How can your small retailer get involved in ecommerce for the first time?

Piranha Designs - Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Some of you with widely-held views of the situation between small firms and ecommerce today may be rubbing your eyes at the title of this piece. After all, isn’t every retailer selling online these days? Are there even any genuinely successful brick-and-mortar retail businesses around these days that have no ecommerce presence at all?

The answers to those two questions are no and yes – you probably only need to look around your town or city to see some retailers still exist that apparently do just fine without an equivalent ecommerce portal. 

Such a firm may continue to thrive on account of the standard of customer service that it provides, an enviable local reputation or simply the lack of an alternative retailer for its given products anywhere in the immediate area.

So, does every retailer even need to become an ecommerce business?

Alas, while companies fitting the above description may seem to be doing perfectly well for now, there’s no guarantee that this will remain the case forever. Indeed, pretty much all of the relevant statistics point to online sales still growing at a much swifter pace than general retail sales.

Yes, your average neighbourhood pet shop or hardware store may have fared alright outside the ecommerce world until now, but their task of competing is probably getting stiffer every month and year.

However, it’s also understandable that if you are such a retailer, you will likely have legitimate concerns about the wisdom of developing an ecommerce presence at all.

You obviously won’t have the resources of the big enterprises to give you the luxury of incurring losses or taking on the additional financial burden of ecommerce staff as you get your ecommerce site up and running. Nor may you necessarily have the low overheads and agility of the start-ups that begin life as ecommerce firms while never having to maintain a high-street presence.

There are many feasible ways to get started

Even simply the costs of delivering goods across the country or beyond can seem crippling if you are a brick-and-mortar retailer looking to enter the ecommerce space for the first time. So why not simply offer a ‘click and collect’ service to begin with, whereby customers can order from you online and then collect their purchased item in person from your store?

Alternatively, you may be able to get some of the suppliers from which your retailer already purchases to deliver their products directly to your online customers on your behalf. Or what about starting out on an existing trusted online marketplace, such as Amazon.co.uk Marketplace? This will enable you to select just a limited number of products to sell online initially, as you get to grips with the basics of ecommerce and as a result, minimise the risk of poor customer service.

Would you like to gain a more in-depth appreciation of your retailer’s many options for venturing into ecommerce? Here at Piranha Designs, we have professionals in ecommerce website design that will be more than happy to speak to you, taking into account the specific circumstances and needs of your business.

How catering for clueless shoppers can help you to amass more sales

Piranha Designs - Thursday, August 31, 2017

Given how long online shopping has been a routine element of commerce, you could be excused for thinking that most people know exactly what they want, and how to get it, when they arrive at an online store. However, you should be wary of any unwarranted complacency about how informed your store’s customers really are.

RAM - no, not a misspelling of a 1980s pop duo

Even decades after the World Wide Web came into being, you can't entirely rule out the possibility of your company's online store attracting people who have never previously shopped online. However, there is another, quite different kind of uninformed shopper...

Whatever your store actually sells, there could still be too much jargon attached to your product descriptions. If you sell smartphones, for instance, you shouldn’t be too quick to assume that all of your shoppers know what "GB" and "RAM" mean. If, on the other hand, it is flooring that is on offer, not everyone visiting might understand what "laminate" means in relation to certain products.

How confusing terms could be explained

How can you assist shoppers who might clock particular descriptions in your product listings, only to leave because they can't comprehend the vital terminology? One option is inserting brief explanations where a description uses what could come across as bewildering jargon.

Still, when you use this tactic, the descriptions could become too wordy if each one has more than two points that require clarification. If this is indeed the case, you could instead put together a separate article to list and provide definitions for potentially problematic terms.

It's a matter of SEO, too

Another reason for you to widely use easy-to-understand words and phrases is that this could make it easier for potential customers to find your site and its product listings through the search engines.

