Despite the current worldwide recession and how it has been affecting retail sales, online sales have been growing steadily and this trend is predicted to continue, if not increase.
If you sell goods or services and don’t yet offer them online, it is likely that you have considered setting up an eshop and taking advantage of a potentially global client base. If you haven’t, well, you should!
There are of course many factors to consider before choosing the right solution for your business as the costs involved in setting up and maintaining online commerce facilities and managing payments could leave you with little margin on products you sell through your website. Which solution is the right one for you will depend on your sales volume, the unit sales price of the goods or services you offer and how you will be processing payments.
From simple check-out functionalities offered by Google for a fee on each transaction, to secure off-the-shelf software with monthly subscriptions, to having an ecommerce interface specifically developed for your business, there is something for every budget.
But that’s not all…
In addition to providing you with another sales channel, an online shop is also an opportunity for search engine optimisation and boosting your ranking.
Content is key to a good ranking, as web crawlers need it to understand what your website is about and how relevant it is to search terms. An online shop is therefore the perfect excuse to add pages and pages to your website, each one dedicated to one product, on which you can then do very specific, targeted search engine optimisation.
Having keywords in the title of your product page, in your files names, in your description – but absolutely no ‘keyword stuffing’ allowed as you will make no friends, neither with human beings nor with web crawlers ! – will contribute to improving your ranking, and therefore drive traffic to your website, increasing your chances of converting visitors into customers.
The temptation will be to focus your attention on your bestsellers, but do remember that other less popular items may also bring visitors to your website so they deserve as much tender and loving care. Niche items that sell little in quantities but have a high value may well prove to be the most profitable to your business. So when it comes to ecommerce, every page deserves the same attention.
Even once products are discontinued, they can still impact your ranking positively. Adding keywords in the website code that are invisible to humans but visible to web crawlers in order to boost your position is highly frowned upon and may end up damaging your online reputation and even get you blacklisted. On the other hand, keeping an item on your website as ‘out of stock’ is perfectly legitimate from an SEO point of view and your site will still benefit from the traffic driven by it.
So even if your margin on products sold online is smaller than when sold offline, an eshop may still be a worthwhile investment as it will contribute to your search engine optimisation strategy and will ultimately strengthen your business.