E-commerce is one of the major industries of the modern day business world. Be it an out-and-out e-commerce business or an offline business, every business uses e-commerce to build a customer base, add value, or achieve various other business purposes, thereby making e-commerce an indispensable part of modern-day business. In fact, successful businesses simply cannot ignore the e-commerce market (i.e., the internet).
Selling products online has become a trend in today’s world. Whether selling shoes and t-shirts or educational courseware and tutorials, today’s businesses make ample usage of the internet. Even the smallest vendor with creative ideas who enters the e-commerce world can attain success thanks to the internet.
A major benefit that all e-commerce business holders avail is the availability of their presence in the market around the clock. As their business moves around the web worldwide, there is no opening and closing time for their business, meaning they are attracting traffic and revenues even when they are asleep. In addition, the wider space of marketing opens up better opportunities for their business. Thanks to the internet, they can easily promote their business, offer special deals and discounts, and enhance customer interactions.
However, e-commerce is not all about sweet experiences. There are major challenges that business holders need to overcome in order to survive in the e-commerce market. Even the smallest vendor can sell products online, which suggests the giant picture of the internet world. To survive in this world and make your mark, you need to be better than your competitors. In addition, the internet is a fast-paced world, and you need to move faster to keep up. Your business will be live around the clock, which means that you might spend many sleepless nights before you are able to hire a night-shift team to monitor your business while you are sleeping. Although the internet offers better opportunities to promote and attract attention from users, you must also understand that generating revenues in an e-commerce business requires investment as well. You need to invest wisely in your e-commerce development in order to shine brightly in the market. In order to increase sales, you have to invest in your website’s development feature and gather experienced professionals to understand the tricks and opportunities of the internet world.
Amazon.com have minimal look but well arranged design.
One of the foremost requirements for getting ahead in the e-commerce world is creating a well-designed website. The first thing that your customer will notice about your business is the design of your website. Everything is about the first impression. If you capture visitors’ fondness in the first visit, you will have a better chance of holding them longer. However, a well-designed website doesn’t refer to only the look of the website. Although the look is important for attracting the user’s attention, the structure of the website and its usability are equally or even more important. A well-structured website generates better user experiences. As an e-commerce business, you need to offer your customers an easier and simpler way to browse and move within your site, which is possible only through a well-built and -structured website.
From navigation to load time, everything that involves users’ attention needs to be addressed in an e-commerce business. Your sole goal is to bring customers to your website so they can buy products. For this, they need to find their desired product. Suppose a customer comes to your website to buy shoes. First he needs to clearly see the list of products on your site. Landing on the shoes page, he should be able to sort out shoes according to male shoes or female shoes. He should also be able to sort according to prices, brands, popularity, and so on. Here, the product and types will vary from website to website. This is an entire process; do not leave any loopholes in the process. Customers should be able to process their selections smoothly, proceeding to payment. Any hindrances that arise will definitely bounce them back, leading them to your competitors’ pages. Therefore, it is important for your website to be designed in a well-navigated way for your customers to travel throughout your website.
After designing an effective website, your next responsibility is to enable smooth transactions for your customers. Indeed, how many times have you bounced back from a payment page? This might happen for various reasons, such as you are still not sure about buying the product, you realize you don’t have enough money, you think the seller is not reputable, or you just don’t know how to continue the process.
The last reason is a major one. Many times a complicated shopping cart and payment process will bounce customers back from websites without buying the product. You cannot take for granted that your customer will wait and read everything written on the website. You need to make sure that your customer understands and performs the payment without any difficulty and that your processing gateways and payment received automation mails react in a timely manner. You need to reassure your customers that you are the best and that they have made the right choice. Thus, next to a well-designed website, you need to take care of your shopping cart. Remember your primary motto with an e-commerce business is to bring traffic and, once the customers are in, make sure they make a purchase before leaving.
A major necessity for every e-commerce business is to rank at the top of search engine results. You cannot expect any user to search for you until the tenth page. If you are among the top three or at least on the first page, you will make your mark; otherwise, you will not. Your target should always be to be the top-ranked return because, even if you are in the third position, if the first two provide what your customers are looking for, they will never land on your website. This is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes into play.
SEO involves a host of tasks. You need to develop your pages in such a way that they are optimal for all relevant search results. This indicates on-page optimization (i.e., correct use of searchable keywords, keyword variations and related keywords throughout your pages, proper meta-title, meta-tags, meta-description, and on-page linking). The key to SEO is balance. Keyword density in pages shouldn’t be more than 5%, meta-descriptions shouldn’t include more than 165 characters, meta-keywords should include only related terms, and linking should be genuine and not stuffy. A balanced on-page optimization can help you rank higher in the search engine. Yet working only inside your website will not help. When you say you provide the best shoes, it make sense; when a hundred others say you provide the best shoes, it obviously makes more sense.
To make others speak about you, you have to enter into off-page optimization. For off-page optimization, you should submit your pages to directories and article submission sites, send e-mail invitations, and write external blogs and articles. In simple terms, let the web world know about your presence. In this way, you can make other people talk about you. After performing appropriate on-page optimization and off-page optimization you have better chances of ranking at the top of search engine results. However, remember that search engines are growing smarter every day; you need to be genuine and innovative in order to gain their support. Therefore, “move honest and play smart when it comes to SEO.”
