Need To Know Tips To Make Your eCommerce Business A Success

The online revolution has changed every single part of our lives in the modern world, including the democratization of entrepreneurship. Starting a business online is low-cost and easy to get going so little wonder that more and more people are deciding that the flexibility and autonomy of working for themselves are worth starting up on their own for. Now, whatever your background, you can share your skills and connect with people on a global level – and with all kinds of niche markets to cater for, there is plenty of opportunities out there. It’s all a matter of defining your brand, finding your audience and connecting with them.

Follow Through With Branding

Your branding is what makes your business stand out from the rest, defining who you are and what you stand for – so once you have it nailed, make sure that it’s working hard for you. When you think of all the huge brands you know – Starbucks, Apple, Nike, Coca-Cola – what they have in common is consistency. From Paris to Beijing, when you step into one of their outlets you know exactly what to expect. And no matter how small your enterprise is to begin with, you need to take the same approach. All the assets you have at your disposal should uniformly reflect your brand identity, from the photographs and copy on your website and your eCommerce SEO to your electronic invoices and the packaging you send things out in. They are all opportunities to communicate with your customers. There are many small businesses out there not making the most of the branding opportunities that they have, and even if you’re small in size there is nothing to stop you thinking big. A consistent approach looks professional and gives your customers a great impression. You don’t have to spend a fortune either – free graphic design tools are simple to use to create a logo and a palette of brand colours and stock imagery sites can help to add personality and illustration.

Keep Your Data Safe

As a business dealing with customer data, you have a duty to keep that data safe. And since the introduction of GDPR in law, non-compliance could mean that you risk crippling fines, not to mention to the total lack of trust a security breach engenders with your customers. Nearly half of all cyber attacks occur with small businesses, because criminals know that they often don’t have the same security measures as large corporations. In order to keep your business safe, you will need to implement a rolling programme of data security measures, starting with installing and updating the correct anti-virus, spyware prevention software. Then look at investing in either a secure, dedicated server used only by your business and it’s values or at a cloud computing server with a high level of security. Using encryption technology is another way that you should be safeguarding the data you process, especially if you use mobile computing solutions such as a laptops or tablets. Yourself and any staff will also need training about data security best practice, as people themselves are often the weakest link, doing things like leaving themselves logged in on accessible machines or the old offence of writing their password down on a Post-It Note in front of the computer. Never hold onto data you’re not using, or collect data just for the sake of it, and ensure that you have a shredder and confidential waste disposal for sensitive documents after use. Taking preventative steps will hopefully help avoid disaster befalling your operations. The importance of safe and secure transactions is crucial for eCommerce outfits- customers need to know they can trust you to handle credit card details with confidence.

Knowledge Is Power

Running your business should be a constant process of information gathering – on the preferences and habits of your customers, on what your competitors are doing, and on what wider marketplace and macroeconomic factors are shaping the broader retail landscape. Being well informed is your best weapon to help you make the right choices in guiding your business. As an entrepreneur, it’s very easy to become bogged down in the day to day minutiae, when you need to be saving some focus for the broader picture of leadership. This can be particularly difficult if you’ve always been very hands on with the detail of your business. Learn some effective delegation skills to help you through this transition, and free some time up for analysis. Look at the customer data you hold for insights. You should be using the information contained here to increase conversions rapidly.  The three behavioural metrics of most importance to online retailers are looking at troubled pages, finding your top performing traffic sources and preventing abandoned baskets. An increase in visitors, but no corresponding leap in conversions implies that your website is not behaving effectively – and that means you could be wasting precious advertising budget as well. Pinpoint the problem by analysing exit sources – at what point in the journey are customers jumping ship? Use a combination of heat mapping and survey work to find out why customers are abandoning the transaction at this point – it could be anything from a hard to understand sizing chart to high shipping costs. Looking at referral sources can help you understand if your Google AdWords is correctly optimised – are people finding a match with what they searched for when they hit your site? If someone has arrived at your product page through organic search terms, they are looking to buy what you’re selling. Incentive them to complete the checkout process with offers, discounts or free shipping. You can then follow up with targeted content via email newsletters, social media channels or even display advertising. If abandoned baskets before checkout is an issue, look to optimise the user experience through exit surveys with a coupon code or an abandoned basket saver email to stop them leaking out of the purchasing pipeline. Focus on eliminating any concerns, because once a customer has completed a purchase, they are vastly more likely to return again, especially if you continue to incentive them to do so. The second strand to this is to make sure that you keep up to date with what your competitors are doing. Use a tool like SEMRush to discover who they are – don’t just assume you know, as the results may surprise you. Analyse their content to understand what their offer is and how they are marketing it to potential customers – are they engaged on social media? Producing great, informative videos? Useful case studies? Creative presentation? Look at what keywords they are using in page headers and their URL architecture also to get a clearer picture of what is bringing their customers in. Finally, make sure you’re staying on top of industry trends and wider factors affecting your customer landscape. Subscribe to a few industry newsletters and journals and make time to refresh your knowledge by booking onto a couple of conferences per year- these are a great way to reset your thinking and come up with new ideas away from the day to day distractions of the office environment.

Protect Your Brand

You’re putting a lot of hard work into establishing a brand and connecting with customers – so you also need to be super vigilant in protecting that brand. Untruths and misinformation can spread quickly online and your reputation is absolutely key. Start by always responding promptly to customer queries- especially negative ones. Show how you’ll fix the issue highlighted and give the right impression of being calm and professional. It this way, a bad review can actually be an opportunity to make your business look good. Develop your offering to become a thought leader as well – creating a content marketing strategy which will position your brand as the inside track on areas relating to what you sell, whether that’s articles on the latest catwalk trends if you sell clothes or handy midweek recipes if you retail cookware – just tailor it to be highly relevant to your audience. This can work from both an SEO perspective and a reputational one. Set up a Google Alert for your business to see what people are saying about you and identify opportunities to place relevant content. If you can become a trusted resource then you are sowing the seeds of longevity for your brand. Use your social media channels as an avenue for brand protection as well. Social listening can help you to understand what concerns and hot topics your customers have about you. Often the first touchpoint people have with you are your social channels – many successful brands like Spectrum brushes use Instagram as their sole marketing tool. So make sure the presentation, tone and content are correct and think of them as your shop window to enhance your brand reputation. Develop a proper branding strategy for social media and make sure you are posting regularly and using the platform to highlight successes, connect with customers and tap into current trends.


Arnel Ariate is the webmaster of Money Soldiers.

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