Ecommerce is a multibillion-dollar industry. According to Statista, "in 2015, retail e-commerce sales worldwide amounted to 1.55 trillion US dollars and e-retail revenues are projected to grow to 3.4 trillion US dollars in 2019." And with more than 60 percent of the U.S. population engaged in regular online shopping, what business owner wouldn't be interested in snagging a piece of that pie?
If you're the owner of a brick and mortar business who's interested in making the transition into the world of ecommerce, you probably have a lot of questions. Today, we've got Pat of SPF Depot here to help.
Pat chose Volusion in 2007, and his online business has since become a booming success. With an average of 5,000 yearly orders to fulfil, we’re excited to get this ecommerce veteran’s point of view.
What basic advice would you give to those looking to expand their brick and mortar online?Check out competitors in your industry and make note of where they fall short. Offer valuable information, and list your phone number and address clearly. Don't believe "SEO experts" who contact you and claim they can guarantee you a number one spot on Google. Keep your web address simple and don't forget that some just don't translate well; Chevy once tried to sell a car called the Nova in Mexico, they didn't take into account that "no va" means "no go" in Spanish.
We couldn’t agree more. A site URL that’s simple to type, easy to remember and relevant to your business is a must. Volusion lets you customize your URLs easily with our built-in SEO functionality. Along with robust descriptions and meta data, we recommend using an SEO-friendly URL for all article, category and product pages in order to give search engines an additional opportunity to learn more about each individual page on your site.
Displaying your phone number and address prominently on your site helps to build trust with your customers and with search engines. Wrapping your address and phone number in schema markup data additionally allows Google to easily identify your physical location, giving you the opportunity to show up in local search results.
Like Pat mentions above, you can add to this layer of trust by offering valuable information that’s relevant to your industry. While no one can guarantee you a number one spot on Google for any and all search terms, being a leader of robust on-page and off-page content creation will send valuable authority signals to search engines. You can learn more about the value of category content here.
What surprised you about the differences between brick and mortar & ecommerce?Running an ecommerce site is far less expensive. My online store allows me to have worldwide offices without all the headaches of employees and accounting. We even have a simple translator tab so our site content can be converted to any of 50+ languages.
Becoming a part of a growing global market of online shoppers is an exciting opportunity. If you’re interested in expanding globally, keep in mind that you could be serving thousands of people every month. Volusion offers a variety of time-saving internal and API applications to help you manage your stock, fulfil orders, process returns and print shipping labels to help you manage your growing online business.
What challenges have you faced?Inventory control has always been an issue and is never ending. We've outgrown Quickbooks now, forcing us to find a more robust solution. Fraud is also a big issue and the crooks are getting very good at it. We strongly advise against offering COD's. We found out that customers can stop payment on personal checks, keep the product and no law is broken. Use PayPal. They’ll cover fraud better than credit card companies. We have the monitoring package from Volusion, but you should always review your orders for suspicious addresses or order quantities.
Fraud continues to be a growing concern, and Volusion takes protection seriously. We’ve been a leader in online security since day one. Check out this additional blog post for more information.
What brick and mortar skills do you continue to utilize in ecommerce?We still print packing slips and fulfil the orders in the same way. Online orders continue to be checked over by a second person, and we ensure that accurate records of our customers and their order history are kept. If we discover a flaw in a product, we can easily pull a list of everyone that ordered that part and send a free replacement preemptively. Customers appreciate that service.
With so much competition out there, it’s absolutely vital to set yourself apart. By offering your customers outstanding service, easy returns and replacements, affordable or free shipping and fast responses to their inquiries, you can build a loyal customer base that’s likely to stick around for years to come. By combining the convenience of online shopping with the personal nature of quality service, you’ll be offering your customers the best of both worlds.
Do you have an ecommerce story you’d like to share? Use the space below to leave your comment or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org