Do you know what it takes to set up an online store with eCommerce and a shopping cart? It isn’t quick and certainly comes with a set of strategic hurdles you need to clear. As a retailer who feels the impact of COVID-19 in the brick and mortar business, getting an online store setup is more important than ever. We’re here to help. We’ll talk you through what it takes to get started. If you’d like to get an eCommerce readiness checkup or get step by step instructions for how to set up an ecommerce store on any furniture retail software, contact us at any time.
Understanding Ecommerce Readiness
Ecommerce to some retailers means a shopping cart transacting sales through a website portal. For others, and more accurately, eCommerce is any form of business conducted online. It means the leads you get from your website or a sale that comes through a cart can both be attributed to eCommerce sales. In other words: when you set up your online store, you can do it with or without a shopping cart. That factor depends on your business goals and your overall eCommerce readiness.
An ultimate goal of eCommerce would be to transact business through your website–leaving no interaction for the brick and mortar showroom. But many retailers in home furnishings look for a healthy mix of shopping interaction. After all, the majority of home furnishings shoppers still prefer to spend part of their buying experience in the retail store. So where does eCommerce come into play for retailers who want to be successful in the current marketplace?
How Important is Online Shopping Cart Revenue?
Before the COVID-19 pandemic and retailers had the doors open with regular traffic flowing, the answer to this question may have been different. In today’s retail predicament, retailers are looking for a significant portion of revenue to come from their website. But it’s important to set realistic expectations for your website and your shopping cart. Ecommerce revenue doesn’t happen overnight and isn’t guaranteed. Our goal is to identify the steps you need to take to establish a strong online store for eCommerce sales and prepare your shopping cart for success. We’re going to continue to break down the options for retailers just starting to set up an online store.
Ecommerce as a Primary Revenue Source
If the shopping cart revenue from your website needs to be the primary source of revenue, be prepared to work long and hard for that revenue. This option requires a lot of planning and pre-implementation work to get the cart active and produce meaningful revenue. You’ll want to continue following the steps outlined below. But you will need to put a significant amount of investment into your marketing budget to drive those shopping cart transactions. And you can’t do it alone. It also means retailers need to invest in the right partnership to produce product pricing for entire catalogs before a shopping cart even comes to fruition.
If you think this might be too aggressive for you right now, there is another option.
Shopping Carts for Supplemental Revenue Source
Many retailers qualified for some expense relief during the COVID-19 crisis. So they’ve made smart investments with their existing budgets. And they’re secure until the bounce-back of the brick and mortar. These retailers are looking for supplemental revenue now and once the country bounces back. Because the impact of the mass quarantine around the country has impacted the way shoppers will continue to shop. And many transactions will use online stores to make transactions or secure purchases for in-store pick-up.
Retailers looking at this option will generate success and revenue both online and in the showroom. But it doesn’t mean they have to price out every product online and can grow their eCommerce shopping cart sales over time.
Now let’s go into the steps you need to take as a retailer to complete your eCommerce readiness test.
How to Set Up Your Ecommerce Store
If you plan to sell any products on your website, whether with a shopping cart or an online store quote for in-store pickup, you need product data. And not just any product data will do. Retailers who want to run a successful eCommerce shopping cart needs robust product information for every catalog in your store. And because shoppers are going to find your products based on merchandising (more on that later) as well as your SEO, it can’t be just any product information.
Enhanced product catalogs include:
- Detailed product descriptions
- Romance language for SEO
- Dimensional data
- Several product photos in different styles (bonus: videos)
- Information about the materials
- Pricing (more on that later)
- Visualization for custom furniture components
- And so much more
If you’re not getting this information in the catalogs you have online, you need to correct it before the cart. Virtual shopping requires the shopper to have the same experience online as the store. Which means you can’t show products on your website that are no longer available. You can’t show a sofa in brown leather and have no photos of the same sofa in other covers and finishes if it’s available to purchase in those.
Imagine if a customer clicked to add a product to the shopping cart, submitted a request to quote that cart–or worse–make the purchase, and you didn’t have the product because it was discontinued and out of stock? The customer’s experience on your website with your store is fractured going forward.
