Furniture eCommerce Platform Introduction
So, you’re building your online ecommerce furniture store. After 2020 upended the furniture world, we saw dramatic shift towards ecommerce — and as the generation with buying power tends to order from their sofas, rather than in person, this has become an invaluable solution.
Now, before you start your ecommerce roadmap, you need to make sure that you’re adhering to the Google technical guidelines.
After the dust settled from the first mobilegeddon, the period of time when a website that isn’t mobile friendly was essentially “dead” to Google search, businesses were complacent with the quality of their Google-approved mobile-responsive websites. The websites are technically sound but the experience for shoppers was poor. Somewhere along the way, retailers lost their way. With so much focus on Google guidelines, we forgot about the customer experience. This is where your ecommerce strategy comes from your customers.
The Best Reason to Create an eCommerce Website
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?
The best part about choosing to create ecommerce websites is that it works when you don’t have to.
eCommerce is open 24 hours a day.
Customers who want to browse for a new leather sectional can spend time on your website at 11 pm on a Sunday night and make a purchase. We like to say in marketing that there is a right message for the right person at the right time. But being omnipresent with a retail store is impossible and not practical. Your ecommerce website is that extra salesperson on your team who is available 24/7 and always gives the right customer the right message at the right time. That’s why ecommerce is such an obvious choice for expanding your business.
Understanding Customer Buying Behavior
Let’s talk about the user journey. Before you begin running ads or investing in content, be really clear on who your target customers are and what the typical online buying journey looks like. Technology can seem very impersonal. But when you incorporate what you know about your customers (data) into your strategy, you have the amazing ability to connect on a more meaningful level.
- Write out who your target customer is. Think about income, common job, age, challenges, goals, interests, where they shop and more.
- Understand the sales cycle. How long does it normally take from the point someone first visits your website until they become a customer? When do they often buy again? Collect this data to better understand how your current methods are working, when to reach out to customers and how best to communicate with them
- Understand how your customers move through this journey? Do they start on Facebook, then go to a product page, add to cart…? What can you do to streamline this process to increase conversions?
Since you’re just figuring out how to start eCommerce, research competitors to see how they’re doing these things. But also start collecting data immediately so you can understand how your customers may differ. Continue to hone your strategy from there.
People today have absolutely no patience for a clumsy checkout system. Any bumps along the way can lead to an abandoned cart. So one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is to put all of your initial attention into optimizing checkout. Then work your way out from there.
Furniture eCommerce Website Foundation
Furniture Website Design
People visit your website, but they cannot physically experience your furniture. It’s a fundamental disadvantage that your online store has to a physical retail store. Physical stores let people interact with a product. They let customers see it from every angle. It’s no secret that customers would rather see your furniture online from every angle, in all its glory, rather than two-dimensional images.
Looking at 2D pictures is ok, but being able to see what every angle of a piece of furniture looks like is much more engaging. It’s a tool that not only shows your product from every possible angle, it literally interacts with every single person that visits your website, as if they were seeing the product in your store.
73% of online users tend to spend their money on one to five websites. That’s great if you’re one of those brands with whom they’ve forged a connection.What you shouldn’t do is take that fidelity for granted. Whether you’re newly minted in eCommerce or a leading e-tailer, your goals are the same. Improve the ecommerce user experience. Online furniture shoppers want to start and end the shopping experience online. The retail sector is flooding with new eCommerce players every day.
Your competition isn’t just the shop around the corner anymore.
It’s the shops around the corner and around the world. eCommerce has enabled a better world where the user invents the next wave of technology. Demanding a unique online shopping experience puts many retailers online and unprepared.
Desktop and Mobile
How is your website on a desktop? What about on mobile? The ease of use on every device is the first step in your ecommerce user experience planning.
It’s important to make sure your website is adaptable to both types of devices from the start. There are mobile-first website alternatives for high mobile traffic websites. Remember, 57% of online searches come in from mobile devices.
Take your website analytics into account when making your ecommerce plan. The type of traffic you’re getting today isn’t going to drastically shift. When you enable eCommerce, you’re enabling your current visitors to shop online. It’s still important to spend time on your analytics. How much traffic is coming from mobile devices? How much traffic is coming from desktop browsers? Understanding your current audience is important. Then, you’ll build a plan for acquiring the customers you want.
Think of the traffic you’re losing out on by failing to upgrade your old site architecture. No one wants to try and filter through tiny text and hard-to-find buttons. While we’re on the subject of mobile, here are some other considerations.
