6 Financial moves to reach a new standard for eCommerce platform

6 Financial moves to reach a new standard for eCommerce platform

6-Financial Moves

Every business needs an eCommerce store to remain competitive in the modern business world. Consumer trends have changed dramatically over the years, and technological advancements mean that more customers than ever are choosing to make purchases online rather than shopping in physical stores. All businesses should be taking advantage of this modern shopping trend by having an eCommerce store that facilitates online purchases. To remain competitive, modern businesses must ensure that their eCommerce site is optimized to provide the best user experience possible. Having a quality eCommerce site should improve customer service, boost conversion rates, and generate more sales and profits. With this in mind, here are six financial steps to take your eCommerce site to a new level.

1. IDENTIFY YOUR FINANCIAL NEEDS

The first financial step to improving your eCommerce site is to identify your financial needs. You should start by determining what action you need to take to improve the efficiency of your eCommerce site. Some common methods to enhance an eCommerce site include optimizing web pages to fit the smaller screens of mobile devices, increasing page loading speeds, and marketing the site to increase traffic and conversions. You must then calculate how much these improvements are going to cost. This will enable you to identify your financial needs and create a realistic budget for your eCommerce site.

2. CONSIDER YOUR FINANCING OPTIONS

Once you know how much capital you need to invest in improvements for your eCommerce site, you need to decide how you are going to fund these upgrades. Business owners have access to an excellent variety of financing options to help them grow and expand their business. Here are a few of the most popular financing options to consider:

  • Personal savings – If you choose this option, then you must be prepared to take the risk that you may lose money if your investment does not give you a good return for whatever reason.
  • Business term loans – This is a traditional form of finance that is well-known to most businesses. When you apply for a business loan, the bank will provide a lump sum of money that then has to be repaid via monthly installments over a set period.
  • SBA loans – These loans are backed by the Small Business Administration and are provided by partner lenders such as commercial banks. These loans typically benefit from lower down payment requirements and interest rates as there is less risk for the lender.

3. GAIN CAPITAL FROM INVESTORS

Investors can be another great way to gain capital for your eCommerce site. The major benefit of getting financial support from an investor is that you don’t have to pay the money back if things don’t work out. Along with funding, an investor can also provide valuable advice and guidance and help you build your professional network. Experts at Brian Gaister explain how an investor can also provide motivation and encourage you to overcome business challenges and difficulties. There are many different types of investors, and you must find the best one for your business. To win over investors, you must have a quality business plan that outlines your short-term and long-term business goals, along with details of how you are going to achieve each objective. This document will be used to convince investors why they should invest capital in your business.

4. CREATE A PLAN FOR FINANCIAL EMERGENCIES

Unfortunately, most enterprises encounter problems with their IT systems from time to time. A technical fault with your eCommerce site, i.e., an error with your payment link or a cybersecurity breach, can harm your business and lead to lost sales and revenue as well as damage to your reputation. For that reason, all business owners should have a detailed disaster plan in place to ensure that any issues with their eCommerce site can be resolved swiftly. A straightforward way to manage financial emergencies is by applying for a working capital business loan. According to biz2credit.com, a working capital loan is designed for short-term business activities and can help businesses continue running efficiently in the event of an emergency. You can use finance such as a working capital loan or a business line of credit to assist you if your eCommerce site experiences problems. This will help minimize any damaging effects on business productivity and profits by ensuring that your eCommerce store is returned to optimal efficiency as soon as possible.

5. INVEST IN ECOMMERCE MAINTENANCE SERVICES

Investing in eCommerce maintenance and management services may seem expensive, but this service should pay for itself in the long-run through the cost-saving benefits. Some of the main advantages of hiring eCommerce maintenance services include improved webpage speed, regular updates to keep your site current, and preventative maintenance to minimize the risk of major issues occurring. If issues do develop with your eCommerce site, then you can have peace of mind knowing that these will be dealt with quickly by skilled professionals. This will allow you to spend more time focusing on the core areas of your business, such as customer service, marketing, and development.