Your product data is the most important facet of your online store setup. And without it, you won’t have a successful shopping cart experience. It will take a significant amount of time and money to develop these enhanced product catalogs if you don’t have the right partner.
Did you make it this far in the ecommerce readiness checklist? If not, click here to get help.
We can help you with online product catalogs from the vendors you care about. Learn more.
Pricing Products for Ecommerce Sales
If you’ve got the products on your website and feel confident about the accuracy, it’s time for some advanced ecommerce techniques. There are two strategies that are critical for setting up your ecommerce online store (with or without the shopping cart).
- Setting pricing for catalogs
- Building digital merchandising
Adding pricing to your product catalogs can be challenging. If you carry multiple brands on your website, this can be additional work to price all catalogs. Fortunately, if you are a MicroD client, you have the option to show the manufacturer’s approved pricing for the products you carry on your website. It ensures that you’re following the pricing rules by the manufacturer and saves time for your team. For catalogs that do not include pricing or for your clearance items online, pricing can be a challenge.
Ecommerce Pricing Strategy without the Shopping Cart
It is important to start pricing products on your website before you decide to add a shopping cart. In fact, it is one of the first things you should do when setting up your online store for ecommerce. It gives your customers a range of options and sets the expectation early. Meaning customers who do come to the showroom asking for the product are more likely to purchase.
Adding pricing to your catalogs online gives you another advantage. Before you add a shopping cart to the website, priced products can be added to a wish list for customers to call in for payment or visit the store for a final purchase and pick up. This will save your store from customer loss due to insufficient information. And gives you the chance to upsell in person.
Pricing items online is an important first step in ecommerce. For retailers who are not focused on adding the shopping cart immediately for primary revenue, a pricing strategy can be developed over time. You can use resources wisely and price certain brands or categories of items first. For example, you may want to add pricing to all of your clearance products first. This allows you to start showing pricing online for products you need to sell. It won’t require special delivery or manufacturer mandates and will help you clear out in-store inventory.
Many retailers may stop at this stage and not add the shopping cart. You can continue to follow this process of pricing different sections of your store with different pricing models like “Starting at” or “Sale Price” strategies. This can be very successful and a great ecommerce strategy. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, let us know!
Ecommerce Pricing Strategy with the Shopping Cart
If you are focused on driving revenue with the cart, you need to make a few extra steps in this process. And you may start your strategy in a different place. The shopping cart adds a few layers of complexity. You will need to price based on manufacturer rules but also your profit margin. Take shipping and delivery into consideration when pricing products.
Some of the most successful retailers will enable the manufacturer’s pricing rules on catalogs and manually add pricing to smaller items like accessories. This will be a great opportunity to test your checkout process, delivery standards, and overall ecommerce supply chain.
Other retailers choose to only sell certain items with the shopping cart. And that is a great strategy to follow if your business model allows. It’s important to make these decisions before you move forward with a shopping cart in your ecommerce readiness plan. Decide on which items you’d like to sell online through the shopping cart and build your plan to follow it.
Building Digital Merchandising Plans
Merchandising is another valuable tool and baseline requirement for learning how to set up ecommerce store for successful ecommerce sales. And it’s something you should do before you learn how to set up an ecommerce website. If you are a retailer who wants to have the ability to show pricing on certain products and disable the shopping cart transactions, merchandising is critical. If you are a retailer who wants to pass transactions through the website, merchandising is critical. The theme here? Merchandising is critical!
Ranking is the way you arrange products on item browser pages. For example, if you search for sectionals on a website, you’ll find a list of sectionals in the browser pages. If that retailer wants to promote a certain brand of sectionals more than another, they will use advanced merchandising strategies on their website to show that brand of sectionals before the others. The goal is to create the experience that best fits your shopper.
You need to treat your online store just like your brick and mortar store. You wouldn’t set up a store without putting thought into the layout of the products. And you can’t set up your online store without the same strategy.