Other Mobile Considerations
- Ease of browsing product pages
- Clarity of product descriptions on small screens
- Lack of distortion when pages or catalog shrink down below a certain size
Simplifying Website Navigation
How easy is it for users to find dining room tables from your home page? What if they’re looking for living room suites? Your website navigation should make finding different furnishing options a simple task no matter where users are on your site.
That means organizing your menus in logical ways. Try to direct your users where they want to go in as few clicks as possible. Your visitors should be able to go back and forth as needed even if they’ve scrolled down to the bottom of a landing page. Adding links and buttons at strategic places around the page allow users to get back to different points around your site quickly.
Adding Customization Options
Your visitors may visit your site and find a sofa that’s almost perfect. Even though your product description may note different color options, they’re not going to be comfortable closing on a sale unless they can see the product as they want it on screen.
MicroD’s OmniVue XR 3D product visualization technology allows visitors to perform their customized draping on different pieces of furniture. They can also plan out an entire room with different compositions and see a real-life visualization of their dream living room.
It’s like having a sales assistant present on your furniture ecommerce platform 24/7. Users can get the clarity needed to make purchasing decisions at any time of the day or night. Having MicroD as your provider means you’ll always have access to the latest in user personalization offerings, providing them with an ecommerce user experience unmatched by your competitors.
Improving Loading Speed
Technology allows us to move around the digital world at increasingly faster speeds. That means users have a lot less patience than they used to for slow-loading websites, particularly when they’re accessing it from a mobile device.
Over 53% of mobile users will abandon a site if it takes longer than three seconds to load. That’s a pretty significant loss when you remember how many users rely on mobile access for online shopping. It’s evident speed’s a pretty important factor in delivering a quality furniture ecommerce platform.
You should look at how much bandwidth it takes to load the images used for your website product pages and online catalog. Have you optimized them properly for the web? Are you using any custom fonts, which can add to the loading speed of your page?
Improving Your Google Ranking
Make product descriptions thorough and well-organized so that most customers feel that their questions are answered. Run some testing on different layouts to see which one increases your conversion rate.
When writing descriptions, it’s important to remember that you’re creating them for both people and the search engines that help people find them. If you’re working with a website partner that provides the manufacturer-supplied product descriptions or romance language, build on that information. And don’t forget to optimize! Apply current SEO best practices to the page like:
- Researching keyword phrases people commonly search for related to the item
- Creating unique descriptions for each page
- Utilizing H1 and H2 title tags to help search engines understand what’s important
- Applying schema markups, a special programming language that helps search engines better understand what different sections mean
- Alt titles for images
- Local language that helps search engines know that you’re a local business
Customers today expect to not only be able to see descriptions of items. They expect 360 visualizations that help them understand what the piece looks like from all angles. Don’t just tell the customer that their items come in coffee, lilac, espresso and passion red. Show them the sofa, end table, or armoire in the cover specified. You can accomplish that with digital product draping.
If you want to sell online, 360 spin is a must. Having 360 spin on your eCommerce store will also increase the amount of time viewers spend on your website. The longer they stay on your website, the more chances you have to catch their eye with your products.
Personalize Your Website Shopping Experience
Using Personalized offers and Suggestions
Personalization has become an expected part of most users’ online shopping experience. 81% of them expect brands they regularly visit to know them well enough to understand the type of individualized offers or suggestions they want to see.
Getting this done without impacting the value of the user ecommerce experience can be a delicate balancing act.
You don’t want visitors to feel like they’re under constant bombardment from the moment they enter your site. But it’s important to show them useful promotions triggered by actions they’ve taken.
You wouldn’t want to show armchairs to someone browsing dining tables, but you might want to recommend different centerpieces sold in your store. Someone interested in foyer tables might like to know you’re also having a sale on mirrors which would look great having above it.
Important Personalization Considerations
- Take user history into account
- Make content relevant to their movements and shopping history
- Add prompts for collecting more detailed information about their interests for better suggestions
- Consider AI and machine learning to adapt to visitor needs
Users should feel they’re a valued asset every time they enter your site. Your efforts in personalization go a long way towards creating an optimal ecommerce user experience.
Now, you’re going to need to furnish your website with real manufacturer product catalog data. MicroD has built successful relationships with major home furnishings manufacturers over the last 20 years. Most online home-furnishing stores use manufacturers bland product descriptions and don’t optimize via keywords.
Give your customers constantly updated products in your online showroom with keyword optimized descriptions, beautiful imagery, and accurate product descriptions that interact with their senses.
