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10 steps you need to achieve online retail success

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There are questions of business, process, risk, reward and priority that need answering first.

Here are ten steps that blend business and technical e-commerce skills that online retailers should consider if they want to maximise the longevity of their online business and give it a competitive advantage, in an overcrowded market place.

1. Business Modelling – the cornerstone to your thinking

Strip it right back – it’s amazing how many dead-end tactics get used. All unnecessary cost, all unnecessary distraction and all at the expense of targeting your efforts on where they will have real effect.

Too many organisations presume and many fail to appreciate the true nature of influence online – how prospects really make decisions and how they really search.

Smart business modelling recognises buying signals irrespective of source.

2. Process analysis 

How efficiently are you running yours? Are you running from pillar to post to complete straightforward tasks? Seamless 3rd party logistics integration is the least you should strive for.

3. Sector analysis 

What keywords are your competitors targeting? Where are their links coming from? From techniques to technology, study it all – the good, the bad and the ugly.

4. Technical Spec 

Dress the store, merchandise, add layers of engagement suitable for all devices.

Taxonomy counts – place products in appropriate categories, define related products, list top rated products and recently viewed products.

5. Tech Build – rendering the wireframe 

Applying the specification – where developers work their development magic. A case of architecture, site structure, hosting, navigation, product feeds, categories and targeted keywords.

6. Test 

Nothing short of a committed and consistent testing strategy studying both technical and UX (user experience) issues will suffice but the great thing about e-commerce is that the impact of any changes are rapid and measurable.

Remember it’s not just enough to rank better – you need to continually strive to improve conversions as well.

Here are five of the top ten reasons your website may be losing sales, according to an article on Mashable, using research from Qubit. 

Price, was the top online shopper complaint between 2011 and 2013 according to Qubit. Online shoppers are more likely to jump to another site if price is too high, so offer customers something that your competitors don’t.

Product Range – online shoppers want a seamless experience that requires less effort than in-store shopping, so ensure your site reflects that desire and has a fully stocked product range.

Size – Reliable sizing charts are a must if you are selling apparel. Returns can be time consuming and will be one of the first reasons to give customers a reason to complain.
Site Functionality. Test, test and test again! Make sure your website functionality is in full working order if you want to retain a loyal customer base. According to Qubit, if Amazon’s checkout button was down for one hour, it could lose $2 million in potential sales.

Site Search – We all expect a Google-like search on a website. When this isn’t possible Qubit suggests improving and expanding your site’s tagging system and adding advanced search features.

7. Manage 

You’ve an almost unlimited range of ecommerce tactics at your disposal. Tactics to help you grow traffic, earn proximity and win conversions, some of which include:

  • Google + for business;
  • Email marketing;
  • Content marketing and PR;
  • Creative long-tail blogging;
  • Blogger outreach;
  • Thought leadership;
  • Video;
  • Tutorials; and
  • Integrated social media.

The trick is to deploy the right ones at the right time in the right way.

And the more alive you and your products are, the more blood you pump, the greater the chance of meaningful engagement. See Google’s Zero Moment of Truth concept.

8. Refine 

Maximise excellence on your site and dispose of the inefficient.

Consider what you can do to exploit Amazon’s reach to create value for your own real estate? How can you nurture direct customer relationships?

9. Review 

Making best practices better. Get analytical. Get forensic. Use the eyes of a business analyst, the mind of a data analyst and the heart of a marketeer.

Only the coldest most calculated of assessments will enable precision planning.

10. Plan 

Give people what they want in the form of useful, entertaining and informative content, tutorials, videos demonstrations, FAQs – flag it clearly through smart architecture and systematic signposting – work hard to build community and you will be rewarded.

Jon Woodall is founder and managing director of award-winning ecommerce agency, Space 48, Magento Gold solutions partner and Magento Search Marketing specialist.

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