Like it or not, consumers progressively expect an online presence these days. E-commerce is the fastest growing retail market in Europe. Sales in the UK, Germany, France, Sweden, The Netherlands, Italy, Poland and Spain are expected to grow from £132.05 bn in 2014 to £156.67 bn in 2015 (+18.4%). Even if you do not use e-commerce as a sales platform, or if you provide a service rather than a product, consumers are becoming increasingly web-savvy and like to research companies and products on the web before they buy – even if they don’t ultimately make their purchase online, you can influence their purchasing decision with good website design in your online presence.
If you’re a small business or a start-up, developing an online presence is not always the most instinctive or cost effective process or seen as an immediate priority, although it should be.
Developing an effective online presence is vital for enabling any business and brand to grow. It gives you access to thousands of local, national or international customers who are interacting, searching, sharing and shopping online. It also gives valuable insight into what your customers are saying about you and who those customers are; for instance through sentiment analysis you can get a feel for what your customers and prospects are saying about your company on social media, allowing you to boost positive feedback or reduce the impact of any negative sentiment quickly.
Developing an online presence
Getting your business online and using the web to attract customers and encourage growth, is not a quick and easy, one off task. Websites and social media channels must be maintained, monitored and content continually refreshed. When pulling together your online strategy that meets your wider business objectives, consider these points:
· Will your website be transactional or informational, or both? This will affect the content, structure and resource required for a successful web offering – do you need something more extensive that incorporates a blog, third-party plugins, or e-commerce functionality?
· Your domain name is incredibly important from both a user and SEO perspective. Take time to research and register and consider how will this affect your SEO (search engine optimisation)?
· What does success look like and how will you measure it? How will you monitor visits, visit duration, bounce rate, paid traffic, natural traffic, direct traffic, click-through rate and conversion rates, leads generated and sales achieved? Ensure that the platform you choose allows an audit trail for all visits and leads so you have the transparency of what is working and isn’t via it’s reporting
· Consider your audience and when and how they will visit your website. A mobile friendly website can help your online visibility and effects revisits – 72 percent of mobile users say it’s important to them that websites are mobile-friendly
· Your content management system must be easy to use and not require a high overhead of skilled resource to maintain and manage your site. An affective CMS allows you to log into and simply update the content on your website without any knowledge of HTML and without constantly relying on external support.
· Your website design must be effective, – content must be presented in a clear, user friendly, easily to navigate, readable and distraction-free format; the use of proven templates can help with this
The selection of your website platform is affected by all of the above points, and you need to avoid future issues such as the cumbersome data exchange between your product availability, stock controls and the front end choices for your audience.
e-business suite by Prodware directly connects your website to your ERP. For those that need to sell products it provides a platform for updating website stock levels in real-time, to help manage customer expectations and in turn improve delivery and customer service levels. The PIM (Product Information Management) tool allows you to manage product catalogues and be flexible enough to reflect offers and bundles.
Flexible and easy to use, this e-commerce platform allows in-house users to manage and maintain the website via an easy to use interface. The e-business CMS groups the front and the back office of your website. Totally configurable and available in several languages, it offers you all the necessary services needed to create an effective e-commerce website whilst harnessing the data of your ERP.
On top of all this you will have to expertise and knowledge of a Microsoft Gold Partner with over 30 years of experience to guide you through the process. Contact Prodware today to find out more.