In 2015, the world of e-commerce and online retail sales is expected to become one of the most important sectors of the global economy. There used to be a time when e-commerce was absolutely dominated by the likes of Amazon and eBay; these days, however, free trade and globalization along with the unstoppable advancement of Internet technologies are making e-commerce an enticing proposition for online entrepreneurs and startup businesses.
A Formula for Online Retail Success
To get started in the world of online retail sales, entrepreneurs adhere to proven formulas to start in some cases. This helps them get their stores online and building traffic almost immediately. This formula shall become an inherent part of the business, but it shall not replace other important startup elements such as the business plan, cash flow arrangements, company structure, etc. The formula described herein is of a highly operational nature, and it is designed to achieve e-commerce success.
1 – Set Up WordPress E-commerce Platform
Although WordPress is traditionally considered to be a publishing platform for websites that feature blogs and news content, this powerful content management system (CMS) accounts for one sixth of the top sites in terms of traffic. In addition, WordPress created WooCommerce to help entrepreneurs easily create online shops and stores using their platform. With more than 60 million sites powered by WordPress, it is safe to say that the World Wide Web is being shaped by this publishing platform.
When it comes to using WordPress for e-commerce operations, two major advantages come to mind: ease of use and speed. Over the years, WordPress has evolved into one of the most dynamic CMS solutions for Web publishing, and millions of Internet developers swear by it.
WordPress WooCommerce is very adequate for e-commerce in the sense that it features a veritable ecosystem of themes and plugins that have been developed specifically for online retail storefronts. A quick, single installation of the right theme and plugins can enable an online shop to be ready in minutes.
When choosing a WordPress theme that is ready for e-commerce, the following elements must be reviewed carefully for suitability:
- Layout: Is it conducive to the items being sold?
- Navigation: Can shoppers easily find their way around the site?
- Layout: Is the theme reasonably modern? Is it pleasing to the eye? How does it look on smartphones and tablets?
- Shopping cart: Does the theme include its own shopping cart? Does it feel nimble or is it clumsy?
- Product imgages: Does the them feature product slide shows? Does it resize and crop images smartly?
- Developer: Is the theme updated? Are there any issues in the support section that would cause problems for your business? For example, a feature doesn’t work anymore.
2 – Research Price Points
Any online business enterprise these days is bound to be extremely competitive, and ecommerce is no exception. To this effect, online shopkeepers must conduct research before setting prices on their products
The first research point is to become familiar with competitors and peers from the point of view of prospects and customers. The best thing to do in this regard is to learn about the user experience in major websites such as Polyvore, Etsy and eBay. These online marketplaces are clearinghouses for smaller online storefronts featuring an enormous variety of products at different price points.
Aside from the Internet marketplaces mentioned above, new online shopkeepers should visit independent sites that may be direct competitors for the purpose of getting pricing intelligence. It may not be possible to undercut all competing stores in the same niche; the idea is to come up with average pricing to start off with.
3 – Email Marketing
For all the clamor about social media marketing and search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing is still one of the most powerful tools of online marketing, specially for Internet retailers. Even though some technology commentators believe that email has become a dinosaur of the Information Age, the reality is that email is still the most widely used component of the Internet.
Email marketing is not something that is normally accomplished manually. These days, marketing automation platforms such as MailChimp allow online shopkeepers to provide their customers with timely and relevant information such as new products, discounts and special offers. Other platforms such as Campaign Monitor combine automation with visual aesthetics across desktop and portable devices. Marketo is yet another platform that adds market intelligence to the mix so that email campaigns can become more effective in terms of targeting and appeal.
The following email marketing process is a great graphic to look at for ideas.
In conclusion, the three steps explained above make up a winning formula for owners of startup business owners who venture into the lucrative world of ecommerce. This formula is not static by any means; once it is implemented for the first time, it must be constantly reviewed and adjusted to conform to growth, expansion, retail trends, and new business challenges.