October 7, 2014

eCommerce Best Practices: The Three Things You Need to Succeed in Online Business

As commerce moves online, brick-and-mortar stores are beginning to realize that establishing an eCommerce presence will make the difference between sinking and swimming. The electrical industry has long been aware of the looming shadow of large online retail giants like Amazon and Grainger. However, despite the fact that people are changing the way they shop, they have not changed the way they want to feel when they shop; customers still desire the personal and knowledgeable experience they are accustomed to receiving when walking into a physical shop. In this three-part series, we will walk through three essential components of a successful eCommerce site: the customer experience, your website’s engine, and the data. Each piece is equally important in the creation of a thriving site that will bring results and help your company succeed in the 21st century.

1. The Customer Experience

When approaching eCommerce, it is tempting to create a site configuration that best suits your business needs, while design takes a backseat. In reality, however, focus should be directed to developing a front-end site that makes the most sense to your customer. The hard work that goes into creating an attractive and easy-to-navigate site will pay off.  

According to Business Insider, the average person will stay on a webpage for less than a minute. If your eCommerce site is not customer-friendly, you’re unlikely to hold visitors’ attention past that 60-second mark and even less likely to encourage repeat visitors. In the first article of this series, we will explore several best practices for creating a seamless and intuitive customer experience through your eCommerce site. 

2. The Engine

A good-looking car is worthless without an engine to get you anywhere, and the same logic applies to online sales. Along with an intuitive and attractive eCommerce site, an efficient, dynamic and compatible engine is essential. This is, perhaps, the most important component to be sure you handle correctly from the start. Creating a backend that both works best for your company and allows for regular updates to be made to the customer-facing side will be important. In our second article, we will review features you should be sure to include when setting up the actual mechanics behind your eCommerce site.

3. The Data

Neither a well-designed website nor a solid engine will matter much, however, if the products you have on display aren’t what your customers are looking for. Or perhaps your customers will find what the items they are looking for, but those items are missing information needed to make a purchase decision. To make your site function at its best, you must ensure that you present: the right selection of items (breadth); all necessary product and pricing details for those items (depth); and a consistently correct set of information (accuracy).

In this third and final article, we will feature recommended steps for both manufacturers and distributors to follow when providing data and what data to look for when populating your own site. We will review some new IDEA initiatives, such as the Data Certification Program and the IDW for Manufacturers Support Program, which highlight the role standards play in providing the highest quality data available in the industry. Along with this, we will explore tools available to manufacturers and distributors to help ensure their success in providing high-quality data.

You will find that all three of these essential components will require the collaboration of your entire team. Creating an eCommerce site is not just a project for the IT crew – it must be a project in which Marketing, IT, Product Management and executives all play a part. Moving forward in eCommerce must be an organization-wide initiative, and we hope that this series of articles gives you actionable items to point your team in the right direction for success.