Today we welcome Charlotte Marchand from our partner agency 202 ecommerce, who will give us some tips for applying the Lean Start Up entrepreneurial strategy to a retail site.
You have an eCommerce idea and you’ve decided to take action. Congratulations!
Creating an eCommerce site
You’ve probably started looking for a partner or agency who is ready to listen, deliver your site on time and accompany your business development.
When it comes to the budget that you need to allocate to your online store, the answers vary.
If you have a small budget, PrestaShop includes native features essential for online sales and offers numerous layout themes and additional modules ready for purchase. In other words: however unique your project may be, if your technical needs are standard, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel!
If you have a larger budget, you may be interested in looking at designing your own layout. It must be responsive to all screens and able to outlast any fleeting trends, unless you have budgeted for yearly graphic design updates.
On the other hand, if, for one reason or another (business model, brand universe, ERP/API connection, etc.), you want to boost PrestaShop’s native operations, the CMS remains an excellent base but these custom developments could send significantly increase the resources needed. For custom modules and a personalized graphic design, allocate a larger budget.
Basically, it’s important to allocate budget depending on whether your priority is a flexible, customized or controlled store.
That’s only the start
At 202 ecommerce, we meet dozens of entrepreneurs each year. If there’s one thing to note, it’s that a project’s success is not correlated to the budget invested in creating the site. Instead, the key to success lies more in the reputation and traffic acquisition strategy and how the entrepreneur manages performance criteria.
It is therefore imperative to plan for a marketing budget at launch and throughout your e-commerce project’s life. Once you create your online store, your obsession needs to be: traffic, traffic, traffic, and conversion.
For this, you could hypothesize and test the best split between paid search engine advertising and natural search engine optimization (SEO) for your business. Remember, though, that search engine indexation of your site’s pages only establishes your SEO ranking after 2 months.
Some paid actions can be excellent ways to cover the initial gap in natural SEO. You can think of them as entryways into the purchase tunnel. A good example is Adwords (purchasing keywords), and purchasing qualified prospect databases (pay attention to the database’s quality and the relevance of your email!). These should be put in place upstream to help generate traffic.
The next actions you’ll take will be to return actions to the purchase tunnel. In other words, a user visited your site without purchasing, and you’re looking to bring them back: retargeting/remarketing - if they created an account - or sending a promotional code are both actions that could help bring about a first conversion.
Finally, loyalty building actions will help you bring your customers back for a second conversion and help develop your community of ambassadors. They will take it upon themselves to speak well of you in your place: send a newsletter, put in place referrals, invite them to exclusive events, etc.
The projects that we see gaining success usually have a marketing budget that is greater than the budget allocated for creating the site. Whether it’s for a niche eCommerce site, an eCommerce site in the luxury sector, or a project whose main audience can be found on Facebook, you will have to invest a something. In other words, implement a growth strategy before moving to a profitability strategy later on.
As a consequence, the question you should ask yourself to limit spending on store creation and maximize your marketing budget is the following: What is the priority? What features are inherent to your project and what options can be changed later on?
The strategy we recommend is better known as the Minimum Viable Product (MVP), a central pillar in the Lean Start Up entrepreneurial strategy. This working method consists of launching iterative project loops. Start by launching a simple version of your idea. Don't give in to the temptation of adding all the great, and perhaps superfluous, features that you have imagined. Verify that your idea appeals to your market, listen to it and adapt. In this way, you will work in short, iterative cycles: test, learn, change...and start over again.
For example, you can contact your first customers and ask them what they were looking for on your site, why they came and their overall experience. Visitors who did not convert will also be a source of relevant information, so don't hesitate to ask them to share their point of view. Approach these contacts without prejudice or preconceptions and listen objectively. Neutral individuals outside of your friends and family are often a good source of improvements. You can decide to implement certain improvements in your V2, monitor your key performance indicators, and confirm these changes or not in your V3.
This method not only lets you launch sooner, but also better meet your users’ needs. By seeking their feedback, you will likely find needs, expectations and wants that you hadn’t identified before. So set aside the stylish features that you had in mind and first satisfy your users. Don't be that entrepreneur with a great idea whose project “didn't find its market.”
PrestaShop is ideal for MVP. The technology is easy to implement, adaptable and has a great number of feature extensions (through add-on modules).
Location, location, location
If commercial real estate professionals have one obsession, it’s location! A magnificent store at the end of a dead-end street won't bring in many customers.
The same reasoning applies to the internet: it is imperative that you attract visitors to take part in the game. An online store, even with great features or design, will not generate any “natural” traffic. Instead of advanced features, make sure you have a customer journey and user experience that is state of the art, and highlight relevant information. Then, when sales take off, you will have the room to improve your store.
202 ecommerce is a platinum PrestaShop agency for over 5 years. Made up of 21 experienced and passionate employees in e-commerce, 202 manages the creation, redesign, and migration for your online store. 202 is also the publisher for Addon modules and major accounts modules such as eBay, PayPal, Leetchi, and Payplug.
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