Every business owner knows how daunting it can be to set up an e-commerce space. Whether it's creating a new website
or establishing your business’ social media presence
, the world of online retail can be a minefield.
But in today’s current climate, shifting your business online is essential
so that it can thrive rather than just survive. Plus, there are lots of platforms out there to help business owners transition to online retailing easily. Here’s how to get started.
1. Ensure your website is sleek and easy-to-use
Your website is the first stepping stone to having a great online business. It gives a crucial first impression to customers who discover you online first. Make sure your website is up to date
with all the essential information including contact details, prices, special offers, social media handles and store opening times (if relevant).
It also needs to be easy to navigate. Don't overcomplicate things. Have simple categories so visitors can easily see how to shop your products, where to click to find out some more information about your business, and who they should contact with any questions.
Setting up a website is very simple these days, so if you're keen to do it on a budget you don't necessarily need to pay a professional. Easy-to-use platforms such as Squarespace
can provide you with sleek and basic websites which you can customise
yourself. If in doubt, keep the design really
simple and minimal with trendy fonts and a simple colour palette. You can easily link up your business bank account too, for seamless transactions.
If you do want to use a web developer there are so many
to choose from to suit all kinds of budgets. Do your research and ask friends and your professional network whether they can recommend anybody they've worked with. This will help you narrow down your search, as otherwise it can be a minefield.
2. Ensure all the key information about your business is easily accessible
There's no point spending time and money creating a great website primed for e-commerce if potential customers can't find what they want quickly and easily. These are all the pieces of information you must
have on your website:
- 'Shop': A page where site visitors can easily browse and shop your range
- 'About Us': A few sentences about your business. Who founded it and when? Have you always been in Hatton Garden? What do you specialise is? What are your brand values? Include store opening times if relevant, and a nice picture of your founder or core team.
- 'Contact Us': Include an email address, phone number and a physical address where relevant.
- 'Delivery and Returns': Outline delivery costs and speeds, and make your Returns Policy incredibly clear to avoid any customer service problems further down the line
- 'FAQs': Depending on your industry, an FAQs page can be really useful to allay customer concerns and reduce the number of queries you recieve for commonly asked questions e.g. 'How do I know where my diamond has come from?' or 'What do I do if my ring doesn't fit?'
3. Drive traffic and maximise leads by using social media
Once you have a great website, you need to start getting people’s attention
. The best way to start gaining traction and driving traffic is to use social media
as a tool. Think of social media as your digital shop window.
You want to put your best products on show for people to see; and encourage them to pause and engage with a subtle and attractive sales message. Do this successfully and they might come in to see more!
Using bright, professional-quality images
on both your social media and website is crucial to this. It shows you're a professional brand with great taste and good eye. Imagery is particularly important in an industry as visual as the jewellery industry, so it's worth investing money in.
The best social media platform for showcasing physical products is Instagram,
because it allows users to see all of your images at once. Instagram offers a great visual representation of a brand. You can even set up Instagram so that shoppers can click on a product in your image and buy it straight away
by being taken straight to your website.
Depending on the nature of your business, Twitter can be good for fielding customer service queries and Facebook can be good for building a community. For visual enterprises like retail, fashion and food though, stick to Instagram if you only have time to use one social media platform effectively.
4. Ensure checkout flow is as simple as possible
Have you ever purchased something on Amazon so quickly that you've barely had time to think about it? Amazon is king of a super speedy checkout purchase that makes it all too easy to buy things. This is exactly what you want for your ecommerce platform.
Ensure there is as little friction as possible in your checkout process so that customers don't have to spend ages answering questions, filling in reams of details and considering whether or not they really need to buy this item. A speedy checkout means a speedy sale, and a more profitable ecommerce business.
5. Remember that imagery is everything
As touched on above, the key to enticing shoppers to buy your products is through high quality imagery. Investing in some professional photographs is a very good decision!
Ideally you need high resolution, cut out images so that customers can clearly see what they’re buying. For jewellery, the option to view an image in 360 degrees is also a good idea. Customers want to feel like they know exactly what they're getting, even if they haven't yet seen or held the physical product.
High quality images are proven to retain website users for longer and result in more web page views, so make sure you have both high quality product images and some nice lifestyle imagery on your homepage and social channels to keep visitors engaged. Bad images could turn a customer off instantly, so be very selective with the images you choose to use and ask for a few second opinions if necessary.
6. Stay on brand
It can be tempting to spend so much time making your ecommerce platform look snazzy and fresh, whilst quickly losing sight of your brand, your products and the message you want to convey. A simple design is always best, but when selecting imagery and fonts and writing any text, don't forget to keep your origins, your products and your brand identity in mind.
If customers shopping from your website eventually come into store you want to the two shopping experiences to match up. Your physical and digital stores must be aligned. A nice way to do this is to stick to brand colours, include a high res version of your logo, and even a nice photo of your store front if you have one that looks bright and professional.
7. Spend time on SEO
Working on your 'Search Engine Optimisation' (i.e. your Google Ranking
) is a great way to make sure your website shows up when a customer is searching keywords related to your business. SEO simply means optimising your website so it's easily discoverable when people search certain key words on Google e.g. 'Best jeweller Hatton Garden'.
There are many ways to increase your SEO, some more technical than others, but one easy way is to write a blog
to which you regularly contribute. Bear in mind that a blog shouldn’t be self-promotional: your customers already know what you sell. Your blog should offer content that genuinely informs, interests or up skills your customer base
, whilst covering a range of topics that will bring your website up the Google Rankings.
For example, if you sell jewellery you might think of writing a post about how to measure your ring size at home, or how to know whether you suit gold or silver jewellery. The best way to get started is to think of common questions
your customers ask you when they visit your store, and answering some of these in blog posts on your website.
You can pay SEO and content specialists to the leg work for you. Again, consult your professional network to get a recommendation, as there are lots of great agencies and individuals out there who could help.
Follow the above tips and you'll be off to a flying start! The Hatton Garden BID wish you all the best for your journey into the realm of e-commerce, and look forward to hearing about how you get on. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @HattonGDN for more from us.