The cost of running a bricks and mortar shop can be crippling. Add this to the pressure for physical stores to join the digital era in order to capture online shoppers, and it might be time to consider launching an eCommerce presence of your own.
The benefits of having an online shop
As with most things, an eCommerce platform won’t be relevant for every brand or business, but can deliver plenty of benefits for those that are:
- expanding brand reach and audience demographic
- becoming more accessible to more audiences (including international custom)
- future-proofing your business by moving to digitisation
- convenient shopping for your customers
Top tips for creating an eCommerce site
Don’t worry if setting up a digital site to go with your physical shop sounds daunting, we have a few key pointers to get you started.
Do some market research
The customers who come into your physical shop are likely to have a different demographic profile than those who buy online. Get to know both audiences and their behaviours in granular detail. You might also discover that their online shopping habits are not representative of how they shop in person – so research, research, research!
Visit online competitors
Snoop around and see what your competitors are doing and let it inspire your own strategy. It’ not just the products or services they offer that matter here, but how they provide those things too. So, delivery, sustainability, use of local suppliers, and returns policies are all worthy of checking out – but remember to find your own niche in order to set yourself apart.
Research your platform options well
When it comes to eCommerce, there are lots of providers who can offer different features and details to get your website up and running. There’s a long list to chose from, including WooCommerce, Shopify, and Magento. If this is brand new to you, you might be tempted to go for a convenient template builder – if that’s the case then look at providers like WordPress who can support stable growth (without losing control of your website address or any of the content on it).
Because we specialise in helping websites to perform well in internet search results, we’re big fans of WordPress websites!
E Commerce skills to acquire or hire
Some aspects of eCommerce sound more complicated than they really are, because the industry uses a lot of jargon. But, just like fitting a gas cooker or rewiring a house is best left to the professionals, just because you can have a go, doesn’t always means that you should. Doing your research, and even talking to lots of agencies, will give you an action plan of what your existing skills will stretch to. To give you an idea of the kind of eCommerce skills that will be useful to hire or learn:
- UX (user experience) optimisation – how enjoyable and easy your site is to browse and buy from
- SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation – refining a website to help a search engine rank it more highly in search results. Read our SEO tips especially for eCommerce websites for more information!
- Copywriting, to create good quality content and optimised product descriptions which search engines can easily find
- IT or website developer skills – the fiddly bits of getting a website to work beyond setting up the shop part. For example, using tools that allow you to view sales reports, or print delivery labels.
- A website designer to get your site looking good. A good designer can help you with your UX too, making the site better to navigate and therefore easier for users
- Good quality product photography (if necessary)
- Integration of the ecommerce platform with your existing website (such as WooCommerce into WordPress)
Start small, with just your best-sellers
It’s better to get teething problems out the way on a smaller scale, so consider starting with a product group before rolling it out for your full inventory. Maybe try a soft launch of some products, before adding the full range and escalating the social media campaign.
Create a watertight shipping and returns policy
You may already have something similar in place for purchases from your physical shop but there might be some things you want to tweak when it comes to online transactions.
Have you recently introduced your bricks & mortar business to the wonderful world of ecommerce? We’d love to hear about your experiences and any tips you might have for other business owners looking to do the same.