To set up a site and make money, you’ll need to be familiar with the ABCs of business. It all comes down to supply and demand. Price points, logistics, operations and merchandising are still relevant in today’s digital world. While most articles focus on the tech side of launching an e-commerce site, finding the right domain or platform is the easy part. Making sure your site is a lean mean fighting machine is the hard part. Here are 5 tips to ensure your site is running optimally.
1. Your product is your site’s engine
While user experience is important to keep shoppers on your site long enough to browse and buy, it won’t make up for a poor or overpriced product. Bottom line? There’s no point in investing in user experience and funky engaging content if you haven’t drilled down your product and pinpointed your core target customer. Think of it this way, your products are your business’s engine; your site is simply the body or packaging. A bad product equates to a bad engine. An overpriced product equals a sluggish engine. It’s simple. As along as your product performs well and is competitively priced, your site’s traffic and earnings will grow over time with the help of your marketing campaigns, promotions and content strategies.
2. Merchandisers are like mechanics.
Besides having a great product, you must know pricing - inside and out. Your product is the engine, your website is the body, you and your team are the mechanic. Setting up an e-commerce site means you’ll need to have a good understanding of merchandising. Besides negotiating price points with suppliers, you’ll need to manage and distribute stock. In retail, this is known as forward planning. By studying sales data, you can calculate what lines need to be reordered and what stock needs to be marked down. If you don’t come from a merchandising or sales background, don’t attempt to learn these skills overnight. Hire the right talent or find software to help bridge the skills gap. You wouldn’t tinker around with your car, if you weren’t a qualified mechanic. Your site is no different.
3. Perform diagnostics.
It’s tempting to markdown stock or price points to help shift poor performing lines, but every time you lower your price point, you are reducing your margin. Don’t just fix immediate problems. Look for larger trends behind problems. Are you overbuying stock? Perhaps, you are ordering the wrong colour, style or fabric. Similarly, markups which are too low leave customers suspicious of the value of your product. Not checking competitors’ prices is also a big failure. Running weekly and monthly reports is just one aspect of managing your site. Always look at the bigger picture of how you can improve sales and overall operations.
4. Page speed is your site’s oil.
You know the old adage, time is money? This saying is truest of e-commerce. Most consumers use the internet to compare prices research a product or purchase a product from a trusted brand. Page speed is one of the few tools you have to lure customers in and make them stay on your site. Make sure your site is well oiled so your products can perform well. Page speed also now factors heavily in the way search engines like Google rank pages. And make sure your site is mobile optimised, both for Google rankings and your customer. If your buyer is prepared to make a purchase and your page is too slow or they can’t buy from their mobile, they won’t hang around.
5. Keep it transparent.
No one likes a dishonest mechanic. Explain the benefits of your service in simple, clear language. Do not exaggerate the benefits or your product or use excessive superlatives like the healthiest, smartest, fastest or oldest unless you can back it up. If your product is really the fastest around, you will not need to remind customers of this fact. There is something to be said for confidence… we know our product is great, so we don’t have to ‘sledgehammer’ the customer to convince them. However, you might want to point them to customer reviews or highlight a feature your product has that other products lack. Perhaps, you’ve received an award or achieved an industry milestone. It is okay to underline this achievement, but avoid making claims you can’t back up.
Running your own site isn’t rocket science. These days most sites rely on in-house metrics. It’s easier than ever to see what customers are buying and why. However, technology does not replace experience. It simply augments it. Knowing your competitors and setting price points correctly is half the battle. Being able to see bigger trends at play is essential in any industry, especially e-commerce.
Simone Baret has worked for top brands like Hobbs & WH Smith in merchandising and copywriting roles. She joined the ParcelHero content team at the beginning of 2015 to share top e-Commerce and international shipping tips for expats and business owners around the world. She takes an active interest in the courier service industry.
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