For Traditional Retailers Looking To Get Into eCommerce - Part 1

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So you want to start to expand into eCommerce.

A 600 billion dollar industry with no shelves to keep stocked, no cashiers to hire, no store to keep clean. It’s just your product and your customers, without the thousands of dollars in on-the-ground investment a brick and mortar store needs – I can see why you’re interested. But there are some things that are just as important as a physical storefront that you probably haven’t dealt with before.

Here are the essentials:

How To Make People Stop By Your Online Store

You probably have many ways of attracting people to your stores. Flashy displays, coupons, and sales events can all make people more likely to drop by. It’s not really so different with an online store. Discounts and sales still make people more likely to buy. Having a well-designed website makes people more likely to shop on your site. And coupons still work – they just need to be e-mailed instead. But there is one major point of difference, and that’s getting people to see your store in the first place. The internet is a big mall in the world, and even with a great site, it’s very possible you’ll be overlooked. So how can you make sure you are getting the amount of traffic you want? It’s simple: get people talking about your store.

Word of mouth, as well as social media, is a great way to boost the search rankings of your store.  Get exciting about what you sell, and encourage them to share it with their friends and family. The more link and discussions there are about your site, the more likely that search engines like Google and Bing will rank your site higher, causing more people to click on it. This method is known as Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, and it’s the best way to get a steady stream of traffic every month.

Another way of getting traffic is by advertising, something you might have experience with. There are many ways to do this, but perhaps the most widely used is a method called pay-per-click advertising. To break it down, you create a small advertisement that shows on either a website or search engine. Every time someone clicks on the ad, you pay a small fee, the cost of which depends on how many people are competing for the same space. Once the prospect clicks the ad, you can direct them either to your website, or another page which is designed to sell them a certain product.

If you do direct people to your website, you need to make sure it’s as well put together as it possibly can be. An eCommerce website is designed to sell products, while a traditional retail website is designed to drive people to the stores, so make sure you’re setting up an entirely different site for your eCommerce division. Your website is just like your traditional storefront… set up promotions so that they’re highly visible, and design it strategically so visitors see what you want them to see. Set up a review system, and reward buyers for participating. Set up a loyalty program, so that they keep coming back.

I cannot possibly go through all the different ways to create a good eCommerce website and marketing strategy, but these are the major ones that differ considerably from offline retail.

Next week, I’ll be talking about the most important parts of any eCommerce business – how to get your product to the customer in one piece, and quickly, as well as why that’s important.