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For some, having had the possibility of creating an online shop meant starting the entrepreneurial life – with the good and the bad, while for others, the internet represented just a different, more broad audience and a new & faster way of reaching potential customers with an already established brick & mortar business. But setting aside the reasons that led to the development of an online shop, owners need to be highly effective in predicting and adapting to changes. And this can only be done with the help of data (nothing better than data-driven predictions, right?), experiments, passion and the intrinsic care for providing value for customers, while being very open to feedback.
And because we know that e-commerce website owners want to stay ahead of the game and are very open to tips & suggestions, we’ve compiled a list that is touching few interesting marketing topics. These suggestions work for small or mid-size businesses, but also for already established, large-sized ones. For creating this piece of content we’ve had a look at both B2B and B2C models, at new technologies, at performance and at the decision-making process of the clients.
#1. Take care of the site / application performance
Performance can make a difference, even for your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) campaign. You’re probably thinking onpage metrics here and, to be more exact, the bounce rate. You’d also be interested in the average session duration and, eventually, the conversion – of course, but having a site loading properly will help you get more users from Organic Search, while in the same time providing them a good onpage experience. A perfect match. This string of positives extends over other traffic channels, as well. You can experience lower CPC in your Adwords campaigns for the same reason.
But how about a device category segmentation? Don’t you feel like performance is a sensible topic, especially when almost half of your traffic is using mobile devices to browse your site?
Using the same example above, you can go even further and consider the development of a dedicated mobile app. Some of the users, especially the ones that keep coming back to your store, will install it and use for the same reason mentioned above: performance. Easier to browse, filter and check out.
(in our example above, due to the specific of the products, the number of new users is quite high – making the development of a mobile app less relevant)
Facts: If you’re using a popular open-source platform to serve your site, you will most likely find a lot of good modules to help you with your performance optimization. Yes, you still have to first consider improvements with your web hosting provider – if you are a small or mid-sized business, or your server administrator/system administrator if you’re a large-sized shop. But from that point on, you will need to work on minification, CDN and caching. Use as much as possible the support of the community. Magento, PrestaShop, WooCommerce, OpenCart or osCommerce have nice communities that are backing the platforms, thus making it easy for you to find suggestions & recommendation on performance topics. Don’t forget about image compression.
Tip: If you’re using WooCommerce on top of WordPress, you can use Scalability Pro plugin for generating indexes (will help avoid table scans) and for altering some queries in combination with W3 Total Cache (will help you with minification, page caching, browser caching, DB caching and even setting up the CDN).
#2. Make sure your site is the main content distribution point
This may sound a bit funny, but there is a strong reason behing this idea. In theory, if a piece of content you’ve generated isn’t performing on your site as well as you’ve expected, you would want to find other channels – that have a wider audience – to promote it to. You would probably use social media or even PPC, display ads or paid content promotion. But you’ve initially had that content published in an environment you own and control. You can decide what is going to happen with that content in a year or two, what you’re going to do with the traffic that you redirect to that content, if you’re going to collect any data or if you’re going to use that data for something or nothing at all. It’s your court and your ball.
I’ve recently seen a lot of entrepreneurs that use Facebook, Linkedin or other platforms to sell their products, enjoying the popularity of those networks, without caring about a domain name, hosting, development or maintaining an own e-commerce site. Eventhough this may seem tempting (less costs, less time needed for the go-to-market phase), you must not forget that in such a scenario, you’re always playing the “away game”. And we’ve had a lot of cases when social networks / platforms decided to change the rules of the game or simply took the ball away. There is no point in mentioning what happens with businesses that don’t rely on an owned content distribution point.
Tip: Having control over the content distribution point also means being able to collect and use relevant data. Sure, you won’t be able (initially) to process information as good as Facebook, but in time, with the help of an expert or by using different tools, you can master areas like operational efficiency or behaviours & interests.
I will extend the example on Google, even if the approach is a bit different. If you’ve ever handled content campaigns, you’ve surely researched terms and expression, wrote interesting articles or F.A.Q. sections that provide relevant data for users. Some of that content is now used by Google in Knowledge Graph. If the user receives the answer to his questions directly in the search page, instead of needing to click on a result, that simply means less potential traffic for your site. You can read more on the topic in this Moz article by Dr. Peter J. Meyers.
(by the way, the idea listed above is valid for publishers like bloggers or newspapers, too)
#3. Assure flexibility of payments
For an e-commerce educated market, payments options do no constitute a problem. Central and North-Western Europe, Canada, U.S.A, Japan and Australia don’t have problems with the adoption of online payment methods. On the other hand, regions like East of Europe, India or Africa are great examples of high potential markets that are reluctant to use credit cards while buying products online. In some situations, there are limitations for creating and using accounts, but in many cases online buyers simply don’t know enough about or don’t trust digital payments (not to even mention online payments).
Just a quick example on the topic: even if there are local (country-based) payment processors already active in many countries in Eastern Europe, some e-commerce site owners would still prefer using Stripe, because of it’s complete toolkit for internet businesses. Yet, Stripe is only available in 25 countries – which are part of the “e-commerce educated” list in the above paragraph. Of course, if you – as a webshop owner – want to find a solution, you will, but there is great imbalance of possibilities generated just by geographical positioning.
And since we’re on the subject on payments, I think many of you already wondered if and how will blockchain technology affect online payments & online shopping, in general. Blockchain technology should allow someone to make transactions without the need of an intermediary, thus removing processing fees and assuring real ownership over the currency. This should also improve transaction transparency and speed up certain processes, while in the same time eliminating fraud. By using blockchain wallets, notifications on online orders will also obtain new dimensions.
But there are also concerns regarding blockchain payments, and an important one is actually the client privacy, especially if you corelate the subject with GDPR. Another concern is regarding scalability – even if the speed of operations is currently not a problem – at a wider adoption level, it can become one.
It’s very important who you are, what’s your story and where are your potential customers based, but providing flexibility when it comes to online payments is a key factor in your marketing strategy.
Each of the 3 points described above can be extended on a number of sub-branches of discussion. For example, offering bill splitting on the check-out & payment process or authentication using blockchain are two really interesting subjects that may deserve an article of their own. Moving on the performance topic, I’ve seen a lot of discussions on AMP e-commerce implementation as a way of providing the users a better shopping experience. But in the end, making sure your site loads FAST enough a content that YOU own, while providing FLEXIBLE & SECURE PAYMENT methods will make the shopping process easier for your consumers.
If you have any interesting ideas that you would like to share with us, please don’t hesitate to use the comment form below. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.