9 Mistakes Every eCommerce Company Makes – eCommerce Toronto Meetup

We hosted another great meetup in the MaRS Commons last night with Nathan Monk (@cowboytweets) taking us through a great presentation by General Assembly on the “9 Mistakes Every eCommerce Company Makes“. We had another packed house, with some great discussion and debate over the critical elements that every eCommerce professional must think about in order to be successful in the digital world.

Below are some notes from our discussion. For our presentation the slides are only sent out to those who attended. If you’re interested in joining our Meetup Group please visit our group page and request to join: www.meetup.com/eCommerceToronto

9 Mistakes Every eCommerce Company Makes

1. Site Design

The Blood Metric: Visits x Conversion Rate x Average Order Value = Revenue

Key Metric you should be tracking
– Use it as a base metric
– If visits are down, it’s going to affect your conversion rate

Great Analytic Tools
– Can start with Google Analytics, RJ Metrics, Mixed Panel
– 3 great resources to use and get started with
– All very strong analytics platforms

“I need more revenue, therefore I need more visits”
– Not the right statement
– Conversion rate is always important
– Design is important, when someone lands on your site, why is it special? What would make YOU purchase? How do you navigate?

Navigation and Checkout
– We create a lot of confusion for customers
– Multiple messages as you check out, almost spam like
– Too many options
– Should always be about design, and flow
– Include things that are only useful when you need them!
– The NextWeb did Best Design Trends for 2013, great resource

Big No No’s of eCommerce:
– Where is the navigation bar?
– How do I buy?
– Where’s the sizing chart?
– Where do I go?
– * If your customers are asking themselves these questions, your eCommerce will suffer. You need to have very crisp and clear navigation, but that gets out of the way when you don’t need it. (eg. to decrease distractions when customers are in the checkout process)

Ted TalkParadox of Choice
– Study in a grocery store, the more SKUs you have the less revenue you generate
– eCommerce is going in this direction – having more product is not necessarily better!
– Limited Choice can actually increase revenues
– This can be applied back to retail and you can take that idea/strategy/wireframe concept for your eCommerce site
– However, things can be affected by culture eg. internationalization of sites
– Turns out in Japan, apparently more is nice. When we, here in North America, might think too many products is visual clutter, it is expected in some Asian countries!

Take action! Measure and monitor your sites:
– Conversion Rates
Bad <1.0%
Better 1.0%-1.5%
Best >1.5%
– Abandonment Rate
Cart -> Checkout
Checkout -> Completion
– Bounce/Exit Rate

A/B Testing
– Great way to see what changes affect conversion
– Our VP of Strategy, Jamie Schreter at Demac Media gave a great webinar, watch it here:

2. Content

Why is content so important?
– We’re bombarded with about 65,000 messages a week
– Brand is becoming more and more important
The Brand Gap = great book on how to differentiate yourself from your trademark, messaging and content on site.
– There are a lot of tools that you can use to test your brand
– Start by asking questions:
1. Who are you? Why should you matter to your client?
2. Your brand is never what you say it is, it’s what your customers say!
3. Is your brand a resource? Is it trustworthy?

Thoughts on URLs?
– Have a relevant name or random one like Amazon?
– What does the name Amazon have to do with books?
– Depends on strategy: old school vs new way
– Eg. Moo.com for business cards. What?
Domize – you can go on and get various variations of URLs
– .com feels legit, real, people trust that
– However every dollar counts as a startup, don’t spend thousands of dollars to acquire the .com for your business, take that money you would have spent and use it to promote the URL you have

3. Photography

Truth about eCommerce
– People don’t buy products they buy pictures
– What you look at might dictate the type of customer you attract
– eg. Clean sharp site vs cheap looking. Good clean navigation might not always be the right fit for your customer
– How do you get quality sales? It all comes down to user experience and how your target market will react to your site!
– Eg. Costco – not complicated, very on brand, they do a crazy amount of business and it’s very basic, but it speaks to their customer. Their customer doesn’t want anything complicated.

Best Practices for Photograhy & eCommerce
– Bigger is better!
– The only thing more important than product shots is the button!
– Branded is better
– Use photos to explain why you’re selling it in the first place

4. Search

– Search accounts for 50% of traffic to MaRS’s eCommerce startup community and 50% of their revenue
– You can increase your ROI by 300% with proper SEO/SEM

Marketing Resources:
Marketing.grader.com – put in your URL and its spits out how well you attract, keep and grow traffic
Google Trends

5. Email

Stay in touch with your best customers
– Personalization is key
– Once a week, relevant, targeted, personalization
– Always measure
– 30% of brands don’t track their email marketing performance
– Look at metrics (Eg. Open rates, click through rates)
– Eg. Amazon sends triggered, targeted emails (next sell, cross sell, up sell)
– Eg. Anthropology uses content to engage

Best Practices for Email
– Clear Call to action
– You have to tell the customer what to do!
– A/B Testing
– Optimize for Mobile

6. Social

What isn’t Social?
– It’s not email
– It’s not about volume
– It’s not about you

What is Social?
– It’s about engaging your users and giving them relevant imagery and content that makes them want to share
– It’s about joining the conversation
– Getting in the minds of users and speaking their language
– Quick response times are key!! Be proactive
– Ask yourself… would you share it yourself?
– If you’re trying to get people to share things, make it matter!
– Maintain your brand voice, need to resonate with your customers

7. Advertising

– Underrated
– It’s a great tool to reach customers
– Initiates sales, creates awareness, and creates a larger fan base
–  Click through rates are very low, like 0.02% but you can target very specifically

Keep them coming back with Retargeting
– Retargeting is a targeted form of display advertising that shows banner ads only to people who have previously visited your site.
– You can segment by product category or even items in the cart
– 98% of visitors to an eCommerce site don’t convert on their first visit
– Retargeted customers are about 70% more likely to complete a purchase

Affiliate Marketing
– Link share, commission junction, encourage publishers to send traffic to your site
– eg. FAB uses it, Jack Threads etc.
– Develop partnerships! Provide publishers with display ads, text links, and product listings
– Negotiate commission rates and custom promotions to incentivize publishers and drive best results
– A strong affiliate program results in increased inbound links to your site which improves your SEO

8. Mobile

Mobile is on the rise
– People are reading everything on devices
– Retail is leading the charge with mobile
– It’s all on one screen now, you’re not focusing on just one, it’s all related and inter-connected

Mobile Web vs Mobile Apps
– One of the only times it makes sense to build an app is when you need to access the camera on your customers device
– If not, then optimize for mobile web and make shopping easier on devices!
– No need to pour $ into making an app that only gets used for a limited time, it’s not sustainable
– 72% of smartphone owners want brands to offer a mobile optimized site, and they also prefer shopping or mobile sites over mobile apps

9. Analytics

Best Practices
– Determine your KPIs
– Establish Normacy (Eg. daily, weekly, monthly numbers)
– Expect exceptions – if something deviates above/below, understand why
– Running a store without analytics is like flying blind
– Track KPI and growth trends
Trello – management dashboard system, consolidates key metrics
– Make metrics easy to interpret, share and use!
– Having visually appealing metrics is important, but highlight what is going up and down, and why