Before you hit publish on your online store and make it public, you should take the time to consider the various components that will affect your bottom line.
Not all of them apply at the launching stage, not all of them apply to your particular case – but all of them need to be seriously considered early on. Selecting the best frameworks and tools at this early stage will give you a crucial edge over your competition.
- Procurement/Fulfillment: Are you going to handle all of the shipping or are you going to use a fulfillment house to take care
of your sales shipping and handling? Have you run different scenarios to assess where the breaking point is in terms of ROI? Have you considered all the pros and cons of self-shipping rather than doing 3rd party fulfillment?
- Shipping and Handling: If you have chosen to handle sales in-house, have you considered all shipping and delivery options for getting your product(s) to your customers? Speed of delivery and good communication are crucial. Are you sure you have chosen the fastest delivery option and are able to react quickly if something doesn’t work as planned?
- Inventory Management: Do you have procedures in place for automatically updating your inventory as sales, returns and new SKUs are coming in?
- Branding/Domain Name/Social Media Handles: You need to establish a brand. A great easy-to-remember name should be your goal. Have you exhausted all your ideas for the perfect name for your brand and or product? Getting a clear brand with an available domain name (and associated social media handles) is crucial for your online success. Consider that while you can change your shipping provider or fulfillment contractor, changing your brand name is costly and very disruptive. Our advice: get it right from the start. And protect it with Trademarks and Patents (if applicable) and related domain name(s).
- Motto/Slogan: Did you know that 2 seconds is the time most web visitors will need to decide if they want to visit more of your site? 2 seconds is all you got to make that first great impression! How can you describe with the greatest impact, and in only a few catchy words, what your product (or service) does?
- Brand Kit: Have you created your brand kit with all the elements that will represent your brand going forward? Which colors, fonts, which logo will be your online avatar? A brand kit helps other partners develop content for you easier.
- E-commerce Platform: Should you be using Shopify, Woocommerce, Magento or another platform? Given all you know about procurement, shipping and handling, given where you want to take your brand and product in the future, have you chosen the right platform?
- Mobile version and Website Speed: Mobile is now how the majority of your customers will see your site. The mobile version of your site needs to be in top shape. Make sure your website loads as fast as possible. For optimum impact, your homepage should load completely in less than 1 second.
- User Engagement: Once your website is live, check Analytics and work constantly at improving your site’s conversion rate, time spent per session and bounce rate.
- Newsletter/Blog: Use your website to create landing pages designed to increase your newsletter readership. And use your CRM to send a series of newsletters (drips) to prospective buyers, and publish a blog to attract new customers (with the help of SEO, affiliate program, etc…). Newsletter marketing is a great way to grow and engage your community.
- Photos: Professional photos are crucial to your online sales success. Don’t skimp on those. See how you can create a constant stream of new photos for social media and your newsletter use.
- Videos: Almost any product can be described with a quick video, and the appetite for short videos is evident on social media and growing fast. A good content strategy will include a series of videos to help attract a bigger community.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Remember that 80% of online sales start with a Search Engine query. Getting your website and products listed in the search engines is, eventually, the best way for getting targeted traffic at the best possible cost. And, while it takes time and constant work for getting good results, it produces evergreen targeted traffic possibly generating sales for years. Is your soon-to-be-launched website SEO Friendly?
- Search Engine Marketing (Facebook Ads, Google Ads): Depending on your product or service, online ads can be the fastest way to get your initial targeted traffic. It requires an expert hand to set up correctly but these ads can be a great initial push for your sales.
- Social Media Marketing: No company can exist without a social media presence these days. Do you have the right content strategy for your brand? Have you searched for the best agency for your product or to reach out to your buyers? Shop for the best fit. Or do you plan on doing this in-house? And if so, who is going to be producing the content?
- Marketplaces (Amazon, Etsy, etc…): Your own website is just one of the places where you can sell your product online. Have you looked at marketplaces that cater to your product or clientele?
- Affiliates: Giving a percentage of your sale to affiliates is an excellent way to get your brands in front of many additional eyes, at no initial cost to you. Find ambassadors and influencers for your brand and products and and let them help boost your sales against a commission.
- Sell on Social Media: Sell directly on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest, wherever your customers are.
- Wholesale: Growing the volume of your sales is one way to lower the cost of acquisition of your product(s). And one way to do this is to provide a section of your website dedicated to selling wholesale to other businesses local or national (even international in some cases).
- Brick and Mortar Stores: If you are going to be selling to brick and mortar stores, make sure these sales and orders are reflected in your online platform (see automation below).
- Customer Service: Because you are not face-to-face with your customers, personalizing the relationship with your buyers is difficult. That’s where a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) comes into play. Having a history of your communication, orders, and as much needed detailed info you have on your customers, helps you target better communication to them.
- Reviews: Collect reviews on your product and your services. Reviews are a very important element in determining buyer’s ultimate choice of vendors. Respond to them quickly and gracefully.
- Feedback: Create feedback forms on your website, in the emails you send, and any other way you can. Getting feedback from your customers and prospective customers is the simplest, cheapest and most effective way to improve your products, or your services. Ask for it shamelessly, and study it seriously.
- Email: It should be quite obvious to you, as a regular online customer, that quick email answers are the surest way to a buyer’s heart. Automate emails as much as you can while keeping the answers short, focused, and relevant. Be sure to let buyers know about timeline for delivery, shipping information or any changes in shipping and delivery.
- Banking and Accounting: Connect your bank and your accounting software to your ecommerce engine for up-to-the minute accurate data.
- Processes: Every business is different, and every business needs to consider how to automate their own business processes. The online giants are masters at this, and you need to be too. From communication to data entering and analysis, a lot of what you do today can probably be improved by automating some – or most – of your daily processes. Processes that are not automated turn out to be bottlenecks before you know it. Learn how to turn your business to run on auto-pilot.
Digismart hopes this ecommerce checklist will be helpful to you as you build and grow your online store. Please reach out for questions or comments.