E commerce Ideas
In this article we are taking look at some of the basic factors which help in the making of an e-commerce site. These are some of the things we have dealt with in building our business. Which hopefully will offer insight in the course of your journey.
Business plan: Before the process of building a website begins, there must be some kind of plan in place for the business you wish to promote. This means knowing what it is you intend to do, how you intend to do it and what you expect to gain from doing it.
That plan also has to be flexible to take on unexpected changes.
Where to put the website: There are numerous choices of hosting
platforms across the web.
The focus for these platforms may be tailored to suit specific business types. Retail sites being a prime example. Many platforms offer a wide array of tools and resources aimed at helping the user to both set up and run their business. Before you decide to commit to a new e-commerce platform. Research the options thoroughly to find what works best for your business vision.
Costs: Like it or not, money always plays a part. Any e-commerce start up needs to be funded.
When choosing a hosting platform, make sure you thoroughly understand the costs that will be charged for your use of the platform and it’s resources.
If possible always work from a position of security, try to ensure you have a source of income outside of the business. This will provide you with a living and fund the business until it starts to make money.
Now that you understand what it is you are going to do, where your going to place it and the costs involved in setting it up. It’s time to look at Identity.
Branding: This is the business buzz word used to define your business identity, be it an online business or one with a solid bricks and mortar foundation. It is what makes you unique and stand out from the competition.
Lets look at an example, lets say you are an electrical retail outlet. With a desire to expand into new areas of opportunity. Attract new business from outside of your geographical location.
The internet now enables this to happen. As a new venture the focus is to create a profile which shows what the business is and what it offers to customers. This is will be it’s brand.
The profile will be used across the new website, and can be as simple as a company logo, or a more intricate design with unique fonts, colour schemes and other corporate identifiers.
Once the design has been created the next step is in creating the website itself.
As part of that identity the business name will be it’s biggest identifying factor. So choosing a website title to reflect that will be the most important decision to get right. Returning to the electrical retail outlet example. Let’s say it is called Alan Carter Electricals.
This may reflect well in a retail setting but is not very distinctive as a website title. Looking at the initials we see the word Ace. Now ACE offers an interesting series of possibilities that could be used to specify a unique identifier. However even this in it’s own right may be to ambiguous. As ACE is a widely used id which is associated in many ways with other things across the world.
So we expand that by adding the word retail making the title ACER, it can also be changed around to the word ACRE or Alan Carter Retail Electricals. This is one way to create a set of mnemonics to reflect the business id. Using the ACR electricals also offers a descriptive of what the business is about Electrical supplies. This works very well for this example as the resulting domain name will look like this ACR Electrical.
Domain types, without going into to much detail, always try to get a.com abbreviation for your domain name. This simply because it is the top most searched for and utilised domain name registration format. The resulting domain name for this business will look something like this acrelectrical.com.
Using this example it can be seen how an existing title can be used to create a unique online profile identifier.
Website creation: There are really only two options available here.
That is to design it yourself or hire someone to do it for you. Depending on the hosting platform chosen. The options available will vary widely.
For our sites we do all the design works ourselves, and implement those changes through the tools our hosting platform provides. We do this simply because it is cheaper and allows us the ability to make changes as required.
Employing someone to do the work may add an additional costing to the business, but takes some of the pressure off when it comes to creating the website.
The final thing needed once we have the website is creating awareness.
If you already have an existing customer base the process is made easier. However if you are starting on a new enterprise from scratch the following methods will still work. But results may take longer to obtain.
Using social media to generate awareness is the single most effective way to connect with your audience. It offers prospective customers reasons to connect with your business across networks. Used as part of the overall shopping experience. It is simply the most direct way to generate new customers, to keep customers coming back and to retain customer awareness.
There are many ways to integrate social media with an e-commerce site: We’ll look at some below.
Site content: Now having great content is what attracts visitors to your site. When people like something, they refer it to others and it generates interest. Which in turn attracts further visitors. When content becomes popular it gets comments and links from across the net. As those links increase, the content receives a higher authority rating in the Google search engine results. This spills out to other sections of the site. When content lacks links, irrespective of how good that content may be, it lacks those authority signals that Google requires to rank pages in search results. So, to improve your search engine optimization efforts, create compelling content that consumers will link to.
As an aid to improve these follow ups, encourage your site users to respond to the experience they have had when interacting with your business. Whether that is the product purchased, the service they have received, or simply liking some of the site content. This generates user involvement, which offers a gauge to new users on how others value both the site, and the services if offers.
In so doing you open yourself up to a wealth of information which can be used to improve and streamline the business model.
Always follow up on a customer review with an appropriate response, this shows the customer that their input has been valued. If the review is positive, thank the customer for leaving it.
If the review is negative, respond in a positive manner and and address the issue directly. Encourage further communication. But keep this private.
In this way the customer feels their input is valued, and will return again.
Email Lists: Sending out emails to potential customers is another very good way to generate interest. However recent changes in internet privacy issues, has made the keeping of email lists the subject of legal requirements across certain areas of the globe. Always be aware of these regional restrictions when setting up your email lists.
When using emails there are certain points to remember.
Keeping your emails relevant to the business and your customer base.
Keeping content fresh and interesting.
To this end, progressive mailers consistently change email artwork, layout, and basic design. These small tweaks in layout and communication style, can improve uptake rates and make a sizeable revenue difference.
Advertising, there are basically two methods:
Free advertising: This relies on a thing called Search Engine Optimisation. It works by using the opinions of others to create awareness and confidence in your website. Using methods described above you simply generate traffic based on the quality of your content and service based on the experience of those who have used it. There are SEO tools and companies that offer methods of improving your ratings by using things such as key words, back linking etc to speed up the ranking process. We do all our own SEO and have found that any improvement to our rankings filter through about a month after the changes have been made.
Paid advertising is simply that, you pay for an advert to get people to visit your site.
There are many methods for doing this online, and we have covered those in a previous article link below.
We wish you well in your e-commerce career and many thanks for your time in reading this article.
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All the best
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