December 1, 2012

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Smart Strategy

Six Tips to E-Commerce Success

Candace M. Little

December 1, 2012

Is your small business ready to open an online storefront? Consider this advice from Utah business owners and website experts.

1. Start with a Sellable Product
Even with a custom-designed website and a streamlined checkout process, not everything sells online. Matt Maxfield, director of operation and development at Klymit, says in the end, what makes their website the most successful is the company’s ability to make innovative products.

“Having innovative products that attract the attention of consumers and encourage them to learn more about the product and company,” Maxfield says, has contributed to almost three years of growing online sales.

2. Leave the Tech Stuff to the Techies
Rachel Harmon Schutz, owner of Darlybird, has been selling a hodgepodge of fun and useful items for women and children online for the past six years. When she first started, she says, “I had a total artistic vision of how I wanted the website to look, but I really didn’t know how to make it happen. That’s where outsourcing comes in handy.” She hired local graphic designers and collaborated with local and out-of-state web programmers to get her site both darling and functional.

3. Prepare for an Ongoing Project
Ryan Camomile, owner of Infogenix, a web development firm says, “The No. 1 mistake I see is not realizing that an e-commerce site is a living, breathing and evolving system.” He says business owners need to do three things to sustain their site:

  • Don’t rely on your own preferences for how the site should work—use testing and feedback to determine this.
  • Divide your website budget into phases so you can revamp many features after launch and after usability testing.
  • Establish a good marketing budget and plan for each phase.

4. Get Your Virtual Toolbox Ready
Camomile recommends a wide range of tools including:

  • Analytics to track visits, users, keywords and e-commerce data.
  • Marketing tools like AdWords, Hubspot and Microsoft AdCenter that help you manage campaigns and track visitors from referrals to purchases.
  • Affiliate tools like Amazon Marketplace, Share-a-sale or Commission Junction to help set up resellers and referrers to your site.
  • Sales-management plan and tools like coupon codes, seasonal sales, discounts, etc., that help boost purchases in a set amount of time. 

5. Set up Payment Processing
Camomile says it’s easy to get set up to process payments, especially if you are selling within the United States. He recommends two options:

Option 1: Go through a third party like Paypal when you are starting out, or consider adding this feature on your site for convenience later on. Unless you do volume transactions, Paypal is usually free for the business owner and customer.

Option 2: Use an online merchant account and gateway. Camomile says this is more common for established e-commerce sites, as the system acts like a virtual credit card swiping machine. For this choice, there is usually a monthly gateway fee of around $30–$75 and typical credit card transactional charges.

6. Focus on Branding with a Custom Site
Maxfield says because Klymit wanted to help its consumers understand and get behind its products, creating their own site was the best option. “We never considered using another website in place of our own site; however, we do use other marketplaces to add to our online presence,” he says. Which is exactly what Camomile recommends. He says in order to establish trust with their clients, companies should get a custom website that tailors to the branding of the products/services and then expand into online marketplaces like Amazon.


e-commerce FAQs

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