Ecommerce guidelines - a marketers guide to planning an ecommerce website
When taking the decision to either start online retailing or redeveloping your existing platform it is really important that your digital strategy development is well planned so that not only do you get everything you need in order to grow the business but that you also don’t end up paying for services or products that you really don’t need or want. You have a number of choices to use either your internal team if you have one, outside digital agency or an "off the shelf" product.
There is nothing worse than spending time and money on smartphone for instance only to find it is an Android based platform and you have an I-tunes account! Ecommerce is the same in regards to matching your stock control and logistics with your online platform. Don’t make work for yourself by having to employ staff simply to translate one system to another.
In order to maximise Return On Investment (ROI) we advise all clients on how our support can help with the following guidelines.
Designs should be optimised to help boost visitor numbers and improve customer acquisition through aspirational design layouts which present content in an engaging format. This can help to improve search engine optimisation as well as a positive customer experience. By targeting the user experience conversion rates also improve with less abandons and drop outs.
Well-structured tags that maximise search capability both on-site and through search engines such as Google help customers find what they need quickly and therefore make buying goods from you a more pleasurable experience as well as increasing basket values. Proper analytics and measurement of the sites performance should give you the data needed to drive positive change and avoid costly mistakes where possible.
Support for developing relevant promotions allows you to quickly move goods or spot opportunities for trends that will keep customers returning due to the personalised experience they receive through the clever use of data. Combined with accurate deep level reporting on sales and behaviours facilitates identification of profitable lines and opportunities can be found and emphasised across the site.
Ensure that your current systems matches up to your new ecommerce website to prevent issues relating to translating one system to another. Although with proper testing this issue can be overcome, proper planning will prevent it altogether.
Your new system should allow you to make changes quickly and easily without needing to rely on developers to do simple things. We all want more control in our lives so make sure you and your team really understand how to enter new content before you let the agency move into the maintenance mode. In your planning it is important that you understand the size of your business and where you will get to in the next 2-3 years. Don’t run out of capacity within the first 6 months otherwise you will need to re-invest unnecessarily. This is where on-demand services can pay dividends however when you get over a certain size the economies of scale start to kick in with a fixed offering more beneficial over time.
Make sure the support offered by your agency is there when you need it by taking out a service contract. Unless you are really confident that you won’t need the help then on tap support will really be a benefit when you need it most. Most agencies will offer a period of warranty so make sure you use it wisely.
Don't develop the website in isolation. Make it intrinsic to all your branding messages and activity as it will deliver an environment second to none for consumers to interact with you. Don’t let the site get bogged down with multiple images or fancy widgets, load times for desktop and in particular mobile need to be fast otherwise consumers will believe something is broken and seek out your competitor. Integrate all your departments to make the site truly deliver. Link sales, marketing, customer care, finance, logistics and HR so it becomes the portal and business system that keeps you running. Users will have more trust in your brand if they get everything in one place and your internal users will also invest more in the continued development of the site.
The design brief needs to be well thought out with a true understanding of what motivates your customers not just what looks pretty to you.
If you like this article then you might also be interested in Top 10 ecommerce guidelines.