Chances are that you've purchased something (or hundreds of things!) online at some point in your life. But now it's time to think about ecommerce from a retailer's perspective. What is ecommerce; what does it entail; where does it happen; and why should you sell online?
Building Your Ecommerce Website
The way we do commerce is changing. Online sales are growing so quickly that experts predict 95% of purchases will be made online by 2040. So whether you already run a brick-and-mortar store or you're just getting into business now, you'll have little choice but to bring it online. Thankfully, software is making ecommerce easier and more exciting by the day.
A payment gateway supports the series of back-end communications that must occur for a consumer to make a purchase on your ecommerce site. You'll have a lot of options to choose from. Learn the difference between modern and classic, hosted and integrated gateways... and know what to look for in a gateway provider.
Shipping is the biggest expense an ecommerce business has to contend with—and shipping costs are the #1 reason for cart abandonment—so it's crucial to get this right. You'll have some factors to consider to find the "sweet spot" of shipping—prices consumers are willing to pay AND that cover your costs.
Once you have a sense of the pricing strategies available to you for shipping, it's time to choose the best carrier for your business. Learn what factors carriers use to calculate shipping fees, and how to estimate costs on your own so you can make an intelligent (read: data-based) decision about getting products into customers' hands.
Once your shipping costs and carriers are determined, it's time to be transparent with consumers about what (and who) they are. After all, prospects will want to know how soon, how safely, and how cheaply their items will arrive before they hit that "Purchase" CTA. Learn what strong policies include... and read some examples.
Your shipping policy and your returns policy will probably be the two most-read documents on your ecommerce website. It's worth remembering that around 30% of products ordered online are returned... but a good Returns & Refunds policy can offset that loss by generating more sales and bringing satisfied customers back.
Visitors' behavior on your website will give you insights into your site and offering: what products they look at but don't buy, what content keeps them on the page the longest, where they drop off in the buyer's journey. Making business decisions based on this data can do wonders for your bottom line. Know what metrics to track.
As an ecommerce business, you can't escape collecting data about consumers—to complete transactions, to subscribe users to your email list, or to improve user experience and conversion rates on your site. But you've got to let consumers know you're collecting it—and what you're doing with it. Here's how.
A Terms & Conditions is the set of rules that governs your relationship with your site visitors and customers from beginning to end. Think of it as a code of conduct that lays out the roles and responsibilities of all parties. Learn why you need one, what topics it should cover, and what best practices are for writing and disseminating it.
So far, we've discussed payments, shipping, and analytics in setting up your shop. But there are many more back-end processes that need to happen to keep your business running: order management, inventory, accounting, email marketing, and more. Don't approach these as separate events, but as a single, seamless event: Your relationship with customers. Integrations and automations will allow for this.