Orla Cooney covered the fact that eCommerce will continue to gain momentum in 2021 and beyond in the May/June issue. Here, she gives a practical guide to going online. Many Irish retailers are increasingly recognising that online shopping is here to stay. Many are considering going online for the first time, or upgrading their current online store.
Where to start?
This Guide to ‘Getting Online’ takes you through the key steps to successfully launch and grow your online store.
Aim to ‘go live’ and launch your web offering with 1,000-2,000 products, over an initial 10-12 week timeframe.
Assign internal personnel that are dedicated to this project. An internal champion is vital to its success!
Choose an eCommerce Agency & Platform
Research suitable eCommerce partners / agencies and platforms, with Hardware Industry experience in the Irish market.
Identify an eCommerce platform that integrates with your ERP/ePos, thereby controlling your price and stock updates. The ability to manage stock and pricing effectively, gives you the confidence to increase your
online sales capacity.
Dual B2C/B2B capabilities
Choose an eCommerce platform that provides off the shelf dual B2C/B2B functionality. Future-proofing your business with a flexible B2C /B2C platform avoids costly custom development going forward.
Choose a Payment Gateway Provider
Choose a payment gateway provider that will deliver on your online customers’ expectations.
Product Catalogue Imagery & Descriptions
Compiling a catalogue and sourcing high quality product imagery, and user-friendly product descriptions can be incredibly time consuming. Research and examine options carefully.
Ensure that the eCommerce platform selected delivers on responsive and impactful design, without the need for extensive technical knowledge. A professional graphic design resource ensures a professional looking website. Most online stores can be managed by an internal, part-time resource or outsourced from an external provider.
Consider your delivery / shipping options (in-store pick up, courier, post, own transport etc) and what best suits your business.
Engage with specialist Digital and Social Media platforms to support and develop your growth strategy. Expand your product catalogue and determine which niche products should be added to your online inventory.
Dependent on your Internal Champion’s level of experience, contemplate the engagement of a Digital Marketing agency to manage your Paid Advertising e.g., Google Ads, Facebook Business and Amazon/Google
Optimise organic growth potential by implementing an email marketing, social media, and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) strategy.
Extend and diversify your virtual product offering. Take customer feedback and requests into account during the selection process.
Excel at Order Fulfilment
Fulfilling orders in a timely manner must be a top priority – it encourages customers to make repeat orders. Similarly, ensure that your Delivery & Returns conditions are competitive and in line with industry peers.
Actively focus on the ongoing promotion of your site and diversify your online offering further.
Superior Customer Service
Review your customer service framework and determine how to go that extra mile to secure repeat custom.
Active Promotion of your Site
Consistently develop your paid and organic digital marketing activities and strategies in a long-term framework, by devising a 12-month digital marketing plan.
Enhance your online store offering
Maximise the utilisation of additional plugins, to highlight your online offering. These tools could include Product Reviews, Personalisation, Intelligent Search, Online Chat and Order Management, among others.
Your eCommerce agency partner should steer you through this journey. There is a misconception that going online is costly and complex, but with the right eCommerce platform and service providers, and the support of
internal resources it presents a profitable opportunity.
Orla Cooney is contactable at magico.com
This Business Support article featured in the July/August 2021 issue of The Hardware Journal.