17 October 2020
Over the past year there has not only been a push toward E-Commerce, but an undeniable need for all products and services to be accessed online. While E-Commerce has been on the rise for big and small businesses alike over the past decade, it saw major growth with the onset of the pandemic.
As the holiday shopping season approaches and coincides with the return of tourism to Hawaii, are you setting your business up for the greatest amount of economic success in the new year? What exactly does a successful E-Commerce store look like for a small business?
Why E-Commerce Is Important:
In just one year E-Commerce has grown 129%. Increasingly more and more people are shopping online. This coincides with the face that sales from January 2019 to June 2020 have increased by $80.42 billion dollars.
This is very important for small businesses to know. The pandemic not only saw the shift of businesses for corporations and major retailers moving their commerce online; with 43.6% of the top 500 retailers in the nation shifting their business to curbside pickup as of August 2020 versus just 6.9% in December of 2019. But it saw local retailers and restaurants increasingly leaning on online ordering and pickup to stay in business.
According to Merchant Maverick, “The Covid-19 pandemic has only served to cement the notion that online sales are the future of our economy. Many businesses have been forced to sell and accept payments online, or set up online ordering and delivery services just to stay alive during the shelter-in-place orders and social distancing restrictions.”
This data paired with the fact that 60% of consumers have been shopping online more since COVID with 73% of that group planning to continue to do so even after the pandemic ends, it is now more than ever, important to give your business this digital asset.
Not to mention that it is easier than ever. Whether you are hiring a professional website designer and developer to create a customized E-Commerce store for your company or you create a shopify store that links to your social media and website; the way of the future for businesses is online.
What Makes A Good E-Commerce Store
Arguably the most crucial part of creating and managing your E-Commerce website is the customer experience. Especially in the state of Hawaii, when people are visiting local businesses’ websites the hope is that they already are, or at least feel like they are, familiar with the company.
When a business is selling a product and there seems to be no personalized experience for the shopper, they are less likely to buy. Personalized E-Commerce experience ranges from dynamically showing potential customers content, product recommendations, and specific offers targeted to that person’s purchase history.
While this may seem like something only achievable by large corporations and massive marketing companies, it is actually something you can easily implement with the help of an email list and savvy website developer.
The most important personalization for a customer’s online shopping experience is product recommendations. Small businesses’ are lucky in the fact that their products are by nature niche and unique to them, you don’t have a massive site to draw from, linking just a few related products could increase your overall sales massively.
According to Barilliance’s data, “sales from product recommendations account for up to 31% of a seller’s eCommerce revenue.” That is an incredible increase especially when you think of how large an online market is comparatively to those coming in your stores.
The Customer’s Journey:
When creating an E-Commerce website for your business you have to keep in mind the customer’s journey. How many times have you tried to shop online but either a complex user interface, nonsensical categories, and an overlong long and arduous process has made you abandon your cart?
This is actually listed as one of the most critical factors which determine a successful E-Commerce website.
Abandoned carts are the enemy. When people feel as though the process to purchase is too long, they will abandon their cart. In fact, 21% of customers who felt that the checkout process was too long or complicated have abandoned their cart.
The customer’s journey is one of the most important things you can take into account when creating your E-Commerce website. Tracking where a potential shopper’s first touchpoint is with you to the sale will determine your success in the new and increasingly competitive online marketplace.
Many marketing companies have suggested that running ads 41 days prior to a large sales event sees an increase in ROI. It puts you top of mind and in front of those buyers, giving them enough time to commit to purchasing. Offering discounts is also a large and important factor to this.
Making sure that your E-Commerce website is easy and simple to navigate as well as noticing the journey any potential shopper goes through from click to purchase will ensure success. Even if you do not have previous experience creating and running any sort of online store, there are guides available to run you through best practices. ReadyCloud created a guide instructing how you can map out your customer’s journey.
The era of browsing and online shopping via a desktop is almost done. How many of us have made purchases from our computer in the last eight months versus how many of us would prefer to use our phones?
According to research, 64% of all online shopping traffic comes from mobile devices. Making sure that your E-Commerce website is mobile responsive, meaning that it is user friendly for both those on desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones, could mean the success or failure of your website. Not only did the majority of online traffic derive from phones but 46% of total E-Commerce orders during the last quarter were made on phones.
Not only should your website itself and online store be mobile responsive, but the checkout and buying process should be too. Having simple headers, search tools, and filtering will ensure that you are creating the most user-friendly experience, especially on a mobile device.
Marketing Your E-Commerce Store (For Local, National, and International Traffic)
So you have created an online store that is optimized for the greatest success, but how are you going to get people to go there, let alone buy, if you have no visibility?
Online marketing is the lifeblood to E-Commerce. Running promotions, organically bringing in traffic through competitive SEO, and making sure that your social media profiles and stores are constantly making you top of mind to existing and potential customers are all keys to being successful.
This past year we saw categories like “Garden/Patio”, “Photography”, and “Apparel” on the rise. Making sure that you are running a strong SEO and ad campaign that targets and researches these up and coming profitable terms related to your niche will place you ahead of the competition. We also saw search categories like “Restaurants” and “Things to Do” on the sharp decline. If you are in these niches and running online ordering, booking, and pickup, you should hire a professional to create a competitive and dynamic campaign to put you in front of more qualified audiences.
Social media marketing is also critical for a successful E-Commerce website. Now it is easier than ever to link shopify stores and online selling platforms to Facebook and Instagram. Small businesses are able to sell and market directly to qualified existing and potential customers with “buy now” options that promote easy and quick sales.
Social media commerce accounted for $22 billion in sales in 2019, and that number is projected to rise. There are shoppable post options on instagrams, Facebook stores, and Buyable Pins on Pinterest. Utilizing and marketing from these platforms creates the easiest and most successful buy options, and with a relatively low cost, small businesses can count on these to ensure success.
The Buyer of 2020
One thing to keep in mind however when creating your online store is the nature of the way we consume in this new economy has shifted. Major stores foregoing blackfriday all together this year, retailers going bankrupt, and the potential buyers living on more budgeted terms has all created a new shopping experience.
According to the research institution BrightEdge, “Shoppers shifted purchasing behaviors online during the first few weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic and are more keenly aware of their budgets – refraining from placing big-ticket purchases online, while stocking up on more essential goods or affordable luxuries.” They also hypothesized, “Shoppers started buying more frequently online after COVID-19, supplanting offline purchases. This would include the buy-online, pickup-curbside behavior that may include cheaper items that were previously always purchased in-store.”
This brings us back to the ideas previously discussed. You have to consider the customer’s journey alongside the background of the economy. Living and owning a business in Hawaii, many have seen a large shift in the marketplace. While we are encouraged to shop local, the return of tourism reignites the discussion behind how our economy is structured.
E-Commerce is the way of the future for small businesses. Projected to be a $709.78 billion dollar industry in the US for the year 2020, it is hard to ignore that it is here to stay. Online shopping has seen the biggest jump it ever has.
While we are very dependent on business to business, making sure you are building out this digital asset in case of another shut down or shift in the economy is the most important thing you can do.