Is it time for your eCommerce shifting?
Your business is unique. You know it and we know it too. And we also know that you thought about tons of strategies and solutions to boost your sales. You probably thought about investing in a sales solution and you found different eCommerce providers.
And you asked yourself “Why pay xxxx EUR to build an eCommerce solution when I can download Magento platform for free and my student cousin will do the webdesign for 90 EUR?”
You want to sell and you are in front of of a big decision. Let’s walk together through the aspects of building a proper sales tools and the possible outcomes for businesses that adopt this tool.
It is pointless to deny that a certain solution won’t sell. The professional solutions and the budget solution - they both will, that’s for sure. The difference makes itself visible when you acknowledge what are the expectations that you set up. In other words, how do you expect your investment to pay off?
So you got yourself a sales solution. It does its job, it’s a simple platform and anyone can use it. You saved some good money, your student cousin customized it. He even lets you pay after the sales increase. It is beautifully colored and now it is online.
You have your first clients, they are satisfied. Your team works at full capacity and the orders keep piling up. As a result, more products appear in your offer, more retours are arriving, basically, more business happens. You certainly made a good call with the budget solution you chose. You invest in marketing and you notice an improvement in your sales.
But soon you are forced to face a real problem: your staff not only works at full capacity, but it seems to be overwhelmed by so many tasks. They need to manually copy the products and prices from the ERP to the shop every day (or more) to keep your customers up to date with your stocks. Your people do not have time to take care of your customers in a proper manner, to give them a personalized shopping experience. They are stuck in operational tasks. So you need to come up with something that will expand your business.
You start thinking and doing research upon what could help you further away and you find out information about custom solutions, techniques built for your business in particular. You wonder what custom means in this case, after all. And you find out about omnichannel solutions - you could design your business to be a total universe for a customer, where all is linked and continuous. You can improve B2B sales using solutions that take you from how to survive to how to thrive; solutions that definitely improve sales performances.
You find out more about showroom apps - the tools that help you save time for knowing your customers better, for understanding their needs and motivations. And you read or heard about showroom mapping solutions - these are the ones that transform you selling place into a futuristic marketplace. Further away there are the integrations (like CRM, ERP), there are lots of sales solutions for your field agents, recurrent sales and many other custom solutions. They are all meant to increase your sales as your business expand. They keep up the pace, developing your business in an harmonious manner.
But you notice they require a greater investment than your current sales solution. And you wonder what is best for your business development. What do you do in this situation?
You realize you need a custom and efficient solution. And it is the right thing to do. It gives you what you want: it boosts your sales by reducing your operational costs by implementing the right approach for the problems you have in your day to day activity.
Let’s take as an example the ERP integration - a custom solution will transform your business when it comes to this aspect. It synchronizes your webshop or sales app with your ERP and, as a result, you will expose all your products to your customers with no effort at all. So your webshop will be up to date with information about product prices stocks and any other useful things to your customers, at any given moment.
When it comes to integrating sales solutions to your business the only thing that can stop you is not having creative and committed partners next to you.
Another example (and, also a rewarding move) is to prepare a sales application for your agents on the field. The app will improve their efficiency by giving them the right tool to present and order the products for the customers - efficient, smart and quick, ready to deliver results.
And the examples go on and on, because there are many choices you can make, it all comes down to the direction you want to give to your business, it depends on your goals or on your mission.
Your business is different from any other. That means that the sales environment must be adjusted in order to be efficient. A custom solution drives your sales up while it provides a high quality customer experience.
When you project your business flow in order to satisfy your customers you think about a lot of things that represent you: maybe a beautifully colored website, lots of call-to-action buttons, an easy shopping process and so on.
And you are right - the details do matter. In fact, the details on how you prepare your sales environment dictate the success of your business. So, even if you feel that your cousin is a design/usability expert, there are many things you might not know or consider about this area.
The fact is that beyond the results there is a lot of work which may not seem visible for the end user, but it is definitely visible when you analyse the return of your investment. The explanation is that the provider of the custom solution follows vital steps even before the implementation phase, not to mention the ones after that.
To clear things up, let’s take as an example, the design/usability. Everyone wants a stunning, attractive and memorable webshop. But it means much more than beautiful colors. This means that the provider you choose will have to proceed to the following:
- Analyzing your business and your competitors
It is important to know your business back and forth and your competition as well. How else would you know what strengths you have or what weaknesses your competition has?
- Analyzing your customers and what they need
Who are your customers? When are they most active? Where can you find them? What do they need? Are you giving them what they want? Knowing the answers to those question may save you a lot of time and money that you might spend taking shots in the dark. If you know everything about your customers, it is easier to give them what they want and when they want.
- Prepare the navigation flows for your customers
It is vital that you think about their journey on your website. Make sure that what they want and what you want them to want is perfectly synced in easy and intuitive steps to the check out. You need this step done because you don’t want to lose your customer because he got confused in your website or he simply lost his patience and focus before managing to buy some product or service.