Digital merchandising with furniture retail software can be as simple or as advanced as your ecommerce readiness strategy allows. For many successful retailers, merchandising starts with the products that sell the best. For others, it means priced products show first. No matter what your preference, it is important to organize and rank your products to show the right products on your customer’s shopping journey.
Setting Up Your Shopping Cart
If you’ve made it this far in the how to set up an ecommerce store checklist, you’re ready to start building your shopping cart strategy! We’re going to cover some advanced topics that are geared towards retailers looking for a shopping cart ecommerce experience for their retail store. If that isn’t you or you’re not ready yet, just give us a call and we’ll talk you through the steps to get here.
Determining Financing and Payment Sources
Payment processors are the central resources that hook into your website and your bank to collect shopping cart revenue. You’ll need to make sure that you find a provider that works with your website platform and your financial institution. Many partners, like MicroD, will have connections easily made for retailers like you.
For example, MicroD offers 4 providers:
- USA ePay
It’s a critical step and one that can hold up a lot of successful ecommerce shopping cart implementations. Be prepared and work with your partner to move your strategy into action faster!
If your store offers financing opportunities for customers, make sure to include this into your ecommerce shopping cart strategy. Successful retailers, like those on MicroD’s network, build the application process on the website. Which makes the transaction seamless and online.
Sales Tax Management
Now that you’re planning collecting revenue through your website shopping cart, you need to make sure you’ve set up your tax management correctly. Don’t forget this critical step in your process for ecommerce shopping cart planning. You can implement your own tax tables or partner with one of the many companies that will automate this for you. But make sure they can work with your website provider easily.
Checkout & Delivery
How many times have you left a website in frustration at the checkout process? It’s important to consider your customer and do ecommerce cart optimization on your checkout page. Cart abandonment increases when the checkout process is complicated–especially needlessly complicated. Find the best solution for your customers by employing a simple checkout process at first. Then optimize your page based on the results over time. Planning for the future is critical in learning how to set up ecommerce store.
If you don’t have a marketing or website partner to conduct CRO analysis on your checkout page, reach out to our marketing team for help.
Another critical component of your shopping cart experience is the delivery method. For many retailers, the delivery service is part of your secret sauce for success. And you should make that known to customers. Make sure that you offer different applicable delivery options during the checkout process. If you offer white glove delivery in certain zip codes, include the option for customers to select at checkout. For retailers who are new to the delivery process in online shopping cart checkout, set up a strategy and pricing structure that will allow you to succeed.
Security and Compliance
Make sure your ecommerce website and shopping cart are secured. The retail industry has seen its fair share of disruption and security breaches. And for many of those brands, getting customer confidence back is costly. Some never recover. So protect your customers and your brand early. At MicroD, we place security in the highest tier of priority for our clients using our furniture retail software. And we recommend you enable these elements before you launch your ecommerce shopping cart:
- Clear Terms and Conditions policy
- PCI Compliance
If you need assistance getting started, please contact us.
Connect Your Supply Chain Systems
In order to evaluate your success, you need a holistic approach. And that requires your critical business systems to work together. At the minimum, you need to connect your analytics tool with your website and include connections for your point of sale system and payment gateway information. If you have a more advanced setup, you can use EDI or an ERP to connect more of these systems together and streamline your supply chain.
Ecommerce with a shopping cart can generate a significant amount of revenue for your company over time. And it’s important to collect information and data to make the right decisions regarding your online store. For example, if your RMS provider doesn’t connect to your ecommerce website using furniture retail software, you’ll duplicate effort to maintain inventory. Inventory is the foundation of how to set up ecommerce store. And recalling our example earlier: a customer who makes a purchase when a product isn’t in stock is not a happy customer. If you have questions about what systems can help you find this information or what you can connect to your MicroD website platform, please contact us today.
Are You Ready for the Ecommerce Cart
We’ve covered a lot of basics and some advanced ecommerce techniques in this content. We hope you’ve learned about how to set up ecommerce store. We’ll continue this series by exploring ways to make your ecommerce cart successful. Including how you’ll market this new shopping cart. If you want to get an assessment of your ecommerce readiness, contact MicroD today.