6. HIRE A PROFESSIONAL WEB DEVELOPER

As mentioned, an eCommerce store is a vital way to attract customers and increase sales and revenue potential in the modern business world. There is a lot of competition online, so it’s crucial that your online store is user-friendly and built to a high quality. One simple way to ensure that your eCommerce site runs in the most efficient way possible is by hiring a professional web developer for your company website. A web developer will be able to ensure that your site is accessible, SEO optimized, and designed in a format that aligns with your business goals and objectives. Hiring a professional web developer is a worthwhile investment, as it means that you won’t need to waste valuable time and money attempting to create your own company website. Designing a quality user-friendly eCommerce site is not easy, so it’s best to leave this task to the professionals!

The best time to start eCommerce business..

The best time to start eCommerce business..

start ecommerce

The typical journey of buyers was very predictable. It used to have straightforward cuts that were followed by most consumers. You could really draw a linear line between your needs and final conversions. All they needed was information, from the stage of knowledge, to consideration and final decision.

The growth of the internet completely revamped the entire journey of the consumer, producing research-driven people who have a completely non-linear and unpredictable route to you. Suddenly the fact that there are no details about your company or that your goods can’t be purchased online makes much difference for a massive part of customers – online shoppers. After everything we learned about how people communicate with the internet before actually making the purchase decision, it’s almost business suicide for.

If you are a business owner with a basic technical knowledge, all these information such as: payment gateway, domain, hosting account, SSL certificate, SaaS, Magento, SEO, AdWords, campaigns etc. may seem a little bit overwhelming. Rest assured, almost everyone started from this point. The fear of not understanding should not be an obstacle for your potential online success.

That’s why it’s very important to properly choose an eCommerce agency that can help you with all these things.

Whatever you are selling, one thing is sure – your buyers are waiting for products like yours online and your competitors are already establishing themselves.

  1. You already have an accomplished business

Maybe you are running an old family inherited business. You are doing just well and your current state of mind could be described as “if ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. You have regular customers and you are really sure that they wouldn’t even be buying online.

The thing is, your customers are already here. They might still frequently visit your traditional store, but with online store you will be giving them better consumer experience as they will have an opportunity to research products before buying.

Secondly, you will be able to offer them better customer service as they will have all important information which they could access even outside your store working hours. When we talk about working hours – you would be allowing your customers to view and purchase your products whenever it’s most suitable for them. No more crossed arms, nervous spouses hurrying your precious buyers up.

  1. You’ve noticed your competitors are (not) selling online

According to Google, one in three smartphone users have purchased from a company or brand other than the one they intended to because of information provided in the moment they needed it. When people reach for their smartphone for an action or information, this is your chance to deliver either of that.

If you are not there, you are losing your chance to shine in a so called consumer’s micro-moment. Although there are a billion of those in a day, without showing your brand in a today’s consumer journey, you won’t get a chance to address potential customer’s needs when the conversion moment comes.

Can you afford to lose every third potential customer?

statistics image

The prevalence of eCommerce continues to grow and shows no signs of slowing down. While brick and mortar still makes up the majority of sales, eCommerce sales are growing faster. eCommerce and traditional storefront retail will continue to grow together, for better or worse.

Still not convinced that selling online is for you? Share with us what your business is about and let us show you specific benefits of online selling for you.

The typical journey of buyers was very predictable. It used to have straightforward cuts that were followed by most consumers. You could really draw a linear line between your needs and final conversions. All they needed was information, from the stage of knowledge, to consideration and final decision.

The growth of the internet completely revamped the entire journey of the consumer, producing research-driven people who have a completely non-linear and unpredictable route to you. Suddenly the fact that there are no details about your company or that your goods can’t be purchased online makes much difference for a massive part of customers – online shoppers. After everything we learned about how people communicate with the internet before actually making the purchase decision, it’s almost business suicide for.

If you are a business owner with a basic technical knowledge, all these information such as: payment gateway, domain, hosting account, SSL certificate, SaaS, Magento, SEO, AdWords, campaigns etc. may seem a little bit overwhelming. Rest assured, almost everyone started from this point. The fear of not understanding should not be an obstacle for your potential online success.

That’s why it’s very important to properly choose an eCommerce agency that can help you with all these things.

Whatever you are selling, one thing is sure – your buyers are waiting for products like yours online and your competitors are already establishing themselves.

  1. You already have an accomplished business

Maybe you are running an old family inherited business. You are doing just well and your current state of mind could be described as “if ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. You have regular customers and you are really sure that they wouldn’t even be buying online.

The thing is, your customers are already here. They might still frequently visit your traditional store, but with online store you will be giving them better consumer experience as they will have an opportunity to research products before buying.