- Prepare the design that represents the navigation flow of the user
Give your customers a unique experience, but keep in mind the navigation flow you established. You want to keep your user entertained, you want him to enjoy browsing your website, to show him as much possible of your business while reaching the final acquisition step in the shopping cart.
- Validate this flow with the “test customers”
Is everything you have done working out so far? You want to reassure that everything you invested in is working as planned and you didn’t miss a thing in your ecommerce shifting. This step allows you to test your new solution with real customers that show the exact behaviour that they have while shopping on your website. You want the maximum results, after all.
- Implement the design at a detail level
You need to adjust all the functionalities so they fully solve the navigation flow of the user. You need your webshop to be fully responsive because your clients are all over laptops, PCs, smartphones, tablets and any other gadgets. They are everywhere and so you need to be.
- Follow the efficiency of your new webshop
You need to integrate and use in your strategy tools that help you improve your solutions: Google Analytics helps you gain more visitor information - you can find out where your customers came from, how much time they spent on your website, what their flow was and so on. You need A/B Testing to make your all the functionalities work out as they should. You need Heat Maps to check the click behaviour and the important website areas that work out or the ones that don’t need to be improved. So you need those and any other techniques that give you concrete information to make your webshop more efficient to your customer.
And these steps are valid not only for design aspects, but for every other solution you may need. So the work continues after the solution’s implementation. We are talking about hours and hours of research, analysing your business and your competitors’, analysing your customers, development, Q/A - testing, and many other things. Nothing is left uninvestigated with a custom solution.
You may have an idea by now how the points above would integrate in your business, but in case you might have missed the objective benefits a tailored solution will bring to your business, let’s get more specific. The thing is that you always have to ask yourself about anything and be aware that times are changing. So, you should reconsider some of the following aspects:
This is an aspect that must constantly be under your watch. The question is: is your payment system effective enough? Why do you need it to be effective? Because payment is the the last step in the checkout process. You don't want to lose your customers there.
Is your payment provider cost efficient and effective? Reconsidering your payment provider will give your customers more payment methods or optimize the actual ones (maybe some payment methods aren’t used at all) and may decrease costs.
Just as the payment issue, same goes for the delivery: you have to ask yourself if your delivery system is effective enough. Adding more delivery options to your webshop will increase sales and decrease costs. So reconsidering your delivery provider is a good decision.
When you are considering about shifting to a custom solution it is important to evaluate not only your hosting costs, but other aspects such as: high availability and scalability - the ecommerce shift means more customers, more sales, more business, so you need your webshop to be always available. No or few availability means loss of sales.
Is security something you want to offer your customers? With an ecommerce hosting solution you secure transactions, therefore you gain your clients’ thrust. Also, your ecommerce provider set every hosting details up, customizing the server to suit your business’ needs.
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
This European law to protect personal data regards companies that process personal data. It creates more obligations for the businesses and gives the customers more rights - they have more control about whether, when, how and to whom personal data are provided and for which activities their data may be used.
Who needs to comply? Everybody who is storing personal data. So you need an ecommerce provider that know about GDPR - you need to be in line with every legal aspect.
We briefly presented the most important aspects about GDPR in our previous blog article, so you can find out more information here.
With a custom and efficient solution your marketing efforts will be much better paid off. How is this possible? Well, for example, if you invest in your webshop usability, customers will easily find and order your products, so your marketing funds will be much better used.
Let’s say you spend 200 EUR/day to market your webshop. If your webshop has usability issues you will get 5 orders/day. If we invest in your webshop usability the same 200 EUR/day, then marketing costs might bring in 10 orders/day.
To sum up, we talked about two different kind of approaches for your webshop: an off-the-shelf, budget friendly solution and a custom one. They both clearly have advantages and disadvantages.
The budget solution is easy to implement and costs less than a custom one, but it’s not expasion friendly. In the long term, you will face some threats and obstacles if you want to expand your business. But it is definitely a great starter if you are new in business. It will save you some money while you put the basis of a functional webshop.
On the other hand, the custom solution will support your business growing into a large and profitable one. It helps you know your customers and it teaches you want they search for and what they want. It solves complex issues about flows, payment, delivery, hosting etc. that lead to an increase of sales. But it is more expensive than a budget solution.
It is ok to start with a budget solution, maybe it is a healthy thing to do if you want to test the market before you start investing more. But it comes a time when you have rethink your goals and see what you can do in order to boost your sales up. A custom solution is worth researching about.
This is a process. And like any other process it requires a lot of planning and steps to follow. Implementing a sales environment is a long term deal that requires continuous analysis and updates.
Even though there are a lot of things to consider and so many steps to follow, the custom approach isn’t scary. You can always do it gradually based on a plan that you decide with your eCommerce service provider. Remember to first focus to solve the most painful issues and then to continue to less important ones.