Over the past 18 months, many businesses have either taken the opportunity or have been forced to pivot from traditional brick and mortar retail to joining the online eCommerce game, with varying levels of success, writes Paul Wigger, CEO of Fat Burners Only.
After taking the plunge of moving my fitness supplements business to a pure-play e-commerce operation before the COVID-19 pandemic, I understand the stress and difficulty of getting started online in the best of times.
During my eight years in the e-commerce space, I’ve seen online businesses rise and fall and have learnt a lot about what not to do and how to succeed in a competitive online environment.
The biggest thing I learned during that time, and the most important thing for any business considering taking things online, is to be very aware there are real people on the other side of the computer.
Previously owning three successful local health food stores in Perth, having great customer relationships was an essential unique selling point for us, as well as being my passion. So, when we made a move online, we kept it up, and to this day, we are still delivering hundreds of hand-written notes daily to positively connect with the people behind the transaction.
Questions to ask when setting up online
Just because a transaction isn’t taking place in person doesn’t mean it has to be impersonal. Quite the opposite. When setting up our online business and throughout the decision-making process, we consistently asked these two questions.
1) How can I bring the warmth of a local small business to a typically cold online environment?
2) If 90% of my customers check out online without making contact with my team, what are my best opportunities to communicate with my customers positively?
Other things I learnt on the way when going completely online:
- Don’t underestimate the power of social media: Getting your message out online is still heavily undervalued. Social media played a massive role in our success, and an online operation should never ignore it
- Make content, not excuses: You don’t need a massive lighting setup or expensive camera to make good content. Just doing it is more preferable to worrying about doing it perfectly. People relate to and engage with content that looks like it’s made by real people.
- Make sure your Google My Business page is set up, accurate and optimised: Have photos of your current location and product or service range and ask for reviews from regular customers to help build credibility.
- Make sure your website has Google Analytics integrated: Do a beginners course, so you understand the basics of web traffic and e-commerce.
- Don’t forget to focus on mobile: More and more people make all of their online shopping, bookings and organisation on mobile. Data shows over 70% of traffic to our site is from a mobile device. A beautiful desktop site is excellent, but it’s essential to make sure that the mobile site is a clean, fast and simple user experience.
- Keep an eye on the market: Look at award-winning e-commerce sites and your competitors for design, functionality and content ideas.
If you are just starting out in your online endeavours, welcome! I hope you can learn from our mistakes and experiences, and I wish you every success coming into this exciting, dynamic environment!
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