Secondly, you will be able to offer them better customer service as they will have all important information which they could access even outside your store working hours. When we talk about working hours – you would be allowing your customers to view and purchase your products whenever it’s most suitable for them. No more crossed arms, nervous spouses hurrying your precious buyers up.

  1. You’ve noticed your competitors are (not) selling online

According to Google, one in three smartphone users have purchased from a company or brand other than the one they intended to because of information provided in the moment they needed it. When people reach for their smartphone for an action or information, this is your chance to deliver either of that.

If you are not there, you are losing your chance to shine in a so called consumer’s micro-moment. Although there are a billion of those in a day, without showing your brand in a today’s consumer journey, you won’t get a chance to address potential customer’s needs when the conversion moment comes.

Can you afford to lose every third potential customer?

  1. You are focused on B2B

Yep, it is important to have a well-educated sales rep that will push your sales towards different businesses – but B2B web store will make them even more efficient.

They would have instant access to all product information, prices and inventory data as well as order history which would allow them to make better on sight decisions. The greatest benefit is the fact that your sales rep will be free of repetitive administrative work and they will be able to spend more time nurturing relationships with your buyers hence dramatically increase sales revenue.

Skipping manual order processing is a great time saver and a great way to minimize risk of miscommunication. If your clients would have a possibility of placing orders directly in your sales portal, which is ideally integrated with your ERP, they would always have direct insight into accurate inventory levels and customer-specific information.

But hey, if you want to talk numbers, according to Frost & Sullivan, the B2B online retail market was expected to reach double the size of the B2C market this year.

  1. Right now

eCommerce is growing rapidly. Actually, according to Statista, e-retail revenues are projected to grow to 4.48 trillion US dollars in 2021. In a short time range (2014-2021) it is expected that the number of people buying online will almost double. In 2021, over 2.14 billion people worldwide are expected to buy goods and services online, up from 1.32 billion global digital buyers in 2014.

statistics image

The prevalence of eCommerce continues to grow and shows no signs of slowing down. While brick and mortar still makes up the majority of sales, eCommerce sales are growing faster. eCommerce and traditional storefront retail will continue to grow together, for better or worse.

Still not convinced that selling online is for you? Share with us what your business is about and let us show you specific benefits of online selling for you.

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Magento 2.4 Features and Benefits Explained

Magento 2.4 Features and Benefits Explained

feature benefits image

Released on 28 July 2020, the new Magento 2.4 comes with a long list of new features, bug fixes and security enhancements to the world’s no.1 e-commerce platform.

What is new in Magento 2.4?

  • New and improved default search engine
  • Improved Media Gallery
  • New feature Seller-Assisted Shopping
  • New feature Purchase Approval Workflows (only for Magento Commerce)
  • Two-factor authentication for improved security
  • Higher technical requirements overall

Clearly Magento is acting on some of the biggest concerns of its community of merchants, like search and image management.

The wide-ranging scope of work shows that the Magento brand has obviously matured within Adobe’s house of brands.

The effort invested in Magento 2.4 is perfectly illustrated in this tweet from Magento itself.

For the thousands of online stores still on Magento 1, the new Magento 2.4 adds a few more reasons towards migration to Magento 2.

If you are a Magento 1 merchant, feel free to contact us directly and we can help you figure out your best way to benefit from the global shift to e-Commerce that is happening.

Now let’s devote some more attention to what’s new in Magento 2.4.

  • Much, much better default search

Search is the action that almost every customer undertakes after landing on your online store. You need the search experience to be not just good, but excellent.

In Magento 2.4, the default Magento search engine is no longer powered by MySQL. Magento now requires you to install Elasticsearch on your server before going on with Magento 2.4.

Now that Elasticsearch is obligational, there will be higher costs connected to maintaining another service on your server. Especially if your current hosting provider doesn’t support it by default.

For us, we’ve constantly been advising clients to consider alternative search engines. Simply put, Magento’s default search didn’t provide good-enough user experience.

All in all, the search improvement in Magento 2.4 is definitely good news. You can provide your customers with an even better search experience if you choose to invest some more.

  • New Media Gallery and Two-Factor Authentication

Here we have some more improvements in user experience, only this time it’s for the Admin user.

Two-factor authentication also adds to the security of your Magento Admin account. The procedure is basically the same as in most services that have 2FA. A system-generated code is sent to the user as the second layer of authentication.