Now that you have your professional website set up, product catalog data, and 360 spin, it’s time to start getting thousands of eyes to your site. Digital marketing is one of the key elements to making online sales and getting your store in front of your target customers. You’ll want to create social media accounts on multiple platforms, set up email marketing, and start paid advertising online.
Social media accounts are important when interacting with new, current, and past customers. They humanize your brand and make it easy to see what is going on in your store. One social media post has the power to bring multiple clients through your showroom doors or to your website.
Email marketing is another powerful tool that will help you on your eCommerce journey. Email has the power to deliver more content than, say, a social media post. You can send a number of stories, promotions, and updates in one email, thus providing a bunch of useful information at once.
Email marketing is also direct.
Your emails go straight to your customer’s inbox. Email marketing also works hand in hand with your website. If someone adds a product to their cart on your website but does not complete their purchase, you can send them cart abandonment emails to try and recover lost sales. These emails would contain the product they were looking at and a reminder to complete their purchase.
Furniture Ecommerce Competition
Online Presence and Success
Let’s move in-depth about the consumer trends just mentioned earlier. What happened to make online shopping the standard, not the exception, to shopping behaviors? The simple answer is: Amazon. We’ve talked ad nauseam about the Amazon Effect. The ecommerce giant changed the way consumers look at products online. Representing 49% of the ecommerce market, Amazon spawned a new type of retail experience for consumers.
It seems like it happened overnight. Consumers started to go online and make product purchases. They started demanding a better standard for online product presentation. They pushed the envelope and now value more information, more product images, more personalization, product reviews from other customers, and easy payment options. The traditional brick-and-mortar retailers weren’t ready for this shift.
Thanks to Amazon and Google, the retail industry did start to play catchup. Traditional retailers started to build an online brand presence. With manufacturers in tow, retailers began talking about their products online. They added interactive tools like room planners to the website for a better customer experience. They started to put stock into this new trend–but always with some skepticism about full ecommerce.
While big vendors such as Amazon and Wayfair seem to be the go-to retailers for many consumers, they are not the beginning and end of ecommerce.
There are many areas that the big retailers are weak when it comes to consumer satisfaction online. For example, in the home furnishings industry, retailers with access to exclusive collections that sell in the store can leverage their exclusivity with the manufacturers to show products online and sell online. If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times:
Your manufacturer product catalog feeds are critical to your success online. This is your great leverage against the Amazons and Wayfairs of the world.
Selling online is the next big profit center for your retail store as the consumer trends keep shifting more towards online purchase. Now is the time to catch up and start your new business plan. Step one: create an ecommerce website.
Competing with Amazon and Wayfair
As mentioned earlier, big online retailers such as Amazon and Wayfair will always be out there as ecommerce competition. However, you don’t need to be a pure e-tailer with warehouses of inventory to compete with these companies when you create an ecommerce website.
You can study the big players and see where they are not providing the best solution for consumers. We heard a great speaker once say that you can’t compete with your competition.
You’ll lose every time.
Why? Because competing with anyone but yourself is a lose-lose. Your competitors may not be serving the best product to the customer in the best ways. When you compete with yourself to win your customer, you make decisions to serve the customer–not just serving a copycat rendition of your competitor.
In the home furnishings industry, there are lots of gaps that you can use to compete for the customer. Some of them include the following:
- Niche markets
- Local markets
- Personalized touch
- Knowledge of your market
- Knowledge of your product
- Responsiveness to queries
- Quick local delivery
- Ability to pair or match products
- Better merchandising
How eCommerce Improves the Supply Chain
Manufacturers and Logistics Want Retailers Adopting eCommerce
Have you been getting pressure from your manufacturers and logistics vendors regarding adoption of ecommerce? It is not surprising that they realize that the future of sales is online.
While some customers will still want to come in person to see your showroom, many of them are choosing to spend more time with family. Rather than spending weekends going from store to store, they can do their research at home from their computer by browsing catalogs online.
Manufacturers provide online catalog data feeds for retailers to embed when they create an ecommerce website so that customers can search and shop for furniture on your ecommerce site. These data feeds give shoppers an up-to-date catalog with endless opportunities for the retailer. Retailers can provide customers with more personalization, better service and the hottest trends. By using RMS and other ERP logistics systems and third parties to fulfill orders, your customer satisfaction increases as you provide a more fluid and faster order fulfillment process.
Ecommerce can improve your product flow from vendors, and you can automate the process even more with EDI. Adding efficiency to the ordering system allows you to focus on projects that drive revenue instead of hours doing paperwork and handling logistics.
