While the majority of consumers still prefer shopping in-store vs. online, e-commerce sales have commanded a steady 14-20 percent portion of retail sales each year of the last decade. In the third quarter of 2023, e-commerce accounted for 14.6 percent of total retail sales. (Source: Statista)
If you’re considering expanding your business to include online sales, there are plenty of reasons to do so. Among them:
- Keeping up with the competition: If your competitors are selling online, you should be too. Otherwise your customers who favor shopping online may start buying from your competition.
- Reaching customers in a larger geographic area: Most shoppers cap the time they’re willing to spend traveling to a store at 20 minutes. Even if customers are interested in your products, if they don’t live close, they may not be willing to invest time and money into making a trip to your store.
- Reaching younger buyers: Adults aged 18 to 24 accounted for 46.9 percent of online sales in 2023 (based on mobile shopping statistics), while those between the ages of 25 and 34 made up almost 32 percent of mobile e-commerce shoppers in the U.S. (Source: Statista)
- Offering customers more choice: Today’s consumers are seeking hybrid shopping experiences, such as buying online then picking up their purchases curbside at the retail location.
Where to Host Your E-commerce Site
If you’re ready to take your products online, one of your first major decisions is determining where to host your e-commerce site.
There are a variety of possibilities, including:
- Hire a web firm specializing in e-commerce: Depending upon the firm you choose, with this option you often can tailor features and services to your specific needs. Be sure to ask how your account will be managed and how you’ll get help when you need it.
- Host on an opensource platform: We prefer WooCommerce. Pricing, features, pros and cons and tech expertise needed to work on the platforms vary widely, so do your research.
- Host and manage the site yourself: This requires both tech savvy and a server that can handle a site of the size you’re creating.
Components of a Successful E-commerce Site
Regardless of where they actually make their purchase, three-quarters of American consumers say they regularly research products online before buying. Reviews from other buyers are an important part of that research, with 93 percent of shoppers saying they read online reviews before making a purchase and 84 percent weighing online reviews the same as they would word-of-mouth recommendations from friends or family. (Source: localiq)
That’s why providing a positive shopping experience is paramount. When designing your e-commerce site, it’s important to follow the same best practices that apply to every website, including strong visual content and mobile-optimized design.
In addition to product pages, other key components of an e-commerce site include reviews, payment processing, order fulfillment, sales tax collection, credit card processing, customer support and returns.
Once your e-commerce site is up and running, you’ll want to quickly get the word out to attract customers. An announcement on the homepage of your website and signage in your store are no-brainers. But you’ll want to cast a wider net and target your ideal customers.
Recommended tactics include:
- SEO: A well-executed search engine optimization (SEO) strategy will help your new e-commerce site rank higher in organic search on Google.
- SEM/Paid digital ads: Search engine marketing (SEM/pay-per-click ads) on Google, apps and social media platforms involves placing paid digital ads in front of targeted audiences. This tactic delivers short-term results and should ideally be integrated with SEO for long-term success.
- Email Marketing: Email marketing is highly targetable and delivers high ROI. It’s a great way to start a relationship with your online customers.
- Google Business Profile: A must-have for local businesses, your Google profile should be updated and optimized to drive traffic to your e-commerce site.
- Blogs: Blogs on your website are a great way to boost organic search ranking and establish your company’s expertise.
Helping Your Business Grow
No matter what you sell or where your brick-and-mortar store is located, you can expand your customer base and grow your business by offering your products online.
Designing your site to create a positive customer experience and selecting a host that will provide you with the services and security you need are critical first steps.
Promoting the site to current and prospective customers and being responsive to their needs will help make your business one that online customers visit – and purchase from – over and over again.
If you’re ready to launch your e-commerce site, we’re here to help. Contact Fresh Creative today.