And with the completely redeveloped Media Gallery, your store admin can now search, filter and sort images faster than in previous versions of the platform. Magento even claims that it “performs up to 30 times faster”.

  • Seller-Assisted Shopping for better customer service

The last time you needed help from some customer service representative, was he/she able to walk you through the entire process of using the service from your perspective?

If yes, that was probably great customer service.

With Magento 2.4’s new feature Seller-Assisted Shopping, your Customer Service Representatives can log into the website as the customer from the Magento Admin.

They no longer have to try countless options only to end up awkwardly asking the customer to hand over his/her password.

Now they can basically guide and assist the customer in all aspects of the buyer’s experience:

  • For example, they can help the customer find a product
  • Show them how to set up a certain feature like a wishlist
  • They can guide the customer through custom functionalities that are best understandable in the storefront experience (e.g. a product configurator)
  • They can impress customers and save them time by quickly creating orders and quotes on their behalf
  • And they can take care of administrative tasks such as adding buyers and setting up approval rules
  • Purchase Approval Workflows (only for Magento Commerce)

This new functionality brings better spending control to B2B buying companies, enabling them to set up approval mechanisms for individual purchases.

For that they can create approval workflows with specific rules based on order value, number of SKUs or shipping costs.

Let’s say a company requires any purchase over USD 5.000,00 or over 10 SKUs be approved by the Purchasing Manager. This can easily be set up automatically with a Purchase Approval Workflow.

There can even be multiple approvers, and each of them is automatically notified when their approval is needed. Approvers can easily approve or reject, as well as comment on a purchase order in their accounts.

Buyers also receive notifications at each stage of the purchasing process, which adds to the transparency of the whole process.

  • In-Store Pickup (or Click-and-Collect)

This is one feature we strongly recommended to our retail partners.

Our experience shows that the Click-and-Collect feature has 3 huge benefits.

First, it improves conversion by removing shipping fees from the sum total.

Second, it increases the chance of up-selling – some customers make extra purchases as they come to the store to pick up an online order.

Third, it is a great example of synergy between digital and the good old brick-and-mortar store. It brings you customers to both of these important sites.

In-Store Pick Up is now native to Magento 2.4 and comes with both the Open Source and the Commerce versions.

It enables displaying eligible pickup locations in combination with important info such as working hours. When an online order is ready for pickup, store operator can notify the customer with a single click. There is also possibility for curbside pickup.

  • General platform upgrades and security improvements

Other than the previously mentioned addition of Elasticsearch, Magento 2.4 comes with some more platform upgrades that developers should pay attention to.

You can find them all among the Magento 2.4 technology stack requirements.

Most importantly, Magento 2.4 now supports the latest versions of the PHP programming language (PHP 7.4) and the MySQL database (MySQL 8.0) because of their improved performance, security and reliability.

This also goes to show how Magento is optimising its platform towards the most advanced technological requirements.

  • New PWA Studio

According to Magento, the updated PWA Studio makes it “faster, easier, and more cost effective to launch PWA storefronts”.

PWA Studio is a sort of a toolbox that has now been enriched with a couple of more tools and best practices for building PWAs.

Our experience shows that PWAs at the moment do not bring enough growth in revenue to justify for the high maintenance costs. Because after the initial build of the PWA, you still need to connect it to the extensions and maintain it for future Magento versions.

The modifications to the PWA Studio certainly are a step in the right direction. Pretty soon it will be possible to tell if they translate to a more significant revenue growth for PWA merchants.

There are also improvements to support the headless commerce concept, which is definitely potent. In short, headless is such a solution that enables your e-commerce store to provide a custom user experience on all digital channels. Not just desktop and mobile – headless is the concept that will take e-commerce to the Internet of Things.

  • Conclusion – Should I Migrate My Online Store to Magento 2.4?

If your online store is still on some version of Magento 1, then the answer is likely yes. Not just because Magento 1 is no longer officially supported, but also because with 2.4 the Magento platform is positioning itself quite high in terms of technical requirements and performance.

If your online store is on a previous version of Magento 2, the answer is maybe. You can safely stick with your current version of Magento 2 if it fits your needs. Actually it might prove better to wait at least a month for possible new fixes to the 2.4 version, as the Magento community is constantly contributing improvements.

Why Landing Page is decisive for Lead Generation?

Why Landing Page is decisive for Lead Generation?

