You’re running a successful brick and mortar store, and now you want to take advantage of the opportunity to grow exponentially by creating an e-store.
What do you already know?
The knowledge you’ve gained from running a successful business applies to your e-Commerce solution:
- You understand your products, shoppers, sales cycle, and market.
- You’ve already invested in marketing and advertising.
- You have a clear vision of the problem that your product solves.
- You’ve developed your sales value proposition.
- You’ve identified your competition and know why you’re better.
- You know how to manage inventory.
- You have accounting and other back office systems in place.
In addition to what you already know, as you are planning your e-commerce site, you need to understand these five keys that explain how your e-store will be similar to and different than your physical location.
- You’re free from limitations imposed by bricks, mortar, and business hours. Your website will be just like another store, but the doors are open all the time. This is a great opportunity to make sales at midnight, but be sure the company hosting your site knows you’ll be working 24/7. Tell your developers that updates must minimize the time the e-store isn’t open.
- You don’t have to hire salespeople. No more worrying about minimum wage and raises. Your website will help shoppers find the right products by providing logical navigational categories, well-indexed search functions, outstanding photographs, and words that paint pictures. You’ll create new ways to interact with shoppers, such as offering a Chat window for immediate, personal help, and providing opportunities for shoppers to rate products and submit feedback.
- The way you deliver products changes. Your sales associates won’t be putting purchases into bags, so you need new ways to reliably deliver products. You’ll evaluate carriers and shipping options, and you’ll have to factor the cost of packages lost or damaged during shipping into product pricing and shipping charges.
- The way you satisfy customers changes. In a brick and mortar store, you carefully select customer service representatives who can calm unhappy shoppers. The same care should be used to choose the people who will talk to web shoppers. In addition to providing great customer service by phone, many sites use a messaging tool to allow visitors to immediately have a conversation with a representative (“chat”).
- Visitors landing on your web page need to navigate as easily as shoppers who walk into your store. When a web visitor opens your store, they decide within seconds whether they will spend additional time shopping. If they can’t find what they want very quickly (in seconds), they go to the next entry in the results list, or they type your competitor’s web address into the search bar. Your website should be built to address your shoppers’ behavior and to provide them with easy access to information that encourages buying.
Is that it?
You are an expert in how your business works, but don’t assume that because you shop on Amazon.com you’re a web guru. Your web development team needs to include people who know all about your shoppers and products, and you also need experts who understand how to translate this business knowledge into site design, navigation, product display, a shopping cart, and a checkout page. You should also include an expert who can teach your team how to use the search engines to drive business to your site.
Don’t wait to launch your e-Commerce website! Online sales in the US will continue to grow by an average of more than 13% per year, with projected sales of $434.20 billion in 2017. (http://www.internetretailer.com/trends/sales/). If you’re not already doing e-business, start now to be sure you get the biggest possible piece of the $434+ billion pie.