There are many misconceptions about what makes an e-commerce website. For startup businesses, in particular, the e-commerce world can seem overwhelming and without careful consideration, it is very easy to spend heavily for little return.
What is e-commerce?
Also known as internet commerce or electronic commerce, e-commerce relates to the buying and selling of services, products and more online. Examples of e-commerce websites are buying and selling platforms such as eBay, product websites for brands such as Asos, as well as travel websites such as Expedia.
So, what do you need to think about if you have, or are considering, an e-commerce website?
1) Must be Mobile
E-commerce websites must have a responsive design, meaning that they work well on all devices. Firstly, Google favours websites that are designed to be responsive and are optimised for use on mobile devices so a sites search engine ranking will benefit.
If that’s not enough, two-thirds of the world’s population have a mobile phone. In 2018, there were 4.021 billion internet users worldwide and 52% of website visitors accessed sites through mobile devices, proving that responsive design is essential.
2) Socialise to Maximise (Sales)
Social media is a powerful way to engage with customers and build brand loyalty. It’s reported that people who receive good social media customer service are likely to spend 21% more on a company’s products/services.
As well as being a great customer service tool, it’s also a vital marketing channel. Allowing you to reach new people, a consistent and engaging social media presence builds trust and credibility, hopefully resulting in more website traffic and conversions.
3) Create Content
Creating content is a good way to convey brand identity through tone of voice (if creating written content) or through imagery and colours (if the content is visual, such as video). Content is also is good for the Search Engine Optimisation of an e-commerce site, especially written content that effectively uses keywords associated with the site and sector.
Customers can gain a lot from content, as it should always provide genuine value, while also supplying ample material to use for marketing the e-commerce site to build brand awareness.
Some examples of content for e-commerce sites would include:
- A camera shop publishing blogs on photography tips and how to choose the best camera for specific needs.
- A clothes e-commerce site creating visual ‘look books’, which show ways to style and coordinate their products.
- A carpet cleaning service publishing a case study-style blog with before and after pictures of the work they completed.
4) Feedback is vital
The ability to track what products/services are viewed and bought is a valuable resource that can help inform what a customer base wants to see more of from an online store and can help them, in turn, predict buying patterns. This can help businesses prepare by ensuring they have an adequate amount of stock and the right marketing strategy for popular items.
5) Evolving Ecommerce
Another important thing to keep in mind when it comes to e-commerce websites is that they, like a lot of digital aspects of our lives, are constantly evolving. This means that e-commerce websites should never become stagnant in terms of their design or approach to advertising and selling their products or services.
6) E-commerce and Local Businesses
99% of all businesses in the United Kingdom are SMEs. Of this, 96% are microbusinesses, such as small local and family-owned businesses. Through e-commerce websites, small and local businesses such as these can reach more people and better serve members of their existing local community, whose schedule, busy lifestyles or health mean they are less able to shop in physical shops.
Local businesses having an e-commerce site and digital presence allows these community members to still support local businesses by purchasing their goods and services in a way that is more suited to their life and capabilities. E-commerce sites also help these local businesses expand their customer base by selling to those outside of the local community and their area.
7) Engage and Entice
While the ease of online shopping isn’t a bad thing, it does make “window shopping” in a virtual sense much easier. With e-commerce sites, people can easily view your products and compare it to your competitors’ stock, which can mean that you lose sales.
A key way to avoid losing these sales is by engaging with customers and potential customers through social media, and by enticing them with incentives to shop with you. Incentives can include free shipping, a loyalty scheme where points are collected with each purchase, or special offers and deals.
8) What About Fraud?
Fraud for e-commerce sites is surprisingly uncommon, surveys show. One of the key reasons behind this is that many e-commerce gateways detect and prevent fraudulent activity before it’s even happened. For example, popular payment system PayPal runs its own fraud detection systems, to protect itself and the businesses and users it serves.
9) For More Than Big Brands
Reports show that in 2015, the UK had the third largest e-commerce market in the world. In the same year, the value of UK e-commerce sales sat at £533 billion and around 80% of UK internet users engaged in online shopping, the highest percentage in Europe of that year. Since then, statistics show this trend is marked to continue increasing.
E-commerce is not, and should not, only benefit large companies. As such a large proportion of UK businesses as SMEs and micro-businesses, e-commerce sites should be a tool that are accessible cost-wise and resources-wise for all manner of businesses, large or small.
10) Where To Start: Your E-commerce Site
The final thing you need to know about e-commerce websites is how to get started.
+24 Marketing is based in Burnley and has been helping businesses who work on both a local and international scale market their business, make the most of their digital presence, create responsive websites that stand out and run their online business more productively with bespoke software since 2010.
We have an expert team of web developers and skilled designers who can create the perfect e-commerce website for your business. Our websites capture the very heart of what a business (and its brand) truly is. Our websites stand out, make an impression and are proven to help drive sales, as our clients’ results prove.