One of the amazing things about the e-commerce industry is that everyone can participate in it without any problems. With the introduction of new technology, the previous hindrances people faced while trying to launch businesses in the digital marketplace have been removed. Currently, anyone who wishes to have a web store can launch their brand online.
However, the liberal nature of the e-commerce industry has caused some issues such as the massive influx of online retailers, increased competition, and the difficulty in managing commercial activity done on the internet. While you can get your online store up and running in a few days, managing it in the long-term to sustain its growth has become more difficult. But the other option which is to ignore the need to have an online store for your business will cause you to lose your competitive edge among similar businesses.
There has been a global acceptance of e-commerce, and every customer expects their favourite brands to have online stores in addition to the brick and mortar stores. Businesses are apparently being compelled to meet the needs of their customers. The big question every business owner should be asking is what it will take to launch an online store as a part of their retail business?
If you have been running a physical store before the advent of e-commerce, you already have the edge over the new entrants into the retail industry. This is good news. A physical store reflects the brand regarding appearance, the class and it will still be patronised by customers who have specific needs for some of your personalised services. The state of your physical store reflects how successful your efforts at building a brand have been so far. So if you have a thriving business in the physical store, it means your investments have paid off in establishing your brand. This means half of the job has already been done. Now, what’s left is for your team to devise a way to advertise your established brand by using innovative strategy and professional digital marketing methods to launch an online store for your brand which has the potential to reach even a wider audience.
Phase One: The Devil’s In the Details
Launching a web store to compliment your physical store is a good decision especially if you need to remain relevant in the market. There are some important aspects to consider. These details will help you avoid costly mistakes, and you can gain a market entrance at a level that can be considered as privileged.
Your domain name is best described as your online digital address. It will include some keywords related to your brand and by entering your domain name on a browser; visitors will be directed to your website. Your domain name should also be easy to remember. For example, if your brand name is glam-store, you can choose a domain name such as glamstore.com.
While getting a domain name may appear to be easy, there are certain aspects that must be carefully examined before proceeding. For example, after choosing a domain name and you pay for a website to be created using your chosen domain name. But you may realise too late that the platform and plan you have chosen makes it mandatory to use a predetermined domain name, a feature which your previous choice does not have. This means you may have to start all over again which can be frustrating.
Site Platform & Software
Creating your e-commerce platform is another crucial step in establishing your online brand so it must be done properly. There are currently so many innovative applications and web tools that can be used to develop and launch e-commerce websites quickly. Your goal is to identify which of these methods is most suitable to achieve your goals. How can you make a choice? What are the factors to consider?
The requirements for developing an e-commerce platform are not the same for all businesses. You will need to research to find out the essential elements of your business. Assuming that your e-commerce platform is your online brick and mortar store, what features should it have? Your research will include talking with e-commerce consultants and reading related content posted in support forums online.
Creating the right e-commerce platform is the most crucial stage in this process, so you do comprehensive research. There is a lot to do. You will be required to migrate your traditional brick and mortar system which includes product inventory and all details to your online store. This will take some time and effort. You need a platform that can be easily integrated with your business details. You must also consider scalability. The technology industry changes so rapidly so the best platform for your business should have a long-term scalability plan that accommodates these changes without compromising your business. Platforms that can support your business in accordance with your expansion plans in the future should top the list of your considerations. At this stage, having the answers to the following questions will help you make better decisions; what kind of features do you want your website to have? What are the web features you will like your visitors to interact with most? With these questions answered, you have a more focused direction for your research and comparisons.
Platform Extensions, Plugins, Apps, & Third-Party Services
When you have found a platform that can meet your needs without any compromise the next step is to examine the compatibility of the platform with your proposed site. You will need to examine features such as plugins, extensions, and Apps these are software additions included in the framework of the platform to carry out specific functions outside the platforms capacities. They are developed by third-party vendors or the parent company of the platform. While some are free, you may have to subscribe to other services or make a single payment. But your site may not need all the offered additions so determining exactly what you require will prevent you from paying for unnecessary extensions.
Third party services such as shipping software and tax application software (important for international orders), marketing software, and customer service software are some common and important software that you need for your online store.
However, while the third party services have different functions, you should only consider those you need rather than purchasing some third party software because they have been offered to you on the platform.
Phase Two: Post Launch Strategy
When it first started, getting an online store was guaranteed financial success. But things have changed. The market has become fiercely competitive. Currently, only the businesses that employ strategic methods are getting ahead sustainably.
The success of your online business ultimately depends on the effectiveness of your digital marketing strategy. You can start thinking about the best digital marketing strategies for your business as soon as your fully optimised store has been launched online. Digital marketing is very vast. There are countless tools and services that can be used to increase the prominence of your business online. Three crucial elements of digital marketing that should never be overlooked include email marketing, content marketing and the pay per click marketing (PPC).
Email Marketing Software
Email marketing is one of the oldest and most effective forms of online marketing for online businesses. Getting started requires two components; an email address database and a well-planned email marketing campaign. Let’s talk about the role of the email marketing software.
There are different email marketing software, and their services vary. While some email marketing software offers the regular email delivery feature, others offer a comprehensive and brilliant marketing and business solutions. Making a right choice from the options is essential. You should consider which software can meet your immediate and long-term needs.
