How to build a successful e-commerce business

Our well-executed plan yields amazing results for one Houston area retailer

A client who had two retail fashion jewelry stores in the Harwin district of Houston approached us. They had just recently entered the online market space with a basic e-commerce site. Their sales in November of 2010 were at $150 a month so they brought us in to help them increase their sales.

The very first thing our team did was sit down with the client and assess his goals and needs. Then we went about the business of coming up with a unique plan that was tailored just for him. Our goal was to help him meet or exceed his predefined sales goals.

Our plan was dynamic, comprehensive and most importantly, completely workable.

Based on what we know of best practices for e-commerce, here are the principles we presented to our client for his website:

Technical Requirements

  1. Own your own domain-don’t let your web designer buy it for you.
  2. Own your own hosting-don’t let your web designer buy it for you.
  3. Purchase a SSL (this is required).

Design, Content and Inventory

  • Use lots of specific descriptive text.
  • Use good photos of products.
  • Use product option photos.
  • Offer variety of products and options (colors, size, features, etc)
  • Have a good user interface. Use design that is intuitive and easy to navigate.
  • Utilize good branding. Your online store should match the offline store look and feel.
  • Don’t forget the call to action. Suggest that the visitor do something (tactfully) either to purchase or to sign-up for future sales or announcements. Be specific.

E-Comm shopping cart

  1. Audit your inventory.
  2. If less than 1,000 unique items, use an all-inclusive shopping cart such as Volution or Shopify as examples.
  3. If you are experiencing a high level of traffic and online sales, consider upgrading to a more robust system such as Magento.
  4. Any robust shopping cart or websites with high traffic requires a web hosting server that can handle the page load. Page Load is when the server has to handle information all at once. Example, a site can handle 100 visits in one day vs. 100 visits in 1 minute.

Other Must-haves:

  • SEO/SEM (must have after the site is live)
    • Lots of businesses think that the site will naturally attract visitors and sales will naturally happen. Perhaps this was true in 1999, but now the online space is saturated and crowded.  That’s why search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) is essential.
    • Building a site with the elements and rules search engines use to query is critical.
    • Online advertising is more important to stay competitive.
  • Social Media
    • Showcase your products where like-minded buyers will gather on Facebook.
    • Tweet your daily promotions. Tell a story.
    • Build a community of believers for your products. Their endorsements can go viral
    • Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are essential.
  • Other Sales Channels
    • Create a page on Amazon or E-Bay.
  • Customer Service
    • Provide clear information on how a customer can reach you with questions or issues. List a phone number as well as an email address
    • Have a live person to answer customer issues or questions. Speak pleasantly.
    • Ensure immediate turn-around time on orders.
    • Never run out of products.

We took a good hard look at our client’s current e-commerce plan and customs and determined what steps needed to be taken to bring them up to best practice standards. Based on his existing website and policies, we suggested a plan to improve  the way he did business and thereby increase his profits.

We started by enhancing the website itself and

  • Added better graphics and images
  • Showed him how to take better product photos by using a consistent back ground image
  • Taught him the right angles to shoot from to best showcase his products

When it came to email marketing, we

  • Taught him how to collect email addresses to help him promote and  communicate
  • Created professional email templates for him to use in his marketing efforts

In regards to Social Media, we

  • Encouraged him to promote on Facebook by adding relevant daily content to his business page
  • Suggested that he also explore using Pinterest and Instagram
  • Placed advertisements on YouTube channels
  • Advised him to send his products out to fashion bloggers who were happy to video blog what they received and started posting these to YouTube

We introduced him to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and

  • Explained how valuable these tools really are
  • Helped him learn the process of using SEO and SEM for his business

To improve his Customer Experience, we

  • Suggested that he include a discount coupon with all shipped orders
  • Compelled him to provide excellent customer service in all situations
  • Advised him to ship all orders immediately

It only took a few months to work out our entire plan and as a result of our efforts, our client reported sales of $550,000 in February of 2013. That’s quite a remarkable increase. This is what we do at ykcreative. We help real people and real businesses achieve their dreams. We simply couldn’t be happier for our client and his employees.

At ykcreative, everything is a team effort. We work hand in hand with our clients to create practical solutions for them that yield truly amazing results. How far would you like to take your business today?  Contact us at yk@ykcreative.com to schedule a free consultation and find out what we can do to help you turn your business dreams into reality.