In 2011, I was approached by a local farm implement dealer to sell snow blowers online. With my corporate experience in various facets of deploying eCommerce properties, I took on the project. Although it is a competitive market, we managed to compete with the big box stores and other large online retailers to generate three times the sales achieved in the brick & mortar store! Through comprehensive analytics to manage marketing ad spend, shipping costs and price points, the eCommerce site created substantial incremental profits. Let me show you how!
You may end up asking yourself why you aren’t selling online! With recent tough economic times and global competition, many brick & mortar retailers are challenged to maintain revenues, no less grow them. If you're losing customers to internet based competition or simply want to open a new channel for incremental sales, selling online may be the solution. Even though selling online can be challenging, it may not be as expensive or difficult as you might expect.
As many brick and mortar retailers see a decline in foot traffic due to the economy or the changing nature of consumer shopping, they are left with fewer options to grow their business. By enabling eCommerce business owners can renew their growth, expand their market area and compete with even the big box stores.
For a local retailer, an eCommerce site provides incremental revenue by acquiring customers that would simply not be available to them. By enabling sales to be made to consumers nationwide it is like opening a store in every state. When compared to the expense of opening a new physical store, an eCommerce store may be a bargain. And rather than just entering another local or regional market, they can go nationwide.
In addition to simply expanding into different geography's, you can also market to new types of consumer demographics. For example, a rural store may market quite differently than a urban one even with the exact same merchandise. With an eCommerce enabled business, marketing can be applied for an online store that targets independently by region and/or demographics.
In the online world of eCommerce you can compete against the big box stores on many levels. If the consumer finds you can offer a better product or service at the same or better price, they may prefer to order with you. The store location isn't an issue, you can ship nationwide. So, short of the in-store shopping experience, you may be able to provide value added service and a more personalize service that can be hard to find from the big box retailers.
Search Engine Optimization(SEO) means that your site will be analyzed and then improved to make it possible for Search Engines to index and rank it. This enables more consumers to find your website and your business when they are searching for your products or services. Just because you build it, they may not necessarily come...
This is referred to as Organic or Natural search traffic and is results that you can obtain for free as far as the search engines are concerned. However, there may be substantial hours for a SEO specialist to get you started. Those costs may wane when you get to a certain point of success where the time spent is in maintaining your ranking, rather than getting there initially. It is though a continual effort, not a 'one and done'.
Organic SEO is an iterative process. As we learn what works well through analysis, we continual adjust the website content, content structure and optimize linking. Because we can measure ROI, you can allocate marketing expense as you see the incremental revenues develop.
On the other hand, Pay-Per-Click (PPC) marketing is where you pay Google or other advertising networks for ads to be placed in various locations on the internet including search engines. Its call PPC because althought you may be bidding for placement against other advertisers, you only pay when a consumer clicks your ad and is driven to your website. So, you are essentially buying traffic to your site. This is particularly useful with a new site where the organic traffic has not yet been thoroughly established.
One of the easiest ways to get your products to show up in a Google searche results is to load your product catalog into Google Merchant Center (Google Shopping). As a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) service you bid on getting placed in the search results and only pay when a consumer clicks on your product and is forwarded to the specific product's' page on your eCommerce site.
Just because you are selling online and can't see your customers faces, doesn't mean you would treat them any different. In fact, you may want to treat them better, since the competition is just clicks away. People have become to expect a high degree of service, from after hours customer support to chatting with a sales rep while they are browsing your site.
Additionally, since the product will most likely be shipped, the quick turn around time for an order and quality packaging can be job one. Poor service drives bad reviews and social chatter that can greatly hinder your customer acquisition. Give your customers first class treatment and they will reward you with additional orders and referrals. The customer truly is king.