Over the last twenty years, our shopping habits have changed considerably, with consumers moving increasingly from traditional brick and mortar shops to online stores. Indeed, through 2020 alone, internet retailing is expected to have generated around $4 trillion – with absolutely no signs of slowing any time soon.
As consumers move in their droves to e-commerce platforms the world over, most retailers already recognize the need to have a strong internet presence – at very least as a back-up to their offline operations. Selling online offers the potential to reach new markets and generate sales in ways never before possible in the pre-internet days.
However, while having an e-com store is undoubtedly crucial for retailers, just being online isn't enough. There are many other considerations you should bear in mind when planning or running an online store.
Here are only a few Core Components essential for making your online ventures a success
The need for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Almost all retail journeys start with an internet search, typically on Google, to find product information (Google's search engine accounts for 87% of the market). Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a series of coordinated, heavily-involved techniques used by online marketers to push a website up the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), leading to increased visitors.
With so much potential traffic (and therefore footfall) generated by search engines, you would be well-advised to invest in SEO if you want to see the greatest Return on Investment (ROI) from your website. Bottom line – you can have the greatest, best-designed website in the world, but if your site isn't seen, your site isn't working and you will never realize its potential.
Monitor sales, identify popular products, and stay on top of profit margins
The traditional retail model often made it quite challenging to stay on top of inventory, profit margins, and best-selling products. However, there's no reason you shouldn't be top of your game in the internet age when it comes to understanding the nuts and bolts of your business.
Popular e-commerce platforms feature in-built monitoring tools or add-ons that can be used to keep a close handle on your sales and profits. For example, a Shopify product tracker can help you trace the actual revenue generated by each online sale by factoring-in all the overheads involved in making the sale. Moreover, these tools make all this invaluable data available in just one streamlined, at-a-glance interface giving you a complete overview of your company.
Attract – and keep – visitors with an attention-grabbing homepage
The old saying goes, 'first impressions count,' and perhaps nowhere is this more applicable than with a website's homepage. In many cases, visitors to your site will be completely unfamiliar with your company, so you must ensure you grab their attention and engage them immediately - the minute they land on your page.
Estimations vary, but most experts agree you have between three and five seconds to grab the interest of your site visitors before they click back to their SERP - in most cases, never to return. Just like you would spend time meticulously planning a real-world, physical storefront, you should put an equal amount of care and attention into laying out your homepage.
As an essential guide, look at putting your products front and center and try to establish your authority while also instilling a sense of trust in your users. A well-designed homepage can often mean the difference between a sale or a click-away – ignore its potential at your peril.