eCommerce, mobile shopping

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Hopeful entrepreneurs start up thousands of new eCommerce businesses every day. Nine out of 10 of the online ventures will not survive the first year. What makes the difference between eCommerce success and failure? For anyone with an online business or considering one, here’s our list of the top 11 must haves and excerpts from the online ‘buzz’ about them. Also check out Mailchimp’s article on how to start an online store.

1. A Niche Market

“Most people who are just starting out make the mistake of looking for a product first, and a market second. To boost your chances of success, start with a market. The trick is to find a group of people who are searching for a solution to a problem, but not finding many results.”

“A careful survey of failed startups determined that 42 percent of them identified ‘lack of market need for their product’ as the single biggest reason for their failure.”

2. A Competitive Advantage

“It’s unbelievably competitive opening up a new eCommerce store. Being creative and selling something that people didn’t even know they needed should be your starting point.”

“In most markets, customers have different options to choose from. If your business has competition, you have to give your potential customers a reason to choose your offering over another. … Instead of simply trying to be better, you need to be different.”

“One way to differentiate your business is to solve at least one problem that customers face – especially a problem that no one else is solving.”

3. A Solid Plan for Search Marketing

“As the eCommerce economy experiences rapid growth, more and more businesses will be entering this increasingly crowded space. That means it will be more important than ever to stay on top of SEO in order to stand out from the competition.”

“It is well-known that in order to get a good return on investment in terms of marketing, online retailers need to be constantly in front of their customers. However, with the rise of online users, it is important these retailers adopt a multichannel approach.…

“For newly-launched businesses, search-engine marketing (SEM) will accelerate brand awareness, as users start to recognize and trust your brand name. As a first step, it is wise to invest more into SEM while your SEO efforts get off the ground. You can then balance your investments once your organic visibility increases.”

“Pay-per-click advertising is the easiest way to get traffic to a brand-new site. It has two advantages over waiting for the traffic to come to you organically. First, PPC ads show up on the search pages immediately, and second, PPC ads allow you to test different keywords, as well as headlines, prices and selling approaches. Not only do you get immediate traffic, but you can also use PPC ads to discover your best, highest-converting keywords. Then you can distribute the keywords throughout your site in your copy and code, which will help your rankings in the organic search results.”

4. Verifiable Trust Signals

“Online data is very sensitive, so more and more customers are extremely careful before placing an order. That’s why you have to check all the bullet points to make sure your site is secure and trustworthy.”

“Online shoppers, especially first-time visitors, evaluate eCommerce sites in many ways, to decide whether you are trustworthy. They want to know if their personal data is safe. They want their privacy protected. They want to be confident that they will get what they ordered, when they expect it. They want to know that your customer service is there if they need it….

“Fortunately, you can win new customers by displaying proven trust indicators at key places on your website. These badges, seals, and well-placed reminders can visibly reinforce that you can be trusted. As a result, you should see higher conversions and reduce shopping cart abandonment.”

5. A Thriving Email List

“When you build an opt-in list, you’re creating one of the most valuable assets of your online business. Your customers and subscribers have given you permission to send them e-mail.… Anyone who visits your site and opts in to your list is a very hot lead. And there’s no better tool than e-mail for following up with those leads.”

“A common mistake eCommerce businesses make is not taking advantage of their email list early and often. … When you collect information from your customer, capture the email address if you can, and then get permission to send the customer occasional, targeted messages about your product.”

6. A Sound Online Reputation

“Billionaire businessman Warren Buffett summed it up nicely when he said that the reputation of a business can be built over many years, but destroyed in five minutes. “We can afford to lose money,” he told his senior managers. “But we can’t afford to lose reputation.” … A great reputation is what sets your business apart from the competition. It leads to positive brand recognition, and brand recognition is worth its weight in gold.” Visibility Magazine

“Approximately three-quarters of shoppers today will research a company online before making a purchase. More and more consumers are abandoning the traditional phone book because it doesn’t tell them anything about the company. Online reputation is where many companies have the most impact from customers. Social engagement, customer reviews and other aspects contribute to someone’s decision to make that initial purchase.”

7. Strategic Social Media Presence

“Social media is big and every eCommerce site should have a short term and long term strategy to gain more popularity on social networks. While Pinterest and Instagram may not be suited for all niches, the two big names (Twitter and Facebook) are a must. Set your profiles and be as active as possible, without spamming your fans….

“However, you have to avoid constantly trying to sell something. People want to know the story behind the brand too, interesting statistics regarding the niche you’re in, how to use/style your products.”

“With each post that is shared or interacted with on Facebook, there is potential to drive traffic to your website. Whether you’re offering free information or selling goods through eCommerce, the results could be incredible. Instead of relying on ad-sharing networks, connecting with consumers in this fashion has potential to be more productive. This is especially true when it comes to creating a trustworthy brand. People are more likely to buy from a company that is interactive on social media.”

“Currently, one in every ten online purchases around the world originates from social media channels. Many experts believe that this number is going to grow in the near future. It’s estimated that eCommerce will surpass the $1 trillion dollar mark by 2019. This means that billions of dollars may be spent by social media consumers.”

8. Hardy Online Security

“If a retailer has an insecure website, then, all other marketing and inbound efforts simply won’t bring results.”

“Security must always be your highest priority if you are selling online through your own website. It is also the case that you can’t work out your online security by trial-and-error. You have to get it right the first time, because recovering from mistakes is difficult for big business, and virtually impossible for a small business.”

9. Simple Web Navigation

“You want to have a stress-free navigation, allowing visitors to easily find what they’re looking for because if they can’t find it, they can’t buy it.”

“Visitors to your site want to know who you are and what you do right away — studies show that users expect to see that information within 10 seconds of landing on your site. If they can’t find it easily, they are likely to get frustrated and leave. Navigation needs to be intuitive, requiring no more than two to three clicks for users to find what they are looking for.”

“Even the most successful eCommerce businesses find that 20 to 30% of their customers abandon their shopping carts before paying up. These numbers are much worse for eCommerce businesses that are not customer friendly. The message is loud and clear: many customers refuse to run around in circles.”

“Convenience. That is one of the many reasons why customers tend to buy online, and the same reason why the e-commerce market has become a multi-billion dollar industry….

“While most eCommerce website owners are aware of how convenience is important to their prospective customers, some aren’t as keen in optimizing their sales process to make sure that the whole experience becomes convenient to their customers.”

10.  Mobile Optimization

“One out of every three online purchases are now made via mobile devices, as mobile continues its takeover of the eCommerce pie, reports Internet Retailer. This rise of mobile presents new challenges for eCommerce retailers, including optimizing content for mobile viewing and mobile search.”

“Mobile optimization is about offering the best possible content and functionality experience to mobile users, who grow in numbers compared to desktop users by the day.”

11. Top-Notch Hosting and Backup

The foundation of an effective website is hosting with an e-commerce solution that understands the unique demands of an e-commerce site and doesn’t suffer from slow loading times, outages, and other issues that can plague hosting services.

Ready to join the pack of successful eCommerce businesses? If you have questions about starting or operating an online store, call Page Progressive.

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