Friday, October 31, 2008

StoresOnline: The Laws of Ecommerce

ECommerce is about converting visitors to your site into customers. A brick and mortar shop has to work hard to get a prospect to make a special visit or passing prospects to enter. Then the visitor has an investment in the visit. They have expended time, energy and money to get there. This means that they are quite likely to make a purchase.

On the web, visiting your store needs just a single mouse click. This also means that there is little investment and they can just as easily move to another site. So, in ECommerce you really have to work hard to ensure that your bounce, page exit and abandoned cart rates are as low as possible and your co-sale and up-sale rates as high as possible for the best possible average order value, return visit rate and account lifetime value.

ECommerce success needs to be judged on the total lifetime value of each account and the average of all accounts.

How to be successful The key management success factors in retail are:

- StoresOnline Customer Service and selling
- Demand planning and management
- Forecasting, allocation and replenishment
- Markdown management
- Merchandise and range planning
- Promotion planning and management
- Store operations
- Supply chain management

In addition all successful retailers understand:

- The competition
- Branding

Retail is not just products, but an experience with customers selective but willing to pay for:

- relevance
- excitement
- quality
- simplifying life
- improvements

Customer loyalty, relationships and awareness:

- promotional campaigns and marketing techniques
- merchandising visual impacts

It is not just about price: "Customers move to the lower cost provider when marketers stop giving them reasons not to." Tom Peters.

- Retail is detail
- hours, displays, point of sale, categories, isles, music, etc. etc. etc.

On the web you still need all these skills and approaches, but because it's so easy to "click away" you also have to understand a lot more. Firstly, understand how people behave on the web - and this applies to all sites not just ECommerce sites. They go to the web and they search, decide and then act. But, that final decision to act - the one that we want - is based on a whole gamut of emotional factors bound up in trust, ease and entertainment.

Secondly, understand the laws of ECommerce - Get visitors to the site - Search engine optimization - Pay-per-click - Email - Affiliates - Online public relations - Convert visitors into customers - Sales - Special offers - Coupons - Associated products - Recommendations - Site effectiveness - Build relationships - Make sure the site works – fast load times etc.

Sounds obvious but……- Think like a consumer – show you understand what they want - Be visually clean – clutter does not work.

If you use this checklist, you’ll be well on your way to creating an eCommerce StoresOnline Website that thinks of what is best for your customers and your business.

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