Email Address Database
An email database is a list of people who receive your emails. Your email marketing campaign should be focused on growing your email database. It will eventually become a source of 25% of your revenue generated online.
You can leverage your brick and mortar store to grow your email database. By collecting the email addresses of customers who visit your physical shop you can encourage them to shop online through email marketing. The new POS systems already have this feature so your sales team can simply ask for the customer’s email address while processing a payment. This is a quick and effective way to enhance one of your most important digital marketing assets because your email list will include real and actively used emails.
While your email database grows, you should start planning the content that you will be sending out through email. These are your most valuable customers; many of them have voluntarily joined your email list due to their loyalty to your brand. So it is essential that your email marketing campaign is valuable to them. You could either aim to provide promotional value or useful and informative content. Your customers will always appreciate a good deal and promotional offers. These offers cause an increase in sales, and it increases customer loyalty. However, email campaigns are only successful when the recipients open them.
Emailing informative and engaging content also helps to ensure the success of your email campaign. If your content is good enough, the people on your email list will always look forward to receiving your emails. For example, if you sell local and foreign spices, sending out fascinating recipes while marketing your product will be appreciated by the people on your email list while suggesting a purchase from your online store.
The concept of content marketing was only recently introduced into digital marketing. It has become very popular due to the fierce competition in the markets. Content marketing involves the use of popular search engines such as Google search to propagate your site and business to a larger audience. Google determines the content pages that appear first on the search results in many ways with a preference for the most relevant content.
For example, if you sell products in fiercely competitive commercial sectors, to get your content on the first result page on Google search your content has to be unique, relevant with a promise of more value to Google search users. You can achieve this by planning and implement a strategic long-term content marketing campaign.
The first step is to identify your target audience and then determine the kind of content trending among your audience. Then you must find a way to create related content that will appeal to this group of potential customers. Consistency is important. You need to ensure that you send out engaging and informative content regularly. You can meet this goal by using a marketing calendar. It will help you send out fresh and valuable content related to current shopping trends and the season.
Content marketing offers you a unique opportunity to establish your site as an authority in your business sector. Considering that it is a long-term strategy, this goal is achievable. For example, sending out valuable and engaging content related to your business niche will increase your equity among the audience when they find your content interesting, educative and useful. Your site ranking on Google will be improved in the following way. Google’s algorithms are designed to analyse the behaviour of your audience. When it is confirmed that your site receives many visitors who spend hours browsing through your website content, Google will begin to feature your site more prominently in the search result page.
It may take a while to achieve this high ranking level on Google; then again, it is a long-term marketing strategy. Some businesses engage the services of third parties to handle their content marketing by generating regular content for their websites.
Pay Per Click Marketing
The pay per click marketing strategy is done by creating Ads for your business via services such as Google Ad Words or Google Shopping and selecting keyword phrases related to your business. You will now be required to participate in bidding to get your Ads displayed when people perform searches using your chosen keywords. Bids are won after a screening process during which Google evaluates your bid value, the relevance of your site in comparison with the other companies that reflect similar keywords and the winner is allotted a “sponsored listing” on the search results.
The benefits of your Ad being displayed as a sponsored listing include:
An increase in Traffic and sales conversion
These are direct benefits. There is a high tendency that potential customers will click on your Ad to visit your site. This increases site traffic, and a visit to your site may also lead to a sale and obtain another email to grow your email list. Or the visitor may get useful information that will make them return to make a purchase when they really need your services.
Driving traffic to your site is essential, the more site visitors you get, the higher chances of making sales. By studying your customer’s buying behaviour and how they perform searches, you will be able to create better keyword phrases to improve your PPC strategy. The huge traffic generated from PPC campaigns for your site will also be recognised by Google. This means your site will be considered for a higher ranking on the Google search page when it is regarded as a relevant site to a large audience.
Increasing the prominence of your brand online
When you Ads get featured by Google as sponsored Ads, everyone sees them, even though not everyone will click on your Ad. This is called “Ad impression.” Your brand has been seen by a large audience hence the chances of it being recognised again are very high. Even though your products and services are not immediately needed, this exposure increases the chances that when the need arises, your business will be first considered by the audience. This is an indirect benefit of the Google sponsored Ads.
PPC marketing strategies are not generalised. Every business will require a different approach. This is due to the fluctuating bidding prices.
You may need to try different approaches, by studying the results you will eventually identify an approach that works for your business regarding PPC. You need to compare and match different keyword phrases while studying the keywords used by your competition. While many business owners may find this overwhelming, engaging the services of a strategic e-commerce partner such as DM can generate the desired results. Agencies that have been in the business for a long time have gathered a valuable experience that can be used to help companies save costs by avoiding trials which may fail.
Success in the e-commerce industry can be attained by following the formula
There are useful formulas that still work in the e-commerce industry. Your online business will be successful by applying them. The principles include; leveraging your brick and mortar assets wisely. Pay close attention to detail while planning. The planning process should be extensive, and execution should focus on achieving consistency. Ensure that your content generation plan derives highly valuable content to stand out from the competition.
Overall, this long-term process will require a lot of your time, financial investment, and hard work. The efforts you put into planning at the initial stages will determine the smooth launch and sustainability of your business in the long-term. However, help is always available. You can engage our services at DM to accomplish your goals. We have helped many brick and mortar retail businesses migrate their business into the e-commerce industry successfully. Contact us today; let’s tell you more about how we can help you.