Posts on topic: eCommerce

Tips, hints and ideas for success selling online by eCorner


eCorner eCommerce Blog

 

eCorner eCommerce Blog

Selling online is a great subject to write about as it is constantly changing and evolving. Each month new start-up businesses bring in new ideas. There are lots of opportunities to improve your online business for B2B or B2C.

If you have any questions about eCommerce try our FAQs and Ideas Center or just send us a comment or email.

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eCommerce Security in Troubling Times

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eCornerAssist_news_header

 

eCommerce Security - Did you get a virus?

Each stolen record costs retailers A$250 on average in the event of a data breach, but the loses can be much greater. and this figure is on the rise. Financial loss can be compounded by loss of trust which is much harder to recover. Cyber security should therefore be front-and-centre for any business operating on the Internet, and we are regularly asked to advise on how to manage and mitigate the risks of operating online. Covid-19 and ISO has delivered a new focus on this old issue. More people are buying online, some for the first time, and merchants are stretched to support the new activity. Hackers see this as a field day for malicious activity.

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Getting Started with eCorner Now Online Shop

Quick Start Guide

A short guide to getting stated with your new eCorner Now online store / website.


 

Overview of the administration area 

You are managing your shop in the administration area. There you can edit the content of your shop, add products, manage orders and much more.

now-article-introduction-to-your-online-shop-1-new-EN
 
1 Select View your shop and your shop will open in a new browser window. This will allow you to immediately check any changes you have made. 
2 What would you like to do next? You can use the main menu to switch between individual pages of the administration area.
3 The working area occupies the most space within the administration area. This is where the majority of the work for your shop is carried out. Depending on which page you have called up, you might find forms or charts that you can use to manage your shop.
In the administration area, you may occasionally see this information symbol:  Hover your cursor over this symbol at any point to view a short help text about the associated field.
 

Choosing your theme

The underlying design of your shop is based on a design template or “theme”.
 
Each theme offers certain design elements– such as the fonts used or the way in which content is arranged. 
 
In addition, each theme provides you with a number of styles to choose from. 
 
You can switch to a different theme at any time and thereby give your shop a new appearance.

You can also customize your theme and for instance change its colors. For more information, read Customisations for your theme
 

Editing pages

It is easy to manage and edit pages of your online shop. Absolutely no programming skills are required to do this.
 
To make the changes, you simply use the editor that is opening when you select Editor in the main menu in your shop's administration area. 
 

The pages of your shop

Your shop is composed of a number of pages. These include:
 
Page Description Symbol
Home On the home page, you provide an overview of your shop and of the products you are selling. The home page is what visitors see when they simply type in your domain. An example would be www.youronlineshop.com. 
Category pages Category pages are used for displaying products in a particular category. In a fashion shop, for example, possible categories might be “Jackets” and “Trousers”. 
Content pages On content pages, you can provide your visitors with further information. As an example, you can use an “About us” page to give more details of your company. 
Legal pages It may be obligatory to include legal pages to comply with the law. On them, you can supply your visitors with important information regarding issues such as data protection or their right of withdrawal. On pages of this type only text can be edited. No other elements such as images or videos can be added.
Product pages Your product pages are automatically created when you add a product. You can edit the texts and the pictures for products by selecting the product under Products >> View products. You are not able to drag and drop content elements on those pages.  
 

The different areas of your shop

Each page (with the exception of your shop's checkout) consists of three areas:

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1 Header
The header contains elements like the logo of your shop, the main menu and the search bar. It helps visitors to find their way – or navigate – around your shop.
2 Content area
Depending on the page concerned, the content area might contain for instance texts, images, videos and/or products.
3 Footer
The footer contains links to the legal pages of your shop, such as the legal notice page or your terms and conditions. You can also add logos of delivery and payment options and links to your social networks pages. For more information read the article The footer of your shop.

How the editor works

You use the editor to manage your pages and your content.
 
Start the editor by selecting Editor in the main menu within the administration area of your shop.
 
