How To Launch An Online Store Successfully
In today’s times, ecommerce websites are king – almost every other person now buys products via online stores and sales are set to reach $4.8 Trillion by 2021. This is a sharp rise from as recent as a few years ago when such online stores were few and far between. The main reason behind this increase is the ease with which e-commerce platforms can be created and managed, and the benefits that come with running a shop through an online store.
Indeed running an e-commerce store offers much more freedom than brick-and-mortar ones – manufacturers working through best e-commerce platforms are more in control of how they manage their business. They can have a larger reach, direct connection with customers, and near-complete autonomy when it comes to making product, marketing, and sales decisions – all while running their business location-independently. For these reasons, websites for e-commerce also are able to generate more profits.
The only downside of all this freedom is that retailers, especially those who are new to working in the furniture ecommerce sector – may not know where to begin, and how to ensure that they are on their way to form a manageable and profitable business. Here are 5 simple, yet effective steps merchants can undertake to make sure they have a thriving online store.
#1. Make a Budget
When it comes to running ecommerce websites, failing to plan is planning to fail. Online shops are generally less costly as there is almost no expense on physical elements such as rent/lease, maintenance, hiring and paying scores of employees. This does not mean, however, that they do not require investment, and rarely, handling unexpected costs. It is therefore important for manufacturers to take note of all the requirements that will crop up in the process of setting up and running an e-commerce website and plan a budget accordingly.
The first of these requirements are technicalities. This includes domain names, website development, design, and hosting, as well as security. The second area of focus is operations. This includes legal fees, taxes, minimum hardware such as computers, manufacturing, and maintenance of products, and most importantly, shipping and handling. The third area of focus is setting aside a budget to help set up a suitable ecommerce website marketing strategy, paid advertising, and retention strategies. Last but not the least, there must be a contingency fund aside from all of the above in order to be able to handle unforeseen expenses.
#2. Finalise the Technicalities
Ecommerce websites thrive on digital planes. It is therefore important for sellers to make sure that their online store has a solid foundation. The first thing they must do therefore is to find and register a domain name and pick an internet hosting provider to partner with. With that sorted, sellers should move in to decide on a suitable ecommerce platform. They can either sign up to curate their contents on e-commerce giants such as Amazon or eBay , work through ecommerce website makers such as Shopify, or hire developers to make their own independent platform. Usually, sellers opt for the second option because it offers them the right combination of technical support and independence to flex their creative muscles.
Manufacturers must ensure that their e-commerce website is compliant with all of the latest security standards and legal and information directives. The website should have an attractive design, be user-friendly, and must be optimized to rank high on search engines. All of these will allow the ecommerce store to have a good brand impact, which will help the business get better visibility. Finally, the website should have the right elements for social sharing and must be integrated with price comparison platforms such as PriceGrabber.com, Shopping.com, and of course Google Shopping.
#3. Create Your Own Marketing Strategy
With the store all set up, the next important step is to ensure that people know about the website. This is where devising a marketing plan comes in. An efficient plan for ecommerce websites will allow merchants to be able to reach out to their potential customers and convince them of the idea of buying from their store. The best way to start here is by creating a buyer persona to define the ideal customer – this will help sellers identify the best and fastest way to communicate with them. Next comes the communication strategy – this has three crucial points – content, advertising medium, and industry outreach.
Both graphics and written content should be of high-quality and be optimized to rank high on search engine results organically. Merchants should also think about using product 3D renders. Such images – especially when it comes to products such as modern furniture, offer a photorealistic view of the item, which is extremely valuable to the customers’ point-of-view. These days, merchants can easily have such images created by hiring CGI companies who offer high-end services at affordable rates.
Social media and email marketing should be a must. E-commerce websites must also have some paid advertising as it complements marketing efforts greatly. Last but not the least, sellers should make it a point to reach out to creators and professionals such as influencers, bloggers, reporters and partner with entrepreneurs and other e-commerce website owners to help promote and cross-promote their business.
#4. Make a Customer Retention Plan
A good marketing strategy helps find and bring in more customers, but it is just as important to make sure to not lose them. Having to start afresh every time is a waste of time, money and energy. It is therefore important for owners of ecommerce websites to be able to develop a meaningful, long-term relationship with their customers to keep them continually interested in their products. The key is to make shopping on their store a journey that they can connect with, and gain from.
There are several ways in which companies can do this. For starters, websites can send customers highly personalized emails such as birthday wishes. They can also send special discounts and offers for occasions such as New Year or Black Friday. Another great strategy is to create a loyalty program and incentivize those who successfully refer new buyers. The most important thing, however, is to offer the best possible customer service to make sure that their queries and woes are heard. Remember – no offer can be attractive enough if the customer service is not up to the par.
#5. Collect Feedback and Reiterate
Any business is only successful so long as it can adapt to the times – ecommerce websites are no exception to this. Even the most-detailed customer journey map and the best marketing strategy is bound to have some imperfection, or at least need to be tweaked with time. Not updating and/or editing out shortcomings in time can lead to severe losses and even shut down for businesses. The key to avoiding this is to be dynamic and constantly improve with the help of feedback.
One of the best ways to get this feedback is from the customers themselves. Many furniture e-commerce retailers, for example, already employ this method by sending surveys in exchange for small rewards such as a discount coupon. Customers can easily point out the weak points from their personal experience, which sellers can then easily fix. Another way to monitor progress is by using metrics and analytics. These portray real-time data such as SEO and SEM scores, site page visits, product sale percentage, site page visits, seller data, and abandoned shopping carts. Such data on websites can easily be used to gain long-term insights and edit sales and marketing strategies to make them more effective.
In today’s day and age, running a website for ecommerce is one of the wisest decisions a any business can make. Not only are they more cost-efficient, but they also offer retailers a higher level of autonomy over all of their decisions. Most importantly, they offer customers a personalized and fulfilling journey – one they are bound to return for once they get the hang of it. It is not a ‘get-rich-quick’ scheme – building successful ecommerce websites requires a considerable amount of patience, strategizing and know-how. With the right tips and tools, however, merchants can steadily build an e-commerce store that can thrive no matter what state the market is in or who the competition is.
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