This is because, when conducting searches, many people are likely to use such simple terms as "memory" rather than "RAM" or "shiny" instead of "laminate". That doesn't mean you have to do away with specialised phrases or acronyms completely - just add the simpler terms as well, which is one of the many ranking-boosting measures that we can help you to implement as part of our renowned SEO services here at Piranha Designs.

Great product descriptions help you sell more online.

Piranha Designs - Thursday, July 03, 2014
We have all had the negative experience of buying something online and receiving something completely different than what you ordered from the net. And we all know how it feels! 
These sorts of experiences are normally the type that as a online seller you want to avoid because it damages your reputation both with individual customers, and more importantly with search engines like Google. Be aware that product descriptions and photos are normally the only reference point your potential clients will have for your products so make sure you do it properly from the start. Don't fall into the same trap as so many others by copying and pasting manufacturer's descriptions or using the same collection of words for all your products. If you are serious about e-commerce check out these tips we have prepared for you to write a good product description from the start.

 Think before you begin
Before putting pen to paper, pause for a second and meditate on what you are selling. Put down the main points that make your product useful and how you can describe them to a potential buyer. By going through this slightly longer process you can ensure that you include everything you want to get across to the public in one piece of text, so nothing important is omitted and you can feel satisfied you have done the best job possible. Style and tone should reflect the audience you are are trying to reach, so make sure you have done your market research.

 Innovate, don't imitate!
Whatever you do always make sure that you don't plagiarize what someone else has already written, even if it is the manufacturer. All text must be freshly conceived in its entirety and therefore never published beforehand on the web. While reproducing previously drawn up descriptions for the product can sound like a really quick and easy shortcut, it is the biggest mistake you can make. The first thing that will go out of the window will be its SEO value, quickly followed by your ranking in search engines. It is better to round up the best ideas from other reviews of your product or those in the same bracket and develop your own words from that material.

 Keywords are the key
Keywords are the mainstay in any product description so make sure you do not forget to include them. This will do two things at once – give you a better SEO ranking and make a client feel they have reached the place where they want to be. At the same time, don't overdo it. If you go overboard with keywords your description will be unreadable and you will be downgraded by your search engine. Most of the time keywords will appear naturally  in your text if you just write what you feel about a product, thus giving the reader an impression that you are having a dialogue with him or her.

 Be seriously funny
The most important thing about product description is that it is accessible and user-friendly. Humour and emotion play a big part in giving these pieces of text life and imagination, but always remember to tailor it to your target audience. As part of this identification with the reader you could also use colloquial terms and cliches which make a connection with your reader. In particular if what you are selling are luxury products, wow as many of the the customer's senses as possible so that they will feel it will really make them feel better.

 Put yourself in their shoes
Ask yourself what the person searching for your product is thinking. How could you make it sound so irresistible that they would not hesitate to proceed to checkout? Which things are imperative to include? Examine what characteristics could be asked for in a buyer's mind and deliver them. When you have written them all up check with someone else to see if they would have anything done differently or if they need more answers than what you provide.

 Improve your layout
Web-users don't normally have much time when they are looking to buy things online so the best thing to do is to avoid is long chunks of prose. Write up stuff clearly and concisely, so information can be examined easily and follow it with tidy bullet-points that summarise the product features to a potential client. 

 Include client feedback
While it would make no sense to point out what could go wrong with your product, it is valid to be able to show that a neutral observer like a past client has had a positive experience both with your company and more specifically, with the product in question. This can be presented in the form of product reviews or as a link to an article written about your product making sure it is recent and fits in with your description. Such a ploy could corroborate your own product description, affirm that your company is open to criticism and virtually confirm a sale. You can find product reviews all over the internet which will boost your e-commerce no end and additional modules can also be purchased online.

 Create a narrative
You want the customer to be captivated by the product and for the description to translate that emotion. One way of doing this by telling a story of the product's journey. Below are some things you could include:

Where it was manufactured
The manufacturing process and what it is made from
Who designed it
The influences that led to the product being created

A product story like this can read more like warm advice from a previous buyer than a cold description from a sales-orientated company, which, when accentuated with colloquialisms, can really create a sense of confidence in the product. A narrative like this can really give you the cutting edge over your closest rivals and will make people take more interest in what your brand has to offer.


