It can sometimes be difficult to decide when to take the big step into the world of E-commerce.
In this guide we have highlighted some of the key points you will need to cover to ensure your online shop has the very best chance to succeed.
1. Separate any E-commerce specific costs from your website quote
Many of the E-commerce websites that we build for our clients serve multiple requirements. To begin to identify a realistic return on your investment, you first need to get a full breakdown of your quote. In most cases you can simply ask your web developer to isolate those costs for you, however it should be even simpler if you are in a position to upgrade your existing website to have E-commerce functionality. Once you know the cost of this area, you can develop a quick formula based on product/service profit margins and plot the results on a timeline.
Measuring the performance of brochure websites can be tricker as the targets are more fluid in nature.
2. Do you have ample resource to maintain your websites
It is common knowledge that active websites are ranked favourably by google. To get a great return on your investment, we recommend that you allocate a minimum of 1-2 hours towards your website per week (or more if you are in a highly competitive market). Small businesses that have physical shop locations are ideally placed for managing e-commerce websites as you or your staff can update the website during quieter retail hours.
In addition to maintaining your product catalogue, we cannot stress how important it is to post consistent, regular supporting content. This could be in the form of a news or offers section (or better still, a news area that contains regular special offers). Not only can these be posted automatically to your social media accounts, you will also achieve higher rankings on google in the long run.
3. Have you planned out your order pipeline? Can you execute it efficiently?
It is obvious to many successful businesses that customer care is essential to gain repeat business and reduce sales drop-off. With online sales, a consistent and efficient sales management process equates to great customer service. Additionally do you have contingency for when you are on holiday? Do you have a plan to deal with customer returns or complaints?
4. Are you prepared to pay the long game?
It is rare to get a fast return on investment for your website solely through E-commerce sales, especially for a new online presence. A more realistic return is between 2-2.5 years, ensuring you get a very profitable two years before thinking about an upgrade (we recommend 5 years as a sensible average timeframe for each iteration of your website, however there are many factors that can adjust this). If you are upgrading an established website you are far more likely to be able to hit the ground running providing your previous website was suitably optimised and receiving a steady flow of targeted traffic. By carrying out some of the processes outlined in this article you should see a consistent improvement from 6-12 months for upgrades.
There are a number of things you can do to speed up this turnaround and we have highlighted these in other support articles (can be found in the news or support areas):
- Consider ways of driving traffic to the website using free resources (free online industry directories, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
- Setup and plan an email marketing campaign, enticing previous customers to return to the website (contact us if you require email marketing training via the award winning Mailchimp software)
- Pay for online or offline advertising (industry magazines, paid directories)
- Look into pay-per-click advertising via Google Adwords.
We hope this article has helped to give you a clear understanding of the basic requirements to run a successful, profitable E-commerce website. While there is no silver bullet, we fully believe that if you carry out the above steps on a consistent basis, you can get very exciting results indeed! Please feel free to get in touch if you would like to discuss any of the points from this article.