In the editor, you can make the following changes depending on the type of page: 
  • Add elements (such as text, images or videos)
  • Edit and format elements
  • Move elements
  • Delete elements
You can read more about this in the article Editing the content of a page.

In addition, the editor provides you with ways of doing the following:  
Product pages cannot be edited using the editor. For more information, see Managing products.
 

What is the structure of the editor?

The editor consists of various areas.

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1 Your shop
On the right, you can see the currently selected page of your shop. This is where you can modify any editable elements. Note that any changes will be immediately visible in your shop.
2 Content elements
Under Content elements in the sidebar you will find various elements that you can simply “drag and drop” into your shop to the right. If, for instance, you would like to add an image to a particular page, you can simply drag that element to the required location on the page by holding the left mouse button down. In your shop to the right, you can see the locations where you can drop the element marked in blue. For more information read the article Editing the content of a page.
3 Pages
To the left, in the sidebar below the Content elements area, you can find the Pages. This is where you can select which page you would like to edit in your shop to the right and also adjust the general settings for particular pages. You can also create new content pages here. For more information read the article Editing the content of a page.
4 Customizations
Here you can make further customizations to your shop, depending on the theme you selected. For instance you may adapt the colors of your shop or add social media links to the footer. For more information read the article Customizations for your theme.
 

Categories

You can assign the products of your shop to categories – for instance "Jackets“ or "Backpacks“. Every product of your shop has to be assigned to at least one category. Categories that are set to visible are displayed as menu items in the main menu of your shop.
 
To manage the categories of your shop, select in your shop’s administration area in the main menu Products and then Manage categories.
 

Creating a new category

1. In your shop's administration area in the main menu, select Products and then Manage categories.
2. In the table, you can see all the categories of your shop. Select + Add.
3. Enter the name of the new category.
4. Select Add.
5. The new category has been created. Select the name of the category in the table to edit it.
6. Here you can edit the settings of the category:
  • Category name: The name of the category is used in your shop’s main menu for instance.
  • Visible in shop: Invisible categories are not shown in your shop’s menu. They can still be visited if the customer knows their address or if they are accessed via a search engine like Google. 
7. Save the changes.
8. Would you like to assign products to the category immediately? Then select Products and continue with the following steps.
9. Select + Assign products
10. Select the products in the table.
11. Select Apply.
 

Products

In the administration area in the main menu, select Products and then View products. The table shows an overview of all products in your online shop. To edit one of the products, select its product number in the table.
 

Adding a product

Every product of your shop has to be assigned to at least one category. Otherwise it is not visible in your shop. If you do not have created any categories yet, please do so first. You can read more on this topic in the article Managing categories.

In the administration area in the main menu, select Products and then View products. Select the button + Add to add a new product. On the following page you can edit all of the information concerning this product. You do not need to fill out all of the fields. Save your changes at the end.
 

Payment methods

You can offer your customers various payment methods. They can be divided into two types: 
  • Usual payment methods like payment in advance, invoice or direct debit where you handle the billing.
  • Payment through a third-party provider, like PayPal, which handles the entire payment process on your behalf and then passes the money on to you. You have to register with the payment provider first before you can set up that payment method in your shop.


How to create a new payment method with a payment provider like Afterpay, PayPal or eWAY

1. In the administration area in the main menu, select Settings and then Payments.
2. In the table at the bottom of the page you can see all the payment methods already created in your shop. At the top of the page under “Add payment method”, select the kind of payment method you want to add.
3. On this page you can find information on this payment method. Select Add to add a payment method to your shop.
4. Follow the instructions displayed on the page to set up this payment method.
5. Save the changes. The payment method is now created, but it is not available to your customers yet. You now need to edit it. Continue with step 3 of the section How to edit a payment method.

aust-payments
 

How to create a new standard payment method like invoice or payment in advance

1. In the administration area in the main menu, select Settings and then Payments.
2. In the table at the bottom of the page you can see all the payment methods already created in your shop. As you can see, some payment methods are already pre-set and all you need to do is adjust and enable them. If the payment method you require is already in the table, please skip to step 2 of the section How to edit a payment method.

