Digital business is about speed, convenience, cost effective buying, selling and marketing, and the luxury of target reach far beyond your locality.
Online stores are the Usain Bolt of the retail world; an undeniable force attractive to the captive buying audience, and everyone who has something to sell. According to Forbes, a projected haul of over $2 trillion is expected in 2017. Everyone wants a piece of this really BIG pie.
Whether you’re an eBay hobbyist, existing eCommerce giant, or a bricks-and-mortar retail store looking to broaden your market, and keep up in the digital era, eCommerce is a powerful online asset that needs to be carefully created, thoughtfully marketed and consistently refined.
In this competitive arena, a killer eCommerce site encompasses all the elements of the ultimate buyer experience. The user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) must be impeccably branded, seamless and beautiful. The content should be irresistible, the management systems highly efficient, and the marketing, innovative.
You’ve got incredible products, entrepreneurial flair, and the will to succeed…where to from here?
Choose the perfect eCommerce platform
Typically one of your most important steps is overflowing with competitive platform choices. You would have already heard of, and probably researched the big players like BigCommerce, Shopify and Magento. Here are a few not-so-mainstream platforms making impressive digital waves.
Join brands such as Telstra and Spotlight in reaching over $2 billion in sales through the platform.
neto promote an all-in-one retail space, sell online, in store and on marketplaces, manage your inventory and customers, pick, pack and ship your orders and analyse detailed reporting on the success of your store.
As an Australian eCommerce player, neto understand Australian business and have a very informative blog with tips for anything from tax queries to streamlining stocktake. Tiered pricing options tailor for small to medium stores, right up to enterprise eCommerce. neto offer a free trial, so you can’t lose.
While lesser known, Big Cartel has been around for over a decade perfecting their tools and resources. Their platform is geared towards artists, with a pool of over 1million makers, designers, musicians and creatives, who have built unique online stores.
Real time stats, SEO, order management and promotional tools allow users to get a small shop up and running with minimal stress. Plans range from a free account for up to five products and limited features, to $29.00 (US) for up to 300 products.
“WeCommerce is better than eCommerce,” is their slogan. Thumbs up from us for that alone! With over 270,000 stores running PrestaShop worldwide, they’re fast becoming a widely used program. Among the 500+ built-in features are:
- Hundreds of mobile responsive store templates
- Over 50 payment solutions and gateways
- Unlimited listings
- Inventory management features such as inventory tracking and restocking alerts
- SEO features
- Translation into 70 languages and the ability to accept multiple currencies
As an open source shopping cart, PrestaShop is free to download and use; but that doesn’t eliminate expenses. You will need hosting, and if you’re not tech savvy, you’ll likely need to purchase integration modules. If you’re in a position to enlist a developer to help you with the set-up, it is advised.
While most PrestaShop users are happy campers, many recommend the platform is more suitable for medium to large businesses.
A winning design for a digital store is as much about leading the consumer to the checkout effortlessly, as it is about being beautiful. Savvy digital shoppers will shop around. If you’re lucky enough that they’ve found you among the millions of competitor sites, all you need to do is make them fall in love with YOU at first site.
Prospects need to drool over your site speed, brand, design, presentation, navigation, usability, products, product descriptions, prices, checkout process, shipping, payment options and site security; largely within about three seconds. That’s about it. Isn’t that great! Who knew it was so easy.
# 1 eCommerce essential: Site speed.
According to kissmetrics 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less. 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load, and a one-second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.
# 2 eCommerce essential: Mobile responsive.
A 2015 ReadyCloud report revealed that a staggering 44% of digital retail minutes were spent using a smartphone, while 11% were spent using a tablet and just $45% on a desktop device. We can’t wait to see the stats for 2017.
It is tempting to use the easy peasy drag and drop DIY templates featured in many of the big platforms; but keep in mind thousands of other people are using the same templates. To stand out in the digital marketplace, your brand should be instantly recognisable, memorable and unique. Your shop must sell itself first and foremost, before it can successfully sell your products.
Product organisation and Content
Easy to find products, logical titles and descriptions, organised in a way that makes sense. People will not scroll for hours (or even minutes) to find what they’re looking for. They will not stick around if they perform an in-store search and come up with nada. If they follow an ad on Social Media to your site for a particular product, they MUST land straight on that product.
Your items need to pop on the page in order to pop out into the hands of your consumers. The best digital stores achieve this not only through professional photography and promotional models; but also with persuasive content, and descriptions that tug on your buyers “I just gotta have it” emotional responses.
Importance of inventory and add ons
Once you’ve nailed the design and buyers are cyber-tripping over each other to purchase your wares, it’s imperative that you have the systems in place to keep on top of your inventory.
Nothing quite puts a dampener on a digital purchase experience like getting to the check out only to find the item is out of stock. If you’re lucky, your eCommerce platform may include inventory management systems; but if not, there will be several add ons and integrations that can help you keep on top of your stock synchronicity.
Even when you’re starting out small, having these systems in place will help you scale your business more easily in the future and reduce the risk of costly (and embarrassing) errors, and time spent on administration duties.
Streamlining your stock control systems, and implementing the right inventory management platforms will also save you a world of pain when it comes to your EOFY stocktake.
Plugins and trackers
When you’re looking for something specific for your site, “there’s a plugin for that.”
Some platforms are limited in the plugins that are available, so give careful consideration to what you may need, prior to choosing your platform. Perhaps you want to integrate a membership feature. Will you have an affiliate or rewards system in your store? Do you want to offer coupons? Will your store have a live chat feature? The possibilities are endless.
Tracking user behaviour on your site is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal. Google analytics, platform tracking features, and plugins, will provide you with valuable data and insight into how your site is being received. It’s like a mini customer survey with every visit. Are consumers clicking away from your landing page in milliseconds or are they happily browsing? Does one ‘buy now’ button perform better than another? Are customers getting to the checkout stage, then dumping their cart and running for the hills? Why?
Tracking data allows you to make improvements where necessary and nurture what is performing well. Split-testing your design and tweaking your site may seem tedious; but it will pay off in the long term.
You’ve set up shop and you’re ready to make your millions. It’s time to get marketing.
Like all entrepreneurial ventures, you may experience many hurdles, challenges and probably failures. It’s important to keep adapting to your targets needs and trying new things. Have fun with your digital store. Unlike a bricks and mortar you can revamp your décor, location and strategies with minimal outlay. If the products are right, and you’re passionate and persistent, there’s plenty of room and moolah for everyone in the digital marketplace.
Anchor digital are a crew of strategists, creatives, coders, account managers and techs. We are a digital agency powered by your business goals.
With Anchor in your corner you can expect tailored expertise and measurable results. Our business model is simple: Consult, Create, Convert.
Through close collaboration, accountability and total transparency, Anchor combine the forces that set your digital brand sailing. From the ground up, we’re your partners in the climb.