My brother has also decided that he wanted to go make an e-commerce website and I was ready to help him out. He said that he wanted a website that specialised in themed childrens birthday parties and wanted to sell ready-made party favours and decorations. There will also be an option to pre-order some themed birthday cakes for the party and provide some assistance to book with affiliated venues.
Since he was planning a very ambitious website, we had to put together a solid business plan first. While he does have a lot of experience running a business, having graduated as a business major from our local university, he has little experience with e-commerce in general. He is a bit of a traditionalist in the beginning but realized that there is a lot of potential in selling products online.
So, I had to give him several tips to help him build up his website:
Make your website beautiful
When it comes to children’s parties and party websites in general, people tend to slap on some bright colours and comic sans and call it a day. Many think that since the website is for children, if it is good enough for a child, it should be okay.
However, when it comes to themed parties, your real target audience are the parents, and not the children themselves. They are the ones who are organizing and spending for the party, and chances are, they are the ones coming up with the theme too. So make sure that your website is absolutely beautiful – get a professional graphic designer and programmer.
Optimise your website for mobile platforms
Nowadays, us e-commerce vendors have to take into account that 60% of internet traffic now comes from mobile devices such as tablets and cellphones. To access this market, your website should be optimised for mobile platforms.
Pictures, pictures, pictures!
Parents want to see what kind of products they will be receiving for their children’s birthday bash so make sure that you put up professionally shot pictures of the products. They should be attractive and well-lit.
Allow searches and category sorting
You should allow parents to search through your catalogue and sort things according to varying categories. For example, if they want a science themed birthday party, you should include searches such as a space themed party, a chemistry party, a dinosaur party, and so on and so forth. Your website should be easy to navigate and provide as much help as possible to the site visitor.
Needless to say, my brother’s party website was a success. He just released his party app last month too, and bought me a cup of coffee as thanks for my help.
When I started in the eCommerce business, I mostly started storing my supplies in my garage. It worked for a while and I felt that I could pretty much go without having to pay for extra storage space. However, as my business grew, the volume of my products increased.
I now had boxes and boxes stacked ceiling high inside my garage, and I barely had space to even park my car! Worst of all, it made retrieval extremely difficult. Someone would purchase an item on my website only for me to discover that it is at the bottom box at the very back of my garage.
What makes things worse is that I cannot keep track of all the items that I had, so I would mark something as “out of stock” only to find available stocks weeks later.
I decided to start improving my storage space capacity so that I can improve my eCommerce business. I needed to invest in smarter storage solutions so that I can increase my output and prevent losses.
Invest in vertical storage solutions
Since I had limited storage for now, I decided to make use of vertical storage solutions so that I can maximize my space. The ceiling of my garage is pretty high, so I installed some mezz flooring for more space.
The mezzanine flooring pretty much doubled the floor space of my garage, and even though it was a little cramped, I managed to make use of the vertical space.
I also invested in high quality warehouse shelving, so that I can easily organize and lift items in and out of storage.
Invest in nesting or stacking boxes
You can find hundreds of different boxes that nest on top of each other. These boxes are meant to be stacked and can hold a considerable amount of weight. When I started out, I did not use plastic nesting boxes and relied on the cardboard shipping boxes instead.
The stacking boxes saved me a lot of storage space, because they fit perfectly on top of each other while maintaining their integrity.
Make use of prime real estate
When it comes to storage solutions, you should always take note of prime real estate. In this case, it is often the area between eye level and knee level – in other words, the places on the shelves that are quick and easy to reach.
I usually put my best selling items in prime real estate so that I can easily shift them in and out of storage when needed.
I also make sure that heavy items are shelved on the bottom parts of the shelves with lighter items at the top. This will reduce the load on my shelving and decrease the chances of damaging my products in case they topple over.
E-commerce is booming in a way that simply was not possible a couple years back. The internet has become a safer place for those looking to buy items online, with more secure transactions and better delivery services.
Like most people who become owners of their own buy and sell businesses online, I made sure that I found my niche first. Your success online as a virtual store owner relies entirely on whether you can hold a niche or not.
After all, not everyone can turn itself into a huge online mall that sells everything and anything – it may take some time and a lot of trial and error before you become a huge e-commerce site like Amazon.
Instead, you are more likely to be successful if you focus on niche marketing instead. In our example, I will use dog food. If you want to start an online website that sells dog food, you will need to go above and beyond your competition in order to be successful.
Check if there is a demand
The key to niche marketing is finding a balance between wants and actual demand. Take dog food for example: you may sell the best dog food around but find that few are willing to pay for high end, designer pet food in gourmet varieties.
Instead, you can find your niche in the organic market for dog food: owners who are willing to pay a bit more to keep their pooches happy and healthy, but not so much so that it will put them in debt. You will need to cater to your niche without being too exclusive as this will only hurt business.
Find a product line with a low product turn over
Some products are fad items that may sell a lot now, but end up in the bargain bin once demand dwindles. Do not waste money and resources on a product that has a high turn over rate – you will only use up precious capital for a product that will cost you more to stock rather than to sell.
Sell products that are difficult to find locally
The thing about e-commerce is that most people turn to online shopping if they cannot find a product locally. After all, why spend for organic dog food and pay extra for shipping if you can just pick one up from the supermarket?
It is therefore imperative that you provide high quality products that will not be found anywhere else. In our pet food example, you should choose high quality ingredients for your dog food.
Invest organic, cruelty-free nutrition and have a respected authority figure back you up. You will need to prove that your product is what it is. It should be something that cannot be found just anywhere.
When deciding on the layout of a new website that you have been planning, there are a plethora of options to choose from.
It is my belief that user experience should always come first, above and beyond the need to please Google so that you stand a chance of ranking well in their search engine.
Unfortunately, having a site that ranks well in Google whilst still easy to use and navigate for humans is often a difficult balance to get right.
Luckily, when it comes to local lead generation sites (and I have built a few of those in my time), they can be much simpler and do not require as much content to rank well in Google. See, Google wants to see a LOT of content in order to rank you well in their search engine.
And often, a lot of content is what will often put users off checking out a website.
Consider this for yourself, if you land on a website about Golf as you are looking for a couple of tips before you hit the links and the website has 5,000 words of content – it’s just too much and too overwhelming.
These days, humans prefer short and concise bite-sized snippets of information that we can digest quickly and move on – just consider Twitter.
Which is why local lead generation sites are nice, the competition is less meaning we don’t need thousands of words of content to rank well in Google.
Therefore, we can concentrate more on the user experience and just offer the visitor what they want.
Here is a sample site called Locksmiths United that delivers the point pretty perfectly.
So as you can see, this is a nice and simple web design layout that converts very well I’m sure (I don’t own this site). And as I said above, we don’t need a ton of text as this niche market is not all that competitive and this site sits happily on page 1 of Google.
So here is my checklist for that perfect local lead generation web design:
1. Have a custom logo which you can get from Fiverr for five bucks.
2. Have a call to action phone number in the top right (people are used to seeing this now so will expect it)
3. Ensure you have a web form so you can capture email leads. I recommend Get Response for this.
4. Have some text that pushes the benefit of the local service.
5. Squeaze on some testimonials if you have them.
In short, not too much text and have the above 5 items will get you a nice looking website that converts in to leads very nicely for you or your client.