E-commerce, like all business, is really about strategy and employing useful practices to foster serious success. When you have a small business, you want it to grow in size and gain a larger following, more customers, more inventory, and more revenue.
To make this happen, however, there are some things you need to set in motion now to make a difference later. The following e-commerce best practices for small businesses are sure to get your company poised for healthy and sustainable growth.
When you apply these practices to your business model, you'll see positive changes in just a matter of time.
The Best E-Commerce Practices for Small Businesses
1. Use a Good Hosting Service
In today's digital age you really can't have a business without a website. Businesses that don't have a home site are often seen as less credible and untrustworthy by potential customers which can affect sales, growth, and sustainability. Of course, just any old website won't do.
You want something smooth, aesthetically pleasing, and most importantly, easy to navigate. A good web hosting service should offer you these factors and more.
Some web host services like GoDaddy and Weebly are great choices because they're highly customizable for your business' needs, allow integrations with different software, are mobile friendly, and provide a personal domain name.
A good hosting service can make a world of difference turning site visitors into returning customers, so choose wisely.
2. Have a Mobile-Friendly Interface
Most of your customers are going to be checking out your business from their mobile phone. This means that you absolutely must have a website that is mobile-friendly. When a site or shop doesn't translate well when being used on a smartphone, visitors are more likely to move on to one that is.
Recommended: A Quick Guide on Mobile Friendly Updates
You don't want your site and shopping features to be confusing and hard to navigate from a phone, especially when this is where most people do their online shopping.
When your small business has a site easily accessible from a mobile device or tablet you have a better chance of retaining customers, of being shareable, and of seeing high numbers of visitors.
3. Develop a Multi-Pronged Marketing Strategy
Small businesses need strong marketing strategy in order to grow and expand. This means more than just marketing your products and services online or through ads. Marketing strategies also include focused content creation, use of keywords, and a strong SEO strategy.
Fortunately, each of these categories is interrelated, meaning you can create an overarching strategy by placing a special focus on each area.
For content creation, think about the different types of content you can produce to gain your company visibility. These can include articles, blogs, videos, and even infographics. Within these different types of content, you can use keywords and SEO strategy to boost visibility for your business as a whole with each content type acting as a gateway.
The best way to begin developing your marketing strategy is to find your target audience and your central message. From there, you can build on what your business is about, who it wants to reach, and what it plans to do as it grows.
4. Manage Your Inventory Well
Possibly the most important e-commerce practice on our list, inventory management can literally make or break a sale business. When it comes to your inventory, how you manage your products and services is important because it directly affects your customers.
If inventory management is done poorly, it can mean that customers have a poor experience with your business, which can stop them from coming back or spreading a positive word. You want products to be in stock, you want to meet market trends and demand, and you want to ensure that every time a customer shops with you that they are satisfied and sure to return.
Due to how large and complicated the average business' inventory can be, the best way to manage inventory is to use inventory management software and cloud-based services like those offered by Finale Inventory.
5. Use Images to Your Advantage
The aesthetic is a big part of your business brand, so be sure to make your site as appealing as possible. The best way to do this is to use images on your home site, in blogs, on product pages, social media posts, and more.
Nice, clear visuals can capture and hold a site visitor's interest, demonstrate what a product will look like and how it is used, and more. In short, with an aesthetically appealing site the more likely it is for visitors to become customers.
6. Less Is More
It is a good rule of thumb to remember that images are always a good idea on your website and social media handles, but you must also remember that less is more. Don't overwhelm your customers with a bunch of images that are just there for the sake of being there.
Instead, be more strategic about what images you use and how they are used. The minimalist look can go a long way, so be sure to keep your site layout clean and clear while still incorporating images and text.
Remember to only include what will be useful and engaging at once so you can know what to include and what to filter out. Check out some of these examples of minimalist websites to get ideas.
7. Include a Search Bar
While you may have a small business, you likely have a lot of content on your site that visitors can get lost in. Between product listings, blogs, articles, videos, and more, visitors may have a hard time finding what they're looking for whether it is a product or just some information.
Remedy this by ensuring that your site has a search bar in place that is functional and useful. Test it out to ensure that whatever a customer may look for (all products, FAQs, etc) can be found through your search bar.
When a website is easy to navigate, visitors are more likely to stay longer, browse more, and make a purchase. If your site is not easy to navigate, however,
8. Follow Up On Abandoned Shopping Carts
Abandoned online shopping carts are an important aspect of your small business that you have to think about in addition to inventory, sales, and marketing. Online carts are easily abandoned, which means you almost made a sale but did not.
There are many reasons why a customer may abandon their shopping cart, but you don't have to let this be a missed opportunity. Reach out and remind visitors that they have a full cart of goodies using certain unobtrusive reminder tools and software that send a notification or email reminder.
This -e-commerce practice may seem small, but it shows customers a certain level of intentionality as well as is an assertive way to gently push customers towards a sale.
When you make sales, your audience grows and more revenue comes in, which grows your business. Noticeable or not, an abandoned shopping cart can hold a lot of power if you know how to react to it!
Whether you use one or all of these best e-commerce practices for small businesses, they're sure to make a real difference in how you work. We hope you find success with these tops and watch your business grow.
Chinh Nguyen has more than 15 years of digital marketing experience and is responsible the marketing and business operations at Finale Inventory. Prior to joining Finale Inventory, Chinh held marketing, business analytics, and product management leadership roles at a number of high-technology companies.