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Incorporating E-Commerce Into Your Sales Strategy

We live in a digital world, yet many stores are still not digital when it comes to selling. Their excuse? For many independent retailers, it’s simply not having the time to get up and running online. While time is a factor in getting things done – as is money – the reality is you may be wasting time and losing money by not getting this done. The U.S. Commerce Departments anticipates there will be $690 billion in e-commerce sales in 2012. Is your business a part of this number?

Whether you have an e-commerce site that needs some TLC or need to finally get one up and running, there are a few things to consider.

1. Don’t compare your site too much to others. While it’s important to want to be competitive in the online market, often indies get overwhelmed with bog box online sites, such as Amazon or The Gap, and forget that what they can deliver does not have to scale to the same size. Stay focused on your business and what you can deliver to your online audience – even if your online audience is only a local crowd.

2. Find an e-commerce specialist to help you create your site. This is different than a regular web designer. While this person may also be a web designer – and likely is – he should also understand the “why” of online shopping so that he can support you in creating a great consumer experience.

3. Work with someone who will teach you how to use the site. Sure, building it is one hurdle to accomplish. But understanding it, using it and maximizing what it can do for your business is a whole other hurdle to jump. You need to work with someone who doesn’t mind answering questions, hand holding a bit and even walking you through step by step what you need to know.

4. Create something that is scale-able and can grow with your business. One of the most expensive mistakes you can make is creating something that is limited in growing… because as your business grows, your website and e-commerce capabilities should, too. This may include the ability to add banner ads to your site, change images, add new content, adjust pricing and send out emails.

5. Be realistic with your e-commerce management and marketing. Creating something won’t do you any good if you walk away from it once it’s done. You need to be realistic with the time you plan to invest in managing your online site, as well as marketing your online site. Through a combination of strategies, you can be successful in having e-commerce help contribute to your overall sales strategy.

TIPS FOR EFFECTIVELY MANAGING YOUR ONLINE STORE

  1. Plan time each week into your work calendar to manage the operations and logistics of your online shop.
  2. Schedule help, such as a part time employee (or friend or spouse as mnay indies use), to help manage your online site if you identify you cannot do this alone.
  3. Be consistent in your routine to support your online store. Not sticking to a schedule may result in you ignoring this completely.
  4. Use online marketing strategies, such as social media, to help introduce your e-commerce site to shoppers.
  5. Take the time to learn and understand online shopping as it compares to brick and mortar shopping, as there are many differences to understand.
  6. Share news about your new online store to appropriate media outlets. If you are pitching a local audience, pitch your local press, for example.
  7. Be realistic with your growth and expectations of the website traffic and website sales.
  8. Identify your weaknesses in managing and marketing your online store, then get help to support you here.
  9. Keep your choice of words and images polished, professional and retail-minded so that they speak to consumers.
  10. Don’t give up. This is a sales strategy  that is not going away.

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