SOREDI

Launch | Talk: 
Successful

e-Commerce 101
Q & A

On April 10th, our CEO and founder, Brandon Kirkland, had the honor of participating in a local discussion forum titled “Launch | Talk: Successful e-Commerce 101”.  Here are some of the most valuable questions and answers that we came away with.

Is eCommerce as easy as it sounds? 
Business is never “easy”. Whether you’re investing in a brick and mortar business, or a solely online store, business will always take time and dedication. The secret sauce of any business will always be marketing. Knowing your clientele, finding out which platform works best for them, and reaching them with your product.

How do you manage an eCommerce platform?
With the rise of new tools and resources, it’s easy to experiment and try different approaches with eCommerce. You may even be able to try several methods with very little cost to you. That being said, it is not always easy to create a lucrative, long-term enterprise. The main principles of eCommerce and a brick and mortar store are the same: you need traffic, a positive customer experience, and a good conversion rate. However, if you are running a brick and mortar store as well as a website, it is helpful to think of them as two separate enterprises. When entering into either arena, it is wise to take your time. Come up with a financial business plan, both short term and long term. Create a marketing plan. And know that getting your business started will take dedication and time.

What is one of the hardest parts of having a brick and mortar store and a corresponding eCommerce site?

Having a website that meets your customer expectations. If you have a business that has thrived locally, it may feel like an online presence is an easy add-on. But if your website does not accurately and positively reflect the service or product you offer, it could damage your eCommerce business. It is important to make sure your digital experience meets your customer’s expectations, which could be as simple as having an easy-to-use website, visually pleasing product photography, and good response time for your customer service department. Depending on the complexity of your business, your customer expectations will vary, but it always remains that the most important part of any business is making sure your customers walk away happy.

What eCommerce platform is best?

It’s difficult to give one answer for this question. There are many different platforms that have various pros and cons. The most important question to ask yourself is what are your needs? How big is your business? How big will your business be in the future? One platform that offers great services to many small business owners, as well as a positive user experience is BigCommerce.

Do you recommend selling on Amazon?
When contemplating using an in-between company, such as Amazon, Ebay or Etsy, it is helpful to, again, think of your customer. Is your reach significantly expanded by using a bigger seller like Amazon? Do you provide a product best distributed to a niche market? It’s also wise to think about your platform before you choose a provider. For instance, if you’re using a WordPress site, will it sync with your Amazon sales? Choosing a cohesive platform and provider will make your life much easier in the long run. The last thing to consider when looking at selling through a larger eCommerce seller, is the percentage that will be taken from your own revenue. Depending on your volume, it may not make sense for you to be forfeiting 60% of your proceeds as overhead. Ultimately, before you choose to sell on a larger eCommerce website, make sure you do your research!

What are some questions you ask before marketing?

There are a lot of steps to take and questions to ask before you begin marketing your business. The first step is to carve out a marketing budget. How much of your revenue can you afford to put into advertising? Two important elements of marketing are knowing your customer and knowing your product. Decide what your focus is; do you build technology, or do you offer a service? Know who your demographic is, where you can find them, and which platform works best to sell to them. And finally, test, test, test. If one platform proves unsuccessful, try another! Ask for customer feedback! Don’t be afraid to change it up if you find one method isn’t working for you and your business needs.

What are some of your “go to” tools for eCommerce?
There are thousands of incredible tools and resources for the eCommerce world, but these were a few tools, plugins, and apps that have proved helpful:

Google Analytics
: a web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic, currently as a platform inside the Google Marketing Platform brand.

HotJar
: A tool that reveals the online behavior and voice of your users. By combining both Analysis and Feedback tools, Hotjar gives you the ‘big picture’ of how to improve your site’s user experience and performance/conversion rates.

 

Slack: a cloud-based set of proprietary team collaboration tools and services. Communication in Slack happens in channels, organized by project, topic, team, or whatever makes sense for you. Conversations in Slack are searchable by everyone, so you can tap into company knowledge and find information when you need it.

Zendesk: a suite of support apps that helps transform your customer service into agents for customer retention and lead source.

How can we keep local business thriving?

We love local and small business! So here are a few ways you can make a different to small business owners everywhere.

Shop “small”, even online! And encourage your friends and family to do the same.

Invest in and attend educational programs in your community.

Build personal community. An easy way to build small business community is by making use of local co-working spaces, or find organizations in your community that value small businesses, such as SOREDI. Or, if there isn’t a local organization, start one! It’s so valuable to have meet-ups in the community where small business owners can network, mingle, and support one another.