NOTE: If the payment method you require is not there, go to the top of the page. Under “Add payment method”, select Standard. Maybe you need to select Show all to see all available options. 
 
3. Select Add for the payment method you would like to add. 
4. Continue with step 3 of the next section How to edit a payment method.
 

How to edit a payment method

1. In the administration area in the main menu, select Settings and then Payments.
2. In the table at the bottom you can see all the payment methods already created in your shop. Select the name of the payment method you want to edit. 
3. On the page General you make the general settings for the payment method. Please note that there are various options available depending on the payment method. 
 
Option Description
Internal ID This internal name for the payment method is not displayed anywhere to your customers.
Type The type indicates the kind of payment method. It cannot be altered once the payment method has been created.
Visible in shop This is where you determine whether the payment method is available or not to your customers in the shop. Leave this option set to No until the payment method has been fully set up.
Default selection Specify whether this should be the standard payment method for your shop.
Minimum / maximum order value Here you can determine whether there needs to be a minimum and/or maximum order value for this payment method. If a customer order does not meet the minimum order value and/or exceeds the maximum order value, the customer will not be offered this payment method.
Discount or fee Specify if customers get a discount or have to pay a fee for ordering using this method. Then you can determine the value of the discount or fee.
Region If this feature is available in your shop, you can specify that only customers from a specific region can use this payment method. Please note that this option is only displayed if you have already set up at least one region for your shop. For more information, read Regions.
Name in shop The payment method is displayed in the shop with this name.
Description Here you can enter further information about this payment method for your customers. This information will be displayed to your customers during the order process when payment methods are selected. It will also appear on the order documents.
Display logo Determine if a logo for this payment method should be displayed in the order process. In this case, upload an image of the logo and select beforehand if the image size should be changed during upload. Some payment methods already have a default logo. 

4. Save the changes.
 
5. Select SettingsNote: For some payment methods you do not need to edit any settings and there is no Settings page for them. 

NOTE: If you process this kind of payment method, please skip to step 8.
 
6. On this page you make additional settings for this payment method. If it is a payment method with a third-party provider (for example PayPal), you can find instructions at the top of the page with the additional steps needed to set up this method. Please follow these instructions, make all the additional settings on this page and save the changes. 
7. Select General.
8. For Visible in shop select the option Yes.
9. Save the changes.
 
The payment method is now available in the shop for your customers. You should always test payment methods with third-party providers.


Delivery methods

You can create different delivery methods in your shop. Delivery methods can be optionally linked to a logistics provider. You can also set the delivery method to be available only for certain products.
 

How to create a new delivery method

1. In the administration area in the main menu, select Settings and then Delivery.

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2. In the table you can see all the delivery methods already created in your shop. Select the button + Add.

Delivery_Methods-2
 
3. If you do not wish to link your new delivery method to a logistics provider, under Logistics vendors select the option User-defined delivery method. Otherwise, select the desired provider from the list. Linking to a logistics provider for instance has the advantage of enabling you to create franked shipping labels.

Delivery_Methods-3 
4. Under Type, determine how the delivery costs are to be calculated for this delivery method. Select a type to see a short explanation about it on the right side. More information can be found here

aust-post-ship

5. Under Name in shop, enter a name for the delivery method, which will then be displayed later on in your shop. No two delivery methods can share the same name.
6. Select Add.
7. If you have linked the delivery method in step 3 to a logistics provider, select the Complete button, follow the steps as specified and save the changes.
8. Select Settings.

Delivery_Methods-8
 
9. On this page, you can now define the settings for this delivery method and save the changes. More information can be found here. One exception are delivery methods of the Free delivery type: This step is unnecessary for these delivery methods because there are no delivery costs incurred.
10. Select General.

Delivery_Methods-10
 
11. Make the general settings for this delivery method here. Depending on the delivery method, the settings can include the following ones. 
 
