In the last 6 months we've seen a massive shift in consumer spending from brick and mortar stores to eCommerce websites. While this shift is leveling out a bit from its peak, experts agree that retail has been forever changed. If you are considering launching, or relaunching, an eCommerce website you may have questions or concerns about what that process looks like in 2020. In this blog we’ll debunk 5 common myths surrounding launching & marketing an eCommerce website.
eCommerce Myth #1: Launching a website is time consuming & expensive
If it has been a while since you launched, or considered launching, an eCommerce site you will be pleasantly surprised to find that new technology has made launching a website cheaper, easier and faster than ever before.
Content Management Systems (CMS)
The first major advancement has been in the content management systems (CMS) that eCommerce websites are built on top of. Modern content management systems can be configured to use ‘templates’. A template provides the base structure of the website and then allows you to customize the look and feel of the site from there. You can add your branding, color schemes, page designs, images and more to make the site your own. Many also support ‘drag and drop’ functionality making the design process even easier. Learn More
If you’ve ever launched a site in the past you know that one of the most time consuming processes is getting your products online. This used to mean taking pictures of all the products you carry or attempting to collect the photos from your vendors, entering product dimensions, UPC codes, sizes/style options, and then writing descriptions for each product you carry. Today, much of this work can be automated with vendor feeds or integrations. With a vendor feed you can simply select the products which you sell and all relevant information, including images and product descriptions, can be automatically imported to your website, busting this time-comsuming eCommerce mtyh (and Point of Sale). Learn More
Full Service Technology Partners
While the process of launching a site has become quicker and easier, it does still require some time & expertise. If you don't have in house resources to launch an eCommerce site, many technology providers, such as Celerant, have evolved to become ‘full service’ eCommerce providers. Meaning they can design the website, handle data conversion, host the site, launch the site and some even offer digital marketing services such as search engine optimization and email marketing to help jumpstart your online business.
eCommerce Myth #2: My customers aren’t shopping online
Between 1999 and 2019, eCommerce sales have grown year over year, every single year. In 2019, pre COVID, it is estimated that 250 million Americans made at least one purchase online. Now, fast forward to 2020; COVID-19 has caused an explosion in eCommerce sales. According to a study by Adobe Analytics the pandemic has accelerated the growth of eCommerce by 4-6 years.
As you can see by the above graph, eCommerce sales are significantly outpacing the previously estimated amounts. It’s important to note that while much of this growth is due to previous online shoppers purchasing more, and a greater variety of goods, online a good portion of this growth is from first time online shoppers. Historically, elderly populations adopted online shopping at lower levels than other groups, however due to health & safety concerns many have become accustomed to ordering online. All of this is to say that even if your customers' were not shopping online 6 months ago, they are now.
eCommerce Myth #3: Promoting an eCommerce site is difficult
There has never been more ways to promote your eCommerce site than there are today. Additionally, each marketing platform can be used in countless different ways. However, you don’t need to be a marketing expert to get started building your online business. Below are 4 basic strategies you can use to start building your brand.
- Social Media: Building out your social media pages is a great way to start building your online brand. Once you have your pages built out, encourage your current customers, friends and family to 'follow' or 'like' the page to start growing your network. Continue to build your network by regularly posting fresh content, videos, product reviews, blog posts or anything else your target customers will enjoy. Make sure to link back to your eCommerce page regularly to drive traffic and sales.
- Email Marketing: With your social media channels live, your next focus should be on email marketing. Email marketing is the most cost effective way to promote your business. Start by emailing your existing customer base and expand from there. As you become more advanced in your marketing, investing in a marketing automation platform will allow you to send personalized emails based on your customer’s past purchases, brand preferences, birthdays, anniversaries etc. Customizing emails in this way has shown to bring 6x the return of generic ‘mass’ emails.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Search engine optimization is the art/science of getting your website to show up when someone 'Googles' a keyword related to your business or a product your sell. The key to SEO success is the same as Social Media success- regular, new and engaging content which is relevant to your business. If you are creating this content you will already have a big leg up on many of your competitors. That said, truly optimizing that content in a way that helps the search engines understand its context/meaning is a little more complex. There are many books, blogs, and YouTube videos that can help you get started, but this may be an area where it’s worth hiring an outside agency or leaning on your technology partner.
