5 ways to innovate with your ecommerce store (without risking it all)

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Let’s face it; most business owners would probably love to be known for experimentation and innovation. However, they don’t want to gamble their livelihood by doing something that might seem like ‘a good idea at a time’, only to turn out to be a reputation-damaging disaster.

And so it is the case with those who operate ecommerce stores. However, being innovative isn’t always about the hugely influential, game-changing success (like, say, the iPhone) or a crushing failure that is ridiculed forevermore (such as, perhaps, the Sinclair C5).

Indeed, it’s often much smaller and more subtle innovations that can prove the most important for online businesses in the long run. Innovation is, by its very nature, a risk – but you don’t necessarily have to gamble it all.

You might simply try one or more of the following...

Introduce a new product category

Is there a category you could add to your store that would naturally complement what you have to offer already – accessories for electrical equipment, for instance?

Or, of course, you may be a little bolder than that, by adding a category that isn’t quite what people would think of when they first hear your brand mentioned. Regardless, this can be a great way to experiment with the broadening of your store’s offering, boosting its appeal to existing customers at the same time as attracting new ones.

Try out alternative price points

Sometimes, you just don’t know what difference a different price for a given product will make to sales, unless you go ahead and make said change.

If the item in question is a very common product, for example, lower pricing might make sense. But you may be surprised by the extent to which making a relatively unique product more expensive actually helps to heighten its desirability among buyers, especially if it is your own in-house brand.

Provide services after the initial purchase

In 2020, couldn’t your store benefit from going beyond the standard purchase confirmation email? This might mean relatively small and ‘safe’ touches such as providing a money-off voucher code for the customer’s next order from you, or entering every shopper who reviews one of your products into a prize draw.

However, some stores might also consider providing a more comprehensive post-purchase support service to their most active customers, and perhaps personalised marketing emails instead of the generic messaging everyone else on the mailing list receives.

Launch a branded app for your store

This is a great example of relatively low-risk innovation, in that customers who prefer to shop the ‘old-fashioned way’, via your desktop site, will be able to continue doing so, while those who like the intuitiveness and convenience of an app have it as an option.

You do need to be sure of what your brand’s app will actually be for, however. Is it intended to be a shopping app, to boost customer loyalty, or even to provide a fulcrum for the creation of a community that will elevate your brand above being a mere online store?

Put together subscription packages

Online subscriptions have seemingly become all the rage in recent years, and with good reason. It’s been a while now since subscriptions were more-or-less just for magazines or consumable goods.

That’s because it’s even possible these days to subscribe to receive the likes of clothing, music and even pieces of art, with this business model helping many an online store to ‘lock in’ future orders from especially loyal shoppers.

All of the above steps can be considered ‘innovations’, without representing out-and-out risks to an ecommerce business’s future.

And don’t forget, too, that with the help of the right website design and SEO marketing expertise from professionals like ours here at Piranha Designs, you could be in an even better position to make an impact as an online merchant throughout 2020 and beyond.

How to keep hold of your e-tailer’s new customers once COVID-19 passes

Piranha Designs - Thursday, April 16, 2020

All of the time and money you have invested in your brand’s ecommerce presence so far is likely to feel well-spent right now, as you reap the benefits of heightened sales during the pandemic. This is likely to be particularly the case if your store specialises in goods that could be deemed ‘essential’, at this time when many people are unable to even stay outside of their homes for long.

But are you also taking the opportunity to cultivate loyalty among your new customers, so that they continue to treat you as their go-to source of products after the worst of the outbreak is over? If not, here are some of the best ways to cement their custom in the longer term.

Be accurate about when and if products will be available

This is a time when customers are likely to be especially unforgiving about their orders being cancelled due to lack of stock. So, keeping on top of your inventory at any one time, and communicating this accurately via your online store’s products pages, are both a must. It’s also a better idea to delay than cancel orders altogether, if possible.

If certain products aren’t immediately available amid interruptions to workforces and supply chains, it’s better to be conservative about when you expect them to be so. That way, your customers may end up being pleasantly surprised by earlier-than-anticipated deliveries.

Personalise the service you provide

A personalised shopping experience continues to be a powerful way of encouraging loyalty during COVID-19 – the current circumstances aren’t an excuse to drop your standards in this respect.

So, such steps as sending an email update whenever there is a change in the status of an order, following up with further updates and reaching out later to help shoppers to remember your store, could all be invaluable right now.