Option Description
Internal ID This internal name for the delivery method is not displayed anywhere to your customers.
Type The type specifies how the delivery costs are calculated for this delivery method. It cannot be altered once the delivery method has been created.
Visible in shop This is where you determine if the delivery method is available to your customers in the shop. Leave this option set to No until the delivery method has been fully set up.
Default selection Specify if this should be the standard delivery method for your shop.
Allow for all products Determine if this delivery method can be used for all products or only for specific ones. 
Region If this feature is available in your shop, you can specify that only customers from a specific region can use this delivery method. For more information, read the article Regions.
Name in shop The name of the delivery method in your shop.
Description Here you can enter further information about this delivery method. For instance, this information will be displayed to your customers during the order process when delivery methods are selected. 
Logo Determine if a logo for this delivery method should be displayed in the order process. In this case, upload an image of the logo and select beforehand, if the image size should be changed during upload. Some delivery methods already have a default logo. 

12. Save the changes.

 

Managing orders

After you have set up, launched and publicised your shop, it won't be long before the first orders come in.
  • The menu item Orders is the central place for processing orders.
  • Under the View orders menu item, you will find all orders.
  • To view the details of an order, click on the Order no.
  • Use the Status option to constantly keep track of an order's status. You can find more information on this in the article Order status.
  • On the Documents subpage, you can generate an invoice or a packing slip in just a few clicks.
  • Use the search function to find specific orders quickly.
 
orders
 

App Store

In the App Store you can find a variety of apps which help you boosting your business. Please note that the availability of apps depends on the shop package you booked at your provider.

The apps help you with these aspects of your online shop:
  • Shipping   
  • Marketing & Sales  
  • Accounting & Reporting
  • Content & Design  
  • Inventory Management  
  • Social Media  
  • Statistics
  • Customer Service  

How to use the App Store

In the administration area in the main menu, select Apps.

Apps

Here you can find all available apps.

Select one of the apps to get more information.

To use one of the apps, select the button Open or Install app.
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Google My Business Listing

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What is a Google My Business Listing?

Google My Business is a free service from Google and easy to set up for businesses and organisations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. If you verify and edit your business information, you can both help customers find your business and tell them your story. Setting up Google My Business is a first and important step in good Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

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eCorner Announce Support for SAP Business One eCommerce using MAG B1

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ITM Development SarlITM Development Sarl Partners with eCorner

ITM Development Sàrl, delivers comprehensive development services and solutions including SAP Business One services. eCorner and ITM Development have signed a partner agreement for eCorner to distribute the MAG B1 eCommerce integration for SAP Business One.

SAP PartnerSupporting all forms of SAP B1 including HANA, MAG B1 allows for a seamless integration and supports multiple sites and SAP B1 data bases. The solution is either hosted by eCorner or on-premise, and is seamlessly integrated with SAP by a Certified SAP Partner. ePages brings all the features you need for your business success online.

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Increase your Chistmas and Holiday Sales

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Step up for your holiday sales but be prepared.

"Yeah OK, but there's still 100 days till Christmas so don't hassle me!" Is this what you're thinking? If so then you better change your mind quickly or risk missing out on this important sales period. Holiday sales start to really ramp up as we get closer to Christmas but there are definite peaks along the way. That can mean great opportunities for online retail. It all starts early September and builds up until we've exhausted our bank accounts in early January.

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B2B eCommerce Trends and Tools 2019

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B2B eCommerce is one of the most rapidly expanding sectors of the online market, with an increasing acceptance and expectation that business procurement can be facilitated seamlessly online.

Business buyer behaviour is changing, influenced by online experiences as consumers and the rapid increase of millennials in positions to make or influence purchasing decision.

When planning for or improving a B2B eCommerce presence, there are numerous factors to consider and tools needed to position your business for Success.