Your vendors can also better plan for future product development and manufacturing with more data from your ecommerce platform. They can learn about customer behaviors from your metrics. As they come to know your customers better, they can plan for the future using data instead of assumptions and guesswork. Better planning means better profitability.
Another benefit is using customer data on actual purchases, searches and what is not bought (left in the cart) to manage product catalog creation more efficiently. From the manufacturer perspective, this efficiency saves money on inventory, product development and catalog costs, especially for print catalogs.
You can see why having data from actual customers is more beneficial than from focus groups or marketing surveys. Using actual behaviors is more effective than supposed behavior. There are many places in your business operations that can benefit from creating an ecommerce website.
How to Sell Furniture Online
Many of the websites we see may be great at mobile responsiveness and theoretically have a good user experience onsite. But there is a gaping hole in your strategy that you may not realize yet. Product feeds. Manufacturer product feeds are a critical component to selling furniture online. It may seem too basic even for beginners.
Ecommerce websites require product data on them; you can’t sell a product that can only be found on another site. Yet, many of the retailers we meet who want to build an ecommerce website don’t have manufacturer products living on their existing website.
Too often, retailers are using the website to link shoppers to the manufacturer website for product information. While it may be the “easy” route for those who don’t have another option, you’re stealing from your own profits.
Not only does this break the user experience, switching from one website to another, it all but encourages the shopper to engage with the manufacturer’s dealer locator to buy this product they’ve seen on the manufacturer website–all thanks to your link. Will they remember your store was the one to lead them to the product they love? Not likely. That’s why it is vital to bring those manufacturer product catalog feeds to your own website.
Shameless plug: MicroD bridges the gap between your website and your manufacturers’ product catalogs. With an OmniVue website, you get instant access to nearly 400 manufacturer product catalog feeds. Your top selling brands and products can fill your website without any effort on your part. Sounds easy, right? This connection makes it easy for shoppers to research products they love, customize it with new upholstery options, see it in a room planner, and purchase it from your store. All of this happens without the customer ever leaving your website.
What Products Should You Sell Online?
One EASY way to start your ecommerce strategy, and one that we’ve suggested to retailers in the Home Furnishings industry, is the Clearance rule. If most of your best sellers have no pricing available from the manufacturer to sell online, you need another avenue to build your ecommerce website.
Clearance items are already priced to sell on your showroom floor. You can create an entire virtual catalog of clearance items and price them with ease. If you’re short on great manufacturer-provided images of the product, snap a photo of the item in your store and upload it to your website clearance catalog.
Clearance online sales are a great opportunity to get familiar with pricing, payment logistics, and how to navigate some of the growing pains of building your ecommerce website. Starting small, especially with a clearance category, will help you work out the kinks and scale your strategy over time.
When you build your eCommerce website, one very effective way to begin is the Pareto Principle. You may know this by its more common name: the 80/20 rule. This rule challenges you to focus your energy on the 20% of your product line that provides 80% of your profit. For example, you may have hundreds of accessories that are in stock and cost efficient to ship within a delivery area of 20 miles.
When you look at the consumer purchasing data in your website analytics, you’re only selling 1/4 of your inventory in store. Rather than spend time manually pricing each product that has a low track record of sales, focus on the top sellers and apply the Rule of 3 (yes, another Rule).
- Price them
- Rank them
- Sell them online
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.
How Will You Deliver Your Products
Once you have the aesthetics in place, it’s time to work on the infrastructure of your eCommerce website. It’s important to recognize that you are now competing with industry giants like Amazon and Wayfair. Take this into account when you decide how to ship your products. In most cases, the retail giants offer free two-day delivery and have optimized their supply chain.
You need to carefully evaluate and then make decisions on your distribution, shipping and return policies. Use this checklist to help you logistically build your eCommerce website:
- Consider choosing logistics partners who support the short turnaround delivery option
- Evaluate various pricing strategies for online vs. in-store and how shipping costs will bake into your price
- Offer reasonable return policies
- Determine a viable delivery area to start–set a smaller radius and grow from there based on the data (more here in a minute)
- Include an 800 number for customers to contact you and train your team on how to handle ecommerce transaction questions
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.
We can help you with online product catalogs from the vendors you care about. Learn more.
If you choose to make delivery available, aim low. Do some research to determine your optimum delivering areas. If you are unable or unwilling to deliver to certain areas, find an ecommerce platform like MicroD that allows you to set parameters that allow only customers in specified zip codes to order online.
