Lessons for E-Commerce Retailers

You could have been in the e-business for a while now or just trying to get a hang of it, this lesson series would be of great help in learning more about the online retail landscape, and how to maneuver your way into making profit and sales in the e-commerce world.

LESSON 1: The Right Navigation

Do you often wonder why visits to your site although drastically increased, there still has been no impact with regard to your sales?

The problem could just have been site navigation.

The majority of site owners and managers focus more on simple site metrics like visits, time spent on page, number of bounce rates and all. It is best to actually study in total the behavior of your site visitors.

Your site should be a map not matrix of confusion. It should be able to guide visitors through to their final destination.

Now to be able to design a clear and functional map, you should have a clear-cut idea on who will use it as well as be able to pre-determine what their final destination will be.

You should care more about discovering who they are; if they are first time visitors, legacy clients or deal seekers?

Are they just browsing through or do they have something specific in mind?

“Brainstorm visitor personas and determine how you’ll guide them intuitively along their journey.”

To know what your visitors are more likely to be interested in, what they spend more time on when on your site you should use heat maps; “click on” or “scroll to” on a page.

This way you can know what the hot spots, dead ends or less interesting spots on your site are. Also carry out a test to determine the best of texts, page layouts and architecture that is best.

LESSON 2: Have ongoing adaptation ability.

Ever wondered why Google still remains top in their game and have taken the the bulk of the search engine market share?


The paid search industry is fast paced. If you compare what we have now and what we had back then in the‘90s, you’d agree with me that we’ve had tremendous change and Google climbed to be the leader and has remained.

This is so because they’ve kept up the trend, being able to adapt and now, they define the trends in search engines and advertising.

Be up-to-date with industry trends through blogs, articles and on-going trainings as well as be able to adapt as new trends come up.

LESSON 3: List Inventory in Different Strategic Places

Today there is a wide range of sites: eBay, Jumia, Amazon, Konga, Kalahari and OLX, etc; so you can list your stocks in these marketplaces. This way product visibility is multiplied.

LESSON 4: Don’t Ignore the “Other” Engines

Did you know that Bing’s search market share reached 16-17 % of click traffic and revenue in 2013?

Most advertisers are familiar with Google. In as much as it is a big and well-known search engine, we still have the likes of Bing.

Yes! Promote yourself on Google, but don’t ignore other engines. Try them out and then re-adjust based on their performance.

LESSON 5: Promotions Are Boomers

Promotions have a way of driving traffic, sales and customer retention or convergence.

Promotions and offers help you gain recognition in the competitive market especially in crowded online marketplaces. When selling online, promotions and discounts helps you break through into the available market and give you wide publicity.

No matter what your intentions are, also endeavour to capitalise on seasonal traffic. You just might be lucky enough to get a promotional opportunity which would invariably multiply your efforts.

Also, engage in discovery discussions with various channel reps and find out what is available. As some of these emerging marketplaces from time to time offer exceptional promotional opportunities in a bid to get new sellers.

LESSON 6: Customer Service is a Deciding Factor

In Nigeria for instance, we have not come to understand the importance of serving customers. Customers determine the existence of any organization.

Studies have shown that good customer service is a determining factor in purchase decisions as opposed to brand loyalty.

Although customer service in Nigeria is a far cry from being satisfactory, the bar is being raised daily.

These days, online customers want to be able to track deliveries, communicate freely with service representatives, return items if need be, and get the best of service.

You need to get a hold of recent customer policies and use this to influence your own policies and trust me, you won’t just get traffic but sales also.

Your customer service could make you stand out when comparisons are being made.

Conduct a research on the best service offer at the moment in respect to your line of business and see to improve your services to make you stand out. Assuming you have competitors with discount offers, you could have same discounts but then add delivery to it, etc
Expand your service limit but make sure to maintain revenue.

LESSON 7: Value at a Cheaper Rate

Different channels have varying price tags.

In as much as some channels already have thousands of sellers competing, you might not be able to get a good price for your sale.

But there might be flexibility considerations in emerging marketplaces with the ability to price as you’d like.