- Cross-channel marketing: A cross-channel marketing strategy focuses on increasing sales in all the channels you sell in; both online and in store. You should be promoting your store on your eCommerce site, and your eCommerce site at your store whenever possible. It has been shown that the most loyal customers shop on multiple channels; support this loyalty by offering promotions, rewards, coupons and gift cards that work both in store and online.
Don't know where to start?
Let us help! Celerant is a full service retail software provider. We offer point of sale, eCommerce and digital marketing solutions to small and mid size retailers across the country to help you defeat eCommerce myths.
eCommerce Myth #4: Price is the only thing that matters online
One common reason retailers give for NOT selling online is that they can’t compete with the prices Amazon, and the ‘big box’ stores offer online. However, price is not the biggest factor in many people’s buying decision; convenience, trust and customer service are often cited as reasons consumers choose to shop at one website vs. another. Below are some ideas on how you can grow your business based on these principles.
Convenience: There has been a 196% increase in curbside and buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS) orders since March of this year. Customers’ value being able to see the product before taking it home, avoiding shipping costs, and the instant gratification of same day pick up. Leverage this fact by providing these fulfillment options on your website to your local customers. Get Started
Trust: Amazon and big box stores do not employ people with expertise in the niche products you sell. Use your experience to position your company as experts in the products you sell. There are many ways to do this depending on the type of products you sell, some ideas include…
- Posting online reviews of the products you sell (video or text)
- Offer warranty or repair services for hard goods
- Sell training or online classes for appropriate products (hunting, sporting goods etc..)
- Complimentary design consultations
Customer Service: There are a few simple things you can do to keep your online customers happy, and coming back for repeat sales.
- Return Policy – Customers want to know that you stand by the products you sell, and the best way to prove that is with a generous return policy. Offering a convenient return process & policy puts customers’ minds at ease and leads to them purchasing more items, most retailers find that offering a generous return policy drives higher average sales totals and more repeat sales.
- Live support – It is not necessary to provide 24/7 support, however having someone available during business hours to answer customer questions or concerns will help improve the customer experience. In the beginning, this can be as simple as an email address & phone number to your brick and mortar store, as your business grows you may need a dedicated employee, or team, to support the eCommerce side of the business.
- Quick Delivery Time – Most customers don’t expect next day or 2 day delivery, however it is important to ship orders in a timely manner. Also, be sure to notify customers when the order ships and include any relevant tracking numbers so they can track their packages with the shipper.
eCommerce Myth #5: Sales will return to normal after COVID
March of this year was a record breaking month for eCommerce, with total sales $93 billion above the previously estimated amount. This likely comes as no surprise as this was the peak of the state mandated retail closures in many areas across the country, and while we don’t except this type of jump to be permanent there is expected to be a permanent increase in eCommerce sales, and a permanent decrease in brick & mortar sales.
There are varying studies and reports as to what the final long term shift will have been, but everything points to there being a pronounced shift to eCommerce sales. This should also come as no surprise to anyone, it has been happening for the last 20 years. COVID-19 has simply accelerated that shift by forcing new shoppers into the online space, and making them come to expect new fulfillment methods.
Every retailer needs to decide what path, and investments, are best for their business, and for some eCommerce may not be a space which they would like get involved with, and that is ok. However, with the ease of launching and maintaining a site today, we believe that for the vast majority of retailers, opening a second revenue channel with an eCommerce website is a sound business decision. Get Started
Rethink. Revamp. Restart.
Let Us Help! While some retailers have internal teams to launch & market a new eCommerce website, many retailers have limited resources and need assistance to overcome these eCommerce myths. By leaning on your technology partner, and your vendors, you can quickly create and launch your eCommerce site.
At Celerant, we create your site for you, integrating and leveraging your product data from within your POS, and migrating any existing product data & images you have or we can pull directly from your vendors. To help you ramp up your digital marketing efforts, we offer an email marketing platform, integrated with your customer and sales data in real-time, so you can send personalized emails based on past purchases and sales data. Our team of digital marketing specialists offer assistance with creating the campaigns, building the email segments, and sending the emails out on your behalf. Our specialists will work with you to create your SEO strategy, and make the ongoing changes to help your eCommerce site rank above your competition for your most important search terms. Celerant can truly be your guide to eCommerce to help make your launch successful!