Trawling the internet for information can be like browsing through jam-packed clothing racks at a warehouse sale. There’s a lot there, but only a small percentage is actually relevant to you.
With so much misinformation, it can be a confusing and time-consuming process of sorting the good from the bad. And for many very capable business owners and designers, time isn’t something they have much of.
So keeping up with the latest innovations in ecommerce and understanding how it all works can be a challenging, especially when the technical side isn’t always their forte. How do you know if you’re being overcharged for websites or online services? And how much should it cost to set up, run and manage an ecommerce site?
Jean-Claude Abouchar, founder of Capture a digital management consultancy and co-founder of The Grand Social, says online is no different to the real world when it comes to cost – you get what you pay for.
“That said today you can be up and running for a very small investment – there are powerful and full featured ecommerce solutions designed specifically for small business operators like Shopify or Big Commerce that can take care of most of the needs one requires,” he said. “What most owners forget is the cost of running the online store and the investment required to get customers to it.”
Jean-Claude insists the first step to running a successful online business is to have a clear understanding of your target customer, their attitude to the category you operate in, where you product or service is positioned within the category and how you will clearly articulate why your product or service should be purchased by your customer.
The next step is understand what existing resources can be leveraged to build and manage your online customer base.
“It is not too dissimilar to the decision making process required to set up a bricks and mortar store,” he said. “Consider the design of the customer experience as much as the site and invest in what is valuable to your brand, keeping in mind what you can afford.
“The key is to test and learn as you develop your online business and fund the activities which produce the best results.”
We took five with the ecomm expert before he joins a panel discussion at Fashion Exposed on E-commerce essentials – Advisory panel discusses how to set-up and run an online store.
What advice do you have for building a customer base online? How is it different/better than in-store?
Figure out who your customer is and why they shop with you. Online channels give you more analytics and insights to understand your customer better and you can target very specific offers to individual customers to maximise your opportunity for a sale.
Many online websites can boast good traffic but conversion is low – how do you increase customer engagement online and more importantly get them buying?
Look at how people are interacting with your site to identify why conversions are low. It may be that your shipping costs are prohibitive, your check out process is hard, product prices are high or the product information or imagery is inadequate. Once you’ve identified a few opportunities to improve, start testing with different options. All of these things can be trialled and tested to see if they shift conversion rates.
How crucial is site design? and how often should you update it? why/why not?
Site design is crucial and should be considered in the same way as store design and visual merchandising. The site design drives the shopping experience. Customers will need to be able to navigate the site with ease and ideally will return to the site often to keep shopping and google will preference well designed sites over poorly designed ones with regards to organic search results.
There are a lot of ecommerce platforms available, what are some key things to look out for?
Finding the e-commerce platform with the best fit for your business depends very much on how your systems and processes are set up and what resources are available for the ongoing management of the store. Inventory and customer data management are important considerations, as is the process for day-to-day management of sales, products and promotional elements.
There are many APIs that are available to integrate different tools and platforms to improve capability so the platform doesn’t need to do everything.
Social media is well known territory for many fashion businesses, but do you see this as a place to sell or a place to solidify branding and engage with your existing and new customers? Why/why not?
Social media is an effective branding and sales strategy for many fashion businesses. Social media should be evaluated on the same terms as other marketing activity and in many cases it will not be a big driver of sales but will help tell your brand story. There are only so many hours in the day so it’s more important to prioritise what activities are the most effective at acquiring new customers and driving sales.
BOOK NOW to see Jean-Claude Abouchar join Nick Gower, Co-Founder of Mentally Friendly 2004 (International Digital agency), The Grand Social and Tractor Design School; Alex Knight, E-commerce Advisor; and Amy Low, Strategist at Capture for a panel discussion on E-commerce essentials – Advisory panel discusses how to set-up and run an online store on Sunday August 17 at 10.30am
For more information or to register, visit fashionexposed.com