The world of commerce has recently seen a sharp rise in digitization efforts as a response to the Covid crisis, with the technological revolution spreading to all types of businesses. Companies that once operated strictly offline are now scrambling to go digital, so they’ve also been tasked with designing strategies to build their own e-commerce stores. But, this IT wave comes with its own set of issues, questions and misconceptions.
The main challenges we see companies face in the process of launching online run along the lines of:
- I need to create an online store – fast.
- I’m not sure which store to choose.
- I’m worried about losing my customers.
- I have a store but no customers.
- I’m making sales but can’t ship them.
This article is aimed at helping you address these challenges.
#1 Launch Fast Without Creating an Online Store
If you’ve yet to take your business online and want to gauge how customers will respond to your digital presence, third-party platforms, known as Marketplaces—will give you the ability to launch quickly without going all in.
But, be careful. While marketplaces can be fast and cost-effective, this might not be the most lucrative solution since intermediaries take a percentage of your sales margins.
Below is a list of leading Marketplaces that can help you get started:
In addition, a number of specialized Marketplaces have emerged over the last few years. A few examples by sector:
#2 Build your E-commerce Store with the Right Software
Keep in mind that when creating your online store, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to choosing the right technology. The answer depends on your requirements, customers, products and deliveries.
Stores with minimal functionality can be installed on basic content management systems (CMS). You will, however, need to consider the extensions required to optimize the checkout process:
- Shopify: a growing e-commerce platform to choose when taking your first steps
- Magento: a powerful e-commerce platform to help you become even more professional
- Pure Java: to remove all frameworks and target excellence
Whichever CMS you choose, know that the technical work doesn’t stop after store launch. Updates, security and databases are all necessary maintenance measures that come into play. In the world of e-commerce, even the slightest service interruption can result in loss of revenue.
For more information on choosing the right tools and implementing your e-commerce strategy, read about the digital journey of a company – from starting out in e-commerce to setting the industry benchmark.
#3 Digital and In-store Customers Are Not the Same
We know our customers in real life – the regulars and occasional shoppers. They can come from the local neighborhood or stop in during a road trip. But, do you know how they shop online? While you might think they’re the same person (at least most of the time), their buyer behavior behind a screen is likely very different.
It’s important for digital shops to understand the differences between in-store and online shoppers – and to equip yourselves with the best data analysis tools.
Tracking tools are valuable resources to make informed decisions when you build an e-commerce store.
A few noteworthy examples:
- Mixpanel: product analytics solution
- HotJar: to understand users as if they were in front of you
- Google Analytics: the most popular & easy to customize
These tracking tools will help you determine if customer behaviors change, especially in times such as these—and whether you need to take measures to adapt.
#4 Boost Your Online Profile
Face it. Everyone is in competition and trying to bolster their digital presence. And, that’s the problem. No company can afford to rest on their laurels after creating an online store. You must consistently keep your audience in mind (identity, social status, geographic region) and make sure you’re doing everything you can to reach them.
Online, the words and experience of your customers make all the difference.
A good place to start is a search engine optimization (SEO) audit. These audits cover several issues:
- Semantic audit : understanding how target users search for products and services equivalent to yours on Google.
- Competitive audit : observing how market leaders meet the demands of customers like yours.
- Technical audit valuating the strengths and weaknesses of your current website. if you have one, or giving recommendations for your future website.
- Content audit identifying opportunities to publish articles.
In a climate of fierce competition in the digital space, an agile team dedicated to SEO is essential to any successful website.
Because referencing takes effect over time, start by fine positioning to launch acquisition campaigns aimed at the right audiences:
#5 E-Commerce Goes Beyond the Internet
In the words of Philippe Chaigneux, CEO of Made.com and guest on PentaLive, delivery companies have been the key partners of e-commerce players during the lockdown. If they stumble, so do online retailers. From Deliveroo to Uber Eats and regular couriers, the quality of your delivery service is an integral part of every product. When starting out, avoid making commitments with delivery dates because this could easily derail your customer’s experience.
To learn more about the strategies implemented by his company to build e-commerce store and overcome the current crisis, watch the replay of our interview with Philippe Chaigneux:
For all stakeholders, retailers, micro-enterprises and SMEs that are working their way into e-commerce, success depends on reliable support. The key to creating your online store is threefold:
- Use the countless tools available to save yourself time
- Observe & analyze consistently to identify your winning formula
- Double down on your efforts once you’ve identified what works
A last word of advice. Although some companies might take advantage of the current crisis in order to pitch you their “overnight success” formulas – be wary. Sustainable, scalable success takes time.
If you need support in the launch of your digital business and creation of your online store, contact one of our E-Commerce Consultants.