In addition to SEO tasks, you should focus on search engine marketing (SEM). Not everything will come without investment. You have to make investments to ensure gains. SEM is a method where you pay search engines to place you in search results and on other websites, such as the Google ad-campaign. This is nothing but advertising. Search engines have a section at the top for paying websites. You also need to build ad campaigns to be displayed on different websites, which will help web users learn about you. Now, this might sound very easy. You pay a search engine and get all the customers. If this were true, all rich men would have been making good e-commerce business. But many have gone bankrupt. You have to utilize your payment to ensure that you benefit. Create catchy ad words, use relevant keywords, bid for the right keyword and the right places at the right time—only then can you acquire a return on your investment. You have to be smart enough to convert your investment into profit, which requires industry knowledge, market knowledge, customer knowledge, and—most importantly—search engine knowledge.
Gone are the days when social networking sites were just to say hi to a long lost friend from school. Today they are one of the largest sources of marketing for e-commerce businesses.
Marketing on social networking sites can be both free and paid. In the free scenario, you can build a brand for your e-commerce business and expand your fan page. You create a page for your site on one of the popular social networking sites. Starting with membership and likes from just your friends and your employees, you expand your group to their friends; the expansion process continues. This helps you both in driving traffic to your website and creating branding. A fan of your social networking site page might not buy a product from your website today, but if he or she requires one tomorrow, there is every possibility that he or she will land on your website and buy a product. Thus, marketing on social networking sites helps you gain immediate sales as well as long-term benefits.
In terms of paid advertisements on social networking sites, you pay them to project your business on their sites. You might have noticed shoes, bags, t-shirts, and an endless number of advertisements showing up in the right-hand side every time you open your Facebook page. This is what we are talking about: paid marketing in social networking sites. Social networking connects us to our friends, but they can also lead us to browse advertising websites if the ad is catchy enough. We might also buy a product if we find it worthy of the payment. This is how marketing on social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Stumble upon, and Twitter generates revenues for your e-commerce business. Here again you need to spend enough time and effort to make your page catchy and striking to attract visitors and convert them to paying customers. Therefore, after design, payment process, SEO, and SEM, use social networking sites to enhance your e-commerce business.
Email marketing is another important aspect for successful e-commerce businesses. E-mail marketing targets the direct audience. When selling shoes and bags, you are focusing on a general market audience; if you are selling baby and kid products, your audience is confined to only parents. You cannot send emails to college students. Similarly, if you are selling K-12 educational courses, it is of no use to send emails to high-tech professionals. Thus, here you need to define an audience that might be interested in your product or website. Now the question is where to find the email addresses. People visit your website without buying anything. You can send emails to them to highlight your product and ask them to buy it. Furthermore, you can ask for referrals from your existing clients. You might remember a time when banks or gold-saving schemes salespersons asked you to refer your friends for their product and schemes. The same thing is happening in the e-commerce world. You ask your online customers to make online referrals. When using email marketing, make sure that you are promoting only your product and not crossing the line, which might frustrate your email receivers, causing them to unsubscribe.
A well-structured website, smooth payment processing, crisp SEO, catchy SEM, interesting social marketing, and direct email marketing are only the beginning as now e-commerce businesses are preparing for the rapidly expanding world of tablets, notebooks, smart phones, and iPads, which is known as m-commerce.
The number of people using tablets and smart phones is increasing at a tremendous rate, from youths to professional. Tablets and smart phones allow you to surf the internet, like a laptop and PC, while you are mobile. Thinking big, you cannot handle your e-commerce business through only a desktop site. Yet these media offer unique challenges for businesses. When using a tablet or a smart phone, the screen is smaller than traditional laptops and PCs. You cannot expect your wide layout or magazine theme website to look as brilliant on mobile technology as it does on laptops. Yahoo!, Facebook, Twitter, Flipkart, Snapdeal, and other popular e-commerce businesses have developed mobile layouts for their websites. A mobile layout will help your users view your site easily even through their tablets and notebooks. They can process everything as smoothly as they do on desktops and laptops. From design to payment processing, you need to offer a smooth and easy road for your mobile customers. When designing a mobile layout, remember that users rely on touch screens. If you are still having doubts about why you should design a special layout for tablet users, you need to take a look through the recent statistics of the m-commerce market. The number of tablet users is expected to double in the near future. Many of your friends and colleagues have likely already switched to tablets and smart phones. Thus, not managing a design and layout for mobile users might leave you behind in the e-commerce marketing world.
These are the major ideas to consider when developing an e-commerce business. In today’s world of e-commerce business, you need to move along with m-commerce as well. It is imperative to find the right resources—namely, the right team—to handle your marketing well enough to drive a good amount of traffic and conversions to your business, promote and sell your product, and guide your customers around the clock. You should also realize that these are the essential factors that everyone in the e-commerce market is following. Therefore, you need to take it to a higher level to achieve the greatest success. E-commerce is a vast world. To make it to the top, make your own way using these techniques to stand out from others.