Dave Lomax of Liquidshop outlines some basics for businesses increasingly working online...

Ecommerce: What’s your business missing?

The Cycle sector offers tremendous potential for passionate, entrepreneurial retailers to build a sizable additional sales channel online.

A transactional website is certainly no ‘magic wand’ for success – passion, drive and energy are necessary requisites that no amount of technology can replace. However, get some fundamentals right and you’ll have a huge advantage over many of your competitors.

-Presentation: Your store, your own brand, is more important than any of the brands that you stock.
Professional, best-practise design will not only increase your brand’s value – it will inspire trust and confidence and that all-important loyalty. New visitors to your website decide very quickly whether to stay or go – professional design and navigation will help to engage and minimise the ‘bounce rate’ (users who leave after visiting just one page).

-Mobile compatibility: Nearly 20 per cent of all online sales now arrive via mobile devices (smartphones and tablets). 

An ecommerce website must be responsive – that is, it must detect the type of device that’s accessing the site and present a correctly formatted version that’s easy to navigate and buy from. 

If visitors need to ‘pinch and squeeze’ on their smartphone to navigate your website and scroll side-to-side, the conversion process is a much bigger challenge.

-Site Search: Online cycle stores typically have large product catalogues, often populated via epos systems or supplier product feeds. Accurate, sophisticated site search is absolutely critical. If a user is presented with pages and pages of results, it’s likely they won’t have the time or the patience to scroll through them all. Give them the ability to filter results by colour, price, size, brand, gender, etc. and they’re far more likely to end their journey at the checkout.

-Search engine optimisation (SEO): Although it’s a complex subject, there are a few fundamentals that guarantee a fighting chance in getting your pages found and indexed by the search engines.
The URL you see in the address bar should be concise and relevant to the page being displayed. Take a look at yours – if it resembles a string of hieroglyphics, a change is needed. The page title should match closely the URL.

-Content: Words in the page title and URL should also appear in the body content. Content needs to be unique. Many sites rely purely on imported suppliers’ product descriptions. This is deemed duplicate content by the search engines and has no SEO value. If at all possible, write your own, unique descriptions. If you’re knowledgeable and passionate on the subject then quality, informative, SEO-friendly content will result.
Of course, there’s a lot more to SEO, and the software your website runs on plays a very big part, but there’s no need to drive yourself crazy if you follow the simple steps above.

-Automation: This is about making sure your website actually works for you. Elements that can be entirely automated to maximise results are:

-Product Associations: better ecommerce systems will have a built-in engine that presents the correct up-sell and cross-sell recommendations, based on user behaviour.

-Back in stock emails: If a visitor to your physical store asks for something you’ve sold out of, the chances are you’ll take their details and let them know when your next delivery arrives. Your ecommerce system should do this automatically.

-Abandoned basket emails: If a website user has goods in a basket but doesn’t checkout it’s great customer service to email them to offer help and send a link to their basket. Very often, this automated process converts a sale you’d have otherwise lost.

Liquidshop is a long-established ecommerce provider with a very progressive development programme that ensures client sites are all ‘future-proof’.

If you’re thinking of upgrading your ecommerce for growth or you’d simply like to talk to an expert about any aspect of your online plans, visit www.liquidshop.com or email dave.lomax@liquidshop.com

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