Why is a eCommerce website landing page valuable? You might be questioning why you need to build separate, different pages that web visitors will be redirected to when they click on calls to action. After all, landing pages are time-consuming to build, and you require a lot of them.

You might be assuming that you can get away with not using them. But the fact is the landing page is an essential part of marketing for lead generation.

Here’s why landing pages are important? We’ve detailed a few reasons you should consider.

1. Generate Leads:

At its core, your website only has three goals. First, tell your story in a disruptive, compelling, and emotional way. Next to attract new visitors to your business and finally to convert those visitors into leads.

Landing pages are critical in helping you to generate leads, starting a qualification process, and then moving them through your sales process and into new customers. 

Studies show that marketers capture leads at a higher rate by sending them to dedicated landing pages, rather than sending traffic to the home page. The landing page is the simplest, most effective way to generate more leads for your sales team.

It probably makes sense to dig into this in more detail. 

Many of the companies who come to us for help are driving visitors to their home page. Their thinking makes sense, send them to our front door and let them walk the paths as they so desire but that is flawed thinking. 

People want to be directed to the information they seek quickly and efficiently. They don’t want to shop around. They want what they came for and then they want to be on their way, only to come back as needed or if the value is there. 

Landing pages are very specific pages, designed to get visitors exactly what they want with the least amount of friction possible. You need these to turn visitors into leads.

2. Collect Prospect Demographics:

The idea of the landing page is that your visitors must “pay” you in information to get access to an offer. On the landing page, visitors must fill out a form. Though the information you request will vary, most of it will encompass contact information and demographics. Of course, contact information gives you the info you need to start contacting leads.

But the demographics information is just as important. It gives you the data you need to understand your new leads and segment them more effectively to better target their needs, desires, and pain points. It also helps your sales team have more valuable conversations. And ultimately, this will improve sales.

While we might use the word demographics, what we mean is landing pages are excellent vehicles for qualifying leads before they even get to sales.

The information collected from a landing page can determine if a lead goes to sales at all. Depending on their answers you might choose to enroll them in automated nurture or pass them directly to sales. 

All from the information collected on the landing page can be and should be used to qualify and or score your leads for additional actions.

3. Track Data:

Data from landing pages can be tracked, and this can help you understand just how engaged your prospects are. You’ll get to know if a prospect has downloaded multiple offers and signed up for several webinars, for example. This indicates the prospect is highly engaged and ready to purchase soon.

Besides, you can track and analyze landing page data to better understand how well your marketing offers are performing. You can compare data from various offers to see what’s working and what isn’t, so you can optimize your marketing.

Data from landing pages include time on page, the conversion rate on this page, exits or bounces from this page, and the number of leads generated from this page. 

It’s especially important to compare your landing pages to each other and create a benchmark for the performance of YOUR landing pages. Since every company, every industry, and every visitor is essentially different–having your benchmarks is much more important than running a Google search and comparing your performance to general landing page performance. 

You can then rank your landing pages by performance metric and start working on those that are underperforming. 

Improving the performance of a highly visited but low converting landing page is one of the best uses of your team’s time when it comes to lead generation. 

If you can spend 15 minutes and double the number of leads from a single landing page and then do this for the top four visited landing pages you can generate a huge lift in the area of lead generation. 

4. Remove Distractions and Friction:

Why is a landing page important? Because it inspires specific action from your prospects and visitors. If you were to send your visitors to your website’s home page, they could take a wide variety of actions, from checking out your blog to reading about your history.

Though this engagement is also good, it’s not what you wanted to happen. And it can delay or even distract from what you want, a new lead. 

Landing pages need to be designed with all the distractions removed. Let’s illustrate exactly what we mean. 

  • Should a landing page have site-wide navigation? No!
  • Should a landing page have social buttons? No!
  • Should a landing page have links to other pages on your site? No!
  • Should there be other related offers on a single landing page? No!

All these options might seem positive on the surface, but in reality, they distract and add friction to the single objective of a landing page–get the conversion, get the contact information, turn a visitor into a lead.

5. Test and Optimize:

Just like landing page data can be tracked and analyzed for your benefit, the landing pages themselves can also be tested and optimized.

You can run tests on almost every element on the landing page. You can test images, headlines, copy and form fields to see what’s getting people to convert and what’s stopping them from converting.