Extend the return and exchange period

With so many of your customers stuck at home at the moment, making the returns process as little hassle as possible will help to ensure they associate your brand with the right qualities once some level of normal life resumes.

Don’t be humorous or political

Not everyone considers the pandemic to be a good source of comedy or will share your politics, so now isn’t a time to be taking risks with your ecommerce store’s marketing communications. Social media memes that might’ve worked well enough in pre-COVID-19 times could be perceived as ill-judged in the current circumstances, deterring followers and shoppers.

Observe shifting buyer habits

While not everything about how people are shopping during the outbreak will last for long once life returns to normal, other habits are likely to endure. Some of the brick-and-mortar retailers that customers depended on prior to the pandemic won’t survive to reopen, and even if they do, your own ecommerce site could become a new and trusted source of goods for these shoppers.

Make the right moves now to capture customers and encourage them to continue shopping with you, and your brand is likely to be in a powerful position long after the coronavirus has ceased to dominate the news. Getting in touch with Piranha Designs about our ecommerce website design expertise could further help to ensure your business’s growth in the months and years ahead.

5 ways for your online store to ride the wave of coronavirus

Piranha Designs - Friday, April 03, 2020

No kind of ecommerce business, whatever its sector, can pretend that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is a remotely good thing.

At the time of typing, the virus had already officially infected almost three quarters of a million people around the world, and killed tens of thousands. This is without even accounting for the dire economic and social consequences for those who may never contract the coronavirus.

Online stores, however, have also come into their own lately for many consumers who have found themselves under lockdown. Opportunities do therefore exist for many merchants to do their best during what may be a heightened demand for their services, while also assisting their customers at what is likely to be a trying time for great numbers of them.

Here are just some steps that your own ecommerce store could therefore take.

Re-jig your homepage and navigation

At this time of all times, it is likely that certain products in your store have become especially sought-after, while others might have been rendered almost irrelevant – at least for now.

It’s therefore a good moment to consider reorganising your store’s landing pages and browsing structures, to reflect what your customers are currently looking for. When doing so, you should make sure you especially strongly showcase products that can be quickly packed and delivered.

Keep a close eye on inventory

Customers’ needs for certain items may be particularly pressing right now, which heightens the importance of online stores closely managing their inventory.

It’s crucial to be honest with customers, and to minimise the frequency with which you are forced to cancel orders or deliver incomplete orders as a result of products being out of stock.

Make the most of ‘live chat’

We’ve previously blogged about what ‘live chat’ functionality can do for an ecommerce store. But this increasingly common feature has arguably come even more into its own during this pandemic.

Live chat, after all, makes it easier for e-tailers to handle simultaneous requests, as well as for customer service agents to take over with a particular enquiry where a colleague of theirs may have left off.

Nor can the availability of live chat be easily interrupted, unlike what the situation may be when your store needs to change its customer service email address, phone number or brick-and-mortar address.

Recommend alternative products

Is your store using the analytics that will enable you to monitor the products and pages that are especially popular? If so, this will help you to determine the parts of your site where it may be particularly important to recommend alternative options if the given item is out of stock.

Provide COVID-19-related FAQs

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) pages are routinely a godsend for both merchants and customers. But such a section can be even more useful now, for communicating to your shoppers how your business is dealing with the impacts of COVID-19.

Such FAQs on your own site may address such questions as what the coronavirus means for product availability and fulfilment times, for example. You might also incorporate auto-responses to the most common queries into live chat and Facebook Messenger, even including links where these would further help.

Would you appreciate assistance with carrying out any of the above or other steps for your ecommerce store in 2020? Remember that the Piranha Designs team is available at the other end of the phone in Gibraltar, London or Edinburgh. Alternatively, you could always email us to arrange a free no-obligation discussion of your website design or digital marketing needs.

Is it finally time for your ecommerce business to start taking voice search seriously?

Piranha Designs - Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Whether you personally consider smart assistant devices such as Amazon Echo or Google Home to be the future of online communication or a mere gimmick, the mere fact that more and more of us are becoming owners of them should cause ecommerce store owners to sit up and take notice.

Indeed, it was reported just earlier this year that almost a quarter (22%) of UK households now had a voice-controlled digital home assistant device like those we mentioned above.

This is quite the jump on the 11% figure recorded in 2017 – and with 41% of households having indicated that they plan to own such a device in the next five years, the actual ownership percentage at present may already be a lot higher.

