When is it time for a new e-commerce website?

Your website is never truly finished. Tweaks and integrations can bring your store in line with the latest conversion rate e-commerce trends. But when is it time to consider an entirely new online store?

If the lights went off in a bricks-and-mortar store, they would be fixed immediately. If a window display fell down it would be a priority to get the mannequins propped back up. If a customer could not gain entry to the store, accessibility to the store would be adjusted until they could.

Crashes, errors, and ease of access are all issues faced by e-commerce stores daily. Selling online needs a strong, vibrant, functional store that is updated regularly and inline with current trends, and most of all, easy to use.

So when should you invest in a new e-commerce store?

Mobile access denied

“50% of global internet users shop on their mobile phone.” Responsive design is now an industry standard, with many brands leading website projects with a mobile first approach. Large, clear, swipeable product images, with a simplified mobile navigation panel, leans towards a smooth and slick shopping experience for mobile customers. How long your mobile website takes to load and how easily your mobile store is to navigate will all affect your conversion rate. Without a functioning mobile store, you are missing out on 50% of the market. 

Easy user experiences

Have you put yourself in your customer's shoes and navigated the journey from landing page to checkout on multiple devices? UI is a huge industry, and for good reason. 38% of customers surveyed chose to leave a website that they found the layout unattractive or difficult to use. How people navigate your store has a direct impact on conversions and ultimately your bottom line.

The way customers use websites changes quickly. Market leaders, such as ASOS, may roll out changes that you would like to emulate. Before rolling out big changes to any website, A/B testing is now commonplace. A/B testing in its simplest form is exposing a percentage of your customers to your new store, or changes, and analysing the interaction between buttons, menus and other functional elements. It can provide invaluable data to how you customers use your site and how to optimise your website for conversion.

Your website should undergo A/B testing regularly to tighten up your conversions and test new features to stay ahead in the e-commerce market. Does your current website offer you the capacity to get ahead of your competition? 

Lost amongst your competition

Search engine optimisation, the white whale of e-commerce marketers. Along with penalties from Google for slow loading times, and difficult to crawl websites, your website needs to be audited and updated regularly. The first blogs you wrote may not still be relevant and contradicting onsite content, your business focus may have changed or expanded or your competition is simply beating you to the coveted first place. 

Your website needs to be in line with current SEO techniques, free of clunky or slow loading features. Content is still the easiest way to earn traffic, do you have a blog or feature channel? Can your website support video? Don’t rely on your social channels to provide SEO via content. The top 3 traffic sources for e-commerce stores are: 43% of e-commerce traffic comes from Google search and 26% comes from AdWords and social account for 1-2% of online sales.

You have no control

After a few years growing your business with your first website, you many have lost contact with your original suppliers, operating an older clunky system or being held to ransom by a design agency to do simple updates. Conversion optimisation initiatives need tweaks and change to be applied and tested as the market shifts and moves. Other integrations are key to success such as customer management systems, loyalty programs and email automation software. Is your website flexible and able to provide you with the tools to increase your online sales? Can you update product pages easily in-house? Are integrations with top e-commerce solution providers easy to do?

Ancient design or antique templates

Design trends come and go, from minimalist to brutalist, all have been popular over the last 3 years. As they are emulated and become commonplace, the trend becomes redundant, is your website guilty of being a design fad? Or have other stores templated your look and they all feel the same?

If you’ve built your business on a pre-built template, it may become unsupported or simply unreliable. When making changes to the code and adding workarounds for new tech, your code may be a Jenga tower waiting to fall. New technology integrations such as chat bots and a move towards a content first approach need to be reflected in the architecture of your online store.

It's not you, it’s me

Or simply, you don’t like your website. In 3 years a brand can change a lot. And as your business has grown, so has your ambition and strategy. What may have covered an UK audience may not fare well internationally or your traffic numbers are steady declining whilst your marketing efforts are increasing. 

If you feel your website is holding your business back, it’s time to look at your options. What platform is best to support your growing business? What integrations do you need to continue to operate? Should you consider a rebrand? How can you migrate from my current supplier easily? How can you make your customer journey easier and sell more online?