B2B_eCommerce

Current trends in B2B eCommerce

Electronic payments

Many of the 65k+ Australian businesses, particularly small businesses, are now placing orders via websites and many are eschewing tradition B2B payment options (such as invoicing and credit terms) for the favourite B2C payment method - the credit card. We are also increasingly seeing the use of alternative payment methods such as digital wallets being used by B2B buyers, as businesses accumulate value in these options and they become more comfortable transacting with them. Businesses that aren’t ready to accept online payments will lose market share to competitors offering simpler, easier payment processes.

More than 65% of Australian shoppers will use or even have a preference for purchasing online. These modern buyers will take those experiences to all aspects of their life, including the workplace. In fact, as early as 2015 Google found that almost half of B2B buyers in the US were millennials who looked to purchase online before considering any other option.

As such, B2B companies need to provide a user experience for their customers that is consistent with those shoppers’ expectations, including providing features they have come to expect from their retail experiences like a range of payment and shipping methods, account personalisation and simplified purchasing processes.

 

Easy purchasing

Buyers are looking for fast and secure online ordering and payment solutions that can be tailored to their buying process. Providing tools to allow B2B purchasers to manage their orders, shopping lists, and/or quotes puts them in control of their procurement processes allowing for easier approvals and regular and simplified reordering.

 

Automating account pricing and quotes

Leading from the above is the need to be able to tailor the purchasing process for your B2B accounts, including tailoring pricing and discounts for their specific purchasing needs. Technology to allow the merchant to configure accounts specific pricing lists and provide tailored quotes, often integrated with back office systems, can be the solution. Quotes can be tailored according to pre-set rules to provide error-free pricing that takes into account variables such as quantities, product margins, discounts, customisation, and optional features.

 

B2B_TransactionsMobile, mobile, mobile

The vast majority of shoppers will immediately turn to Google to search before any other source for product research. Most buyers will now conduct online research before making their purchasing decision. Research by Google says more than 80% of buyers use their smartphone at work and that in excess 42% and growing of online purchasing research is now done using mobile devices, so it’s essential for B2B ecommerce sites to be responsive for smart phones and tablets.

 

The rise of B2B marketplaces

While the US and others are already accustomed to the likes of Amazon Business and eBay offering specific B2B marketplaces, this trend is just beginning to grow in Australia. More and more B2B businesses are seeking a way to get their products in front of potential purchasers, and the marketing power and search engine dominance of these major marketplaces makes them the perfect tool to develop a presence for your products.

A carefully considered strategy around product placement and availability across platforms like Google Shopping, Amazon and eBay can often be more effective than an equivalent effort on PPC (pay-per-click) advertising like Google Adwords for B2B vendors.

 

What’s next for B2B eCommerce?

We have become familiar with around the clock customer support delivered by automated chatbots. In many cases they can help buyers find what they want without the need for a telephone call. They can even help with re-orders when the buyer visits again and can up-sell and cross-sell products. While the take up in the B2B space has been slower than in B2C, it won’t be long before these sorts of user experience become more common place.

Similarly, advanced user tools like Augmented reality (AR) can now show what products will look like in the real world and can show users how to configure or repair them. Virtual reality (VR) can provide immersive demonstrations of how to configure, use or troubleshoot your products, even if they haven’t been delivered.

 

eCorner's tools to win in B2B eCommerce

What features does eCorner provide to facilitate your new B2B eCommerce store or website? The following are just some of the great features available in eCorner stores and eCorner VARshops using Resellerate.

 

User Account Capability

Businesses need generally to pay based on invoice (although as noted above, the use of credit cards and electronic payments is rising). The user accessing the B2B site to place an order needs to have their credentials verified via a user name and password. This will allow changes in the user experience and information available to access, including tailor pricing and/or catalogues specifically for the registered user.

 

Customer Groups

Every user that has access to the B2B website needs to be assigned certain capabilities like allowed payment methods or special pricing. Customer Groups allow the site owner to manage this tailored experience for each user that can control their actions in the website. Customer Groups are also used for marketing and promotional purposes. A Customer Group might be one company (and its employees) or a group of companies.

Customer_groups

In some cases, the business will want the site closed, or pricing hidden, to anyone who does not have credentials to log in to the website. In this case only limited content such as a home page marketing message or simplified product catalogue is seen by the general visitor who might try to access the site.

