When I first start working with a new client I always ask them to list two or three ecommerce sites they really like. This serves two functions: so I can get an idea of my client’s tastes, and also to give me something to fire my imagination when I’m coming up with design concepts. Interestingly I’ve noticed of late that there is one ecommerce site that gets cited more than any other as something businesses aspire to emulate – John Lewis (www.johnlewis.com).
What is it that makes this site so good? Why is this site held up more than the sites of the other high street brands as an example of how to do great ecommerce? Here are my thoughts on the matter.
The most prominent feature on the site is the ‘mega-menu’ – the main … READ MORE
There are three things that are essential to make your site work.
There’s no point having a presence up on the web and not telling anyone about it. It’s like holding a party, but not sending out any invitations.
Visibility is key – if you’re not seen, you may as well not exist.
There are two parts to visibility.
Normal (Offline) Marketing – No-one understands your customers better than you do. What Random River can do is help you with ideas about how to reach them and to provide incentives for them to visit your site. Traditional marketing methods such as magazine advertising, direct mail and roadshows are proven to be as successful, if not more successful, than promotion purely through the internet.
Online Marketing – Search engines are free to be listed in, but the amount of effort … READ MORE
In the last article we met a customer of mine with an online gift shop idea that was doomed to fail before it even got off the ground. In that article I talked about the mistake he made trying to sell lots of different types of products on one website.
Sadly for him, that was not his only mistake…
A Difficult Question
“Who are your target customers?” I asked.
He looked at me blankly. I tried rephrasing the question.
“What sort of people do you think will be shopping at your store?”
“Well… Everyone”, he replied proudly, “everyone needs gifts don’t they? And my gifts are brilliant.”
He is no longer trading.
Find A Need And Meet It
You see, the problem with most startup ecommerce businesses is that they are terribly excited about what they are planning … READ MORE
Originally published here: http://blog.postcodeanywhere.co.uk/index.php/common-ecommerce-mistakes-1-get-niche-or-get-out/
One of the most common mistakes new online businesses make is trying to sell too many different kinds of things.
Last year I sat down with a lovely chap in his fifties who had an idea for an online business that he was really excited about, and he wanted me to help make his dream a reality. He had spent the last six months going round craft fairs and trade shows looking for unique and unusual gifts that weren’t available on the high street and he was going to create an online store that offered them all to the public.
“Great” I said, “So what sorts of products are you selling?”
“All sorts” he replied. And he wasn’t kidding. He had a selection of beautiful environmentally friendly candles, a range of cute animal slippers for kids, … READ MORE
In last month’s blog post I talked about how you can influence how relevant search engines think you are by tweaking the content of your site pages.
I gave you some simple things to look at that were well within your control and will have a real positive effect.
This month, however, is where search engine optimisation gets ugly.
Get Into The Mind of Google
You see, the content on your page is only half the picture.
Imagine you are Google for a minute and Mrs. Jones approaches you and asks you to recommend a shop selling cakes in Bristol. You, as Google, want to make sure that the recommendation you give Mrs. Jones is of the highest possible quality so she will come back to you again next time.
So you have a look and you find three … READ MORE
Originally Published Here
Search Engine Optimisation is such a massive turn-off for most businesses. What I hear all the time from my clients is that it’s confusing, it’s highly technical, it takes a huge amount of effort, there’s conflicting information out there about how to do it and no matter how hard you work at it, there will always be some other competitor out there doing it better.
This is an attempt to cut through a lot of the waffle and jargon. More importantly, it should give you a few things to work on with your websites that will actually move you up the search engine results over time.
Relevance is Everything
Let’s start by going back to what Search Engine Optimisation is trying to achieve. We know it’s all about getting you as high as possible on search engine … READ MORE
If you’ve been following the story so far (here and here) you’ll see that so far in Actinic Online I’ve come up with a straightforward but attractive design I think is achievable, and also worked out how to get at the CSS of the site to start implementing some custom fonts, colours, graphics and backgrounds.
Next job was to add in a top menu, a sidebar menu and a footer menu. Unsurprisingly, to get at these you go to ‘Site > Menus > All Menus’
Configuring menus in Actinic Online is a neat distillation of everything that is great, and everything that is frustrating, about Actinic Online.
It’s great because it’s so intuitive to add an item to any menu in the design. Simply highlight an existing menu item and a little pop-up menu comes up within … READ MORE
Having come up with a design I think would work in Actinic Online (original article is here if you haven’t seen it) the next job was to get access to the design options in Actinic Online and start playing.
If you are doing a custom design, you can start in one of two places. Either you can start with a ‘SmartSkin’ or you can just pick a static ‘Site Design’.
It is quite good fun to play with Actinic Online’s SmartSkin editor ( go to ‘Site > Site Design > Modify’ then click the ‘Use a Smart Skins Design’ link). This bit of Actinic Online is intuitive and well presented (and therefore has clearly been written by different developers than the rest of the software…) You can use to change the colours and sizes of all the main … READ MORE
Where To Begin?
There is nothing like having a real customer to help focus the mind on learning a new bit of software.
No, let me rephrase that.
There’s nothing like there being money involved to help focus the mind on learning a new bit of software.
When a customer approached me wanting to use Actinic Online for their online store, I had only really spent about 5 minutes clicking round the demo store vaguely seeing how it all fitted together. Now I had to properly learn it and implement a site using it.
The first challenge was coming up with a proposal and a price for the project. As I really didn’t know yet what I was going to be able to achieve design-wise, my first job was to figure out the layout options there were in Actinic … READ MORE
Originally posted here – http://blog.postcodeanywhere.co.uk/index.php/using-twitter-for-business/
Twitter can be an incredibly powerful business tool.
You can use it to encourage loyalty with your current customers, and also connect to brand new people who you would never have reached before Twitter.
Which sounds marvellous in theory, but there’s no denying that it’s also a tricky medium to get your head around.
If you read my last article, you’ll already have set yourself up with a Twitter account and started following a few people. The next step is to engage with Twitter meaningfully and effectively in a way that’ll gain customers and drive sales.
The ultimate goal on Twitter is to get as many relevant people subscribing to (or ‘following’) your messages as you can. With more followers you have a larger ready-made audience for your news and promotions, and you also … READ MORE