Once you start selling online, you are opening markets never before available to you. Choose third-party logistics companies to stock and deliver your products within your parameters. There is always room to grow once you train customers on your ecommerce business.
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.
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.
The Ins and Outs of In-Store Pickup
One of the best ways to compete with online sellers is to leverage your brick and mortar presence. Although a few of them are aggressively moving to add traditional stores, most online sellers do not offer in-store pickup. Add a “click to brick” option where customers can buy online and pick up at the nearest store.
We highly recommend that you correlate your in-store marketing strategies with your online advertising. You can direct online customers to the physical store nearest to them with simple mapping technology.
Your physical store allows prospective customers to:
- See the product,
- Sit on the furniture,
- Talk to an actual sales representative, and
- Visualize the product in an actual room setting.
Building a Secure eCommerce Checkout Experience
When you build your eCommerce website, remember that you’re asking customers to share personal information like name, contact information, and payment information. Nothing shuts down an ecommerce strategy like hacking of customer payment information and ensuing identity theft. To protect your business and your customers, not to mention the new security requirements, you need to secure your website. Most retailers and anyone who uses Google have heard of SSL. SSL stands for secure sockets layer. It is a certificate that keeps your website locked down and secure.
Think of your SSL certificate as an electronic passport. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) establishes an encrypted link between your web server and the customer’s browser. It ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers is private and secure.
An SSL Certificate includes:
- Name of the holder
- Serial number and expiration date
- Copy of the certificate holder’s public key
- Digital Signature of the certificate-issuing authority
If you’ve got a good website partner, like MicroD, you’ve known about the Google changes regarding SSL for websites since 2017. Your website partner should help you set up and keep your SSL renewed annually. As of July 2018, Google made SSL certificates a requirement for all websites. What does that mean for you?
If you want to have a website that Google presents to visitors, get an SSL yesterday.
Pro Tip: PCI DSS Compliance
Yes, we’re getting into the weeds with this one but it’s important to build this into your ecommerce strategy. If you’re going to accept payments online, you must comply with PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards). Make a note to talk with your eCommerce provider about PCI compliance and the steps you need to take to be compliant.
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:
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.
Strategies to Kickstart eCommerce Sales
Leverage Social Media to Reach New Customers
Build out your business profile on Facebook. Start sharing helpful content from your website as well as tools, quizzes, videos, and more that your customers will find helpful.
Shopping in one of the top 10 reasons people say they’re on Facebook. Use this knowledge and create social media friendly ads that your potential customers will love. This not only helps you make quick sales; it builds a sustainable organic social media presence over time.
Streamline Your Checkout Process
- Make it a no-brainer to find exactly what they’re looking for and add it to the cart
- Be very upfront about shipping costs so no surprises. One of the top reasons people abandon carts is because they weren’t expecting the large delivery charge.
- If you offer free delivery for carts over a certain amount, promote this prominently on your site to encourage more spending.
- Be very upfront about payment options. If you’re set up to take payments online or have special financing offers available, be clear upfront so no surprises. If it is Buy Online Pick Up in Store, make sure customer expectations are set early.
- Optimize design so a visitor never has to think twice about how to go to their cart, how to choose a color and how to complete the purchase.
- Make it easy to go back to add something new to the cart without losing progress even if they’ve already entered shipping and payment information.
- Make sure everything is itemized. It’s clear how much is the tax, delivery fee, etc.
- Make it easy to remove items from the cart or change quantities. Making it difficult won’t increase revenues. It only increases the chance they’ll abandon the cart altogether.
- Integrate the in-store checkout experience with online
- Make it simple and easy-to-use from start to finish
- Clearly state estimated delivery time frame at the beginning so customer are reassured that they will get their purchase quickly
- Make scheduling all deliveries easy and reliable. Integrate your delivery schedule into your site to offer self-service scheduling.
- Offer to assist with an online chat option that can answer common questions automatically or connect a person with a representative during business hours
Once you have your checkout optimized, you’re ready to tackle other areas of your strategy like how people get to your checkout.
Keep Your Website Up-to-Date
“Keepin‘ up with the Jones“ isn’t just something you do with cars, houses, and furniture. Keep an eye on what the competitors are doing and adapt your website to continually meet customer expectations.
If you’re just now diving into how to start eCommerce, this all might seem daunting. But once you get your new and improved eCommerce site running, it’s mostly simple maintenance as long as you don’t let yourself fall too far behind.
So, what are you waiting for? Start today.