How to open an online store: tips from Pronko Consulting
If you have decided to create your online store, now it is easier than ever. Opening an online store was considered a costly business; however, the popularity of eCommerce became the impetus for the appearance of additional tools for it. Thanks to this, you can limit yourself to minimal investments if you plan your steps:
1. Determine your company's sales channels.
There is a variant of online sales when the site is the only channel through which you can order a product or service. Also, an online store can be an additional channel for offline trade. For example, the Intertop chain of stores is developing both online stores and local outlets. After being banned from working offline due to quarantine restrictions, the company focused on strengthening sales in the online store. This helped sustain the business even during crises.
2. Analyze the market and your competitors.
This can be done in two ways, depending on the concept. If you already occupy your niche and know precisely what you will sell, you need to analyze your competitors carefully. What does their online store look like, and what products and services do they have? What would you do differently and what wouldn't you change? Suddenly, it may turn out that your offer is new to the niche in which you plan to develop a business. In this case, you will get a competitive advantage in the market.
If you are determining the direction of your activity, we suggest using business analytics tools that will help identify general trends in demand based on various criteria. Companies often use the following devices:
- Google Trends;
- extension for Chrome Keyword Surfer;
- site and Chrome extension Similarweb.
When you have already chosen a market for yourself, you should continue to regularly compare the contents and structure of your online store with competitors' sites. Determine the strengths of your service, and find things that can be improved. For example, to retain customers, maintain their level of loyalty, and for this purpose, offer products that will satisfy their needs, give discounts, provide special offers, etc. After analyzing competitors, you can see exactly how customers receive their orders. For example, these may be third-party delivery services whose quality and speed are difficult to control. At the same time, it is a "green light" to create your courier center and guarantee the delivery of goods on time.
Quality service in the online store is the best investment in the company's future to increase the customer base. Yes, initially, people will instinctively recommend your store to their friends and acquaintances just because they are delighted with the service. Later, when this wave subsides, you can create a referral program.
3. Always analyze the target audience.
To determine the audience's needs and develop relevant offers for them in the online store, you first need to understand who your customer is and create a portrait of him. Today, entrepreneurs use the possibilities of Big Data for this. With the help of a particular analytical model, the target audience is analyzed according to almost 100 criteria, namely by age, gender, interests, lifestyle, etc. After that, the online store owner receives a report and can evaluate the indicators as a percentage. This will help to segment the audience correctly and in detail and then create relevant offers for each group of customers.
Once you've launched your store, work with Google Analytics to collect data and analyze consumer behavior in your online store. Understanding what customers are looking for makes it easier to create relevant offers. For example, the ISEI online store analyzed customer searches. So, the company determined which brands are the most popular, which should be added to the site, and which should be promoted more actively. Through analysis and appropriate steps, their online business increased four times in 2 years.
You also need to know where customers came to your online store: organic delivery, contextual advertising, mailing, social networks, etc. This information will help you budget for different channels that generate traffic.
4. Register the business and think over the brand concept.
Before opening an online store, come up with and register a sounding name that is easy to remember. Ideally, you want one that is difficult to confuse with existing players in the market. Finding your focus, positioning, and unique selling proposition (USP) is also essential. Correct positioning of the brand will help build long-term relationships with customers. However, a brand is not just a recognizable name and logo that differentiates you in the market. The brand is how people consciously and unconsciously perceive you wherever they interact with your business.
Branding doesn't end with a logo or tagline; it should remain consistent wherever your customers interact with you. From the name you choose for your online store, the marketing materials you create, to how you package and ship your products.
5. Decide on suppliers.
If you plan to sell a product of your production, then the next steps for you are the organization of logistics and optimization of delivery. The goal is to make it fast and economical. If you plan to sell goods from another manufacturer, pay attention to your cooperation's legal aspects. By the way, contracts for the supply of goods, invoices, acts of acceptance and transfer, receipts, power of attorney, and other documents can no longer be sent by mail, and you can no longer wait for your copy to be returned for several days.
6. Determine the effectiveness of the online store.
The following indicators can be used for this:
Commercial — help to understand how much the opening of an online store achieves financial goals and how much it fits within the budget.
