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The local ecommerce industry is huge, but it is also highly competitive and generally entered with great expectations. Beguiled by slick advertising and success stories, few ecommerce entrepreneurs have a clear idea of what they're getting themselves into. Some will stay the distance, but many will fall by the wayside, wondering what went wrong when the idea was so good.
The truth is, ecommerce needs to be approached strategically and to do that effectively, you need a team. You need to face up to the hard questions about whether your venture has what it takes and only the back and forth that is a natural part of a group effort is what will get you there and your brand ready for the big reveal.
The cornerstone of an ecommerce venture is its website. Without a website that is eye-catching, impactful and intuitive, your business will struggle. A crucial consideration is the user experience (UX). While off-the-shelf online stores abound, crafting the ideal UX takes skills and experience.
Ideally, your site should offer a seamless flow from landing page to checkout. On-page optimisation, such as site speed, as well as site architecture, are critical elements. The user interface (UI) should be visually appealing and intuitive to operate. Your customers should have no difficulty finding what they want and no difficulty getting it through the checkout and delivered to their door.
They need to feel good about it, too, because it's the feelgood factor that keeps customers coming back and gets them to tell their friends. Every step of the ecommerce process needs to be focused on the customer, so consider elements like help chat bots, thank you notes, personalised messages and follow-up emailers ensuring the customer got what they wanted.
Keeping the customer front and centre also means never leaving them wondering. Costs, extra charges, product options, delivery times, returns policies and the like all need to be crystal clear and at hand where and when the customer is on the site. Then, deliver on what the site promises for one simple reason: you need the customer to come back.
Many ecommerce websites talk about the cost of conversion. Put simply, this is how much it costs to get a customer to make a purchase. Most ecommerce websites will only start making a profit on the customer's third purchase in relation to the amount spent on obtaining that customer. That's a lot of outlay before the profit starts racking up!
Taking the cost of conversion into account in planning the website and the overall digital marketing strategy eases the process of setting up an online business immensely. If you know how much you need to spend to make a profit, you'll be better prepared for the costs that will come your way and better equipped to make decisions that decrease your cost of conversion.
Putting the cost of conversion into context, as of January 2019 there were over 1.94 billion websites on the Internet. As an ecommerce venture, you will literally be little more than 1 in 2 billion. Getting the right people to your site and getting them to buy suddenly seems a lot harder than the success stories suggest. But that's not to say your venture won't be a success story.
Setting up with a clear strategy in mind and working in a team that's not afraid to ask hard questions is key to your success. Keeping consistent, strategic and professional while always adding the personal touch will go long way towards building a venture that has a loyal following and offers a long-term return on investment. Be ready for the long haul and know it's going to be a wild ride!
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