• Show why yours is top dog

Nowadays, the harsh reality of the market is that every product has a replica which is could be cheaper than the one you are selling. Additionally, the amount of companies getting acquainted with the Web and its commercial advantages is increasing everyday. This is why your product needs to be a cut above the rest. And the best way to prove that is by contrasting it positively with other brands and using rich vocabulary like superlatives to strengthen your argument. Special offers or free services are always a great way to make your client get over their reservations and order the product immediately.

Examine the advice above to ensure your product descriptions are a real hit which will bring in more sales than ever before. When presented alongside quality images of the product and attractive web design, the results will mean you can just sit back and start taking orders.

Does good graphic design affect website success?

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Imagine you enter a shop, the logo looks like it was designed by a child, there are sheets of paper stuck on the walls with hand written text on them. The tiles are all misaligned on the floor. The walls are painted in bright contrasting colours which almost hurt your eyes. The display units are huge, but the products are tiny. None of the products have clear labels or prices. You look for a shop assistant but can’t find any. After a few minutes you give up and leave.

No business owner would ever want to have a shop like that one, and no client would bother wasting time in that store. However, when it comes to the online store/website it is often forgotten that we are dealing with the same person and the same issues.

Some excellent businesses have terrible websites. Badly designed, disorganised, difficult to navigate and just not user friendly at all. The Stanford Web Credibility Project found that 47% of users make buying decisions based upon the site itself. This implies that if the site looks professional and has good graphic design it can heavily influence sales. So much so that nearly half your customers can make a buying decision without having to shop around, or doing off-site research.

This seems extremely obvious in the physical store example explained above, but for some reason it is often disregarded when creating a website. Whilst in a physical store you may have up to a few minutes, on the web you only have 10 seconds to make an impression.

 

10 Seconds

In the first 10 seconds of arriving at your site many users will have already made a decision in their minds. In this time visitors gather a large range of impressions: company quality and size, product range, product offering and price. They either connect and feel they are in the right place or leave.

Website owners need to look at their websites objectively and ask this type of questions:

  • Does my site look attractive and professional?
  • Does my website properly reflect what we do?
  • Would a complete stranger know how we can help them within 10 seconds of visiting our site?
  • What is the overall message my site is sending?
  • Do I have clear calls to action?
  • Is it easy for someone to find what they are looking for?
  • Is my contact information obvious?

In my experience I have seen some incredibly convincing results that good graphic design can positively increase sales. One particular ecommerce site is our best example of this:

The site was consistently selling around 6000USD per month before we took it on.

Without any further advertising or increases in traffic, but just by applying a totally revised look the site sales shot up to 10,000USD per month instantly.

The second redesign of the site, after extensive user testing has again increased sales to 13 – 15,000USD per month.

Don’t forget that your website can say a lot for your business. Make sure your site is saying the right things.

How customer reviews can boost sales

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, July 06, 2011
When you are using Amazon to find a product what do you do? You search, read the short description perhaps, and then probably the most important thing is you look at the reviews. How many good reviews has the product had? What are the bad reviews saying?

People like to buy things based on what others are saying about them, we automatically trust the buyer more than the seller. The seller will always sing their own praises, but the consumers will tell you the truth.

Very often people will simply buy products because they have high reviews, even if they are more expensive than a similar item with no or poor reviews. I know I do. I like to read the reviews to see if the product does what it is supposed to and if it is any good.

Studies have shown that the effect of having reviews on your site can be tremendous.
NetShops, which uses PowerReviews services ran a study which determined that reviewed products experienced a 26% lift in sales.

Using reviews on email marketing has lead to some astonishing results. Golfsmith International Inc. used some tests which showed that emails with reviewed products generated 42% more revenue than ones without.

