Between April 2020 and April 2021, FMCG sales maintained an average growth of 79%. (NielsenIQ) Launching an online store is therefore a wise strategy to increase sales while reaching new markets.
Today, we’d like to share the five steps you need to take to create your online store. Be sure to take notes, because we’ve covered it all!
With these 5 steps in mind, you’ll be in a better position identify the resources, time, costs and tasks required to create your platform.
1. Plan your strategy and determine your objectives
You are most likely eager to send out your first orders, but before creating your online store, you first need to plan.
By taking the time to reflect upon your needs and objectives, you will be better prepared to evaluate your logistical requirements and to reach your customers more efficiently afterwards.
Determine your objectives
Your goals are directly linked to your operations management and logistics. By determining your objectives early on, you ensure that you are well organized to meet consumer demand.
- How many units do you expect to sell per day?
You will need to adjust your production capacity based on this number.
- How many shipments do you plan to make per day, week or month?
This will affect your inventory management, storage space requirements and your choice of delivery supplier.
- How many transactions do you expect to make per day?
This number will help you determine how much you need to invest in marketing and paid media to go after those transactions.
- What is your target margin?
You will be able to evaluate how much of your product margin you are willing to invest to acquire new consumers.
- What will be the value of the average shopping basket?
Think about how much the average shopping cart should be worth to absorb shipping costs, and what products you can offer your customers to increase their bill.
Of course, the goals you set at the outset will only be an estimate; they will obviously evolve over time. The purpose of this exercise is simply to help you better organize and structure your marketing investments.
Identify your target market
You need to know exactly who you want to sell your products to. This will allow you to adapt your tone, the content of your messages as well as your communication channels in order to reach your target audience in the most effective way possible.
We invite you to think about the socio-demographic characteristics of your target audience, such as age, gender, marital status, income or geographic location, but also about psychographic characteristics, such as lifestyle, needs and interests in order to better understand the motivations behind their buying behaviour.
To help you define your target audience, we suggest you build a persona, a typical profile of your ideal customer.
Identify your unique value proposition
Your unique value proposition is your brand promise, the experience you offer to users, the so-called USP. It allows you to clearly identify what makes you unique in order to help the consumer make a choice.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine your unique value proposition:
– What sets you apart from the competition?
– What features of your company and your product make you unique?
– What need do you fill?
– What experience do you provide to your consumers?
Once you’ve found your unique value proposition, you’ll need to communicate it as often as possible, at every touchpoint with your consumers.
2. Choose the right platform
More and more platforms are now available, which doesn’t make the choice any easier. In this case, there is no single solution. Your perfect platform will be the one that best suits your needs, whether in terms of budget, design or functionality.
Here are some things to consider when evaluating different suppliers:
- Budget: how much are you willing to invest to develop your platform, or to pay each month for a subscription?
- Level of knowledge and comfort with computers: will you need the services of a developer or do you prefer to manage everything in-house?
- Content quality: how many pages a month will you publish online?
- Degree of customization and flexibility: would you rather choose a turnkey model or build something completely new?
- Included features: is it important to you to have a chatbot, integrated inventory manager or any other functionality?
- Compatibility and integration with your tools: is the platform compatible with your CRM, inventory management software and other tools?
- Number of transactions per day: Depending on your daily number of transactions, one provider’s services may be cheaper than another.
Next, it is important to know that there are two main families of platforms: software and software packages and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).
Software and packages
Software and packages are highly customizable platforms that must be developed by professionals. They are generally recommended for large companies, which have the resources to build the site in-house or hire an external developer.
Because they are custom designed, software and packages allow for a flexible and scalable platform with a wide variety of modules. They also offer more control over the site and have little or no recurring costs.
However, the initial cost for the development of the platform is usually quite high. Hosting and maintenance are not included, either. Finally, this type of platform offers little technical support to its customers. If a problem does arise, you will have to seek help from the community that uses the same platform as you, either on professional groups or forums.
Examples of software and software packages: WooCommerce, Magento, PrestaShop, etc.
SaaS, on the other hand, are easy-to-use turnkey solutions that are more suited to the needs of small businesses.
You just have to choose the theme (template) that suits you and then the deployment is very easy. The cost of the subscription varies according to the package chosen and includes hosting, the security certificate and site maintenance. Most of these providers also offer a good technical support to customers. They will be able to help you if ever you encounter problems with your platform.
A downside to SaaS is that it makes customers dependent. Since the entire platform is in the same ecosystem, the features you can integrate on your site will be limited to those offered by the provider.
