The day you launch an e-commerce website is the day changes to the website begin. Real life will most likely be your website's testing ground, so you will need to understand what's happening on your site from day one. Here are a few daily tasks you should never skip:
- Double-check that you are getting order notifications, or go to your website's orders admin often.
- Respond to your customer inquiries quickly, within minutes if you can.
- Check how many shopping carts have been abandoned every day and understand why. Did your customer give up on completing the purchase because of the product price, an issue with creating an account, or a payment method, or because of the shipping charge?
- Study your website analytics and continue to change your website's flow and content based on your shoppers' habits.
Manage Your Store
Just like a brick-and-mortar store, your online store will need to be managed every day. You will need to watch for incoming orders, resolve problems, accept returns, issue refunds, protect the store from theft (fraudulent orders), and continue to improve your store's appeal on daily basis.
Unless the online store is your full-time job, you should consider hiring an online store manager with additional skills unique to running an online store. Such a person should:
- be technologically savvy;
- have a good knowledge of web technologies that are relevant to your online store;
- grasp the complexities of your store;
- have good customer-management and writing skills.
Above all, you want a person who will think like a business owner and see opportunities when they arise.
You Need to Market Your Website and Have a Marketing Strategy
The best store with the best products will just sit there collecting dust if you don't have a clear marketing strategy and an adequate advertising budget for promoting your store and your products. The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends spending 7 to 8 percent of your gross revenue on marketing and advertising, if you're doing less than $5 million a year in sales and your net profit margin — after all expenses — is in the 10 percent to 12 percent range. In addition to paid marketing and ads, here are some inexpensive but effective means for your initial promotion:
- Send out a press release to market-specific publications and through online syndicate services such as PRWeb or PRNewswire.
- Announce your new online store on social media and solicit feedback. Offer discount coupons to attract more shoppers.
- Use your existing network of contacts to promote your website, from your existing customer list (if you already had business prior to your new e-commerce site) to business associates.
- Write blog articles with a review of the products you sell, and promote your store by highlighting a unique story, services offered, convenient features, and so on.
- Make your product feeds available through Google Merchant Center.
- Offer deals on a regular basis.
- Branch out by using social media to promote your online shop effectively.
- Update your phone's on-hold message so consumers know they can now shop for your products online.
- Get customers to review your business because word of mouth is a very powerful marketing tool. Review sites such as Yelp, Google Local, and Yahoo Local are very popular with consumers, and you should aim for your business to have as many reviews on them as possible.
- Update your “Closed" sign to say something like, "We're closed, but shop online now at [insert URL]" to encourage more sales at your website online.
- Do a search for forums related to what you sell to establish yourself as an expert in your field.
Don't Forget Your Business Plan
You should periodically compare your website's sales results with your website's business plan. Is the website meeting its sales goals? If not, why not? To support your business plan, create an effective content strategy by auditing and evaluating what you have through the lens of the consumer. Revise the content (products, prices, discounts, product prominence) based on audience priority.