Last year over the four day Thanksgiving holiday including Black Friday and the weekend, approximately 139.4 million consumers made purchases online. Some enjoy the thrill of the hunt out in the crowds. Others (like myself and the millions of others previously mentioned) enjoy making those purchases from the comfort of their own home and avoiding all the commotion. But what does it take to have a successful online e-store and grab some of those millions of online customers? I will discuss 5 factors you will want to keep in mind if you are about to begin the dive into launching your first e-store or if you are in the process of enhancing a current store to increase revenue.
1) Know your customer. It is imperative that you know your target customer and what they are looking for. Look at it as if they have a problem and you are providing a solution. If you have competitors, who are more successful, analyze what they are doing online and see where you can make improvements. See if you are competitive in prices, offerings, and specials such as sales, free shipping, gift certificates, etc.
2) Marketing. Know how to utilize Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media, Pay Per Click Campaigns (PPC) and online tools such as Google Analytics. Using these tools, you can spread the word about your online store to millions quickly and easily then track activity through analytics.
3) Choose the correct shopping cart. There are basically 2 options out there when starting an online store. Either pay a hosted store-front service (such as Shopify) or implement a shopping cart program (such as CS-Cart). Going with option 1 may cost you more over time while option 2 will cost more up front but with proper training you can maintain the store yourself and keep costs down after it is launched. It is a good suggestion to meet with a web development professional like we have here at Triscari to discuss the variety of shopping cart options and find the best fit for you. Picking an off the shelf cart that is beyond what you need can make your site slow, clunky, hard to navigate and drive customers away.
4) Showcase your products properly. It is important that your online store be easy to navigate. Keep the ability to purchase products and go to the online shopping cart within 1-2 clicks depending on your scenario. Again, having the shopping process overly complicated will only drive potential customers and sales away.
5) It takes work. Besides all the information mentioned above don't forget things like shipping options, what payment methods are offered, return policies and more. These things that you deal with in your own day to day transactions are important to your customer and must be presented in an easy to find and understand manner.
If you are venturing into the world of e-commerce, please consider sitting down and discussing the right shopping cart and develop a successful marketing plan with a professional. Call or email us here at Triscari today and we can help get you started. Have a great holiday season!