None of us living through the restrictions of the COVID pandemic will deny the advantages of eCommerce. Businesses selling only through brick and mortar stores were hardest hit with the pandemic. All of a sudden, online sales became a primary income source.
Businesses need an omnichannel approach to marketing and sales with a strong emphasis on customer service now more than ever. Perhaps you’ve always served your customers face to face. But the new reality is that consumer behavior has changed. To remain competitive, retailers must accommodate customers on their preferred devices and platforms.
How can you initiate or improve eCommerce for your business?
Start by considering these questions:
Do you have a website? If so, who manages it? Does your website allow for eCommerce? Does it include your entire product line? Can your site accept orders from mobile devices?
Having a clear picture of where you stand will help you develop a plan for where you are going.
Have an eCommerce plan of action
Developing a fully functional eCommerce website is not as difficult as you might imagine, but you have to have a plan. Successful implementations begin with the designation of a project team. Get dedicated, focused team members on board so the project will go quickly and smoothly.
Connect Dynamics 365 Business Central Magento, MIVA, and Shopify for seamless management and a superior shopping experience for customers. Or leverage other platforms built to work specifically with Microsoft Dynamics applications.
Whether starting from scratch or enhancing an existing website, connecting your
Choose a platform suited to your industry and offerings
There are plenty of choices on the market. Consult your current support channels and technology partners within the retail community. Seek recommendations from those with experience and knowledge of your industry. They can help you understand the pros and cons of various platforms.
It’s a good idea to find out what your competition is using and how it’s working out. Review different sites and determine what looks and works the best.
Choose a platform that integrates with your existing systems
An effective eCommerce platform should integrate with your current business systems, including your: in-store point of sale system (POS), your accounting system (ERP), your social media platforms, your analytics tools, and your sales and marketing system (CRM). Integration with these systems will reduce manual processes, optimize your customer base, and promote sales.
Take into account your budget
It should go without saying that your eCommerce solution has to fit your budget. Be sure you can afford the solution even if sales sometimes decline. It’s ok to start small and make plans for another phase once you have the essentials in place.
Choose your eCommerce hosting environment
You have two choices for hosting your eCommerce site: self-hosted or cloud-hosted.
With a self-hosted platform, you are responsible for software installation and updates. This option gives you more control over your platform and ownership of your data.
A cloud-hosted platform offers offsite hosting and often includes automatic installations of patches, updates, and upgrades.
ECommerce platforms offer a variety of business features such as inventory, shipping, and payment tools. Some eCommerce platforms are not as flexible with integrations into third-party payment processors or shipping systems. So it’s essential to compare the tools and performance of the different solutions. Customer loyalty will be key to your success. It has to be easy for your online customers to order, pay, and receive their shipments.
Look for superior technical support
You’ll need expert help when implementing an eCommerce solution. Find out what kind of help is available when choosing a platform. Do they offer an online help center with troubleshooting, frequently asked questions, 24/7 support via email, live chat, and phone? Understanding what type of support the platform offers can help you make your decision.
After you’ve chosen a platform, the next step is:
Designing Your eCommerce Website
eCommerce design involves more than just how the website looks. That’s important, but so is the functionality and user experience. The best eCommerce website design includes:
- Brand consistency. Design your eCommerce site to reflect your brand and standards. Pay attention to your logo and brand colors and the overall user experience of the site.
- Great user experience. The one drawback of online shopping is that your customers can’t see and handle the actual product. It’s up to you to provide accurate descriptions and quality photos or videos. Powerful calls to action can also help you stand out and influence buying decisions.
- Shopping ease. Be sure your products and services are easy to find. Provide categories and an easy-to-use search tool.
- Quick checkout process. The checkout process includes the shopping cart, billing and shipping options, order preview, order placement, and confirmation. Optimize this process to reduce checkout abandonment and improve sales.
- Mobile access. Responsive design allows web pages to display correctly across various devices, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktops. Consumers are increasingly using phones to shop. A mobile-responsive eCommerce website will enable your customers to search for and purchase the products and services you offer. Responsive design also improves search engine rankings for your site.
Have a fulfillment strategy
Fulfillment includes all the steps necessary to get your product to your buyers: procuring and managing inventory, processing orders, picking, packing, shipping, and processing returns.
Having an intelligent eCommerce fulfillment strategy is essential for minimizing costs and increasing sales and customer satisfaction. Every business is unique, so choose the fulfillment strategy that works best for you. Some options are buying online and shipping, buying online and picking up in-store, and buying online with delivery. Mixed fulfillment is advantageous as it gives your customers more choices.
Choosing the right eCommerce platform will let you stand out from your competitors, adapt to a changing marketplace, and meet your sales goals.
ArcherPoint provides retail management solutions that bridge the digital-physical divide by unifying business information into a single, convenient platform.