The E-tail Success Checklist for Small Businesses
The most important thing to think about is the customer. What can you do to optimise everything you do to meet customer needs? Martin Newman
Going into ecommerce is a daunting prospect for indie retailers. But, says, Martin Newman, founder and CEO of retail consultancy Practicology, thanks to your speed and agility, you have the opportunity to out-maneuvre your larger counterparts. Still, there is a lot to consider. Here, Martin gives us his checklist for online success:
1 WHAT’S THE CUSTOMER CONVENIENCE PROPOSITION?
What delivery and returns options will you offer? Will you charge for these or offer them free? Think about what you sell, what your average order values are and what your competitors do.
2 WILL YOU OFFER CLICK AND COLLECT?
You’ll convert more customers, and you’ll be able to sell them more products when they come into your store to pick up.
3 PRODUCT RANGE
The web provides the opportunity to offer different products. You might decide to go down what we call the long tail route and extend the range by offering more options that you don’t sell instore.
4 SUPPLY CHAIN
Continuity of supply is absolutely crucial. So you need to know that you can replenish stock fast.
You need a web platform. This is the technology that sits behind the front-end customer experience and drives the functionality of the website. You need something that will interface with, and talk to, your existing technology, which in turn will enable you to do things like click and collect, and manage stock, customer orders and content.
6 SITE DESIGN
There is a saying that you may not want to get your creative site design from technology companies that build your platform. You will need someone to design the front end of the website and build out your ecommerce proposition.
You also need to ensure that your site is fully optimised for mobile devices including smartphones and tablets.
8 HOSTING AND DOMAIN REGISTRATION
The website needs to be hosted somewhere. Your web development provider will be able to help with this.
9 THE NAME
Make sure you check the domain name availability for your website. There’s no point in coming up with a name that isn’t available. You can acquire this from a vast number of domain name registration companies online.
You will need to produce content for your website. This is also known as visual and product merchandising. Of course, you already have to produce visual merchandising and point of sale material for your stores.
You will need product images, lifestyle images and brand related images.
You will need product descriptions as well as static, customer service related content, including terms and conditions and frequently asked questions. You will also need to think about how the content will influence your natural search engine ranking.
Customers can just walk into your physical store, but the same may not be true for your website. First of all you need to ensure that the website is search engine optimized (SEO). An agency can advise you on this, but in essence the site should be populated with content and meta data that enables the search engine to crawl and index your site.
14 MORE SEO
This will also include relevant keywords that related to what you sell, a good site map that can be successfully crawled by search engines, the meta tags that tell the search engine and web users what your site is about and alt tags for images that provide a brief description of the image.
You can promote your website in the windows of your store as well as on all packaging. You will also need to promote it online through search engine marketing (SEM). This is where you pay or bid to acquire traffic when someone keys in a relevant keyword for your business such as black dress, cheap flights, gifts, washing machines etc. The other marketing opportunities include retargeting. This is where the user has been on your site, goes elsewhere but sees an advert for your business. The other key channel is affiliates. This is where other publishers send traffic to your website and get a commission on any sales made.
16 CUSTOMER RETENTION
It’s cheaper to retain customers than acquire new ones. You should think about how you can build a lasting relationship with your customers so that you enjoy multiple purchases from them over the course of the year.
17 ORDER FULFILLMENT
To begin with, you’re likely to fulfill from store stock. But as your web business scales, you may need to think about having stock in a warehouse. You can do this with a third party logistics company.
18 CUSTOMER SERVICE
Some web customers will want to call you before and after making a purchase. So you need to be prepared for the potential of getting a lot more calls into your business that will take time to deal with. You can outsource this to a call centre, but this is not a profitable route to go down in the early stages.
19 CUSTOMER FIRST
The most important thing to think about is the customer. What can you do to optimise everything you do to meet customer needs?
20 RESOURCING IT
You’ll most likely require a different skill set from what you have currently in the business. Therefore, you might want to consider outsourcing elements where you lack the appropriate skills in your business such as acquisition and retention marketing.
Practicology is a global retail consultancy with clients including B&Q, Selfridges and Watch Shop