This articles’ heading may seem a little pessimistic, which leans towards the obvious answer… which is very little. However, we thought we would put together a short blog explaining the realities faced by thousands of eCommerce businesses to help prepare them for the competitive online world.
There are many reasons as to why retailers should have an eCommerce site: bigger audience, less overheads etc. Many businesses see the success stories such as ASOS; the massive potential and jump head first into getting a fancy online shop. If we take the story of ASOS, they started in 2000 and now have assets worth £237m. What many people don’t know is that it was started by the grandson of Austin Reed and with £2.4m start up capital. We can assure you that very few clients will have that kind of funding behind them.
Therefore, how do you succeed?
A good way to start is ensuring your products are niche and therefore have less competition, but still plenty of demand. These products are few and far between but opportunities arise all the time due to fashion and technological changes.
On the other hand, you may have a brand new product altogether, something no one has ever produced before. This is a fantastic opportunity and will need to market the product very well before others get the same idea (unless patented). This marketing does cost money, maybe even more money than normal because people won’t be actively searching for it. You have to spend time, effort and money to get your amazing new product in front of your buyer personas (BP’s).
For the vast majority of eCommerce websites, you will be launching your brand into a competitive space filled with well established and well-oiled selling machines with the same, or similar, products. This is where it gets hard; how to first get noticed by your BP’s and then to persuade them to buy.
This is where it gets hard: how do you first get noticed by your BP’s and then to persuade them to buy?
To increase brand awareness, the most cost effective way would be through social media, and yes, you will have to invest in advertising. Due to the way Facebook is set up, having business pages separate to personal pages, businesses will have to boost their page and posts through paid ads.
To ensure your website can be found by those actively searching, 51% of all web traffic will be generated through search engines of two ways; paid ads e.g. Google ads and Google shopping or organically by optimising your website. Paid advertising is good in as much as it will get instant traffic but it does cost money and will eat away at your profit margin. SEO is essential and gaining first page results will massively help your chances, but this will be a medium to long term solution.
How to improve the chances of converting traffic into sales
Product – First and foremost, the product has to be in demand, and to ensure the products are promoted correctly time should be invested in the photos/videos and descriptions.
Price – Due to the fact people can switch from site to site so quickly online and aren’t stuck in a tiny shopping center with just one shop selling your items, the price will be an obvious factor in the decision-making process.
Delivery – Expectations are ever increasing when it comes to shopping online and rumors of same day delivery by Amazon drones probably do not help when it comes to delivery options. Our advice would be to keep the options and prices as simple as possible, you may have to lose some money on some deliveries in order to do this. This will be worth it as there’s nothing worse than going to the shopping cart and seeing a delivery charge of £5.95 for a £2 pack of toilet rolls due to size.
Confidence – Lets just say you have the exact same product as ASOS and the prices on your site are 5% cheaper, you will still struggle to move customers away from ASOS in any great numbers due to the level of confidence. Buyers will want to know that their products will be delivered on time, be exactly as they ordered and know they can return with no issues if needed.
There are lots of ways you can gain confidence in your brand:
- Social Media will help because the more people that see your brand and associate it with all the great messages you have been posting, the more confidence they will have
- An SSL certificate will provide a green padlock on the browser to show that you’re who you say you are
- Reviews from customers on the site and within places like Facebook and Google
- Credit card logos
- Good quality content throughout; if you’re helpful, people will trust you
- Professional contact information; there’s nothing worse than spending all your time looking for a contact number, and if you do have one, make sure it isn’t a mobile number (yes we have seen this)
Website Design & Usability
You may have the best products in the world and at the best price but if your site looks like it was built in your bedroom then it will certainly put doubt into people’s minds. Due to the fact 60% of people accessing websites will be via a mobile device, testing on each device is essential. Last but not least, you need to ensure the website is quick to use, if it takes 4 seconds to load, you will lose 25% of users.
Summary – Patience and realistic expectations
We hope this doesn’t put anyone off starting up an eCommerce website rather provide an honest opinion on what is needed. Many people waste a lot of money because they aren’t patient or realistic in their expectations. We would advise holding back advertising and promoting your website until your site is perfect and has been tested over and over. It is tempting to get the site live as soon as possible but this could do more harm than good. Otherwise, you will find that your marketing efforts and money will be wasted. If you think the average eCommerce conversion rate is just 3%, it wouldn’t take much to turn that 3 into a 0.
Many people waste a lot of money because they aren’t patient or realistic in their expectations. We would advise holding back advertising and promoting your website until your site is perfect and has been tested over and over. It is tempting to get the site live as soon as possible but this could do more harm than good. Otherwise, you will find that your marketing efforts and money will be wasted. If you think the average eCommerce conversion rate is just 3%, it wouldn’t take much to turn that 3 into a 0.
We hope this provides enough information for realistic expectations. If there aren’t realistic expectations when planning your marketing, you may spend too much of your budget far too soon or even give up on some aspects of your marketing before they’ve had a chance to work.
If you have a great product, priced well and have all the right marketing in place, it will work…. just give it time.