You might already have a brick and mortar store or you might be a completely new business but either way launching an eCommerce site can come with its own pitfalls.
An online store is cheaper to run than ever, with more platforms available, less overheads than an actual store and the fact that you can, if you choose, sell to anywhere in the world which means your potential customer base is huge!
While all that sounds great an eCommerce site is still a huge commitment. It takes time to get the website right, spread the word and get visitors converted into paying customers.
Despite all the stories you read online success is rarely achieved overnight. Launching and running an online store is an involved process that takes months to research and launch (or at least it should do) and usually years to build into a significant and sustainable income.
The most important advice to take on board though is you need to stop, take your time and plan properly. You never get a second chance to make a first impression so getting things right from the outset is key to any business but especially one which is run in the unforgiving world of online.
These simple five simple steps should make your life easier, along with our bespoke ONESHOP solution, which helps our clients eCommerce stores consistently achieve 6% and above conversion rates, putting their online shops in the top 10% of sites worldwide for conversion performance.
You need to have monitoring in place from day one so you can track your site traffic and conversions from the day you launch your eCommerce site.
There are all sorts of software out there, offering the world on a plate, but the best option is still Google Analytics and what’s even better is the fact that it’s free. All you need to do is add some code into your website and then log into your analytics dashboard and the hard work is done for you and report delivered in the format you want. But only you can act on the information, so take time every week (at first) and every month to analyse your visitors and how you can improve their experience.
So many eCommerce sites launch without the functionality to capture data from their visitors, which is essential, especially when you consider that it takes nine visits before a consumer will make their first purchase.
The idea of offering visitors a percentage off their first purchase if they sign up to your newsletter is an easy way to capture data, you can also offer discounts for birthdays and anniversaries as long as you capture the data.
Getting the sign-ups early means you have a database to market too straight away and if you’re organised you can even do this pre-launch to create a buzz around your launch.
You just need to decide how you’re going to do it and what platform you will use to send your newsletter through. There are several options out there and all offer free options for you to try, to make sure you get the right one and they are all designed to grow with your list.
MailChimp, Aweber and Zoho are just three of the most popular options on the market and all are compatible with various website platforms.
Once you have your lists set up, it’s essential to use them. So create your template ready and have a plan for your e-marketing. It’s important to send them out regularly to grow brand awareness but there’s a fine line between staying in touch and annoying your customers. So always make sure you have something to say and give the recipients a reason for wanting to open your emails.
All e-mail marketing platforms also offer analytics, so you can see which work best, how many people are opening them and then what they do next.
Be seen everywhere
A social media presence is essential if you’re running an eCommerce store. They allow you to show off your products, announce new launches and share feedback. You can even allow people to buy direct from some of your social media profiles.
Accounts can also be used before your online store launches to help create a buzz, grow a tribe and get essential customer feedback.
It takes 6 to 8 touches to generate a viable sales lead – but a touch can cover everything from a social media post, an advert seen, an e-mail received, blog read or even word of mouth, so being everywhere is essential.
Online stats from Hubspot
84% of buyers now kick off their buying process with a referral.
Nine in 10 buying decisions are made with peer recommendations.
92% of buyers trust referrals from people they know.
After a positive experience, 83% of customers would be happy to provide a referral. But salespeople aren’t asking — just 29% of customers end up giving a referral.
Understand your processes
Setting up an eCommerce website is one thing but understanding the customer journey and entire shopping process is another. But it is absolutely essential if you are to be successful after all one bad experience can prove costly.
There are so many processes to consider from shipping to order updates and delivery to how to complete a return.
You need to have a plan for every eventuality and have your processes and policies in place from day one so everything is ready for launch.
Shipping is essential for any eCommerce business and with the growth of sites offering subscriptions, such as Amazon and ASOS, people are more reluctant now than ever before to pay regular delivery charges. In fact, it is among the biggest reasons for people abandoning baskets, when they discover unacceptable shipping charges.
Unfortunately, the charges are unavoidable but how you deal with them can make or break a business. Some use the charges as another way to make money, which won’t keep customers for long, while others absorb some of the costs themselves just to increase the chance of conversion, but this has to be sustainable.
Flat rate shipping charges are a way to encourage conversions, so people aren’t penalised the more they buy while offering free delivery for purchases over a certain amount can help increase the basket value. This will incur some cost for the business so it’s something you need to consider right at the beginning.
Stats from Adweek
69% avoid purchasing because they believe returning a product would be a complicated process
61% percent of shoppers would leave a website if it didn’t have free shipping
51% would abandon a purchase if shipping options weren’t fast enough
The most important thing is to be clear about your charges. There’s nothing worse than only discovering the cost of P+P at the final step of the buying process.
You need to make conduct a range of shopping experiences to check everything works, so get your family and friends to try the site for you and make sure you listen to the feedback and act on any changes which are required.
When planning your launch it is absolutely essential to be realistic. Things take time and if you’re honest with yourself they always take longer than you think or hope.
It’s always better to have time on your hands to hone your message, work on your strategy and test your website, rather than be working day and night to get things ready for launch.
If you are starting a new business from scratch then writing a business plan and a digital strategy are both key to any success.
You also need a launch plan. There’s no point sitting waiting for the website to launch and then hoping people find your website and the sales come in. That’s where starting your social media channels early and creating a following will help, as will the newsletter sign-ups.
It is essential you keep in contact with your web developers so you know where they are up to, make sure things are still on track and deadlines are being met – that way you can make sure you have time and resource ready to test each element of the site when required.
It’s not just about checking the processes work though. It’s about the written content – from the grammar and spelling to the actual wording, the images (and alt tags), working links and the overall look and feel of the site.
After all 75% of people judge the credibility of a company based on the design of their website.
As online shopping continues to grow so does the need for eCommerce sites despite the competition being rife. Because of this though it’s more important than ever to get things right. Gone are the days of launching, making an immediate impact and a quick buck instead it’s all about sustainability, quality and value for money.