Let’s illustrate a few examples of tests you can run. These are all examples from actual tests with actual Square 2 clients. 

You can test headlines. Sometimes the H1 is too fancy and the H2 is very direct. One test we run often is to simply swap the fancy marketing headline with the more direct secondary headline. This simple swap often produces the best results. 

You can test copy by adding more bullets. People can process bulleted text quickly, keep the bullets to three or five. Again, people process information in unique ways, and odd numbers outperform even numbers. 

You can test visual representations of the offer. Pages without a picture of what the visitor might get generally don’t perform as well as pages with images of the offer. Make sure these are 3D images so they look beefy and valuable. 

You can test the form, more on that in the next section. You can also test adding additional elements like testimonials, videos, or comments from social sites. Anything that makes the offer more compelling, easier to understand, or removes friction from the conversion process should be under consideration

6. Pay Attention to the Form

The form is a major component of almost every landing page. Some people get greedy, asking visitors to provide a long list of information on the form. Rest assured, the more you ask for the fewer conversions you’ll get. 

Use this rule to help limit the number of form fields in your forms. If you don’t know what you plan to do with the information you’re requesting, leave it out. 

Are you planning on calling the prospect after they fill out the form? No, then you don’t need their phone number. 

Are you planning on visiting their website? No, then you don’t need their website address.

Are you planning on qualifying them with revenue, employee numbers, or industry? No, then you don’t need any of those fields on your form. 

Are these early buyer journey landing pages? Yes, then only ask for an email address and name for future lead nurturing.

Are these middle stage buyer journey landing pages? Yes, then you can consider asking for more qualification type data like we discussed above because if they’re deeper in their buyer journey, then they should be more open to giving that data and we can use that to qualify and provide a better sales experience. 

Data shows that with more than three fields in your form, conversion rates drop dramatically. Keep these fields to a minimum, especially if these are early buyer journey offers. 

7. Use Social Proof:

Misery loves company. It’s true with landing pages too. People are more likely to convert if they see other people like them have already found value in your offer. 

Include testimonials, videos, names, pictures, and titles of people who have received your content and loved it. This is going to improve your conversion rates dramatically and make the page look that more inviting. 

If I see other people who look like me, sound like me, have similar titles as me, from companies like mine; I’m going to be more likely to share my contact information to find out what I might be missing out on. 

if you’re unsure, run a test. Track the landing page metrics with testimonials and without. You’ll quickly see these are an easy way to generate lift form landing pages and it takes little or no time to add them. 

Using landing pages, optimizing landing pages, and running tests on landing pages can be one of the best ways to improve lead generation across your website. Make it part of your ongoing and regular conversion rate optimization and website improvement initiatives.

WE’RE READY FOR THE LAUNCH OF YOUR MAGENTO 2 STORE

Key Questions to ask from Magento eCommerce Clients

Key Questions to ask from Magento eCommerce Clients

Ecommerce isn’t straightforward. Or, to be more specific, it isn’t simple if you want to do it immediately from the start. If you need a good, quality product, you must be ready to invest a lot of time and effort into the analysis.

It’s essential to be on the same page with expectations of potential clients from the start. If there are some mistakes or misunderstandings, we both could lose our nerves, time, and money. And that is what we want to avoid at any cost.

To put it very simply. Web design agency is trying to get to information from which it will make decisions on how many developers will be needed, how much time it would need to finish, what functionality it will need to work on/develop, what will the structure of the entire site will be, what User Experience elements are essential, and any other info that can help achieve the intended goal of the eCommerce site.

List of questions to ask Magento eCommerce clients:

  1. What is your company about?
  2. What features do you want?
  3. What data do you need to migrate and what systems do you need to be integrated?
  4. What is your investment budget?
  5. Do you have a certain time-frame?
  6. How do you determine success?

1. What is your company about?

It’s always good to hear a bit about the client company and its whereabouts. It helps to put things into perspective when trying to provide the approach that will make a difference. At Crescentic Digital, we like to hear as many details about the client company as possible, such as company history, industry, type of products/services, type of audience, geographic reach, plans, leading competitors, etc.

We also value hearing the details that might be perceived as subjective, such as the feelings you wish your business/website to evoke, etc. Again, all of this would help the agency to see the bigger picture and finally provide the client with a service fit for their business correctly.

What is your product or service?