If you’re ready to ask these questions, we can help you answer them. We Make Websites have 7 years experience helping businesses sell more online. From migrations to integrations to full design and build projects, we have you covered.

Perry LopezComment
17 important shopping dates for your 2017 diary

We have compiled a collection of 17 important shopping dates essential to any e-tailer's calendar. Some of them have already flown by, but you can catch up.Make sure you've accounted for everything, from peak shopping times to e-commerce events.

16th January - Blue Monday

The third Monday in January, nicknamed ‘Blue Monday’, is commonly known as the most depressing day of the year when many consumers seek solace in a bit of online retail therapy or go hunting for their summer holiday.
As an e-commerce merchant, you should utilise this day with marketing campaigns designed to spread cheer among despondent consumers. Fitness and well-being brands may also want to take advantage of those looking to fulfil their new year's resolution to get fit. 

14th February - Valentine's Day

This is an easy one to remember, as it's on the same day every year. 14th February can be a big day for your sales if you sell items that could be considered in any way romantic (i.e. not lawnmowers).

Promote the perfect gift on your homepage, send out an email to your existing customers, and, most importantly, produce a sense of urgency. Those lucky enough to have a partner will need to get Valentine's Day right, otherwise, their Facebook profile could rapidly change from 'in a relationship' to 'single'.

Bear in mind that most shopping for Valentine's Day is done on the 5th and 6th of February, so ensure your marketing campaign begins well before then.

17th - 21st February London Fashion Week

Running twice a year in February and September, is London Fashion Week. It is increasingly one of the most important events on anyone’s fashion calendar and big news for anyone with an interest in the rag trade.
All things British and fashion-related are up on the catwalk this week. To make the most of all the wonderful creations found at Fashion Week, why not offer some ‘stylish’, ‘catwalk’ promotions of your own. Ensure your brand stands out this week and encourage your customers to step out of their comfort zones and join in the fashion fun.

26th March/14th May - Mother's Day

We all have mothers, and most of us love them. Fortunately, the vast majority of your customers will be mother-lovers, so you should notice a surge in sales in the time around Mother's Day. If you get your marketing right, that is.

In 2017, Mother's Day will fall on 26th March in the UK and 14th May everywhere else in the world. You'll have to choose one to focus on, so you should take a look at your customer analytics to see what country most of your business comes from and opt to market to their holiday.

To be sure you capitalise on this you need to promote your deals as much as you can. In addition to email marketing, utilise your social media accounts to make sure you're reaching the widest possible audience. Give your followers a good reason to promote your content with retweets/shares, such as a special deal for Mother's Day gifts.

Mother's Day is one of the most important shopping dates, so don't miss out.

14th - 17th April - Easter Weekend

Easter is all about celebrating winter’s end and the start of spring (besides the real meaning of course). An egg-cellent way to spread the Easter spirit is to offer sweet savings — especially on items for children and items that will help shoppers prepare for the warmer weather). In addition, consider updating your creatives with spring-like themes and pastel colour palettes.

One fitting idea that suits any type of business and organisation, no matter how big or small, is an Easter egg hunt. 

A very popular Easter game and it can help to make your site more attractive to consumers. All you need to do is think of what kind of “eggs” you’ll hide on your website and which prize is up for grabs. The simplest way to do this is to place photos of eggs on some of the deep pages of your site. Maybe include some clues in a blog post to help out a little.

To make playing more appealing, always say how winners will benefit, do they get a discount, a gift, a promo code?

May to July - Wedding season

Ebay recently reported that searches for ‘wedding presents’ skyrocketed last June, as many guests turned to online shopping to help them find the perfect gift for upcoming nuptials.
While wedding presents are predicted to be in demand again this year, eBay has also seen an increase in online searches for all things wedding related. From lingerie and dresses to engagement rings and usher ensembles – it seems more and more customers are shunning the more traditional in-store or bespoke wedding services for an alternative online experience.

