Just because it is now easier for businesses to sell online, that doesn’t mean it is also easier to be successful at selling online. Mark McArdle, Group Sales Director, Intact Software, advises on avoiding the pitfalls.
Anyone embarking on this journey should treat it with the same level of importance and consideration as opening up a new physical branch or outlet. It requires plenty of thought, sufficient time and adequate resources. If you are thinking that an online sales strategy is right for your business, it is worth taking the time to document your answers to the questions below.
General goal setting will provide a broad strategic focus for your internal team and your website/systems provider. Set objectives and KPIs that can be measured and that are relevant to the overall goal you would like to see your e-commerce site achieve eg., sales value target, number of online customers, average order value, etc.
You can choose zero level, low level or to have a high level of integration with your existing business system. The cheapest and easiest way of establishing an e-commerce presence is to choose the low zero integration option. If you plan on only processing a handful of orders every day, then this option would probably be sufficient.For those businesses with serious e-commerce ambitions high level integration offers multiple benefits with the automatic synchronisation of data between your online store and your business system saving time and money, reducing human errors and ensuring your customers don’t purchase out-of-stock items or incorrectly priced merchandise.
Selling online could be a hugely successful opportunity for your business but, as with your store or trade counter, you wouldn’t leave it without a manager – someone responsible for ensuring you attract customers to your site, for driving sales conversions and also ensuring your customers remain satisfied.
There are key differences between a B2B and B2C e-commerce site that you must take into account during the planning and design phase. For example, registration approval may be required for your B2B customers to allow them to access their specific pricing terms etc.
Once you specify the product range to be included, you then need to define product types, supply product descriptions, sort your products into categories, add appealing product images and define product tags for your entire product range. You must do this to make the product search and comparison easy for customers, resulting in more purchases. Setting up products in the best way
possible is highly important for an online store.
Payments – how will you accept payments? Opening a merchant account with an online payment service needs to be planned well ahead of the site launch date.
Logistics – if you specify delivery times, who will be responsible for ensuring these times are met? What happens in an ‘out of stock’ scenario? Will you manage online orders from multiple branches?
Shipping – will a standard shipping rate apply? Will you offer free shipping? How is shipping calculated – by weight, volume, distance etc.
Customer Service – who will deal with customer service queries, complaints and returns?
If you would like to download Intact’s free guide, Selling Online – is it the right option for my business? log on to www.intactsoftware.com/intactinsights
This Business Support article featured in the September/October 2017 edition of The Hardware Journal.