An eCommerce project is all about selling products (or services) to potential customers. Learning all about a product can steer design and development in specific ways. Depending on the answers, there will be crucial decisions for the general setup and functionalities of an online store and the overall user experience.

What are you selling?

  • Why would someone buy your product/service?
  • What is your best product line?
  • What is your most recognizable and most profitable product/service?
  • Which products (product lines) are your best-sellers?
  • How many products/SKUs do you have?
  • Is the price listed or will your customers going to be quoted on request?

Who is your audience?

Although the primary goal of an eCommerce site is to sell, it’s also essential to know to whom it is to be sold. Again, the design and features of the planned project are dependent on this information.

  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • What customer represents the majority of your customer base?
  • What type of customers you don’t really want (but have them now)?
  • Who is the most profitable customer?

Who is your competitors?

Sometimes the competition has already solved one of the problems you have. But, the trick here is not to simply copy their solution. It’s actually to try to take that solution and to make it even better. Because the client doesn’t want to be as good as its competitors, the client wants to be better than its competitors.

  • Name your top 5 competitors (both online and offline)
  • What is your advantage over your competitors?
  • Where are you at a disadvantage over your competitors?

Who is responsible for your digital marketing and visuals?

  • Do you have a digital marketing agency, or do you have an in-house marketing team?
  • What types of marketing activities do you do?
  • On what platforms do you run your digital marketing campaigns?
  • Do you have professional photos of your products?
  • Are creatives done in-house or outsourced to agencies/freelancers?
  • Do you have videos of your products/services?

What are the trends for your industry?

Building an online store is very complicated sometimes. It’s not only to give efficient solutions for today’s customers but also for future customers and their future “needs.” It is a digital world in which we are living, and it is constantly changing. To know, even approximately, the future trends can help build an online store that can be “future-proof.”

  • What is the single trend that is changing your industry right now?
  • Can you describe the trends for the next five years that will influence your industry?

2. What features do you want?

Sometimes the client wants everything incorporated into a single website, every single idea. But, sometimes, that would mean that the site would be cluttered, and potential customers would not have a good experience.

For new businesses starting in online selling, it’s always a good idea to listen to eCommerce agency and their suggestions for needed features. Given the experience, the agency should suggest what is best for the client. However, if the client is doing a re-platform (from an old platform) agency would need to know if any specific features are present on the current site, that also needs to be present on the new site.

All this information can mean a ton of difference regarding site structure and its navigation. Not to mention Search Engine Optimization. Generally speaking, every needed feature can be done. But, it’s always a question of time and budget.

  • Do you only want an eCommerce or multipurpose site?
  • Do you sell your products/services internationally?
  • Are there any features where you want to emulate your competitors?
  • Do you already have an eCommerce website(s)?
  • If you have several websites, what’s the distinguishing factor between them?
  • What are the features that you want to transfer to the new site(s)?
  • What features are you not satisfied with on your old site(s)?
  • What is the main challenge with your existing (old) eCommerce platform?

3. What data & system you need to migrate Magento 2 ?

If a client is doing a replatform from another system, there is always a question of data migration. Depending on the data the client would like to migrate Magento 2, the eCommerce agency needs to check the database structure and prepare a tool for migration.

The Agency must know what kind of systems the online store needs to integrate with. Businesses are using various external systems, and it is of paramount importance to integrate as much of them as possible.

For example, ERP systems are easily one of the most important, as well as most common systems that are integrated with client’s sites. Knowing which version is going to be used, as well as what data is going to be “pulled” and how the workflows should be set up helps quite a bit.

Covering all the points of eCommerce business workflow is crucial in setting up automated and successful processes wherever possible.

  • What data do you need to migrate from old to a new one if you already have an online store?
  • What data would you love to migrate from old to a new online store?
  • Which payment gateway would you like to use?
  • Do you accept multiple currencies or just a single one?
  • Which shipping provider would you like to use?
  • What ERP system and version would you like to use?
  • Do you have developer documentation for that ERP system and version?

4. What is your investment budget?

This is one very important factor from both perspectives of a client and that of an agency. It’s important because of the approach the agency is going to use. The right agency should properly implement project management rules to maximize the available budget.

In essence, an agency should do its best to provide the best possible model that the client’s money (budget) can buy. To be able to do that, the agency would need to balance: needs vs wishes, custom code vs plugins, and short-term vs long-term objectives.