LESSON 8: Stretch Your Supposed Limit

Have a vision to expand your current borders and enlarge your territory.

There’s no wrong in envisioning being a player in the international market because there are untapped demands in new regions and you could break into these regions via partnering offers as there is a large amount of tools and technologies available that can help drive a profitable international selling strategy.

This affords you the opportunity to break into new markets but calculate your costs, do a complete evaluation of what it would take.

From tax, difference in currency and language, cultural preferences, fulfillment and demand; these are major considerations for an international market.

The international marketplace fulfillment programs are available for entry through eBay, Amazon and others.

You could sell into different European countries with ease with Amazon FBA export program. Although it doesn’t add new sales channels it would increase the number of potential buyers as they would be able to see and buy your products.

It’s a good place to start, know the available market and then build deliveries for buyers.

LESSON 9: Analysis can be Crippling

Knowing the site analytical data is not enough.

Knowledge is profitable when turned into assets or vale (money). Sometimes knowing these analytics could plunge you into skepticism but endeavour to turn this knowledge into insights to impact your business.

In addition to analytic tools on your site, have dashboards containing metrics for sales and traffic. And this includes:

  • Orders made
  • Revenue
  • Trends
  • Order values
  • Top sources
  • Top campaigns

The above matter most for an online retailer.

LESSON 10: Use Search Queries

Search query analysis is the closest formula for search engine marketing.

Through search query engines, reports showing what people search for the most are given and Google also offers this service just before your ad is clicked on.

The truth is, you just might be omitting something useful if you aren’t making judicious use of this report. Use the data to identify the queries that perform better. This way you minimise low-conversion rates and irrelevant traffic.

Don’t just browse through, be strategic about it and get value for your money.

LESSON 11: Build it Once and for All

Gone are those days when internet access is strictly based on computer devices. These days technology has greatly improved to the point where your mobile phone has access to the internet.

How does this affect your online business you may want to ask.

Well, research has proven that most times when visitors with the intention to buy start the purchase process, they end up using different devices before the deal is done and most deals are closed with either phone or tablet devices.

A potential buyer might get interested while at the office operating his/her company workstation but might not be able to see it through because of varying office commitments and distractions and apparently would need to continue the purchase using a mobile device.

In cases like this you must endeavour to make sure that your website is ‘flexible.’ The case would usually have been that you create varying sites suitable for the different devices available but hey, that’s too much work, waste of money and unnecessary stress.

Best thing to do would simply be to build your website with a responsive design. Your website should be able to detect the device of the incoming user and then automatically adjust the best layout, right resolution and deliver content in a way that it would suit the device.

This is a win-win situation.

LESSON 12: Your Marketplace Content

With new emerging marketplaces like Jumia, Konga, PriceCheck and others, a lot has changed. But basic principles should not be neglected.

The core elements of your marketplace content are your titles and descriptions. These are termed the heartbeat of listings. That’s the foundation that should not be compromised. Invest in building out the unique requirements for each of these marketplaces.

LESSON 13: Maintain your Website

Although you can never have a perfect website, you can have an almost flawless one, so long as you continually maintain it.

It’s often said that it’s easier to remember bad experiences than the good. In as much as you can’t completely get rid of mistakes, you should be able to communicate your values to your buyers to the point where that is what they remember most about you.

Try not to leave your customers with a bad impression of your website and that means keen eyes and constant maintenance of your website. Good customer service can also add to the trick in keeping them.

Maintaining a healthy presence on social media platforms is also good.

LESSON 14: Put Your Ears to the Ground

Do you want the perfect chance to get into the mind and warm your way into the hearts of buyers? Then search out opportunities “like no man's business”.

Marketplaces often test new programs like advertising, email blasts, daily deals and sponsored product areas but it’s the ear on ground that gets the best of opportunities.

Check out seller forums and websites, read through merchant email updates from marketplaces, let their representatives see your interest as you ask for the necessary information.

When you stop learning, you start dying.

Have a continuous drive to learn something new about your business and marketplace.

Image credit: SEOP Blog