Running an ecommerce business sounds like a no-brainer when you consider some of the advantages — like the fact you can operate it without needing to sign a lease on an expensive retail space. Although online buying and selling has been on the upswing for years now, there is still plenty of opportunity for new merchants to enter the marketplace.
However, being successful at ecommerce still requires a strong strategy guiding each decision you make about your store. Online sellers have taken many different paths to achieving ecommerce profitability, but thriving stores tend to share a few things in common.
Here are three general tips on how to be successful at ecommerce.
Don’t Just Open a Store — Create a Brand
There’s a massive difference between opening a store and creating a brand. The former involves setting up the infrastructure needed to display products and accept payments. The latter involves creating the design and functionality needed to make a distinctive impression on shoppers.
What are the components of an ecommerce brand? Here are a few, according to Multichannel Merchant:
- Logo: Aim for simplicity and recognizability here.
- Brand style guide: Create a set of guidelines to which your website, marketing and social media pages will adhere.
- Unique selling proposition: Use a USP to differentiate your brand from the competition and establish your brand’s “X factor.”
- Story: Connect with customer by creating and publishing your brand story — including its history and values.
- Voice: Communicate with the world in a consistent voice that helps bring your brand personality to life.
Generic ecommerce stores are a dime a dozen, but successful ecommerce brands truly stand out from the crowd.
Make Customers the Center of Everything
When in doubt, ask: What does the customer want? This is true whether you’re deciding what to include in an email newsletter, adding a new product to your store or overhauling the navigation on your website.
In fact, something as seemingly “simple” as how easy or difficult your website is to navigate can make or break conversion rates. Perhaps the most important element of your entire ecommerce website is the main navigation bar, from which people can move throughout the organized pages to find what they’re seeking. As CIO advises, adding site search as a shortcut to get people where they’re trying to go faster is a smart way to keep people on your website and guide them through the sales funnel — rather than pushing them into the arms of your competitors.
Make Content Creation a Cornerstone of Your Store
What is the role of content creation in ecommerce today? First of all, creating on-site content rich with target keywords helps increase your website’s search engine rankings. This gets your website in front of more “eyes,” which in turn can drive traffic to your store.
Effective content can also motivate people to take desired actions — like signing up for your loyalty club or shopping your seasonal sale – via targeted calls to action. There are many different ways to connect with customers via content: social media captions, email marketing messages, website landing pages, blog posts, product descriptions and more. A major goal here is to balance the use of keywords with your brand voice, so as to create a recognizable tone people can come to expect from your company. Consider how photographs and videos can factor into a strong content strategy, too.
Being successful at ecommerce is like putting together a puzzle. There are many pieces that must interlock to create a whole image — including (but definitely not limited to) content, branding and customer experience.