No less crucial, however, is how we are using these devices

As recently as August, it was reported that almost 60% of smart speaker owners in the UK had used their device to shop in the last month. However, nearly half – 45% – felt that they weren’t really getting the most out of their devices, which indicates just how much of a burgeoning opportunity voice ecommerce might well be for many online retailers.

Moreover, Google has predicted that half of all searches will be initiated by voice by next year. So, is now the time to start re-jigging your own ecommerce portal for the emerging era of voice-activated shopping, or is the hype around it still outpacing the reality?

There are very real complexities to shopping by voice

Unfortunately, if there’s any reason for you to not invest a huge amount of time and money into readying your site for voice-initiated shopping just yet, it’s the sheer awkwardness and difficulty of trying to search for and purchase products using voice alone, at least for now.

For one thing, even with simple goods such as T-shirts, there are just so many attributes and variables for shoppers to compare and choose from – think the likes of size, colour, style, fabric, price, brand and so on.

And, while artificial intelligence (AI) is certainly continuing to improve, it’s still got some way to go until shoppers can be assured of a concise and easy path for sorting through the various choices before them as far as product specifications are concerned.

Nonetheless, voice-based shopping is a field to keep an eye on

Even if the AI in today’s voice assistants isn’t quite up to the task just yet of conducting the sophisticated conversations that many customers will expect if they are to start making serious use of this method of online shopping, the seeds of such development have certainly been planted.

As a consequence, voice shopping is creeping up and up on many ecommerce store owners’ priority lists – and it should be doing the same on yours.

As for what you can do right now to boost the relevance and usefulness of your e-tail portal for the current preferences and needs of your customers and those that they are likely to have in 2020 and beyond, get in touch with the Piranha Designs team today for a more in-depth conversation.

You’re welcome to contact us at our Gibraltar, London or Edinburgh offices, and when you do, we’ll be pleased to advise you on the best steps to take with your ecommerce website design to achieve the results that you want.

After a long decline, Flash will finally meet its end in 2020

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Who remembers Flash? The plugin was certainly ubiquitous once upon a time, to the point of downright notoriety. However, it seems that the freeware software that has been with us since 1996 – and reached a peak of popularity in the late 2000s – will finally be phased out by 2020.

That is according to an announcement by Adobe, which said it was planning to “end-of-life” the plugin, ceasing to update and distribute the Flash Player by the end of 2020 and encouraging content creators to migrate any existing Flash content to new open formats.

In the meantime, security updates will still be made available for Flash in Apple, Mozilla, Microsoft and Google browsers. After that, though, Adobe will no longer offer any new Flash features and the plugin will be, for all extents and purposes, dead.

A protracted demise for once-dominant software

This announcement isn’t, in many ways, a major shock. After all, Flash is no longer the force in web design circles that it once was, and even in its heyday, the combination of its wide distribution and outdated versions of it helped to make it a key target for hackers.

The death knell for Flash may have been sounded as early as 2010, when – in a famous letter – then-Apple CEO Steve Jobs criticised the software for falling “short” in a then-emerging mobile era that he described as being “about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards”.

Apple never did support Flash on its iOS devices, and even Adobe in recent years has made noises suggesting that it would like to phase out the plugin. After years of declining popularity – accelerated by such developments as Flash support being gradually dropped from Adobe applications and Google making it a ‘click-to-play’ plugin that users must explicitly enable if they wish to use it – it seems that its death is finally coming to pass.

Embrace the new era of web design with Piranha Designs

Adobe’s VP of product development Govind Balakrishnan has declared that the company remains “very proud of the legacy of Flash and everything it helped pioneer”, and so it should be – after all, it played a key role in bringing video and gaming to the web.

However, the world of web design is also a fast-moving one now embracing many alternative formats – and here at Piranha Designs, we can help your own organisation’s online presence to do the same. Whether you seek the complete CMS, ecommerce or mobile-friendly website for 2017, our web design professionals can use their up-to-the-minute expertise to show you the way.

Top 10 New Year’s Resolution for Small Business Owners

- Wednesday, January 11, 2012

It’s the start of the New Year and millions of people around the world are reflecting on 2011 and are making New Year’s resolutions that will make them better, slimmer or healthier. As a small business owner you can also make a ‘corporate’ new year’s resolution for your business. In our next blog entry, we will share with you what Piranha Designs has promised to achieve in 2012. But now, let me share with you, what I believe, are the top 10 New Year’s resolutions for small business owners:

  1. 1.Support Other Small Businesses

As a small business owner yourself support other small businesses by switching one of your current providers or suppliers to a small business!