It is important to note that consumers can read through fake reviews, also just one or two reviews are not enough. PowerReviews say that a minimum of 20% of products on a site need to have at least 3 to 5 reviews each in order to have any real social effect.

For some businesses, like mine, product reviews are not really possible, in these cases testimonials or case studies do the same job. Have you read our testimonials?

Our Piston Commerce software includes product review functionality, are you using it to its full extent?

More people buy from the experts. Are you an expert?

Piranha Designs - Thursday, June 09, 2011
On the web there are some websites that sell everything. Amazon and ebay are the biggest ones. These sites are hugely successful.

However there are also a large number of businesses that seem to offer a load of different services. This can be rather confusing and not as beneficial as it sounds. As business owners it seems good to have as many bases covered as possible, but as a customer this is not always the case.

Let’s imagine you are looking to buy a fountain pen.

Now you search online and you find many different websites selling fountain pens. One of them is a stationery site that sells thousands of products, it has good prices and looks interesting. Now you check another site and see that this one is a fountain pen expert site. It is a store focussed on fountain pens. They have a lot of information, good prices but above all they know their stuff, and that’s all they sell.

Who would you most likely buy from?
The stationery site that happens to sell fountain pens? Or the fountain pen expert?

On the web it pays to be an expert. There are many people out there who claim to do everything. It is often better to claim to do very few things and do them really well.

Can you focus your website a bit more? Can you perhaps make multiple sites each of them concentrating on one area of your business? Analyse your site, do your visitors know what you do straight away, and are you portrayed as an expert?

I don’t know about you, but I prefer to buy from the experts.

Can you afford not to offer Free shipping?

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, May 18, 2011
As I speak to our customers I see that small businesses are fighting a difficult battle against the larger online stores such as Amazon. I have also seen that one of the key advantages that Amazon offer is Free Shipping.

There have been some recent studies that show quite astonishing results:

Nearly 50% of online orders include free shipping.

61% of people are very likely to cancel their order if they do not get free shipping.



Image and stats from comscore.com

Buying online is always supposed to be cheaper than going to a store, however when I buy from a store I never pay shipping, nor do I have to wait to get the item. It is these two concepts that need to be improved in order to make an online store successful. Short delivery periods and free shipping. That is why Amazon Prime is excellent. People pay a low annual fee and get free first class delivery on almost all products.

Small online retailers need to combat this, you can't just sit back and allow your customers to go to Amazon. At the same time couriers are not cheap, and with the rising cost of fuel this isn't likely to change much. What can you do?

The most popular option is to offer Free Shipping on orders over a certain value, and within a specific weight or volume. Basically you have to absorb the cost of shipping, but the increase in orders should be able to outweigh that.

It is worth a try. If you are using one of our Piston Commerce systems it is an easy option to turn on, give it a month and see the difference.

Breaking into the Spanish ecommerce market

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, April 20, 2011

We have recently begun working with a select number of Spanish firms in developing their ecommerce websites. Powered by our multi lingual Dynamo CMS software, the sites are making a solid impression.
A while ago we launched Agape - a large bi lingual website with an online store, videos etc. Last week we have finished two other sites Royal Pianos and Rosa Gabriel.



Royal Pianos.com is a leading Piano distributor based in Benalmadena, with clients all over Spain. Their new site allows for online ordering of Pianos and gives them an easy way to update any information immediately. We have also setup a free ebook, (Guide to buying a Piano) this serves to build trust and also starts a relationship with the company. From the day it was launched we have seen clients register for certain pianos, and are confident that this website is going to go from strength to strength. Visit Royal Pianos >



Rosa Gabriel.com is a very economical clothes store based in Tarifa. They have been around for a long time and are looking to expand. By building the site on Dynamo they can add their hundreds of products themselves, and market them through a weekly newsletter. Visit Rosa Gabriel >



Although the market is very weak in Spain, there are still some companies that are looking for professional suppliers who can help them overcome the struggles and improve their business. Working from Gibraltar, with access to English resources can give us an advantage over the competition.


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