There is a lot you need to know if you are to succeed in running an online store, both before launch, during operation and after a sale. We've boiled it down to eleven points for you.
People will continue to shop online. The difference from previous years is that the competition about from whom consumers choose to buy is getting tougher, as many will make tougher priorities in the home. All providers of online shopping must therefore take some action if they want to emerge from the current market downturn with a head start on their competitors.
You can see this article as a kind of encyclopedia. Each point will be elaborated in its own article throughout the spring, so put your bookmark here!
1. Set specific goals
Turnover figures and the bottom line may well be a starting point for the goals you set. But the really interesting thing is the specific goals that will lead to increased profits. We're talking about things like conversion rate, traffic goals from different sources, ROI on marketing measures, measures for members in your loyalty program, and much more.
Of all the numbers you can measure, I recommend these as the three most important:
- Number of conversions
- Traffic figures on the websites
- Average value per conversion
These three together will ensure that you are not groping blindly through what looks set to be a competitive market in the coming year. Having specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound goals will help motivate your entire organization.
2. Get an overview of tasks throughout the operating year
When you have a clear objective, you must get an overview of which tasks must be carried out during an operating year. This will of course vary somewhat from B2C, B2B and in different industries. The overview must in any case contain all aspects of the online store:
- Marketing (marketing automation, advertising, etc.)
- Technical operation and further development of the systems
- CRM/CDP and processing of data
- Competitor analyzes
- Ongoing analyzes of own store
- Logistics and stock management
- Customer service
- Management of product database
To name a few.
When you have the plan ready, you will also be able to create a picture of how much labor you need, and a budget for the entire operation. Only then are you able to set up effective budgets linked to each task.
3. Map what expertise you have internally and what expertise you must purchase
Running a modern online store requires specialist expertise in a wide range of subject areas. Regardless of whether you have a small or large organization with driven employees, there is a very high chance that you do not have all the necessary expertise internally. In the areas you lack knowledge about, you must get help to learn the basics, so that you can at least be a good buyer of these services.
A typical example is Google Analytics or Matomo. Many think they know Analytics, without really knowing what they should measure there. Google has indeed made it a little easier to set up goals in GA4, but it doesn't help much when you don't measure the right things in the right way. It is easy to be deceived here. Regardless of whether you want to keep Analytics yourself or want to become a better buyer, it is perhaps a good idea to collaborate with someone (such as us) who has good control in the area.
4. Dare to define who your main target group is
It is difficult to "opt out" of a customer group. After all, you don't want to prevent someone from buying from you. But the truth is, you can't talk to everyone all the time. Then your content quickly becomes so broad that it does not help anyone at all. We always recommend going through your customer group through surveys and interviews to find out who you should talk to the most.
Another advantage of taking a data-based review of your target audience is that you may be surprised! Gut feeling and old experience are prevalent in the online shopping world, but no longer work. The window and door company Tore Ligaard believed for a long time that middle-aged men had a significant role when purchasing doors and windows. But it turned out that it is most often the woman who decides which door to buy. The buying journey does not begin when the customer enters the store, but on Instagram and Pinterest 1.5-2 years before the purchase is made. The man, on the other hand, is very interested in information about installation and maintenance after the purchase.
5. Get control of your customer journey
How long does your typical customer journey take? What does it consist of and on which platforms and surfaces does it take place in practice?
An ecommerce solution must be tailored to the target group. You have to act like the salesperson in the shop who answers the question: "Hey, I need a window".
"Yes," says the salesman. "Is there a lot of noise where you live? Do you have high requirements for insulation?" And so on.
You simply do training while you sell. The advantage is that while you lead the customer towards a purchase, you create better buyers who have confidence in you as a professional.
6. Be in control on the competitors
What are the advantages and disadvantages of the competitors versus what you have and do?
It's not just about price and product range, it's getting too thin. Here we need to know how the competitors do follow-up, how they ensure customer loyalty, which keywords they focus on in Its SEO strategy, etc. Getting an idea of best practices in your industry will enable you to sharpen the way you sell and communicate, so you can create a niche where you can really shine.
7. The buying experience must be personal and data-driven
Consumers now more than ever expect the information they receive in the online store and in all other channels to be personalized and adapted to them, whether it is about being presented with shoes that are in stock in the right size, tips and tricks to use products you have bought in the past, or exciting recommendations based on previous behaviour, this is now a minimum requirement.
An absolute prerequisite for being able to deliver the personal buying experience is that you have systems for and access to behavioral data on customers. It is of course also essential that you have systems that can use the data in an efficient way to increase turnover, conversion and, not least, loyalty. In addition, you must make sure that you are allowed to use the data as you wish.
8. Introduce a loyalty program
The concept of "customer club" has almost acquired a somewhat negative association in recent years. But rather call it a benefit club, loyalty program or similar. What is important to understand is that the concept is not about the customers getting "another discount on top of the discount", or a bonus program that will give even more of the margin to the customer. There is no doubt that loyalty programs and customer clubs represent a real cost for online stores.
The aim of this investment is to ensure that we get personal data, and that users are logged in so that we can serve a personal experience. This increases conversion and provides a far better experience for customers. It's expensive, but the upside is huge.
9. Choose an online trading platform that is flexible, if you have the framework and the opportunity
You are going to outgrow your online store. Experience-wise, that's just the way it is. Online shopping and the surrounding services are changing at lightning speed:
- Shipping methods
- Social media and channels
- Customer requirements
- Behavior / Personalization
You have to be able to adapt everything from functionality, marketing automation and data flow continuously in line with what the market expects and demands. The system you use must therefore be designed for constant changes. If you use a standard solution, the customer journey will be a little worse, a little slower, than all the others.
So if you have the budget for it: Invest in a solid solution right away, to avoid the system holding you back from growth.
10. Customer service means everything
When online stores are evaluated by customers, customer service is absolutely essential. Nevertheless, we see that this is almost always underestimated by the shops.
When it comes to loyalty and repeat purchases, customer service is absolutely the most important. Being able to get purchase assistance before, during and after the purchase is absolutely essential. In addition to good follow-up and good tips after a purchase. Also when you have not explicitly asked for it (read: upselling and branding).
In analyzes from 2022, customer service is the most important criterion for creating loyalty.
- How easy is it to get help when needed?
- Is there a case number with a 1-week waiting period?
- How easy is it to find customer service contact information?
- During campaigns, the focus is only on income and activities, not much on customer follow-up
How to build good customer service:
- Good information and knowledge (FAQ)
- Good chat service
- Good returns and complaints routines (it must be simple)
11. Shipping and delivery
You're basically doing logistics, and you must therefore be very good at this point. You have to offer the shipping options that customers want, at a price that is competitive.
But the most important thing is delivery time and tracking. Outside the largest cities, you cannot of course guarantee a delivery day or time unless you use Porterbuddy or similar services. But the goal is to make the customer feel safe and taken care of.
Most people today are aware of so-called dropshipping, where unscrupulous actors without stock order the product from Asia as it is ordered. Delivery time: 3-300 days.
If you manage to deliver a solution with flexible shipping options and predictable delivery horizons, you have come a long way.
Thomas is CCO in Frontkom. His background is from the agency industry with more than 20 years as manager and senior advisor within eCommerce. Thomas is an expert at building complex customer journeys for online stores. He writes about eCommerce, customer club, integrations and how to succeed with your online store.