With Black Friday flooding our inboxes, offering sweet deals, it seems like everyone is selling something online these days. Shopping online, in some cases becomes more preferable, than going to a brick and mortar store, and Black Friday is one of those instances. Many well-established retail businesses are turning their heads towards e-commerce websites, offering their existing customers an option of shopping online (hoping to retain their loyalty). Creating an e-commerce website for an existing retail business could be somewhat easier than running an online store exclusively – you already have a customer base, you know your customers’ behaviour, and you have the infrastructure and the resources to promote your online shop. While, of course, there are many differences between traditional versus online retailing, having experience in selling offline, will give you an advantage. If you are starting this whole e-commerce adventure from scratch, and you are contemplating e-commerce website design now, there are 3 fundamental questions you want to keep in mind, to ensure your online store meets your ambitious expectations of becoming a success.
Know your target audience.
Why will your customers buy from you? Think about the product you want to sell, and now think how and why your customers will want to search for it online. What is so special about your product?
When we talk about innovative marketing that is brand-focused, we make a strong point on company’s values, and core differentiators. While your company’s values are still extremely important as an e-commerce business, what’s more important is the actual product you carry. If people don’t search for the product, they won’t find your website.
In a way, you are playing by the Internet rules first, and then retail rules. The offline shopping experience is much broader, than online. Online shoppers know exactly what they are looking for. In most cases, the reason they shop online is because they are looking for a specific thing. So in a way, offline shoppers are just “shopping”, and online customers are shopping for ______ a specific product.
Now think, what is so specific about your product. Is it a well-known brand, so people will be searching for that brand online? Is your geographical location an advantage to the shopper? Or is it how you operate your store – free shipping, fast delivery, human customer service?
Remember, unlike in traditional retail, people will leave your website as soon as they think you don’t have what they need. Unless you offer something that other e-commerce websites don’t – a truly unique shopping experience. And this brings us to point #2.
Choose the right platform.
Choosing the right platform for your e-commerce website might come down to these 3 things:
- your vision
- your budget
- your resources
What are your expectations from your e-commerce website? Is this a viable business or are you getting yourself completely in the new territory with online shopping? If retail is not something that you have experience in, and this is a test-run business for you, then you might want to look at some out-of-the-box solutions, that offer pre-designed templates, and all features you might need to run your online store. These platforms are usually are cost-effective, as you don’t need to invest in a custom website, and you won’t need any coding experience to setup the features you need.
However, if your vision is to grow your business into something amazing, you understand retail, and you are a savvy business manager, then you will want to look at a more customizable solution that you will actually own. As your e-commerce business expands, owning your platform is critical, as it will allow you for maximum flexibility and control. Having a custom e-commerce website will also be more SEO (search engine optimization) friendly, allowing you for maximum visibility in search engines. Keep in mind that there are many different custom e-commerce website platforms that will fit your budget, too. Do your homework.
Have a marketing plan.
Now, that your e-commerce website is up and ready for its customers – how will they know about your store? Having a marketing plan and a marketing budget to promote your store, before you even build it is critical. Utilizing SEO, social media, email marketing and online advertising will allow you to not only drive traffic to your new online store, but will also allow you to build a brand – that extra reason of why your customers will want to come back to your store, and become a loyal customer.
Majority of brick-and-mortar customers are walk-in shoppers, online shopping is a destination. Make it a worth-while one!
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