Retail has evolved since traditional shopping methods, spanning across several sales channels and gaining a foothold in nearly every platform.
From food to clothing retail, many industries have found success in online shopping by launching an eCommerce website. While online stores are relatively easy to create, companies must be sure to take the necessary steps to prepare business operations and maximize customer reach.
Retailers that only sell their products in-store significantly limit their customer reach, losing thousands of potential sales every year. By promoting items online, businesses can increase their exposure and expand their clientele to consumers outside of their immediate location.
In fact, a study found that 85% of people use Google to discover products and shop. Therefore, without an online presence, businesses can't capitalize on search engine optimization (SEO).
eCommerce also provides a higher level of convenience than traditional shopping. Customers no longer have to plan ahead to go shopping for clothes, supplies, or even groceries in the midst of their busy schedules. Instead, they can fill their virtual carts whenever they find the time and have products shipped directly to their homes.
With mobile commerce (mCommerce), shoppers can place orders from anywhere at any time with their portable devices. This is one of the main reasons why online shopping has become the preferred method for many consumers. In 2019 alone, Americans spent $602 billion in online retail.
For small businesses and start-ups looking to limit expenses, developing an eCommerce company is more cost-efficient than establishing a physical store. A storefront requires rent, permits, utilities, decorations, maintenance, and hardware to run successfully. On the other hand, having an eCommerce site only requires hosting subscriptions, marketing costs, and any additional labor wages.
Before a business can begin establishing their online store, they must have a set moniker and defined inventory. Then, owners can start developing their eCommerce website with four simple steps-
1. Claim a Domain
The first step is claiming a domain name for the online store, preferably the same name as the business. Management needs to check if the brand's name has already been taken by entering it in a domain search engine, which searches the internet to check domain availability.
If it is available, the company can purchase the domain, but if it is unavailable, the organization will need to decide which variation is best. However, it is important not to choose a name that is extremely similar to an existing domain as customers may be directed to the other site.
Establishing a domain is the first step because it allows the business to begin developing product promotions to optimize web searches. If a company were to create their marketing strategies only to later find that their domain name is taken, they would need to start from scratch.
2. Research the Search Volume of Each Product
Businesses should not begin investing in inventory until they have thoroughly researched the market to ensure there is customer demand. Regardless of the quality of products or level of competition, a company cannot generate profits without adequate demand.
By using an online keyword tool, such as SEM Rush, owners can discover how often consumers are using popular search engines to look for a particular product. The ideal search volume depends on how much a business plans to invest in stock and their desired profit margin.
Typically, if a product search shows up on a search engine's first page, companies can experience a 3% increase in their click-through rate. This translates to a 2% drive in sales.
3. Develop Expansion Strategies
Now it is time to start putting together marketing strategies that promote further business expansion. Management should first draft an "About Us" page that will be posted on the website that describes the business's mission statement, products, and passion.
This should intrigue consumers, make buyers feel comfortable, and open up a door to build trusting relationships. It should also include keywords with high SEO scores to help promote brand exposure.
Much like the product searches, if consumers type in a keyword and an online store populates on the first page, they are more likely to be clicked on than those on the second page.
Therefore, management must create content with relevant keywords to generate organic traffic and website visits. Aside from keywords, companies can eventually earn backlinks from outside publishers, which forward consumers to the online store from external sites.
Companies can also purchase online advertisements to expand customer reach. Although SEO if free, it can sometimes take a while to yield results. However, paid advertisements promote brands in high traffic areas, immediately improving click-through rates.
Management should also consider social media ads, such as Facebook or Instagram marketplace. These platforms have access to significant user data that enables businesses to create targeted campaigns. Companies can pay for advertisements per click, impression, or view, depending on the marketing goal.
Browsing products on social media allows shoppers to stay on their accounts until the transaction, which requires a transition to the online store. This is an excellent tool for organizations looking to maximize their conversion rates.
4. Develop the eCommerce Site
Once the domain is bought, inventory is researched, and marketing strategies are plotted, management can begin building their eCommerce website layout. First, the company must carefully choose their eCommerce solution, which handles the back-end of the site and, usually, payment processing as well.
Then, developers can start designing the website's theme. The aesthetic should create a flow that is easy for customers to navigate and accurately represents the brand. For example, a fashion retailer would want a sleek design or theme that represents their style.
Once the layout is installed, it is time to add product photos and descriptions. Customers should be able to easily click through several images within the same page and fully understand the product by the description. It may be necessary to add tools for clarification, such as size charts for clothing or interactive videos for machinery.
Although not all eCommerce businesses utilize social media, creating an account on at least one platform can attract more consumers. Companies can post pictures of new product lines, interact with customers, respond to feedback, and even direct shoppers to their online store for free.
Building an eCommerce website takes careful preparation and research to create engaging content for consumers. However, a successful site launch can dramatically impact traffic, sales, and revenue.