 

Special Pricing or Price Lists

B2B customers rarely use the recommended retail price (RRP), and may be discouraged from your site if they are shown full retail pricing.

Most B2B systems will have multiple prices for each product with a specific price, discount or markup assigned to a specific customer group. While most people understand the concept of RRP and discounts, it is becoming increasingly common that B2B sites don't deal with RRP at all. The base price is instead set by the manufacturers wholesale price and the price to each customer is based on a "mark-up" or a percentage increase to the base price. B2B systems have to be flexible to handle many different pricing scenarios with both bulk or value-based discounting at a product level.

Price_lists

 

Multiple Currencies, Countries and Languages

Many businesses sell internationally and need to be able to present their products in different currencies and languages. Internationally eCommerce is booming with huge growth markets like China and the south east Asian nations looking to Australia for quality products. Allowing your site to be quickly and easily switched between multiple currencies and languages improves the user experience for international buyers, increasing the likelihood of engagement and conversion.

 

Get a Quote rather than Buy a product

Due to internal procurement processes, most businesses need to get quotes and issue Purchase Orders (POs) before buying a product.

A B2B solution needs to reflect the business processes that most companies use. Once the correct product (or products) have been selected the customer should be able to request a quote online and if acceptable return with a PO and complete the checkout process.

Quote_menu

To be effective and seemless, a B2B eCommerce solution has to be able to handle the negotiation electronically and the merchant needs to be able to update and reissue a quote in real time.

Quotes

The B2B eCommerce solution should also provide all the information necessary for you to properly determine reasonable pricing for your quotes including relevant purchase costs, availability of stock and/or the cost of shipping.

 

Supplier Inventory Data Feeds

Many businesses and distributors have the products that they sell shipped directly from the manufacturer or distributor warehouse (this has become commonly known as ‘drop shipping’).

The available stock and price might change daily and there may be many different warehouse locations across multiple suppliers. Accuracy in price and availability is essential as often margins can be slim. Updates from data feeds provided by your suppliers need to be automated to update when changes occur to avoid sales which are below cost or unable to be fulfilled.

Feeds

Just as critical to the success of many B2B systems as the ability to automatically accept data feeds is the ability to create similar data feed files from your B2B system that are sent to the businesses that might resell your products.

Own_feed

 

Restrict Content by Customer Groups

There may be some content on the online store that is not open to just anyone accessing the site. This might be access to specific product information or assets or it could be marketing information that is confidential to business partners. B2B sites need to ability to restrict access to content by Customer or Customer Group.

 

Supplier Purchase Orders

Businesses sell products that might come from many different suppliers but when a company is ordering those online from a B2B website they expect the total order to be fulfilled. In the B2B environment, the system needs to differentiate products from different suppliers that are in the same order. When the order is created the system then creates multiple sub-orders and purchase orders to go to each supplier or warehouse.

 

Integration and Customisation Essential

If the business running the B2B website is substantial and handling 1000's of orders and maybe 100,000's of products then integration to back office and third party systems is a key factor of success.

Most larger businesses will rely on back office systems like ERP, CRM or accounting systems to manage the business overall, and will have a range of 3rd party suppliers managing everything from logistics to payment automation. The ability for the B2B website to integrate seamlessly is essential to ensure efficient operations.

This also extends to the user experience of your B2B buyers, the ability to build custom functionality and to modify the existing functionality and user experience is essential to engage and convert potential shoppers in much the same way as retail B2C stores. You may also need to manage payments, logistics or commissions on behalf of your resellers and need to tailor the order process and reporting to capture and fulfil those requirements.

eCorner can tailor any of our Enterprise packages specifically to your business needs to ensure both your shoppers’ experiences and your back office processes are as seemless and effective as possible.

