Ecommerce for Beginners

When you’re beginning to think about setting up an ecommerce business, there are three main elements that must be addressed to be successful. I use the word business because there is a lot more to an on line shop than just a website.

The first and most obvious element is, of course, the site itself. The landing page is the most important. It’s the one your customers are going to judge you by. Remember the old saying “You only get one chance to make a good first impression.”?  But it’s not only for customers. You can improve your Google Quality Score and lower your AdRank and advertising costs also.

The site itself needs to be well designed, easy on the eye and, most importantly, easy to navigate. If it’s not, the user will just go elsewhere, no matter how appealing your products. If you want to adopt the “pile it high and sell it cheap” approach, the look and feel of the site may not matter very much. But the higher up the food chain you go the more good design matters. Think about shopping in a traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ shop. The shops that do well have a number of elements in common – they’re well laid out, pleasant to be in, have their stock displayed well. Other things such as value for money matter as well. The principles that make regular shops successful are the same ones that will help an on-line business to succeed.

While it’s worth putting a lot of time and effort (to say nothing about money) into getting the site designed, it’s important not to put all your eggs into one basket (even an on-line one). If the site is to be successful, it goes without saying that you need to first of all get people to your site. These days, while having a catchy domain name is an advantage, most people will find your site using search engines and, like it or not, that means Google. A lot of your time should be devoted to the black arts of Search engine Optimisation or SEO. Having a lovely shop is a waste if you don’t invest in SEO. It’s worth getting a consultant who specialises in SEO (there are lots of them) to help get (and keep) your site at the top of the rankings. You can bet that your competitors will.

One of the biggest factors in page ranking is links to your site. Using the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest etc. will help generate these links. Be prepared to put a lot of time into social media as it’s probably one of the most effective drivers of traffic to a site.

Probably the most overlooked aspect of ecommerce is order fulfilment – getting the product to the purchaser. Unless your product is digital and can be downloaded you’re going to have to plan carefully how to do this. Think about the sites you have bought things from. What impressed you most about them and would make you return to them? Was it the speedy delivery? Was the packaging? Was there a personal note from the seller? Now think of the things that you weren’t happy with. The wrong product/size/colour. Slow delivery.

With the best sites, a lot (and I mean a LOT) of planning goes into this end of the business. There needs to be a system in place. While it may be easy to pick, pack and despatch one or two orders a day, what happens if you have a hundred or even a thousand orders a day (and if you don’t believe you’ll get to that point why are you even thinking about setting up an on-line shop?). If your shop is successful and you aren’t prepared, you’ll be swamped and the chances are your customers won’t return. The old adage about keeping a customer being easier that gaining new ones still holds true.

Some of the things that need to be addressed are:

  • Storage (if you have a physical shop, this shouldn’t be an issue)
  • Wrapping/packaging – you’ll need space and all the materials to do this. Packaging matters. Look at the effort physical shops put into their packaging.
  • Shipping (Post Office or Courier) sometimes using the postal service is best, sometimes a courier company. Unless you’re using a courier service, you’ll generally have to bring the items to the post office with all the attendant hassles this brings (parking etc.)
  • Shipping Rates (you need to know the rates so you don’t end up subsidising your customers shipping charges).

If you want to find out more contact me for a free consultation.