Over the last several years, ecommerce has exploded into a multi-billion dollar industry. And it is only expected to grow. According to Entrepreneur.com, in 2010 ecommerce retail totaled at $163.7 billion, and those numbers are projected to increase to $491.5 billion by 2018.
However, this doesn’t mean your business will automatically be booming if you have an online store. Many businesses make the mistake of assuming an online customer is the same as an in-store customer. They take an existing product and offer it online…without changing strategies or considering different buying behaviors and customer needs.
In general, brands that have had success in ecommerce know that: 1) not all buyers are looking for the same things 2) online shoppers have different preferences as in-store shoppers.
Let’s look at some specific tips on how to achieve success in ecommerce.
Don’t start too quickly
Putting up an ecommerce website too soon isn’t a good idea. While it’s fine to start a blog without a clear focus in place yet, if the purpose of your website is to sell, wait to launch until it’s ready. Make sure your content marketing, SEO, advertising, social media, branding, etc. is in place first.
Also, be sure to test everything before, during, and after your launch. Get inside the customer’s head and figure out what’s working well, what isn’t, and why.
Concentrate on the Customer
It’s a lot harder to sell when a customer can’t see and touch the product in person. This concept is a key in many multi-level-marketing businesses…it’s so much easier to sell when the product and salesperson is right there in front of you.
So you’ll need to use powerful images and words on the site. Use expressive copy to explain why people can benefit from your product. Include high-quality photos, and product reviews as soon as you can. Have people you know test your product ahead of launch time so they can write reviews for you. People are much less likely to buy from a site without reviews.
Also focus more on making the buying experience easy and convenient for the customer. This is why many people choose to online shop in the first place. Make sure it’s clear what the product is, why they want it, what the cost is, etc. Keep the purchasing page as simple as possible. And make sure to have a good mobile option for your page…these days you can’t run an ecommerce site without a mobile option.
Showcase top sellers:
Make sure your best product and USP are easy to find. It might be best to include them somewhere on your homepage. When a potential customer visits your site, they should have no question what your specialty is. That way, even if they decide not to purchase anything, the next time they need your specialty product, they’ll think of you.
Build a focused web presence
Create smart and focused marketing over trying to be everywhere and do everything. This is especially important when just starting out. If you try to be on every social media platform right away and do it well, you’ll get overwhelmed.
Figure out which platforms your customers are most likely to be on, and start there. Associate with websites that provide products that go along with or compliment yours. This will help your SEO and build a presence passively.
Choose Memorable Branding
When creating your branding, make sure you know your targeted customers. If your brand doesn’t align with their likes and dislikes, it won’t be effective. The layout and graphics are the first factor in grabbing or losing someone’s attention. Play with colors, logo options, display, etc.
The content you choose should be relevant to the audience and high quality. It’s ok to focus more on quality than quantity. Many top marketers argue that quality is more important.
Choose Ecommerce Software
When picking the right ecommerce software, it’s best to think with the future in mind. You don’t want to have to repurchase software every year. So make sure your present business requirements are met with your software, with additional options for the future (scalability, customization, etc.).
Selling on Other Sites
If you want to sell on other retail sites such as Amazon, different rules apply. According to brandpackaging.com, there are three key strategies to use when determining what products to use and how to sell them.
1) Pay Attention to Buyer Margins
Buyers seem to care most about margins…but which margins they care about can be different. Amazon measures “penny profit per unit” or “$/unit margin,” while buyers for Walmart looks for % margin.
The difference comes down to their cost-centers. For stores like Walmart, the costs are in-store, while Amazon is focused on “outbound shipping” to the customer. So Amazon has an additional cost every time it sells a product.
So, if a brand wants to succeed both in store and in outside ecommerce, they need to look at both the dollar margin online and the percentage margin offline. Amazon isn’t going to sell a product if it can’t make a profit on it.
You can increase $/unit margin by selling more quantity per unit. This will bring down the outbound shipping costs for online retailers like Amazon.
2) Match the Pack Size to Your Customer’s Preference
Online sales often work best with larger pack sizes. Online shoppers don’t want to have things shipped constantly…or they buy bulk purchases to avoid carrying big loads home.
But you’ll need to find the right size for your specific customers. There is a high upfront cost and space requirement when making a bulk purchase, so make sure you don’t go too big.
To decide how large to make your pack sizes, you’ll need to find out how often consumers use your products. If it is a product that is consumed quickly, they’ll most likely want to buy in bulk…and if not, the pack sizes should be smaller. Larger pack sizes for high-consumption products provide both the brand, seller, and consumer more value per dollar.
3) Look at Successful 3rd Party Sellers
Another way to determine the appropriate pack size is to examine which sizes are most successful with 3rd party sellers. So for example, diapers have a very high consumption rate and tend to sell in large quantities. Amazon’s average pack size for diapers is 135, or a “one month supply.”
Toilet bowl cleaners, on the other hand, are only consumed at a moderate rate and require a longer time commitment to store. A 4-pack of a leading toilet bowl cleaner that was averaging $13,000 in weekly 1st party sales on Amazon became unprofitable for them, so they stopped selling it. But when they offered a 12-pack 1st party option at a lower cost per unit, consumers instead looked for a 4-pack option from a 3rd party seller. A 12-pack was just too much to store for the average consumer.
So this means that bulk is not always necessarily best. Most consumers are willing to pay a little more to get their preferred pack size. It will be up to you to research, test, and determine what that optimal pack size is for your products.
People that have succeeded in ecommerce understand that it’s a whole different ballgame. You’ll need to find out what your online customers are looking for, and how their preferences differ from in-store customers. You’ll also need to determine optimal pack-sizes and adjust accordingly as consumer needs change.
Also, rules are going to be different in your own online store versus an outside online retailer. Make sure you know which margins outside buyers prefer, and study what is successful for 3rd party sellers.
And above all, wait to try ecommerce until you’re ready! There are times in business when it’s best to figure things out as you go…not here. Make sure everything is in place before you give it a go.
For insider’s information on the best current ecommerce website builders, check out this link.