With the evolution of technology and the ever-growing dominance of the internet, building an online business has become that much easier. In fact, retail studies show that most brick and mortar store profits are dropping at a rate of up to 25% due to the explosion of ecommerce success.
The consumer also seems to be moving more and more online, rather than taking to a brick and mortar store. In fact, ecommerce stats show that 51% of Americans currently prefer shopping online than standing in queues and dealing with other people in the store. This number is destined to grow substantially in the next five years.
We decided to chat to a brand that launched online about two years ago. They specialize in pet food, accessories and related products. They are crazy about animals, and crazy about the people that love their pets. We found out what it takes to start up in this industry.
Have a Fully Functional Site
Let’s start out with looking at your site. Rule one; it needs to work! And it needs to work well! This may sound like the most obvious point made, however, when John did a deep dive of his site, he found so many gremlins, that he shut down business for three days to work on it.
If your pages are taking more than three to four seconds to load, you are losing potential customers! Do the customer journey from your clients perspective. What does your site flow look like? What are the processes that you would naturally follow. In fact, a full user design overhaul could actually do your company good. Offer a customer a reward or prize to sit with you and go through the site with you. Do some user research and watch how they function on your site. You could learn some interesting things from watching how a person’s thought processes differ from you, as the creator.
It is also recommended that you make use of software that tracks a customers movements on your site. From regularly clicked on buttons to how far visitors scroll down your page, monitor this activity on your site.
Lastly, make use of AB testing on the site to see what works and what doesn’t. See what colours work for your CTA’s, and what gets clicked on more. What product banners draw more attention? What wording inspires more responses from customers. Test this all the time!
Content Rules the Kingdom
His rule of thumb is to look at your company like a brand. You are reaching out to customers and converting them into loyal fans. One of the easiest ways of doing this is by creating a journey for the customer and telling a story.
Content is a great way to convey stories to the customer, and get them emotionally invested in your brand. He, for example, loves his brand. People are naturally invested in their pets, and he heightens that emotion by creating relatable and emotive content and sucking the customer in to his story. Whether it be the blog that is updated daily, or the content being shared on social media like videos and images, people feel like they can relate!
Secondly, take a look at your product page, but look at it from a customers perspective. How do the products come across to you? Do they look attractive? Do they look like something you want to spend your hard earned cash on? John stated that when they started, they didn’t have the funds for professional photography every time a new supplier came on board. So, he bought himself a camera, set up a well-lit space and took the pictures himself. He then used software to do the image retouching himself to make the pictures look professional.
The next thing he focused on was the product descriptions. What is vital to remember here, is not only do the descriptions sell the product to your customer, but they also heighten your SEO ranking. You need to make sure that your keywords are included and then repeated in a smart way to get your products ranked on Google.
Keep in mind though, that the customer is reading these descriptions. You need to balance that with the fact that need to be ranked. You also need to remember that you aren’t selling the customer like a normal store, on look and feel and touch. You are describing it to them. You need to convey the key features and the essence of the product in a body of text. What does it feel like, what does it do? What are the size dimensions and what are the unique selling features of that, compared to its competitors? Make it a visual journey for them
Fulfilment Is Key
He touched on fulfilment with us. This is obviously one of the most vital parts of any ecommerce store and the worst nightmare of any new start-up. Getting a shipping partner that can be absolutely trusted can be the biggest headache of any new ecommerce store. Customers are highly judgmental when it comes to how long it takes a package to reach them and in what state it arrives.
What about the storage of the products? As a start-up, having a warehouse is a huge expense that most cannot cover when they first start out. Have you considered dropshipping as an option? He disclosed that at first, when the business was in its infancy, that dropshipping was the cheapest and most realistic option for him. He did some research in to how to become a dropshipper and set about transporting
Make Payment Simple, Stupid!
When we asked him what his biggest challenge was in business, he barely blinked before saying that it was cart abandonment. One of the top reasons for customers bouncing as they are about to pay are due to the payment terms, options and safety standards. There are three main payment issues:
- The payment doesn’t look secure enough. People are handing over their financial details. They are concerned about what can happen over the internet, and you cannot blame them. Make sure that your portal is totally secure and that you reinforce this repeatedly with safety standards all over your site.
- Hidden costs. Imagine the scenario of picking out your favourite pair of shoes and getting to the counter only to be told that you need to pay an extra 40% on them. That’s what it feels like to not have shipping disclosed when you are browsing products. Make it clear from the start.
- Make the payment process simple. If your customers are needing to fill out more than two forms, you are losing 73% of them. Yes, getting the vital information is important, but scrape through your forms repeatedly to see what you can drop. And if you have repeat customers, make sure you have autofill to make sure that they come back time and time again.
Keep the customer in mind at all times. They customer journey of your business is your key to success. Go through your customer journey map in detail and spend time on implementing it in your business.
Dave Schneider is the marketing manager at Albacross.com, the free B2B lead generation platform. In 2012 he quit his job to travel the world, and has visited over 65 countries.