In case you’ve missed it, I’ve been blogging about what’s important for small ecommerce sellers to keep in mind as they get started, and I began by discussing marketplaces like eBay and Amazon. At some point a small seller might want to own their own channel in addition to selling on a marketplace, which is when an ecommerce shopping cart application or ecommerce platform is critical. If this describes you and the stage of your business, here are five important things you will need to do in order to take advantage of any platform. For the sake of getting into specifics, let’s assume you’ve chosen Shopify, a popular tool for small ecommerce sellers.
Let’s not even argue about Shopify’s success. The publicly held ecommerce and point of sale application company 377,000 active customer stores that generated $29 billion in sales last year. Shopify charges between $9 and $79 per month depending on its version with a retail package add-on for $40 per month, so the cost is very affordable.
So yes – it’s a great and popular application. And now you’ve decided to use Shopify. It was a good decision. But to really succeed with this service, you’re now going to have to step up. Shopify can provide the tools. But you’ve got to use them. Now it’s you who’s responsible. So here’s what you’re going to do.
You will assign an owner and invest.
You’re running a business which means that you’re responsible for everything that goes on in your company. The reality is that you’re not going to be able to do it all yourself. The smartest business owners I know do what they do best and then delegate the rest. They’re strategizing, marketing, developing opportunities and nurturing their employees. They set the direction and then employ, when they can, experts to execute.
If you plan on spending your time becoming an expert with Shopify then you’re not spending your time wisely. Keeping up with all the features and functions of this platform, let alone the many frequent changes made by the service, can be a full-time job. That is not your job. To succeed you’ll need someone in your company that will “own” Shopify. He or she will be your go-to person for all things Shopify related. You will need to make investments. You will need to pay this person and spend for additional resources and training so that your internal Shopify expert remains expert.
You will integrate Shopify with a Customer Relationship Management system.
When you’re using Shopify the right way you’re collecting data. People are visiting your store and your site. Hopefully, many of them buying. But even if they’re not you’re going to do your best to collect their information. Shopify provides you with many ways to entice customers and prospects to share their contact details in order to get future deals, discounts and notifications. You’re going to take that information and make sure it goes straight into your customer relationship management system.
Shopify integrates with many popular (CRM) applications like Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics and Zoho. Those systems will ensure that your customers and prospects are hearing from you proactively. You’ll be reminded to send newsletters, updates and other communications with offers and information that will hopefully entice those visitors to come back and buy again. You’ll be notified if a consistent customer stops being so consistent. You’ll be able to connect customers to other products you sell that they may enjoy, based on what they previously purchased. When Shopify is integrated with your CRM application nothing will fall through the cracks and every member of your community – customers and prospects – will be nurtured and given attention.
You will integrate with Amazon.
Shopify integrates deeply with Amazon.com. You must take advantage of this feature.
Amazon is, without argument, the biggest online marketplace in the U.S. Successful online merchants almost always have a presence on Amazon. Of course, you can still sell from your own site. But why ignore this important and potentially huge channel? When you’ve got things setup between your Shopify store and your Amazon site, you’ll be able to automatically synchronize your store’s products to list on Amazon throughout the day. You’ll be able to quickly bring in orders from Amazon directly into your Shopify system so that you can manage all orders and inventory all from one place.
You will leverage Facebook.
There are tens of millions of small business pages and billions of users on Facebook, so let’s assume that, like so many others, you also have a presence there. You better! And if you’re on Facebook then why not sell on Facebook too?
Shopify gives you the ability to do that with a fully integrated Facebook store. Your customers will be able to browse your products from within the giant social media platform and from any device. When a product is selected, they can use Facebook’s checkout feature and buy and pay without leaving Facebook. You’ll get order confirmations and the option to chat with customers in real time. Customers will also be able to track their orders right from within Facebook. As you add products to your Shopify inventory, those same products can be quickly added to your Facebook store. And Facebook’s marketing features will enable you to target potential customers using their demographic information, as well as offer giveaways and promotional items.
Finally, you’ll go offline.
The beauty of Shopify is that it’s designed for the business owner with both a brick and mortar along with an ecommerce presence. Sure, many people are just online. But if you’re one of the millions of merchants that run a store, Shopify gives you the ability to implement a full point-of-sale system, complete with order and inventory management, analytics, payment and accounting. All of your data is shared by your Shopify ecommerce application – one system, two channels.
Shopify and other popular tools like Magento, BigCommerce, or Square provides the tools for you to succeed both online and offline. The question is whether you’re going to do what you need to do to succeed with this great platform.