E-commerce was already a hot topic for 2020, even before COVID-19 turned our lives upside down. In fact, Canada is the world’s 8th largest e-commerce market, with $30-billion in online sales annually.
An online store is not only a great way of connecting with customers in our increasingly digital world; for some businesses right now, it’s the only way they can generate sales.
Regardless of why your business is developing an e-commerce website, here are our 6 tips to help you get started and ensure a successful launch of your new online shopping platform.
1. Research the Right Platform for Your Needs
When choosing an e-commerce platform, it’s important to take the time to research what’s best for your business. The last thing you want to do is simply go with whoever’s offering the biggest discount or what your neighbour’s friend’s cousin uses!
Features are one of the biggest things you’ll need to consider. Do you want to upload products one by one, or is there a bulk upload feature? Can it integrate with your store’s existing POS? Can you create discount codes? Does it integrate with social media platforms to make your marketing easier?
Don’t forget the business side of things too. Does it charge tax properly based on the location of the buyer? How does it handle shipping? How can you access your sales data for accounting purposes?
The best features for your business ultimately come down to your own needs. It may take some time to research your options and make an informed decision, but it’s a worthwhile investment that will pay off sooner than you’d think.
With the right platform, e-commerce can be an amazing way to grow or run your business. With the wrong one? It can be an absolute nightmare.
2. Take Great Product Shots
Visuals are key when online shopping. Since your customers can’t view the item in person, you need to give them the best images possible to encourage their purchase.
Working with a professional photographer can be a worthwhile investment to ensure the best quality photos possible, taken at all the right angles to showcase your products.
You should include both product-only and in-context shots to best show off your products and how they can be used.
If a professional photoshoot isn’t feasible, here are a few tips for taking your own product shots:
- Use a white or light coloured background.
You can improvise this with a bedsheet or paper, or consider investing in a proper lightbox.
- Display your product properly.
If you’re selling products such as jewellery or clothing, try to use a bust, improvise with some cardboard or find someone to model for you.
- Use the best camera possible.
Smartphone cameras can be pretty great these days, but high-quality DSLR and point and shoot cameras are cheaper than you might think.
- Good lighting is key.
Natural lighting is often the best and easiest option. If you use artificial lighting, play around with the placement until you get soft and evenly distributed shadows.
- Use a tripod.
Tripods are fairly cheap to buy and will last for years. Using a tripod will help keep your photos in focus and maintain consistency between shots.
- Don’t forget to touch up your photos.
Even the best quality product shots need some time in a photo editor. There are many photo editing programs available to help give your photos a more polished look by adjusting the lighting, correcting colours, removing the background and more.
3. Carefully Organize Your Product Categories
User experience can make or break any website. Product categories are key to helping customers navigate your new e-commerce website and find what they’re looking for.
Don’t just think of your perspective and needs as a business owner when selecting categories and grouping products into them, put the needs of your customer first.
Think about how they search for products and will navigate your online store; are they looking for particular brands? Are they shopping by the room in their home or for a particular activity?
Thinking beyond organizing categories by the traditional product type, gender, colour etc. features will help make your site quick and easy to navigate. Don’t forget, the better the user experience, the more your customers are likely to spend!
5. Consider Social Shopping
No, we’re not talking about group shopping trips. E-commerce has moved beyond websites to be integrated right into social media!
That’s right, that cute sweater or retro-style lamp in your Instagram feed can be yours in just a few clicks.
Social shopping may not be a great option if you aren’t already doing social media marketing or if you only have a small following. If you’re already active there, however, you can leverage the power of social to help share and promote your products with the people who already know and love them.
To get started with social shopping, you’ll need to make sure your Facebook and Instagram pages are business ones, not personal. From there you’ll need to set up a Commerce Account and get it approved by Facebook.
Once you’ve provided them with the necessary information and are approved to start selling your products, you can get started with setting up your products and tagging them in posts. Check out Facebook’s guide to selling on Facebook and Instagram for more information on this increasingly popular feature.
6. Don’t Forget SEO
Incorporating some search engine optimization best practices when building your e-commerce website can make a huge difference in reaching new customers from search engines. SEO is one of the best long-term investments that you can make in your marketing.
The SEO capabilities of each e-commerce platform will vary, but the key tasks you should consider doing are:
- Write a unique product description for each product
- Create a meta description and title for each product and product category
- Make sure to include some copy on your website’s homepage, or include an about page, to help search engines (and your users!) understand more about what your store sells and who your target audience is
- Submit your store’s sitemap to Google Search Console
- Start a blog answering questions related to your products and topics that your target audience is interested in
Are you ready to get started with e-commerce but not ready to do it on your own? Do you already have an online store but need some help implementing our tips to improve your sales?
Drop us a line to learn more about how our digital marketing experts in Brantford can help with your e-commerce website and marketing.