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Author Archives: Maria Guiney

5 Tweaks That’ll Make a Big Difference to Your E-commerce Store

Whether you make awesome tie-dye t-shirts, intricate bespoke jewelry, or drop ship various home decor items, you love running your e-commerce store. You’ve got a product offering, you’ve got some social media marketing going on, admin tasks that…well, those never end, but still. Things are going pretty well, all things considered.

But what if, things could be really great? And possibly approach ‘awesome’ territory?

Here are a few little tweaks to your e-commerce operation that could take it from here to HERE.

1. Set up email automations

If a new potential customer visits your website and decides to sign up for your newsletter to learn more about you – great, right?  Sure. But what if your next newsletter isn’t due out for another week or more.  Good chance that they might forget they signed up by then and wonder who you are when you finally appear in their inbox…and delete it.

What if, the moment they signed up to your email list, they received a quick, short n’ sweet “Thanks!” from you. Create a connection right away, reinforce your brand immediately. This is something that will take you minutes to set up and automate within your ESP and you’ll see long-term benefits for.   Go, do it now.  We’ll wait.

Other email automation to consider are abandoned cart emails, thank you purchase emails and upsell offers.

2. Take a pulse on your site health

Run your store through an SEO tool online, if you don’t have someone you use already. Make sure you have no broken links, no glaring page errors, and also make sure your site has a quick load-time on both desktop and mobile.  If you see any red flags, address them as quickly as possible. The better experience people have on your site, the more likely they are to come back and bring their friends with them.

3. Ensure your branding is cohesive

Do your social media pages match the look of your website in terms of logo, brand colors, fonts, and tone of voice?  Are your user names the same (or close to it)?  Little things like this help your store and brand remain recognizable to your customers.  If you’re Joe’s Pet Food on Facebook, but you’re Joey Smith on Instagram…are people going to connect the two? 

Find a name you’d like to use across all platforms – check to see if it’s been taken. Then when you find one that’s available, use it everywhere. Some platforms have character limits so you might need to tweak them slightly to stay within the parameters.

4. Confirm Humanity

We put customers through a lot. Double-opt-ins when signing up for accounts, clicking those pictures of traffic lights…always wondering if we’ve clicked on enough of them just to sign-up.  What about you?  Have your customers ever seen your face or heard your voice? 

Referring back to our previous blog post (I’m sure you’ve read it, right?!) social media is the place to show your face and remind people that a real human (or several) humans are on the other side of the computer.  Instagram and Facebook have “Stories”; they last 24-hours before they expire. A great place to pop on for a little hello, share a quick behind the scenes, share something non-business related, and more. 

Even before ‘lockdown’ became part of our everyday vocabulary, people wanted to know there’s someone real that they’re ordering from. Take a moment to show your face and share why you love running your store and thank your customers for their support.

5. Streamline your checkout process

Our attention spans are dwindling and our patience is evaporating. 

Bigger brands have mastered the art of a quick and simple checkout process and people become repeat customers when it’s a frictionless experience. Put yourself in your customers shoes and place an order on your site. See what it’s like. How many clicks, how many fields to fill in? How long does it take?  

If you find things you can simplify or refine for a better overall user experience, do it.  Customer expectations are evolving and if another store offers an easier experience, some could easily jump ship and order with them instead.

The moral of the story is…

Think like your customer. How do they interact with your store and what can you do as an owner to make it the best experience possible?  That combined with a healthy and well-running site will turn your site from a 7/10 to a 10/10 (or higher!).

Sources:

Transitioning your brick & mortar store online

Perhaps before 2020 began, you’d been contemplating a move to take your business online. Either away from a physical space or in addition to your store.  These last few months may have been the final push you needed to make your decision. In order to keep your store open and allow a possibility for growth, now is the time to make the jump to include an online presence.  So….now what?

 ‘Going online’ sounds simple and feels like it shouldn’t take more than a few button clicks.  In reality, there are a number of decisions to be made and the first few of these actually take place offline.

Know your ideal customer – create a buyer persona

The items you sell or service you provide will give you a good starting point of who your ideal buyer is. Consider the age and gender of your average client, their interests, lifestyle, and salary. Are they likely to shop online or would they be more inclined to come to your store? Review your available data and see what insight it can provide you. For more help in making an informed decision – prepare a quick and simple survey (1-2 questions maximum) that customers can complete while making a purchase in your store.