18th June - Father's Day

Father's Day will fall on June 18th in 2017. There are just as many fathers as there are mothers in the world, so you should expect similar traffic to what you received on Mother's Day. As ever, that is if you take the time to do some targeted marketing.

Here are a few ideas for promoting your business on Father's Day:

  • Discount codes: Use social media to push these out to customers around the beginning of June, possibly only making them compatible with selected products that you want to promote for the holiday.
  • Free gift wrapping: This entices a lot of people because it settles that constant dilemma that customers face: they don't want to spend time wrapping (or just can't wrap) but they also don't want to pay for gift wrapping when they can attempt to do it themselves. Do not underestimate the power of this small gesture!
  • Make your last order date clear: Don't just put a last order notice on your homepage and landing pages, but make this clear on your product pages too. If you say, for instance, that orders must be made before June 12th to guarantee delivery before Father's Day, this provides the sense of urgency that was mentioned in the section on Valentine's Day.

June to September - Festival season 

The UK and summer festival season is a popular and often busy time of year for many music lovers. Take the world’s most famous music festival, Glastonbury, as an example; with a crowd of 135,000 people expected to attend, many will be stocking up on their camping equipment, festival wardrobe and wellingtons boots (thanks to the unpredictable British weather). 
If you’re a fashion e-commerce merchant, why not invest in some festival lookbook style content? Or if your inventory is full of camping equipment and waterproofs, try putting together a festival bundle for a discounted price.

Early September - Back to School

Back to school is an important time of the year for many retail businesses – second only to the Christmas shopping season. Why not spend the time before the new school year reminding students (and their parents) what they need in preparation for a successful first day back. Competition is high during this period, so discount codes and free shipping is always a smart strategy.

27th - 28th September - E-commerce Expo

From the 27th-28th September, E-commerce Expo will be running its annual event for anyone connected to the industry. Note: this is for UK diaries only, unless you feel like taking a trip to London. If you do, pack a coat. And a scarf. Also gloves.

The exposition focuses on all areas of e-commerce, providing businesses with expert consultancy, and topical talks on areas such as marketing, platforms, payments, delivery, customer service and many other topics.

Only lasting for two days, you won't have to spend much time away from nurturing your business, but don't worry, it's plenty of time to collate all the information you could ever want.

It's a free event, so if you feel like you may want to attend then you can express your interest here.

1st October - Buy British Day

In 2014, Buy British Day was launched for the first time on 3rd October by Best of Britannia. The idea was to create an event in which customers are encouraged to shop from businesses that are based in Britain and manufacture their items in Britain.

Buy British Day naturally had backing from the British Government and was launched in the House of Commons. The event then took place in Farmiloe Building in Clerkenwell, and functioned as the UK’s biggest pop-up department store, with over 200 British businesses selling their products.

If you're a British business, even if you sell online, it's worth signing up to be a seller next year and setting up a pop-up shop. You'll be helping to contribute towards the British economy, be part of a great event, and attract many more customers to your website in the future.

You can contact Best of Britannia to express your interest here.

Halloween - 31st October

October’s arrival signifies cooler weather, leaves falling from the trees, and of course, Halloween. 
Halloween has been increasingly growing in financial importance year on year and even more so in the UK. In 2016 it was estimated to be worth £466m, thanks to the purchasing of costumes, food and decorations. Mintel recently reported that Halloween did, in fact, overtake the spend for Valentine’s Day. 
Even if your business doesn’t have a direct link to the day it could be worth adding some Halloween-themed offers to your shop. If all else fails, encourage your team to dress up and load up your social media with some snaps.

24th November - Black Friday

Black Friday was originally an American shopping holiday, though as practice of e-commerce has risen in recent years, the phenomenon has spread to become an international event. It is typically seen as the start of the Christmas shopping season and so is a good benchmark for you to ensure that your website is fully prepared for Christmas shoppers.

In 2017, Black Friday falls on November 24th, so put that in your diary.

