A website can be a great marketing tool, but it’s important not to go into the process blindly, explains CEO and founder of online store My Pet Warehouse, Philip Bartholomew.
There are many advantages to running an online store, but there are a lot of skills you need to know and a lot of hard work to get it up and running, he says. Are you ready to take the leap?
Bartholomew provides the insights he’s learnt along the way to setting up an eCommerce site:
Are you a jack-of-all-trades?
You need to be across all the skills needed to run an eCommerce site, Bartholomew says.
“I call it the digital have or the digital have not,” he says. “People go into retail ventures with their eyes closed, but you’ve got to live and breathe it.”
It’s hard work and unless you’re prepared to make the time sacrifice to keep on all aspects of the site, it will be very difficult, Bartholomew says.
“With a physical store, you’d be required to learn about leases, staff, and the stock,” he says.
“But as an online retailer, you need to know about all of those factors, as well as becoming a logistics expert, social media expert, a search engine optimisation (SEO) expert and a content expert.”
SEO can make all the difference
You can have the best website in the world and a product at the cheapest price, but if your SEO is not up to scratch you will struggle. If you don’t know the difference between Penguin and Panda, you’ll have a few problems starting a website, says Bartholomew.
Google’s change from Penguin to Panda search algorithms hurt many businesses by pushing them down search results.
“We got hit recently by a change with Panda and in two days we fell off a cliff,” Bartholomew says. “One day we were doing fine, the next traffic and revenue dropped by 30%.”
Bartholomew says his team couldn’t immediately work out what was behind the sudden drop.
“It took us a year to recover,” he says. “The problem with SEO updates is that you never know what’s next and some people don’t understand the implications and will never know why their business failed.”
Treat your website like your shopfront
A lively and engaging website can make all the difference, Bartholomew says.
“Your website is no different to a front window at a David Jones store,” he says. “It has to be perfect; otherwise you’re not going to survive. Ensure people feel emotion and connection when they see an image of your product.”
Photography is a crucial element of a well-presented website and encourages people to share your products online, Bartholomew says.
“Australian’s are more likely to cut and paste someone’s image than take the time to produce their own,” he says.
Don’t underestimate customers – keep your website up to date
People are time poor these days, they don’t want to waste time hunting down products in physical stores only to find they’re not there, says Bartholomew.
“If you sell goods then a website is a great extension of your shop front,” says Bartholomew.
“Customers are savvy. They research products before they come to your physical store. They want to know whether you stock a certain product in advance and trust that you will deliver.”