E-Commerce for Business 101
Do you think online sales are out of reach for your business? Here is an introduction to e-commerce and the tools available to get you started!
What Is E-commerce?
Selling online is the natural evolution of commerce. People use the web daily to fulfill their needs and online shopping is a part of that. For some, it’s to avoid the crowd and wait time in stores or to compare prices more easily in the comfort of their own home. For others, it’s to make the purchase as quickly as possible, at the time that suits them best. In the middle of the night? Why not?!
Online shopping allows us to buy a wide range of products, from events to material goods like a high-performance computer!
For your business, it’s the perfect opportunity to give your products a 24/7 showcase and to welcome your customers at the time that suits them best. In short, it’s a way to propel your sales to a whole new level!
The key: a simple and fast user experience. Between the customer’s buying impulse and the conclusion of the sale, all obstacles must be eliminated!
Do I Have To Be An Expert To Get Into E-commerce?
It’s clear that there are more configurations for an online sales solution than for a simple informational site, but with currently available platforms such as Magento, KonaKart, WooCommerce or Shopify, and a good digital partner like MultipleMedia, there is no reason to pass up the opportunities of this sales channel!
Online sales platforms: Magento, KonaKart, Shopify, WooCommerce, etc.
All these platforms have one common goal: to make the creation of an online shop more accessible thanks to available modules. In other words, some features are essential to all shops, so we better start from an existing framework and dedicate our energy and resources to customizing it to meet your needs.
All platforms have templates that already include the main features.
Your digital partner is involved in customizing the platform to your needs and those of your customers. This can range from creating your brand identity and setting specific user paths to developing a custom module.
Online Sales: The Key Concepts
Here is an overview of the different concepts and terminology of e-commerce.
The products are at the heart of the transactional site. Here are some features that are included in platforms like Magento:
- Add a product: manage your complete product list directly in the platform;
- Add the variations of a product: i.e. different sizes, different colours of the same sweater;
- Product SEO: decide which text will be displayed in search engines when a user looks for your product on Google;
- Shipping Info: include the product’s weight to estimate the shipping price;
- Add product details: photos, videos, sound clips … anything that will allow your customers to fall in love with your product;
- Collection of products: group products by categories or collections to allow your customers to see your store in an organized and logical way;
- Comments: allow your users to rate and comment your products.
- Select a theme: All platforms offer a variety of themes that can be used as they are.
- Customize a theme: stand out from the crowd and bring your branding online. It’s important to personalize the design. A strong branding will stand out and create a solid bond between you and your consumers.
- Static pages: It’s not because you put your mind to e-commerce that you can’t have informational pages too. “Contact us” or “About us” pages are very relevant.
- Menu/navigation: it should be as simple as possible and adapt to your customers’ reality.
If you offer several products in the same category (i.e. computers) and want to help your customers make an informed choice, offer them a comparison tool that will show all selected items and their characteristics. Of course, an “Add to Cart” button should always be within easy reach!
The shopping cart allows users to see all selected products. The order could be modified at this stage, by adjusting the desired quantity or adding options, for example.
Listed platforms allow the configuration of taxes by product categories (i.e. some products are taxed differently) and by place of purchase (especially useful if you want to sell internationally).
Select the shipping fees that will be invoiced to your customers. Here are the four types:
- It is recommended to set a minimum purchase threshold to allow the customer to benefit from free delivery;
- Fixed price: No matter the address or size of the purchased item, the price stays the same (sometimes you will make money, other times you won’t);
- By zone: Delivery charges are fixed per delivery area (i.e., one price for Canada, another for the United States);
- Customized for each shipment: depending on the weight of the order and the shipping address, you use the shipping suppliers’ cost.
Careful! A shipping price too high is one of the biggest reasons to drop a shopping cart. It is recommended to use the tactic of the minimum purchase threshold to make your users benefit from an advantageous flat rate or even free delivery.
You can configure the box size and printing of the delivery coupon directly on the platform.
Several payment methods are possible. PayPal is the most popular for now. On your side, the configuration is very easy: simply link your account to the platform (which is much simpler than credit card purchases).
One thing to keep your eye on: the beginnings of ApplePay and all other mobile payment methods.
Invite people to subscribe to your newsletters via your online shop and manage this list of customers directly on the platform.
In the platform, you can manage orders to keep everything up to date. You can even take care of your inventory!
A simplified process
Now that you understand the vocabulary a little better, here are the main steps of an e-commerce project.
1. Analysis, Ideation and Project Planning
First, define the best digital strategy. Establish your needs, find your partner and develop a preliminary schedule.
The deliverables for this phase are:
- List of prerequisites and expected functionalities (type of products to be sold, desired user experience, post-sale relationship, delivery management, links with other communicational efforts, etc.)
- Project plan
2. User Experience Design
The key is to put your customer at the heart of the design. The purchase process should be simple and enjoyable. Whether on a mobile or tablet, the experience must adjust to avoid any irritant that would make them leave the site before confirming their order.
We are decrypting users’ behaviour based on extremely precise analysis criteria.
Frequently, the following deliverables are found at this stage:
- Tree view (List of required pages and sections, product categories)
- Personas, objectives and users’ tasks
- Content strategy
- Interactive and navigable wireframe
- Layout of main pages; graphic standards
3. Development and Programming
The milestones of your project are now decided. We will be able to configure the selected platform and develop the functionalities and customization elements previously identified. We’ll also integrate mechanisms that allow you to analyze your visitors’ behaviour and thus optimize their experience.
4. Content Integration
Your shop is now ready to receive its products! Simply fill in the designated fields with the information for each product. The visual elements are particularly important to attract your customers! And don’t forget that a good content strategy will make you more visible in the search engines.
5. Quality Testing and Deployment
You are satisfied with your online store and all its new features. Before the launch, we need to go through a testing phase. We’ll run a series of tests to identify potential problems and correct them immediately.
6. Maintenance and optimization
Our team stays by your side to ensure a smooth transition towards managing your new e-commerce website. You’ll have support and advice in every area of expertise, be it optimization, marketing strategy or technical assistance.
You went through all the e-commerce key elements. Creating a generic transactional site with a platform is quite simple. The collaboration with experts brings added value through customization and optimization of the shopping experience for your users.
So, when are you bringing your store online? Let us know, we’ll be glad to assist you!