Please, Build me a Shopping Site

It’s on the mind of many retailers and small businesses. Please build me a shopping site so we can make money online. We need sales flowing within days of going live too. Sounds easy, right?  Well the sad truth is this never ever occurs. It’s not like that old movie with the saying ‘build it and they will come’.

A Successful online Shop site takes work

Just like a physical store, selling online still takes careful planning, lots of time and effort. Sure, you don’t have those huge overheads like a physical store, but it is still requires some budget and a steep learning curve. And you’ll have high expectations that will likely turn to frustration and anger at some point. This is normal for those starting out. Failure is common for first-time shop sites, regardless of the investment.

We hear sad online shop stories every day. Especially those who signup to one of those instant carts sites like Shopify, Big Commerce etc. The technology and features provided is often amazing, but the most common complaint heard of these cheap, instant shops is that they don’t get a lot of traffic or sales, even after being live 6 months. These instant sites often look very nice too, real quick to setup and then so easy to add products to. The provider(s) even claim it is ‘SEO optimised’ whatever that means. But most sales will come from the site owner directing people to the site via email, social or print marketing.

Their best online salesperson, being Google, simply doesn’t send the shop much traffic. Maybe only a few hundred per week resulting in small handful of sales, instead of the thousands of visitors they were expecting and wanting. Why is this?

Can you be trusted to sell online? Google doesn’t think so…

Well, like starting any business, you need to build up credibility first, especially if this is you first venture online and you’ve no long-established, high traffic website or blog running. Do your homework and invest in marketing, quite separate from any website build and loading up hundreds of products. First rule of selling online? Never start with a shopping site.

Sound weird right? But loading up a big shopping site, even one with a thousand products and expert graphics, does not impress Google, perhaps doing more harm than good. It’s completely the wrong approach. Like dating, you have to do some courting for a few months. Prove you’re here for the long haul and a genuine business, not a scam. