non-ecommerce) on the site. This is essential for optimization and ranking.
Consideration 10: User Experience
The final and arguably the most important consideration is user experience. User experience comes into play throughout the entire build of your e-commerce website. From choosing the best platform, the correct payment gateway, products that are correctly labeled, available, packaged and delivered everything must be done so potential customers make a purchase and want to continue to make purchases.
A couple of questions to consider are how easy it for users to know what you offer, how easy is it to shop for products and find exactly what they are looking for. Additionally, the checkout process needs to be smooth and secure. The last thing you want is to lose a customer because they are confused or tired of your site.
One additional quick note is that e-commerce is not just for retailers, if you offer a service, you can begin taking payments online to make your offerings more valuable.
How to Market Your E-Commerce Website
Getting your e-commerce site up and running is only the start of the battle. Now you need to get users to your website. Here are some ways you can marketing you ecommerce.
Google Paid Ads
Online products open you up to a whole new word of effectiveness with paid ads. Shopping ads on Google search results, video ads and retargeting.
You can include shopping ads on your Google search results, ads can be a simple image, video or a retargeting ad.
What is a retargeting ad? Imagine you are considering buying a new pair of sneakers. After browsing different sites for sneakers, you start to notice ads for these shoes on other sites following you around tempting you to eventually make that purchase. That is retargeting and while it may seem a little invasive it is extremely effective. Some ecommerce retail businesses see an average of 128% increase in conversions with retargeting. This does vary by industry but is an easy way to target your products to potential customers.
Another useful advertising tool is social media. Consider yourself, how many times have you seen an ad for a product and decided to check out the company’s website? 11% of people who see ads for a product on Instagram follow through to a purchase. That’s a huge group you don’t want to miss out on! Social media is not only a great tool to get your ads out there, but it is also an effective tool to inform your followers of product updates and other major news.
Another great method for marketing your e-commerce is using an email campaign. Let your customer database know that you offer e-commerce. Use this same method to inform your customers of new products and promotions. These campaigns can be broad and sent to your whole customer database or you can segment your customers. Segmenting your customers allows you to create email campaigns that specifically target customers based on their interests. This will also provide your customers with relevant information and they will be more likely to click through to your website.
Cart Abandonment Emails
Another important use of emails are cart abandonment emails. A whopping 69% of online carts are abandoned by users, don’t miss your chance to get those users back to your online store to make their purchase. Cart abandonment emails can be triggered when a customers adds something to their and leaves the site without removing that item. The email can simply say “Did you forget something” or can even offer a discount to get them to complete the purchase.
These have proven success. 45% of cart abandonment emails are opened, with 21% of all cart abandonment emails being clicked on which translates in about 50% of those clicks resulting in a purchase.
How to Help with Conversions
There are a few different extras to add to your products to help users make a purchase. Reviews on specific products can make a huge difference. 37% of shoppers rely on reviews from sites when making a purchase decision. Whereas, 63% of consumers find product reviews through a search engine query.
Most importantly, 87% of consumers place as much trust in an online product review as they would word-of-mouth. With the whole world being mostly online, this creates a large opportunity.
Get your happy customers to right reviews, you would be surprised how many happy customers want to provide a positive review.
Having a variety of mediums to present and inform customer of your product is an added benefit that will help convert customers. These different mediums can include a product video of the product in use and technical sheets or guides if applicable. You want to provide as much valuable information to the customer so they can easily make a decision.
How to Track Your Performance
Having the ability to track your performance is imperative to your success. If you can correctly identify how your customers are interacting with your site, you can accurately target and advertise to potential customers.
The best way to track performance is to analyze sales and results. You will need to have a proper tracking system in place. This tracking system will identify the channels that lead to customers landing on your page, how well yours ads are performing, and lastly which products are the most popular. Tracking and analyzing sales gives you the information to respond in real time to customers needs and wants.
When beginning this process, think about the full scope of the project. Will you be starting with a limited number of products? Will you want to add more product categories or other delivery options in the future? When you take the time to consider all your present and future plans, you can set up the website correctly so any future changes can be easily made.
If you are thinking about adding ecommerce to your website and you have any questions or would like more information please email [email protected] and we would be happy to help.