Product Offering

If you sell physical goods, consider how they translate into being sold online.  You will have some cost savings for an online store – less overhead being one of them – the added expense of shipping may be new for you. Logistics make up a good chunk of the cost of goods, anywhere from 6 – 11 % by some estimates. Transportation and delivery costs are calculated by weight and dimensions of the item sold and that makes a huge difference if you’re selling tea bags or if you make hand-knitted area rugs. 

And now that many giant online retailers (thanks, Amazon!) offer free shipping, smaller stores need to find creative ways to stay competitive. People will quickly ‘x’ out of their browser window when they see they are paying $25.00 in shipping for an $11.00 item. You’ll need to find a way to keep your shipping costs in line before they become a deterrent for shoppers. 

An optional approach could be a staggered launch. Choose a selection of products – perhaps one specific line. Then, as the volume of sales increases and your experience grows, add additional products in stages. This would enable you to refine your online retail plan as you get feedback from your customers.

Choosing an online platform

One of the most important decisions is the platform you choose as the framework for your site.  Things to consider include; how customizable is it, does it offer integrations with your existing inventory systems? With your payment processing systems – are there monthly subscriptions or are they one-time setup costs? If you plan on growing your online presence, be sure to pick a platform that can scale without massive updating and a ton of work from your web development team.  

A vital component that cannot be overlooked is how you will handle online payments. Does your existing financial institution have a way to integrate into an online store or will you have to use a third party for the online portion of your business? There are many options available for accepting payments, just make sure that whomever you choose works with your existing system and lessens your workload instead of adding to it.

Over and above all these – your site must be mobile-friendly, or “responsive” as those in the know would say. People spend more than 50 percent of their time online on a mobile device (excluding tablets)* and BI Intelligence has forecast that m-commerce (shopping on a mobile device) will reach $284 billion, or 45 percent of the total U.S. e-commerce market this year.**   This is critical to include in your online plan – you need to be where your customers are.

The People Factor

Depending on the size of the online store you plan to have and inventory you’ll carry, you will need to either hire additional staff or reassign existing ones into new roles. There be work in fulfilling and shipping the orders, but there will also be some man-hours for the front-end as well. Website maintenance, inventory control, and perhaps a help desk to answer emails and phone calls. 

Omnichannel Retail

One critical goal for any retailer is to provide an omnichannel retail experience. This means that a customer shopping on your site would have the same experience when they shop at your brick and mortar location.  A retail store revolves around the customer and you need to create a seamless, unified experience every time they shop with you, regardless of format. Creating this kind of experience for your shopper’s ties in greatly with the aspect of omnichannel marketing.

Omnichannel Marketing

Your overall marketing strategy needs to have one common voice. Your store and brand should have the same feel and personality across all platforms.  A traditional brick and mortar store could send out flyers, coupons, and personalized offers but an online marketing campaign has several more facets.  Personalized emails, social media posts on various platforms that invite engagement, discount codes and individual landing pages are all spokes in a wheel that create a truly unique and customized experience for the consumer.  

After all the work you’ve put into creating your online store, people need to find it. They need to know your site exists and what you offer.  In today’s crowded online world, a savvy and attention-grabbing marketing campaign will need to be included in your launch. This is one puzzle piece you cannot forget.


Final Thoughts

One element that can’t be reproduced online is the physical experience of being in your store. The human connection we’re all missing these days is one of the hardest parts of the new way we now live.  Going shopping was something that seemed so ordinary and now it’s one of the things we miss most. It shows how important the experience needs to be!

Large brands today have the resources to create seamless and frictionless experiences for consumers. Smaller businesses can achieve this on their own scale by putting great planning and thought into how they set up their online stores, how they create their customer experience, and how well they unify their physical store with their online one. 

Moving online does not have to be scary, it can be a lot of fun. With a well thought out approach, you will be amazed at the interaction you can get with your customers, and how you can foster a sense of community within your social channels. Invite them in to see you, your brand and your store, and you will create brand advocates who shop with you time and again…and bring their friends along for the ride.

*Source: Statista

** https://www.businessinsider.com/mobile-commerce-shopping-trends-stats

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