Business tech guide to eCommerce

3 November 2014

3 min read

There is no short cut to successfully implementing an eCommerce strategy but here are helpful tips to steer you in the right direction.

Business tech guide to eCommerce (Desktop)

  1. Innovate

    Jim Duffy, CEO of Entrepreneurial Spark, says: “eCommerce offers access to a global audience of potential customers but there is lots of competition online, so you have to stand out. Innovate with your business model to make your product sticky.” A great example of this, says Duffy, “is the current trend in subscription-based sales, such as Beer52, which offers monthly craft beer boxes delivered to your door. The trick is to find an opportunity or pain point in the market and fill it with something people really want or need.”

  2. Speed up your hosting

    The common choices for eCommerce sites are cloud hosting or dedicated hosting. Lawrence Jones, CEO of internet hosting firm UKFast, says: “Cloud is still a popular buzzword and it makes people feel like they need to invest in it. However, nothing beats having a dedicated server. Speed directly affects conversion rates. When you consider that a delay in page load speed of less than a second can significantly reduce traffic, it makes sense to choose a hosting platform that guarantees you this kind of performance.”

    “Find an opportunity or pain point in the market and fill it with something people really want or need” Lawrence Jones, UKFast
  3. Protect data

    It’s paramount to make sure you invest in cyber security measures to prevent hackers from stealing potentially sensitive data. “Your customers need to know that their personal details are safe online, so looking into getting the right accreditations – PCI compliance, most importantly – is a good step to take, as it lets your customers know that they can trust you to process card payments securely," says Jones. 

    Cartoon by Tom Fishburne
  4. Meet regulations

    Steve Beahan, a partner and commercial litigation specialist for Irwin Mitchell's SME Group, says: "Meeting online regulations is absolutely vital, as breaches can not only lead to regulatory action but also impact severely on a business’s reputation. Companies need to be protected and also aware of their core compliance responsibilities.”

  5. Streamline your payment mechanisms

    “The single most important part of your website is the payment mechanism,” says Amanda Hill, head of social media at the online crowdfunding platform Funding Tree. “All the flashy design and cheap prices in the world will count for nothing if your customers can't pay for things easily. Too many ecommerce entrepreneurs get so wrapped up in the look and feel of their site that they overlook the crucial mechanics of how they get paid. Choose one that's cost-efficient, simple to use – and most importantly – works every time.”

    “Images are crucial in eCommerce: invest up front in ‘white box’ photography for your product shots” Amanda Hill, Funding Tree
  6. But don’t neglect the visuals

    Images are crucial when it comes to e-commerce, as potential customers can't pick up your product and look at it. “Invest up front in ‘white box’ photography for your product shots,” says Nathalie Agnew, co-founder of digital agency The Wee Agency. “This will improve the appearance of your products, look much more professional and ultimately increase conversions.” But, warns Alex Cheatle, CEO and founder of lifestyle concierge business Ten Group: “Your customers are busy so if the site is slow to load, look at the size of your images. Less heavy images load so much faster.”

  7. Be upfront about extra charges

    One of the most common reasons for shopping baskets dropping off at the checkout stage is the addition of large postage and packaging (P&P) surcharges. Agnew, of The Wee Agency says if you can build standard P&P costs into your published product prices and offer what appears to be free P&P, this can help convert potential customers: “If you have to charge extra for P&P make it clear from the outset. Also consider postage-friendly packaging, that fits through a letterbox if at all possible, depending on your product.”

  8. Embrace the new generation of payment providers

    Companies such as Stripe and GoCardless offer innovative ways to takepayments and can often save you money too, says Barnaby Lashbrooke, founder of virtual workforce platform Time Etc, but “don't underestimate what the presence of a big brand name can do for customer trust. Whether or not you like PayPal, adding it as a payment option in your online store can make all the difference at that vital moment in a customer’s checkout procedure.”

  9. Negotiate on rates

    Lashbrooke built his company’s own e-commerce technology, which is integrated with existing online payment systems. He says: “Always negotiate with payment providers on rates. They will almost always be happy to move on the rate they charge, even PayPal.”

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