We’ve shifted from “location, location, location” to “convenience, convenience, convenience”. Rather than heading downtown, customers want to shop from the comfort of their bed and get everything delivered to their door.
If you’re a brick-and-mortar shop that exclusively sells your products in-store, it’s time to consider an online retail strategy. Retailers can expect Canadians to spend $39 billion a year online by 2019. Currently, Canadian retailers are losing out on big bucks. Almost 50 percent of online purchases made by Canadians are made through foreign online shops.
Statistics Canada’s recent insights share that retail sales increased for the third consecutive month in November, rising 0.2% to $50.1 billion.
It’s time to claim a chunk of that change for yourself, and here’s how to get started.
Choose Your E-Commerce Platform
The simplest, low-risk option is to advertise your products through social media and accept payments through a third party. But this makes for a clunky sales funnel, dilutes the customer experience, and makes it difficult to seamlessly track orders and get to know your customers.
Another low-risk option is a seller’s account through an online marketplace like Amazon, eBay, or Etsy. This minimizes your startup costs, especially if you just wish to gauge how much online demand there is. Payments are easier, but you can’t thoroughly brand your online store.
An e-commerce website gives you the most control, but it comes with added responsibility and startup costs. You’ll need to design it yourself (or hire an expert) and spend time and money encouraging people to visit your site.
Platforms like Shopify offer the features needed to run a successful online store without the online store management expertise. You can also integrate Shopify into your existing website.
Shopify wrote a great article that lists 8 strategies to find your first product for online selling.
Take High-Quality Photos of Your Products
Poor photos make products look cheap and the seller look like an amateur which erodes customer trust from the start.
Another problem with selling a physical product online is that customers can’t touch it, try a sample, or hold onto it for a bit while they decide whether to buy it. Online sellers have to paint the picture of how this product fits into the consumer’s life through the photos.
This means the photos on your e-commerce site should be contextualized. If you’re selling jewelry, include photos of how a necklace or bracelet styles an outfit in different ways in addition to posting close-up shots. A photo of just a piece of jewelry doesn’t tell a story about what the shopper’s life would be like if they had it.
The quality of your product photos is paramount to building the credibility of your brand. In addition, images should always pertain directly to the content on your website.
Select Your Payment Methods
Your payment method or payment gateway is how you receive money for your product. Take the following factors into consideration when selecting your gateway:
- Transaction fees
- Brand recognition (trustworthiness)
- Supported currencies/countries
- On-site versus off-site
- Billing method
Transaction fees eat into your profits, but they might be worth the investment if you want to choose a known brand to increase customer trust. If you’re a new, unknown business, it’ll help customers feel comfortable handing over their payment details.
Similarly, you may want to pay a little more for on-site billing. This way your customer isn’t redirected to a third party site for payments which might cause them to second guess the trustworthiness of your site. If you’re on a lower budget, try compromising with off-site billing and a well-known brand like PayPal.
Consider the product you plan to sell as well. If it’s a digital product like an e-book, you don’t have to think about shipping costs, so you should choose a payment gateway that lets you take orders from different countries. If you’re selling a physical product primarily in Canada, then this isn’t a feature you need just yet.
Keep in mind your billing method and frequency as well. Are you planning to offer a monthly service? In this case, subscription billing makes more sense, so check out whether your preferred payment method offers this feature.
Settle Your Shipping Strategy
There are several strategies for pricing and a number of articles online outlining various shipping hacks. Generally, business owners can offer free shipping, offer real-time shipping fees, or charge customers a fixed rate. Hybrid solutions are an option, too. For example, you can set a minimum order to qualify for free shipping.
Don’t slack off when it comes to thinking about your shipping strategy. One of the most common reasons for shopping cart abandonment is shipping fees. Optimize your shipping strategy by testing them out. For example, compare your conversions with free shipping and without free shipping to see which option works best for you.
Create Compelling Marketing Campaigns For Your Online Store
Build some momentum around your online store by creating marketing campaigns via email and social media. Encourage people to check out your site by offering free shipping (if you chose a paid shipping strategy) or a special discount on their first order.
Consider offering a special edition of a favourite product exclusively online. The biggest challenge is getting people to visit your site, so find ways to tempt them to check it out. If you’ve designed a great digital experience, they’ll stick around once they get there.
Finally, understand your customers and review your analytics. Knowing your demographics and which customers buy which products will allow you to effectively tailor your ads on Google, Facebook, and elsewhere as well as offer better promotions.
You’ve built a successful business delighting the people who come into your store. Now it’s time to spread your product beyond your business’s four walls by setting up your very own e-commerce shop.
Vertical Response has put together a resourceful list of 10 retail marketing ideas that you can consider for your business to boost sales.
Zensurance is Canada’s leading online commercial insurance broker. We offer a full range of insurance products to small businesses, with a particular focus on digitizing businesses and technology startups. We understand what it is to work with new technology, and know the most common risks of which you should be aware. Based on that (and a lot of analytics), we recommend the ideal insurance coverage for your business.
Neya Abdi is a startup storyteller who covers innovation, marketing, business development, and customer engagement. Her limitless curiosity drives her to learn how organizations progress from idea generation to successful implementation in order to delight customers, make positive social contributions, and generate revenue. She lives in Toronto.