More and more people are starting up their own eCommerce websites selling things from arts and craft items that they have made them selves to car parts or machinery.
In this article we examine the advantages of eCommerce and how you can capitalise on this every growing industry.
The costs for eCommerce really depends on how much work goes in to design, development and generating content for your website compared to the cost of opening a physical shop where you would have to pay up to thousands of pounds on rent plus fitting it out and buying tills, signs and that is before the hiring of front of house and ware house staff.
However, with an online eCommerce store you may only need to pay £50 pounds a month to host it, development and design may not be cheap however this tends to be a one off payment until such time you need a website even then it costs a lot less then maintaining a shop.
At AME WebTech eCommerce solutions selling up to 200 products cost from £1,750 (about 1 months rent for a small shop.)
You are not constrained to when your business is open, people from all round the world can look at your website and make purchases at any time day or night.
You do not need to be there to accept the orders until your business opens the next day when you simply pack up the orders and get them shipped to where ever your customers are.
Not every one wants this but the potential has just opened up for your business to go international either to a select few countries, a continent or world wide.
This opens the door for customers who have never even been to your country to start purchasing products from you.
Most eCommerce ventures will start small, it may be that you are the sole member of staff however as your company grows you do not need to employ a many staff as a physical shop would need to.
For example if you need to process 200 orders a day you just need enough staff to pack up these orders and address any issues, there is no need to stock up shelves, make sure the shop is tidy or man tills.
When someone purchases a product from your store they will normally need to leave their email address, at which point it is normally a simple matter of adding a tick box to see if they would like to be contacted about special offers and new products.
If they agree you are now in control… You know what they have previously purchased and can send them targeted emails with other products that may be interested in.
You can also use other information such as their title or salutation to send targeted emails for both men and women separately.
I would say almost every one I know barring my grandparents have purchased items online, and because of this most of us know how the process works and have expectations of how we will find products on a website, how we will add them to our cart, pay and finally receive our products.
Generally speaking before you even go on to a website to purchase something you kind of know what you are about to be presented with a glossy home page with links to special offers and product categories, a category page showing products that are arranged in either a list or grid format and a product page with nice well taken photos with all the information we need to know it is what we are looking for.
Trying to break this format can be detrimental to people actually being able to find what they are looking for; with out a clear idea as to how it will work and what is meant to be achieved it is unlikely to be successful.
Keeping things simple means that your customers know what to expect and will have no reason to phone you asking for assistance.
Related products are products that compliment another product, so if you where to sell clothing and have a nice blue coat that coat may have other related products that match it, like a matching hat, gloves and bag, When someone views the Blue Coat product page or on the checkout they will be presented with the other matching products and may also decide to buy one of these products.
Up-Sale Products are a bit different these tend to be similar products, for example a Blue coast may have a more expensive luxury blue coat set as an Up-Sale product, the customer would not be told this is a product you are trying to sell them because it makes you more money but instead would be presented with a list of products that is labelled something like “You may also like.”
Making use of these components that are part of most eCommerce systems can increase revenue by tempting customers to buy more then just the one product.
Until about 5 years ago a lot of people would use there mobile phone to just browse and then not be surprised when the shopping cart didn’t work well so would then jump on to their PC to make the purchase.
Not any more, the mobile revolution has completely taken hold to the point where not everyone has a PC or laptop any more and solely use their mobile phone.
For your website to work well on mobile as well as Desktop and Laptop computers it needs to be responsive where the content is moved around, hidden and resized to display as nicely as possible on each device. We have written a whole article about responsive design if you wish to find out more.
Being seen to be trustworthy is essential to eCommerce success, one of the best ways to do this is to try and engage with your customers using both review platforms and social networks.
Review platforms such as Trust Pilot and Google Reviews show the experiences your customers have had, if you have a five star rating your customers are more likely to spend more money with you then another company that has a 2-3 star rating. These reviews do not just need to be about how great your company is but can also be used to review individual products.
Social networks are also a great place to engage with your customers, getting them to post, share and see your latest products. Pinterest for example is great for allowing people to pin your products in to one of their lists, all their friends will see their new pin and might also like what they see and who know may pin it them selves or just jump in to your website and make a purchase.
Special offers are one of the most successful methods to encourage your customers to make an impulse purchase.
Having a banner or popup with a bold short description of what it is they will save can really drive them to make a purchase.
The key is to keep the special offers relevant, simple and sensible.
Relevance – don’t put text on a page showing womens dresses advertising 20% off mens socks, there is 0 engagement here instead show them the special offer for dresses.
Simple – If the offer isn’t easy to understand it can detract interest or worse cause misunderstandings leading to complaints about being over charged. For example Buy one pair of trousers and get a T-Shirt half price is simple or buy 2 T-Shirts get 1 Free who could resist? How ever offers like buy 3 pairs of jeans and get 20% off any additional pairs of trousers that are blue is confusing.
Sensible – Your offers should make your customers feel like they have won, they have found the bargain, they are getting what they want so having offers where they get something they don’t want or that is not related to what they have purchased will make you look cheap as no one would want that offer. For example buy any pair of shoes and get free gloves… Who wants globes when buying shoes? I would argue very few people would want the gloves, whilst the gloves are free who would go on to a website to buy gloves that cost £10 and think wait a minute if i buy those £30+ pair of shoes I get the gloves for free.
Also avoid offers that require too much maths, things like 10% off when you buy 2 pairs of jeans and then 15% off your third pair and 20% off your fourth pair.
The biggest selling point for most products is knowing what it will look like, there are very few products any one would buy with out first knowing what they look like.
However these photos need to be of a high quality and look great, where ever possible they should also be unique to your website and not reliant on the manufacturer to supply them, whilst using manufacturer supplied images is fine I would always suggest that the main or first image people see of a product is one unique to your website, in this way you can be sure that your website will stand out not just to your customers but search engines love unique content.
Whilst not normally the most prominent feature of eCommerce stores they are a great way of getting your customers information and finding out what they like.
A wish list is essentially a list of products that your customers add to on your website unlike a shopping cart they are not interested in buying them straight away but instead they are expressing an interest in them. In order to save the list your customers will need to sign up for an account to store this list against.
Now the clever part, knowing what they are interested in means you are able to let that customer know when those items are on sale, part of a deal or are back in stock which may be the push they need to make the purchase.