“Ecommerce is fast-moving and sounds complicated. Yes, it can be, but it really isn’t rocket science.”
Lucky for us Ann-Maree Morrison, founder of the Ecommerce Club and Managing Director of www.labels4kids.com, is here to take us through her top ecommerce tips.
Get The Platform Right
Your platform needs to be right for your product, sales turnover and audience. You should ask yourself, do you sell or are you planning to sell internationally, what is your sales turnover, how many products do you have?
If you don’t know the right platform, get advice from someone who has worked in ecommerce for some time and has used different platforms. Magento2, Big Commerce, Shopify and WooCommerce are the main players depending on your requirements but there are also tonnes of others out there that are less common for ecommerce.
Your website is not static. Within five years you will need a new one and you will need to keep the site regularly updated. Good sites that rank well cost money and take time to maintain. Some cheaper platforms will help you build your own ecommerce site but will not rank well in the search engines and will end up costing you more time and money. They do not scale, optimise, or internationalise well.
Pick The Right Developer
You will need to find a good developer who has used your chosen platform before. This is a key area and not an easy one to get right. Remember a more expensive build cost does NOT mean a better developer. More experience does not always mean better either. You can outsource abroad but I would not recommend this until you have been in the industry for some time and know what you want and how you want it .
Do your research. Check their sites, ask for VERBAL references so you can ring some of their clients, search “problems with” or “feedback on” with their name online. Ask your ecommerce contacts for advice. If you search for “reviews” you will get positive feedback normally and not see the negatives. Nothing beats a good referral from someone the same industry and size.
Agencies can be a mixed bag. Some good. Some bad. Most will recommend the platform that they know and build the most. This may be wrong for you and they will tell you it is right. Talk with a few people, compare notes and costs. Trust your gut.
Make sure the people you like, and that know what they are talking about, are the ones who will actually be building the site. Often they aren’t, they are just the people sent to pitch BECAUSE they are good.
Do your own research. Cost will no doubt play a large part in the solution you choose but it shouldn’t be the only thing you consider or you could be rebuilding in under three years’ time.
Find someone experienced in ecommerce to support you or advise you on all things related to finding the right developer, writing a site specification etc.
Ecommerce builds are notorious for growing arms and legs. Whatever you think the site will cost add a buffer of up to 20% to cover your costs and expect up to two months delay in going live. For this reason it is best to make sure you have your hand holding from someone who has been there and done it before, particularly in the site specification and deal signing stage.
Do you know what your top keywords and long-tail keywords are? You can use systems like Google Trends, Ahrefs, Answerthepublic and Google search to find your top keywords with information like volume of searches, number of searches per region and per month.
Structure Your Site
Ensuring you have the right structure on your site at the beginning is much easier than having to make changes in the future. By structure, I mean your Site Navigation and your Page Layout with Headings, Subheadings, Footers, Product descriptions etc. Search Engine Optimisation work should be done upfront using your top keywords and will need to be redone regularly.
Keep Your Customer In Mind
What do they want to buy? How will they go about searching the web? Keep in mind that although you know your product, your website layout and the technical side of things – your customers don’t. You should sketch out your structure and make sure it makes sense to a user who knows nothing about your product. Think usability and this MUST include on a mobile phone. The site must be responsive for any platform the user is on, in that it must move areas to properly fit the screen without shrinking so it is too wide, unreadable and unusable. Users will not necessarily use keywords you would for your product to search or navigate the same way you would. You will be surprised.
Make Your Site Easy To Use
Customers today are impatient. They don’t want to have to click through lots of T&C’s, pages and sign up to your newsletter to buy. Make sure you have the least number of steps to the checkout as possible. There should be 1 to 3 pages max to add to the basket/buy and checking out.
Get the site user tested by Usertesting.com and Hotjar.com and with as many people you can. Get them to screen record or use the site to see what they do with some guidance like “Find 3 products you want to buy and checkout” then just watch the action.
Be Cyber Secure
With so many fake and scam websites appearing out there customers are security conscious. Make sure all the right “feeling secure” signs are there such as the https:// at the start of the site to show the green padlock, contact details, testimonials, secure payment logos, awards and press. Many customers also now check your location on Google maps and may look at your business street view. If you are an online retailer with no business premises you may also want to look into purchasing a registered business address.
Server speed is key to fast loading and fast loading is important to companies like Google when deciding when you should sit on their listings. So ensure you get the right hosting company that can give you enough speed when needed at peak periods. Flexible server space is helpful.
Write useful and relevant content that is over 500 words per page and includes all the keywords you are targeting. Make sure you also have and write a blog that is targeted to the keywords using Ahrefs and Answerthepublic, among others. Don’t just write about having launched a product or won an award. Write what people want to hear about. Solve their problems. Try to target at least one different keyword for each product page. Not one keyword to many pages.
Overwhelmed? Thankfully there are places you can go for help.
The Ecommerce Growth Club is run by Koolya.com and assisted by STEP. It takes place on the first Tuesday of every month online and can be booked via Koolya.com and STEP’s Eventbrite page https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ecommerce-growth-club-tickets-125318152969
It is free and takes place on the first Tuesday of every month
For online training and one to one help, you can visit Koolya.com to get in touch with Ann-Maree Morrison for all things Ecommerce and Nadin Thomson for all things Digital Marketing, Blogging or any WordPress site work needed.
Ann-Maree and Nadin have almost 20 years each in their field. If there is someone out there you need to know, it’s likely they will be able to put you in touch with them.
Dr Lesley Macdonald also helps out with the club and has a wide breadth of traditional marketing background to help you out with your planning.
Find out more at Koolya.com.