Here are a few good ideas that you can use to boost your traffic and conversions on Black Friday:

  • Write Black Friday-related content for your blog. If you run a blog alongside your e-commerce business, you should begin to write posts at least two to three weeks before Black Friday. Aim for about one a week; you don't want to overwhelm your readers with information about it, but you also don't want them to forget the date. Find a balance that you think works for your blog.
  • Send out topical emails a few weeks before. If you don't have a blog, then you should use email marketing to your advantage here. Amazon is a good example for this. Year on year, they completely monopolise Black Friday because of how effective their marketing is. If you've shopped from Amazon in the past, you will have likely received emails from them detailing various Black Friday promotions. Use these techniques yourself and you could share in their success.
  • Run a countdownDo you remember how, in the Valentine's Day and Father's Day sections, a lot of emphasis was put on creating a feeling of urgency? Chances are you do. Having a countdown on your homepage that tells visitors how long until Black Friday sales start will create a sense of anticipation and drive them back to your site on the day.

Read more on how to increase your sales on Black Friday.

27th November - Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday, like Black Friday, was born as a by-product of America's Thanksgiving holiday. While Black Friday was originally intended for retail businesses to capitalise off of the consumer rush after Thanksgiving, Cyber Monday came about after it was observed that millions of Americans took a weekend off after the holiday, and proceeded with their sales-hunting on the Monday.

A couple of tactics you can use to maximise sales on Cyber Monday are:

  • Implement a Cyber Monday landing page. If you have got customers to your site because of promised Cyber Monday deals, this needs to be confirmed as soon as they land on your page. They should be immediately reminded why they are there - to get good deals - and an effective promotional landing page will get customers shopping much quicker. The customer probably won't be visiting your shop alone, with a long list of online retailers taking part in the event, so your landing page is effectively a pitch - make it bold, make it clear, and make it enticing.
  • Offer free shipping. In addition to the Cyber Monday sale, set your shop apart by offering free shipping. This is a day where you can afford to put a maximum threshold on your shipping, too, (i.e. Free shipping for orders over £40) as your customers will likely be buying more than they normally do. Plus, online shoppers naturally lean towards a shipping threshold, purchasing more so they can reach the cap.

25th November - Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday occurs on the first Saturday of December. The event's organisers look for all kinds of small businesses to get involved every year - including e-commerce retailers - and support you the whole way, including marketing and promotional assistance.

Here are some statistics about the tremendous success of Small Business Saturday 2014 taken from their website:

  • 16.5 million People shopped in a small independent business on the day, representing a 20% increase in footfall in 2013 or 2.7 million more shoppers.
  • 64% of UK consumers were aware of the day, a 33% increase on 2013.
  • Over 3.5 million Facebook views and #SmallBizSatUK trending at number one all day on 6th December 2014.
  • 55% of Local Authorities and hundreds of MPs supported the campaign.

These statistics are expected to rise drastically in 2017, so don't miss out!

To find out everything you need to know about Small Business Saturday click here and for 5 ways to get your business ready for Small Business Saturday click here.

15th December - Free Shipping Day

Buying Christmas presents late has become part of the festive tradition. Gone are the days where people had finished buying presents before they had flipped their calendar to December - your customers will still be shopping for their gifts about 10 days before Christmas.

A few years ago, Luke Knowles and his wife noticed the shift towards this trend and launched Free Shipping Day. The idea behind the event, aside from being another way to attract customers during the busiest e-commerce season of the year, is to guarantee free shipping before Christmas Eve.

25th December - Christmas

Consumers spent 91 billion in the run to Christmas in 2016 and e-commerce sales grew by 11% compared to last year. It might be an obvious one but be organised and prepare yourself and your business for one of the busiest times of year for commerce. 
Be sure to maximise your sales with compelling PPC campaigns and combine Christmas themed ads with strong CTA’s that will really draw in your customers. You should be doing this at least 6 weeks before the 25th December. For more advice on how to get your store ready in time for Christmas read our guide here.

If you need help improving your Shopify store, we can help.

Perry LopezComment