Top electronic commerce tips

Six ways to ensure your business profits from the internet

ACHIEVING success in e-commerce is not easy. Here are six key points to consider when building an effective e-commerce strategy.

1. USE A GOOD ANALYTICS TOOL
Before embarking on any new marketing or design changes, ensure you can measure the impact. Even basic knowledge of packages, such as Google Analytics, is enough to determine whether a campaign is having the desired effect on your bottom line.

2. MEASURE PERFORMANCE
Create Key Performance Indicator (KPI) document trends on a monthly basis – it will reassure you that nothing is broken. Make a spreadsheet mapping out online analytics, alongside total organisation revenue, inbound calls, email subscriptions and catalogue requests. Look at the growth year-on-year to identify any opportunities. It will also provide a platform to forecast ahead.

3. KEEP AN EYE ON TRAFFIC
It sounds basic, but there is a direct relationship between visits and revenue. So break down existing traffic and revenue sources by marketing channels such as pay-per-click (PPC), search engine optimisation (SEO), emails, affiliates and direct marketing. You’ll quickly see what’s failing, what needs focus and potential quick wins. From my experience, a balanced approach to online marketing should contribute 25 per cent revenues from PPC, 25 per cent from SEO, 20 per cent from emails, 20 per cent from affiliates and 10 per cent from direct traffic.

4. LEVERAGE AGENCIES
Online marketing agencies can be seen as necessary evils. However, when managed closely, they can unlock some major opportunities – after all, they are the experts. Share existing analytics, KPIs and growth forecasts, then ask them to map out what has been spent to date, its measurable effect and exactly how they would improve these results in the next 12 months. Aim to have a strategy for each of the marketing channels – it will take the pain out of the dreaded process of business planning.

5. QUESTION A COMPLETE REDESIGN
The look and feel of a website comes up every year as something to review – and it’s practically impossible to satisfy everyone. Key questions must include: How much is the site generating? What is the average order value (AOV)? Is it converting new consumers? If the answers to all these are positive, the site probably needs some minor cosmetic work rather than a complete facelift.

6. CHECK OUT THE CHECKOUT
One area that may need careful attention is the checkout process. A simple way of evaluating yours is to benchmark it against the big boys. John Lewis spends fortunes achieving the optimum checkout process, which is then programmed into the consumers’ mindset. Compare all aspects to give you an idea of whether improvements can be made. Why reinvent the wheel?

Leon Hughes is former director of e-commerce at Maximuscle. He recently joined Piper www.piperprivateequity.com