In Part 2 of our retail series, we dive into everything you need to know about building, managing and growing your e-commerce store, following on from Part 1 of this series were we discussed the best way to boost your presence online.
Running an e-commerce store – whether or not it’s an extension of your brick-and-mortar location – is almost a requirement for a successful business these days. But it’s not as easy as hiring a web designer and leaving it to sell itself. In Part 2 of this series, we explain why an e-commerce store is so important, and tips on how to build, manage and grow it.
Why do I need an e-commerce store?
In an online-heavy industry, having a website where customers can visit at their leisure and order your products means an additional income stream and a way to drive new audiences to your business. It’s also a place where you can blog, interact with loyal followers and sell new customers on why your retail business is better than the competition.
Set up an online store
Now that you’ve decided to get into e-commerce, it’s time to determine your needs. Will the site be the main hub of your sales, or will it instead complement your storefront? With this information you can decide exactly what you need:
- Pay a professional: Hiring a web designer is a pricey option, but you will get plenty of bang for your buck with a comprehensive and visually appealing e-commerce store. They can also set up your sales channels appropriately, and you can rest easy knowing there are no kinks in your online store’s functionality.
- DIY: A cheaper option – and potentially free with e-commerce builders like Wix. Doing it yourself will save you money in the short term but it may impact other areas of your business. Figure out whether you have the time to take on this project yourself. If you’re short on both time and money, ask your employees whether they have the skills to set up an online store in exchange for a week off or something beneficial for both parties.
How much time should I invest?
Global e-commerce sales are set to reach $4.5 trillion by 2021, so it’s no surprise that every small business is trying to get a piece of the action. Because the stakes are high, you will only get out as much as you put in. Set up a schedule to review your e-commerce store at least once a month to ensure there are no roadblocks during the purchasing process. If customers have problems buying or can’t see what’s in their checkout basket, for example, they are more likely to leave and find a competitor rather than contact you to resolve the issue. It’s up to you to make sure the site runs smoothly and you are driving customers to purchase from the moment they hit your store.
What’s the trick to e-commerce growth?
Aside from having a general understanding of search engine optimisation – vital for any business getting online – there are some must-dos to ensure new and repeat customers use your store. Take the time to write up detailed product descriptions, use well-shot photos to show off your supplies, and take advantage of online tools that can integrate with your retail solutions for a streamlined process.
Be sure to research your competitors and find out what they’re doing right – and wrong. And the final trick is to market, market, market. Whether it’s publishing timely content on social media or guest blogging on popular sites, make sure everything you post is with the intent to drive customers to your e-commerce store. Email marketing is a good place to start, and when you feel comfortable you can move up to more advanced methods like A/B testing and using Google Analytics for optimised conversions.
Your customers are tech-savvy and they want the convenience of your online store. So make sure you do your homework and take advantage of online tools for an e-commerce store that grows itself.