SaaS examples: Shopify, WizShop, Wix, Panierdachat, etc.
3. Improve the user experience
Once you have chosen a platform, you need to think about the design and organization of the content on your site to make navigation simple and enjoyable.
Here are some tips to follow.
Create a simple, modern design with easy-to-read text
A professional-looking site is a sign of credibility for consumers. Also, favour a minimalist look by avoiding too much colour, movement and text. Information that is important to the visitor should be visible at first glance.
Structure the information clearly
Divide your products into categories for easy navigation and provide a clear menu. Also, never forget the three-click rule, which states that users should find the information they need in three clicks or less.
Optimise your site for mobile
Of all purchases made online, 72.9% are made on a mobile device (Oberlo). So make sure the navigation is mobile-friendly by having a responsive, mobile-first or adaptive site.
Even if your content structure is clear, visitors are likely to have questions about your products or delivery. Be proactive by adding help content to your site, such as explainer videos or an FAQ page, and by integrating a chatbot to chat live with users.
Don’t skimp on photo quality
Don’t hesitate to call on the services of a professional to obtain quality photos. This is especially important in food photography, where poor lighting or staging can make a food look unappetizing. Make sure you have several photos for each product, with different angles and uses.
Don’t forget to secure your site by adding an SSL certificate (HTTPS). It will protect your data, increase the confidence of your site visitors and improve your search engine ranking (Google always favours secure sites).
In addition, Google displays a very alarming warning message to visitors wishing to access an unsecured site. This will make you lose a few points in user experience!
4. Optimise for web referencing
When developing your online shop, you need to think about organic search engine optimisation (SEO) from the very beginning. Every page and every image is an opportunity to move you up the list of search results on Google and thus attract more traffic to your shop.
Include relevant keywords in each product sheet and category page
Take the time to write relevant descriptions that include a specific keyword for each product listing and category page. You can identify the most searched keywords on search engines with tools like Google Keyword Planner (free) or SEMRush (paid).
Include a blog
A blog is a great way to position yourself on more relevant keywords while creating value-added content for your customers. Research the most frequently asked questions in search engines and produce articles that answer those questions (e.g., recipes, nutrition tips, food storage tips, etc.).
Showcase customer reviews
Collect customer reviews directly on your website and on your Google My Business page. Google will recommend you more if you have good reviews and ratings.
Reduce loading time by optimising images
Optimising your images is a good way to improve the loading speed of your site. You can, for example, reduce the weight of your images (they should not exceed 100 Kb) and make sure that the dimensions correspond exactly to the format of the site (they should not be larger).
5. Optimise for conversion
Of course, the aim is not just to attract visitors to your online shop. You also want people to buy something!
The conversion rate is the percentage of visitors to your site who make a purchase. In the food and beverage industry, the average conversion rate is around 2.37% (Growcode). Here are some tips on how to achieve this figure and even exceed it.
Improve the check-out process
Your goal is to eliminate all possible friction points between the moment a customer decides to buy a product and the moment they complete the transaction. So simplify each step as much as possible by giving customers visibility into their shopping cart, offering multiple payment methods, and offering people the option of completing the transaction with a “guest” account, for those who don’t want to register.
Offer free delivery
73% of people are more likely to buy a product if the delivery is free (Statista). Need we say more? So get out your calculators and find out how much it pays to offer free delivery to your customers.
Cross-sell and up-sell
Cross-selling and upselling are two strategies for increasing the value of the shopping basket. In the first case, you offer the customer to buy a complementary product to the one they have already chosen. For example, if you sell cake mixes, you could offer the customer to complete their purchase with a frosting that would go well with the mix they have already put in their shopping cart. In the second case, you offer a more expensive version of the product. For example, if a customer buys a jar of frosting, you could suggest that they buy the larger size to save money.
Create effective product sheets
Product sheets must be concise and effective, but also attractive to make the consumer want to add the product to their daily routine. They should contain the following elements:
- Several professional quality images, showing the product from different angles and in different settings
- A short paragraph of inspirational text, telling a story and leading the user to visualise a scenario in which they use the product
- A bulleted list with practical product details (e.g., ingredients, weight, dimensions, etc.)
In the food industry especially, traceability and transparency are very important. Do not hesitate to inform the consumer about the origin of your ingredients, the impact of their production on the environment and the conditions under which they were produced.
Feel ready to launch your online shop?
Of course, the work will not stop once your platform is online. You will also need to successfully attract new customers to your site.
In our next blog post, we’ll share everything you need to develop a profitable and effective customer acquisition strategy. Stay tuned!