  1. 2. Focus on the Growing Mobile Community

It is a known fact that more people are using their mobile phones to surf the internet and that this is a growing trend. You need to make sure that all your online marketing strategies are mobile-friendly. Have you ever tested how easy it is to navigate through your website via a Blackberry, iPhone or Android?

  1. 3. Put yourself on the Map

It is also true that more and more people are using the internet to source out local businesses; so make sure you can be found easily on Google Places, Bing maps, and Yahoo maps.

  1. 4. Share the Workload

As a small business owner your time is precious so reflect on where your time and effort is most fruitful and focus on that! Then pass on all the other tasks (admin tasks, blog updates) to other staff members or consider outsourcing. 

  1. 5. Socialise More

Chose a social network that will be used to market your business, there is a wide selection (blog, facebook, twitter, google+, LinkedIn) so make sure you pick the one that best suits you. If you are already using one of these social networks either commit to utilising it further to promote your business or chose a new network to take full advantage of.

  1. 6. Refresh Your Website

Do not fall into the trap of focusing on your facebook account and neglecting your website. There is no point in having an up-to-date facebook page that leads to an out-dated and inaccurate webpage. Remember to keep the content and look relevant and engaging!

  1. 7. See Your Staff as Your Customers

If you see your staff as your primary customers you will start to praise them and treat them even better than you are now. This will have the knock on effect of having a happier and more motivated workforce which will lead to higher productivity and improved customer service!

  1. 8. Prepare for the Tax Time

Make a commitment to yourself that you will have all the relevant paperwork in an organised fashion at least 3 weeks before the tax deadline; this means that you can avoid the mad rush and stress of getting all the paperwork ready at the last minute.

  1. 9. Socialise in the Real World

Online socialising should not replace real world socialising; instead they should complement each other! You can find very valuable clients or providers by socialising outside of your normal circles. Perhaps attend a conference or join an association. 

  1. 10. Treat Yourself to Some TLC

As a small business owner it is very easy to work yourself too hard and reward yourself too little. So make sure you treat yourself regularly with leaving home early one day or treating yourself to a day at a spa.

Remember to look at our blog over the next few days so that you can find out what Piranha Designs New Year’s resolution is for 2012.  

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.

Gmail Motion - A funny April Fools Video.

Piranha Designs - Monday, April 04, 2011
On April Fools Day there where some funny pranks. Here is one of my favourite:
Google announced the launch of Gmail motion - the latest in email technology, where you can do almost anything with simple gestures. Watch the video below:

Can small businesses save money and time by having employees work from home?

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, March 30, 2011
There is a growing trend in the USA and in the UK for people to work from home. A friend in London works for a top UK television channel, and due to the nature of the work, she has to start at 4am. After an hour or so she has finished and doesn't have anything more to do until much later on. Obviously there is no point in getting her to go all the way to the office, which is quite a commute at ridiculous hours in the morning, if she is just going to sit at a PC and do her stuff. So she works from home. Gets up early has a cup of coffee and does whatever it is she needs to do without wasting hours driving or getting the tube.

There are a number of benefits (taken from UK BusinessLink website)

* improved retention of employees, eg home working can help retain working parents with childcare responsibilities
* a wider pool of applicants from which to recruit, eg disabled people who may prefer to work from home
* possible productivity gains through staff having fewer interruptions and less commuting time
* increased staff motivation with reduced stress and sickness levels
* savings on office space and other facilities
* possible location of sales staff near clients rather than being based in your premises

At the same time it is scary for a business owner to think his employees are in their pijamas playing the Wii instead of hard at work in the office! Obviously there are loads of great tools that can help to make everything easier. Here are some of the best:

  • Dropbox - online hard drive where everyone can share data
  • Google Docs - Online Office documents
  • Skype - Now with multiple video conferencing
  • GotoMeeting - online conferencing
  • GotoMyPC - remote PC access
One company that have really taken this to heart are Citrix Online, a hugely successful US based operation. Read more here: http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/feb2011/sb20110215_286886.htm

Also read: Why its Ok to let my staff work from home.

Please post your comments below.

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