 

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What are the benefits of eCorner's eCommerce

eCorner has multiple solutions to provide eCommerce to small or large enterprises. Our core software fully supports a B2B and B2C model, but we have also enhanced that with specific functionality for resellers. It's primarily focused on merchants that want to manage large product catalogues and data feeds from distributors. Our packages include all core functionality, software, hosting, maintenance and support.

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Foundations for a Successful Business

Starting and running a business can be great fun and deliver rewards. Having been in business now over 40 years we've see some recurring patterns that can be indicative of a business in trouble. Many new starters in business will be recommended to read some book or blog site and can get bombarded with the great business platitudes that sound great and mean nothing.

There are many foundation issues to a successful business but I would like to cover just three I think most important, Products, Markets and Customers.

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Do Consumers Trust Your Online Store

Is your online store trusted - improve your reputation.

 

Often we see in forums or hear people ask "why don't visitors buy from my online store?".

Of course there are many potential answers to this question. It could be issues like design and user experience, maybe the prices are too high, maybe it is shipping cost.

Understanding why people do not buy can be hard. The starting point is to use a good web analytic system to track what your visitors are doing and then use the results to improve your business and conversions. This can often show that visitors will start a basket but then abandon it before checkout. By looking at the step of the drop out you can often find a cause.

Feedback from your customers is also a great tool to understand what they like and don't like on your site. While it can be difficult to engage with customers in the online retail space, tools like surveys can be used very effectively to identify problem areas and let your customers feel like they are involved and being heard.

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Renovate or Move Your Digital Business

digital-renovation-blog

Every week we have new customers come to eCorner, some have never had a website or online business before and for them it's the beginning of a long and challenging journey.

For those that have a website and an online business and are re-platforming, we often find that they are not prepared for the change that is coming to their business and have made a snap decision to change without fully considering the implications.

Of course we never like to turn away a new customer but we always ask these questions to ensure they are making the right decision and will get maximum value from their move to our platform.

 

Why do you want to change?

 

Sometime the answer is vague and this can often mean that the change has not been fully thought out.

 

"Change is as good as a holiday? Not always…"

 

A good parallel to draw is a home owner that needs to up-size (or down-size). Families outgrow the family home and need more space, comfort or a different location, or maybe it is retirement time and you are down-sizing.

When this happens it is a huge decision and impacts all the family. It can be time consuming and expensive. Mistakes in the process or bad decisions can often be life changing or cause ongoing problems for the whole family.

On the other side of the coin it is also very exciting. Moving to a new neighbourhood, suburb or city can open up new opportunities. Moving in to that sparkling new house with all the new space and fittings can be a buzz.

It is a decision that takes analysis and planning and not one that it undertaken lightly - do you move, renovate your current home, or is it better to just stay put. The choice often depends on a number of factors like availability, time, cost and life-style impact.

Moving also invariably comes with a long list of things to do like change of address, change phone, internet, digital services, power, water and the list goes on.

Bottom line: it’s a major decision that needs careful consideration. Moving your online businesses home should be considered just as carefully.

 

Renovate or Move Your Website?

 

Consider that your website is just like the digital home of your business. When it comes to a decision to change, the impact can be as lasting as changing your family home. You need to look at the options and ask the right questions to ensure you aren’t making the wrong decision or missing some critical factor in your decision making process.

Once you feel you have all the information then build a plan that will help you transition through the change. You may find once you’ve done your diligence that a move isn’t the right option and you should simply renovate your online home or leave it as it is and focus your efforts elsewhere.

If the decision is to move (i.e. build a new website), then your plan becomes the core of the process with all your key information, including all the necessary requirements that can be provided to the companies that can build your website.

 

Why Change?

 

This is really an important question to ask as change is not always your friend.

If you are a business owner or manager then you invariably get pounded with emails and calls from SEO and Digital Agencies telling you how bad your website is and how “easy” it would be to rebuild. This should never be the reason why you change websites, building a new site is never “easy” (or cheap) and there are a range of flow on issues that should be considered in formulating your plan.

The key reasons to change are in general a need for new features or some failure in your current site.

