The COVID-19 pandemic is causing businesses everywhere to experience different challenges. But small businesses, boutiques, and independent retailers especially are experiencing a loss in foot traffic and a dip in sales. Instead of giving up, throwing in the towel, and closing your doors for good, our CAKE team has put together a list of steps that you can take to pivot your business strategy and keep sales coming in even while social distancing is in place.
Of course, this all begins with creating a digital presence and an online store for your brand. But where do you start? Keep reading to learn more.
Choosing an Online Selling Platform
Before you get too far into the process, you need to decide which eCommerce platform you want to use. There are several options to pick from, but it’s important to consider what you’re trying to sell and the overall goals you wish to accomplish. Do you need a full-blown eCommerce store or can you just sell via social media? Are platforms like Etsy adequate enough or do you need something with more flexibility?
While selling on social media and other platforms is certainly one idea for the short term, it might be better in the long run to have your own eCommerce website design. If you choose this route, you will be able to fully customize your eCommerce store design so it’s on-brand, you can access and collect customer information and get to know your customers better, and you can offer a better customer experience.
Create Essential Pages
The next step is to create all essential pages. This includes things like the text on your homepage, about us page, category pages, contact information, and more. The number of essentials you add really depends on how big of an eCommerce website you’re creating, but the main idea is to get as much up and ready to go before you launch.
This is also a good time to start your eCommerce marketing blog. Content marketing is a great way to gain trust with potential customers, position yourself as an industry expert, and improve your overall search engine ranking. Create a content calendar to help keep yourself on track and post on a semi-consistent basis, even as you’re still pulling the rest of the online stores' marketing together.
Add What You’re Selling to your eCommerce Store
Here comes the fun part. You’ll want to add what you’re selling to your new online store. After all, people can’t buy from you if you don’t add products to your eCommerce website. Makes sense, right?
But, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. For example, be sure to use crisp, clear photos that show each item from multiple angles. Your customers are likely accustomed to walking into your boutique or store and being able to touch, feel, and hold each item. With an online shop, they don't have this luxury. That means it is up to you to give them as close to the same experience as possible but in a digital format.
And don’t rely on manufacturer descriptions for your product pages. Doing this can cause a duplicate content error with Google, which happens when the same exact text on your eCommerce website is found elsewhere on the internet. In turn, it can ultimately hurt where you rank online and make it harder for customers to find you. Get out and flex your creative writing muscles to create compelling descriptions that really make your products irresistible!
Set Up Shipping, Gift Cards, and Payment Options
After you’ve added your products, it is time to set up the technical details that make buying from you possible. If you’re using a dedicated eCommerce platform, setting up shipping and payment options should only take a few minutes and involve fine-tuning a few settings. If you’re planning on accepting gift cards – including those purchased via your brick-and-mortar store – then be sure to coordinate your eCommerce website to allow this.
Promote, Promote, Promote!
Finally, your eCommerce store design is operational and ready for customers to buy products. Now is the time where you want to promote as often as possible. If you’re a boutique that keeps a client list, call each person directly or send a notecard letting them know that you’re open online. Add links to your social media pages and send out emails to all of your contacts.
Of course, this is the time when you really want to work with an eCommerce consulting company for help. Digital advertising including Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising, and Social Media Marketing are not always easy to jump right into. Having a team on your side that knows the right marketing mix for your particular niche is a great way to ensure success as you transition to selling online.
Ready to learn more about how our dedicated CAKE eCommerce agency team can help you grow your boutique or store online? Contact us today for details.