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Selling through your own Branded Ecommerce Website is the focus of this week’s article. Last week I covered the pros of cons of using Marketplaces for an ecommerce business it would be wrong not to also cover the pros and cons of selling direct from your own branded website.
Having your own website is fantastic if you are looking to build up a personal brand. Everything invested into your own website or brand is yours to keep. You can also control more strictly how you want your ecommerce business to operate. There are still some disadvantages in having your own homegrown ecommerce solution.
It cannot be understated the power in creating your own brand; it is immensely valuable. If you have a brand that connects in the right manner with both its values and its focus you can not only charge more but generate more sales.
It is important to note that a Brand is much more than a logo. It encompasses Brand Photography, business proposition, audience and ethos of your company.
Key Focus: If you are planning on running your ecommerce business from your own branded website, ensure you leverage all of the advantages by having Professional Logo Design & Branding worked out from day one.
Magento, WooCommerce, Shopify, OpenCart the world’s biggest sector is not short on platforms to sell products. The ecommerce extensions available number in the tens of thousands, from banner managers to store locators.
The advantage here is it streamlines your development process. Don’t attempt to reinvent the wheel when there are already many specialised wheels to choose from.
Key Focus: Leverage what has already been built, try to defeature your idea and build upon it slowly over time. A lot of money and effort is burnt chasing the “perfect solution”. Just strip back to the essentials and grow from there.
My biggest pet hate with marketplaces is they do not let you access the customer’s data. While we understand they do this because they want you to build up their brand. The side effect of them not giving you access to the key data is that it leaves you paralysed from generating more sales with a customer.
How do you do that if you can’t email your would-be customers? If they buy from you on your own website you have the added benefit that you can market to them. You can warm leads and talk about your unique selling points to an engaged audience.
This is a huge part of successful ecommerce businesses and it’s something you can’t replicate without having your own site.
Key Focus: Remember the true value of a customer is not their first purchase, it is the overall lifetime value.
Let’s be honest marketplaces are not going to win any design awards, and although that is not the focus of ecommerce, it does raise the question:
Are your products being displayed in the right way?
When you sell a unique product that requires a specific way of setting up the sale it doesn’t play well with a templated system like a marketplace. To marketplaces, you have product images, descriptions, delivery information.
Marketplaces certainly have the elements you want on the page, but you have no control over the layout or order the page displayed the information of your products.
With your own website, you can optimise your selling position by making incremental changes over the lifetime of your business and honing in on what sells your products best.
Key Focus: Having your own website allows you greater autonomy over exactly how you sell your products. Take advantage of this fact and learn what layout, order and mixture of content sells your products best.
Ecommerce gives you a lot of advantages as you can automate a lot of the legwork and tasks. Magento and other ecommerce platforms can be configured to integrate with marketplaces, run shopping feeds, import and export data on your behalf.
This means you fill in the data, upload the images once, and your site will duplicate and feed this content across multiple channels in a scheduled manner that suits your business.
Key Focus: If it feels like the task is very repetitive then there is a good chance it can be automated. Ensure you constantly keep an eye out for what automation options are open to your business.
Having your own ecommerce platform to sell from does come at a cost. If you’re serious about growing, it requires you have a developer on your team or at least have access to a freelance developer.
Hosting costs are far larger than a standard business website. Ecommerce sites have to be fast to see good sales performance and to handle such a large site architecture. This might mean you invest into additional services such as caching to speed your site up.
Key Focus: Be aware that there is a significant running cost to an ecommerce business. You are not immune to the troubles of cash flow and will definitely need to make ongoing investments towards both offline and online.
If you use a popular platform you are going to experience hackers. It’s just a sad fact of life that websites come under attack from international hackers. DDOS attacks on ecommerce stores are common, this it the act of sending a large volume of requests to your website until the server falls over. Hackers also try to expose exploits in the system to gain access or deface the website is an ongoing security problem.
There are measures you can take to better protect yourself from these events. It is not something you need to worry about when using a marketplace. Amazon, eBay etc will all make their own investments into the security to protect all buyer and sellers. Even they don’t remain 100% immune to attack.
A large percentage of clients that email me stated that their current website had been hacked or compromised. They might be asking me to retrieve lost or mangled data. Or simply to build a new website that won’t share the same vulnerabilities.
When you launch a new website on a new URL it launches to crickets, no-one has heard of you yet. This is normal but you have your work cut out for you to get on top of building your newsletter subscribers and daily traffic count.
Key Focus: I recommend you view SEO and Content Marketing as long-term investments for getting traffic. In the short-term, direct advertising is a better route, AdWords, Bing Ads, Facebook or Twitter advertising.
Search Engine Optimisation is a huge topic in itself and you have to learn as much as you can about it or outsource this element to an SEO specialist
One of the most cost-effective techniques for building your SEO up is to write content and show yourself as a specialist within your niche topic. This is referred to as content marketing, and it’s key to winning a positive place on a google search.
Key Focus: If you are going to focus on Content Marketing you have to be willing to give away your best 10%. You have to aim to really help your customers understand the product or service offering without asking for anything in return. On top of this, you have to be consistent. You might not realise it but every single week I publish a new article on Loudon Design. Every Tuesday to be exact. Over an above that I send out a weekly newsletter every Thursday, this has helped build a steady stream of relevant traffic to my website.