Marketing - analyzed depending on the type of online store. For classic online stores, it is essential to know the cost of attracting customers at the beginning of work, and later, when the audience becomes more extensive, the cost of retention, and the number of purchases. Liquidity is an essential indicator for online services that collect various ads (such as OLX). Online platforms primarily monitor traffic and support successful sales of sellers (their customers) on the forum.
Operational — determine the total cost of customer service: from the creation of a deal to its closing and profit.
7. Define the structure of the organization and the model of cooperation
Some specialists are best hired to work in-house (in the office or remotely), while others can be employed as needed. For example, Alexey Sheluhin, an e-commerce professional, advises hiring search engine optimization and social media specialists for permanent team work, designers, and copywriters. Logistics, delivery, and call center employees are also sometimes outsourced.
However, if you want to create your call center to supervise the work of operators personally, then this can be quickly done thanks to PBX in the cloud.
8. Get and retain customers right.
Track the customer's reaction to your marketing activities. For those consumers who have questions about the product, create a corresponding block on the website. For example, there in the online chat, the client will be able to receive an answer to his request from you promptly; he will also be able to call your call center or leave his phone number for further consultation.
How to correctly describe a product or service
For 56% of companies currently operating, one of the key challenges is getting new orders. There can be many reasons for this. At the same time, Nielsen Norman Group discovered one of them in its research. Companies lose 20% of orders due to the lack of a high-quality product or service description on the store's website. If the customer does not find answers to his questions about the order in the report, he will leave your site. For example, it will start looking for additional information about the product on Google. During searches, he can find another resource with a similar effect, where the information will be more detailed and make an order, but not from you. Therefore, the description of goods on the website plays a significant role in sales.
How to make a description correctly?
Write about the advantages, but do not silence the disadvantages.
Potential customers want to know less about the product's features and more about the benefits they will receive. For example, suppose you have an online store of mobile phones, then in the description of one of the smartphones. In that case, you can indicate that it has waterproof properties and specify How to describe a product or service correctly.
For 56% of companies currently operating, one of the key challenges is getting new orders. There can be many reasons for this. At the same time, Nielsen Norman Group discovered one of them in its research. Companies lose 20% of orders due to the lack of a high-quality product or service description on the store's website. If the customer does not find answers to his questions about the order in the report, he will leave your site.
For example, it will start looking for additional information about the product on Google. During searches, he can find another resource with a similar effect, where the information will be more detailed and make an order, but not from you. Therefore, the description of goods on the website plays a significant role in sales.
How to make a description correctly?
Write about the advantages, but do not silence the disadvantages.
Potential customers want to know less about the product's features and more about the benefits they will receive. For example, suppose you have an online mobile phone store in the description of one of the smartphones. In that case, you can indicate that it has waterproof properties and specify the benefit, for example, that the gadget allows you to shoot videos underwater. Also, don't forget to mention the downsides, say the lack of a wired headphone jack (while also noting that you can connect wireless ones).
Don't use value judgments without facts.
The words "high quality," "convenience," and "reliability" do not carry any valuable information for the client and are considered a linguistic cliché. Instead, describe the facts. For example, instead of "convenience," indicate that the rubberized material and the particular embossed case will not allow the smartphone to slip out of your hands. Instead of "reliability," tell that the phone can work without a charger for two days of active use - the client will not worry that the smartphone discharges quickly.
Structure the description.
Add visual landmarks in the text: headings, lists, highlight the text in italics, bold, i.e., make the description clear and easy to read. Create the same structure for similar product categories to make them easier to compare.
A poor description will lead to negative consequences:
The user will not be able to decide whether the product meets his requirements and, therefore, will refuse the purchase;
The customer will assume that the product is suitable (without knowing the flaws), buy it and find that he does not need it. And an unsatisfied customer and the process of handling a possible product return will deprive your company of profits and good reviews.
We have analyzed only the basic steps to help open an online store. And finally, a piece of advice: don't wait for the "perfect" moment. If you need a sign, here it is - starts an online business today.