Main reasons for change:

  1. Website has failed or has been hacked or lost (or you have concerns about the security of your data)
  2. Need to support or integrate 3rd party systems like accounting or ERP software
  3. Desired feature not available on your current platform
  4. Customer cannot easily navigate the website
  5. Exceeded the existing website capabilities
  6. Business downsizing - current website is too expensive
  7. Cannot manage or update the website
  8. Design and user experience out of date
  9. Website is not mobile friendly
  10. Current supplier is too hard to work with or support is not available when needed.

The downsides of changing should also be considered.

There is a risk with any site change that your search rankings will be lost or reduced, content may be lost or not be able to be migrated to the new site and there will likely be a huge investment of your time both as part of the build process but also to learn the new system and change your business process to adopt the functionality of the new platform.

 

Plan for Change

 

The first consideration that you need to make is to build a simple plan to cover the change process. This way nothing will be missed and your decision to renovate, move or do nothing will be much easier.

There are some key questions that you can ask and you should consider all stake holders involved in the process.

Who are your stakeholders:

  1. Your customers who use the site and support your business
  2. Your internal staff who manage the business
  3. Your existing website service provider
  4. Your key suppliers and partners
  5. Technology providers integrated to your systems (i.e. payment providers, shipping providers, accounting software etc)

Once you establish the list of people that can impact (and will be impacted by) the change then you can get their input which will help make the process (project) simpler.

 

"If it’s not broken then don't fix it..."

 

Don't laugh! The first and most important thing to consider is do you need to change at all.

If your website or online store is delivering results then changing it may negatively impact the business. You can use your website analytics to determine how your website is performing.

Website performance is often thought of as how many people find your website but in reality that is generally more about marketing and search engine optimisation. The website's performance is really about what people do once they find your website, how many become buyers or customers and are the business results meeting expectations.

For example, if you're concerned you aren’t selling enough but your statistics show that a large percentage of users on your site buy products (i.e. high conversion rates). Then problem to fix isn’t likely to be the site itself, but the way customers are find or are driven to your site. Then your time and money may be better spent reconsidering your marketing strategy or on a new pay-per-click campaign (like Google AdWords).

If you know what is being achieved then you can set targets for improvement in your plan, and that can be communicated to your stakeholders, to ensure that any changes you make are for a purpose which is measurable.

 

Where do you start?

 

My advice is to start by talking to your existing web developer or web service provider.

You've likely already committed time and money on your current site, and making your existing website more modern or improving user experience may be much more simple and less expensive than a full rebuild. Just like renovating a bathroom or adding a bedroom versus moving house it will come with a far shorter list of things to do and also have less risk of failure.

There are situations where the previous web developer has disappeared or gone out of business, or maybe the existing website has been a catastrophic failure. So the only real alternative is to start from scratch.

What questions do you need to answer?

  1. What is my budget? (Consider both the cost and time involved to change)
  2. What do you like with the current website?
  3. What do you dislike or want changed?
  4. What features or capability do you want added?
  5. What other websites do you like in the same business area as yours?

Consider seeking feedback from your customers as part of this process, that will allow you to ensure it isn’t just your potentially ‘bias’ view of the site that is incorporated but also the needs/desires of your customers become the core of the build process.

 

What’s next?

 

Once you have developed your plan for the future of your website, there will likely be an obvious answer to whether you should move, renovate or do nothing.

If not, having conversations with your existing provider and other similar providers in the industry will help you analyse your plan and determine your next steps.

We, as a provider, will never advise someone considering a change to their online store that it will be a "quick, easy process", nor that it will be risk free. Unfortunately, not all providers and agencies in the industry are as unscrupulous. So ensure you take all advice with a grain of salt, and are comfortable with your decision before you move forward.

By having a plan and a clear view on the objectives, costs (both money and time) and risks of the change, it will ensure you make the decision for the right reasons not because the grass is greener on the other side of the digital fence.

 

How can eCorner Assist help?

 

If you are planning a change and want some help or don't know where to start then the eCorner Assist team has services available that will help you review your existing website.

 

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