Building an online presence is a simple way for businesses to broaden their services to customers. This would be convenient for customers who don’t want to visit the store whenever they want to buy something. In the past, online-buying options were only available at limited stores — it wasn’t regarded as a necessary mode of operation. Those days, I believe are far behind us.
eCommerce is no longer a luxury; it has become an absolute necessity. Consumers of 2022 want the ability to order things from the comfort of their couch, at any time, and have them delivered to their doorstep within 24 hours. They do not want the hassle of battling crowds and getting stuck in long lines.
Did you know?
- In 2020, on Black Friday, the overall foot traffic (traditionally one of the busiest days of the holiday season,) was down more than 52%.
- Data shows that the average footfall at physical stores has been progressively declining at the rate of 15% every year.
- Conversely in the same year, eCommerce has exploded. Over 2 billion people made online purchases in 2020, contributing to a revenue of over $4.2 trillion in the U.S.
In 2022, to say that “getting to grips with online is vital” will be an understatement. Having online channels can often be what keeps revenue coming in at a time of uncertainty. Not only that, but eCommerce business also offers greater flexibility, affordability, and opportunity for many businesses. Hence, it might make sense to take your brick-and-mortar store online sooner than later. So how exactly do you take your business online? Here’s a guide to help.
5 Tips to Scale Your Local Business into an eCommerce Store
We’ve broken down the “how-to” part into 5 simple tips — so that you can have all the information to get your online business up and running in no time.
Start With Setting up an eCommerce Platform
You can either build a website from the scratch or host your products on an eCommerce platform. Look into the variety of eCommerce platforms that are available in the market and select the right one as per your needs.
For example, if you want an easy-to-set-up and user-friendly platform, Shopify may be an appropriate option. However, if you need SEO support or need more customization, Big Commerce may be worth a look. Also, do not forget to look at the integrations offered by your website builder and hosting services. Different platforms have their own plug-ins along with the eCommerce functionalities.
Customer Buying Analytics
Brick and mortar stores are fairly limited in analytical capabilities. You won’t always know who bought what. While retail store owners can evaluate things like inventory trends, there’s a lot more than they can glean using web analytics.
Once you have set up your eCommerce store, you’ll need to follow up with all kinds of valuable data, including:
- Average time spent shopping
- Number of clicks on products
- Number of clicks on offers
- Bounce rate
- Cart abandonment rate
- Products bought frequently together
All these details will play a big role in defining what to do next. You’ll be able to take action based on all of the above-mentioned trends.
For example, if you notice a trend in particular items purchased together, you can curate promos or sales around this pattern and notify other customers while they’re shopping.
Improve Customer Experience
An online store with poor or bad customer experience is as good as not having an online store at all. It can make or break your business. Besides, the whole point of scaling to eCommerce is to enhance the shopping journey, if not more.
Customers want a robust, omnichannel experience that your competitors aren’t providing. Since customers won’t be able to see, touch, or try on products online, you will need to focus on aspects like:
- Product image quality,
- Simpler navigation,
- 360-degree product video,
- Coherent product description,
- Reduced site loading speed (ideally 3 seconds),
- Augmented or virtual try-on (if possible),
- Try-on-at-home offers,
- Flexible return policies,
- Expedited delivery,
- Priority airfreight express services for international deliveries, etc.
Basically, you’ll need to do everything that goes into making customers feel comfortable purchasing online without hesitating as they would in-store.
Better Mobile Usability
Statista forecasts that mobile commerce sales will make up over 10% of all retail sales up till 2025.
Since most people have a smartphone attached to them 24/7, it is no surprise that mobile commerce is on the rise. It’s not enough to have a great eCommerce site: your website must also be mobile-friendly. M-commerce is growing rapidly by the year and failing to offer a mobile-friendly experience — can put you behind the curve.
Therefore, it is crucial that your focus is not limited to the desktop alone. Customers rely on mobile experiences. So make sure they are as optimal as possible.
How to Optimize Your eCommerce Site for Mobile Usability
- Leverage Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) to make your pages load quickly.
- Make your UX lighter, faster, and more intuitive.
- Enable checkout in minimum steps.
Automated Marketing Engine
Marketing is no longer limited to advertisements in local newspapers or sale signs in front of your stores. Online marketing has become extremely popular to expand your business’s reach and grow visibility. Here are some tips to automate your marketing engine:
- Send abandoned cart rescue emails.
- Post transactional emails like feedback requests, after-sales support, etc.
- Send automated yet personalized welcome emails.
- Send dynamic and personalized offers.
- Leverage online ads so that customers can reach a dedicated landing page, and make a purchase in a few easy steps.
- Use email marketing to reach them with other products customers might like.
The Final Word
Building an online store can transform and scale your business. eCommerce is a sure way for local businesses to stand out — especially in such a saturated marketplace. It’ll help you achieve everything you need. Take your business to the next level. Get started now!
Byline – The article was written by Nicholas Woodward, the Country Manager at PACK & SEND, a leading and respected brand in eCommerce, logistics, and freight delivery solutions. With over 15 years of experience in the logistics, eCommerce, retail, and franchise industries. Nicholas has thought leadership and expertise across strategic planning, leadership, eCommerce, B2C logistics, and organisational performance & growth. Connect with Nicholas on LinkedIn.