Phil Rothwell is an ecommerce expert with more than 20 years’ experience helping retailers to sell online. He was there at the beginning of ecommerce and played a leading role in growing Actinic Software from dot com start-up to floatation on the London Stock Exchange
Happy New Decade!
Before your collapse into the office chair and lose yourself clearing the backlog of post-Christmas office chores, this is a good time to consider the year ahead.
A few days ago, Big Ben didn’t just chime in a new year, this is a new decade. If the next ten years are going to be as challenging as the last ten, then hard graft might not be enough to ensure your business thrives, or even survives.
Even the big high street retailers who have – thus far – survived, continue to struggle. Smart thinking is required for smaller businesses hoping to prosper in the coming years.
I’ve spent most of the last few years working with ambitious businesses, helping them to either build on success, reverse decline, or simply get off the ground.
Most of my time has been spent analysing sales and traffic data, optimising website content, setting up pay per click campaigns, migrating websites and fixing broken code.
Based on this experience, here are the five things retailers need to do more of in the coming year:
1. Find a niche
Everywhere consumers look online they are bombarded with all kinds of messages and offers. It has never been more important to find your niche and stick to it if you want your business to thrive.
2. Keep it simple
If you keep changing the way you describe your business and products to potential customers, they'll never remember who you are and what you do.
You need have an attractive and memorable proposition that is easy to communicate and understand.
When you find something that works, stick to it.
3. Measure success
There is nothing more soul-destroying than doing a load of work and not knowing for sure if its made a difference. And nothing more precarious from a business perspective.
The biggest kick I get out of my job is when I show cleints how well there websites are performing and watch them grow in confidence and belief.
There are few things more motivating than doing some online marketing and watching it generate sales.
Success is never guaranteed, but when you measure performance you always end up with a better understanding of your business.
4. Master the detail
Here’s some SEO news for you – plastering your site with keywords is not that important. It is entirely possible to rank in pole position for a search term not featured on your web page. What Google cares about is that its results satisfy the user and it knows that different words can share the same meaning.
Unless you keep your knowledge up to date you will waste time on stuff that no longer works, while competitors steal a march.
You can’t become an expert at everything, and you may need to pay for some help, but it is worth the investment.
It's the unknown unknowns that are most likely to kill your business and they, along with the Devil, are hidden in the detail.
5. Build a business that is greater than the sum of its parts
The problem with running an online store is that there is literally an unlimited list of things you can do that might make your business more successful.
The challenge is working out which ones you should do next and implementing them, while keeping the wheels on the wagon.
You can’t do this with much confidence unless you:
- Measure the sales and profits being generated through your main marketing channels
- Can create effective content for your online marketing campaigns.
- Are able to adapt your ecommerce platform to work seamlessly with your marketing.
Finally, if your website design is more than 5 years old, it is probably due for an overhaul.
Your time is always a constraint, but it does not have to hold you back. Most ecommerce retailers can’t do all this on their own: they collaborate with people like us.
Have a great 2020!