But, genuinely successful agencies are also trying to analyze every detail of the client’s budget and revenue to suggest a final solution that will fit clients’ needs and goals perfectly.

  • What is your budget for this eCommerce project?
  • If you already have an eCommerce shop – how much revenue do you earn from it monthly?
  • Are you seeing some trends around your monthly revenues for the past year or two?
  • What is the AOV (average order value) from your customers?
  • Are you seeing some trends in the amount of average order value for the past year or two?

5. Do you have a certain time-frame?

Time frames are very important, sometimes even critical. These often have a lot of influence on the project, but not always in the right way. Generally speaking, it is better to have some “breathing space”, because then people in production tend to have better ideas and more time to rethink possible approaches.

Also, with any project that is in development, there is always a chance that something might not go as planned, especially with complex projects. Any shift, be it the major one or something not as crucial, is expected to influence the final timeline.

  • What is your expected time frame for the delivery of this project?
  • Are there any events that are influencing that time frame?

After we lined up all these details, it is hard not to mention the famous triangle, and it is even harder not to stress it once again. There are always those three that are in the loop: fast, cheap, good. But you only get to choose 2!

So, choose wisely!

6. How do you determine success?

Sometimes there is a disagreement between the agency and the client on what is actually a successfully delivered project. To avoid this, it’s very important right from the start to agree on what and how success will be defined and measured.

  • Do you have a plan on how to measure if the Magento 2 development project is successful or not?
  • If you do have a plan – how will you measure it?
  • What analytics solution are you using?

Next step:

What must be remembered is that the goal of asking these questions is to find out all information which will then potentially be used to create a full functioning eCommerce store based on the set goals.

After the agency has gathered all the above info, it is in a position to talk about the potential project more solidly. Only then can the agency offer some numbers/timelines and talk about the next steps.

I hope this gives you a better idea of what is needed to approach an eCommerce agency in a way that will ensure saving some valuable time and starting the project in the best possible manner.

WE’RE READY FOR THE LAUNCH OF YOUR MAGENTO 2 STORE

Free Ideas to Promote Online Business

Free Ideas to Promote Online Business

You may not have wads of cash to spend on marketing in the early stages of your startup, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t effective ways to get your brand out there.

Before the Internet, small businesses only had a few ways to market their products cheaply, through methods like printing out fliers or sponsoring small local events. There are all kinds of opportunities out there on the Web—you need to know where to look.

Here are seven ways to promote your business online that won’t cost you a dime:

1. Use the three big local listing services

Registering your business with Google Places allows it to be found more easily on Google searches, and it shows up on Google Maps. All you have to do is fill out the form and register, then get your business verified through their confirmation process, which can be done either with a phone call or snail mail. Yahoo! also has a big database of companies called Yahoo! Local. It’s free, and is certainly worth the few minutes it takes to set up. Microsoft’s Bing has a similar service that’s easy to sign up.

2. Embrace social media

Social media isn’t just a tool to gain exposure—it has now become a necessary time investment for every business to make. You can tie in ads and offers on your Facebook page and have a direct channel with your customers on Twitter. Networking on LinkedIn—both at the personal and company level—can be another way to help your startup.

3. Start a blog

A blog not only helps your company get its name out through followers, but it is a way to connect with your consumers more directly. But remember that one of the primary keys of blogging is to keep your stream updated as frequently as you can. A dormant, abandoned blog is worth nothing.

4. Put up multimedia on YouTube and Flickr

YouTube provides a free way to distribute creative promotional videos, but to succeed, you must put up content that people want to view and are relevant to your business—a simple ad will not work. A Flickr profile can also help by giving you one place to compile all the photos for your business and allows you to link back to your website.

5. SEO your company website

Search engine optimization is the critical component to rank your site on Google. Pick up a book or head over to an online how-to-guide on SEO and make sure your website performance on search engines.

6. Press releases

Every time your business does something newsworthy, don’t hesitate to shoot off a press release—maybe folks will pick up on it. They’re a powerful media tool to use to help generate publicity, and having free distribution of them is a bonus. There are dozens of websites out there that you can use for your press releases.

7. Join a relevant online community and contribute

Every niche has communities online that you can get involved, but just signing up for a forum and posting every once in a while about your business isn’t beneficial for anyone and will likely annoy people. Actively contribute and build a rapport with the community while keeping your business out of it. Passively promote your business by putting a link in your signature or mentioning it only when the context is appropriate.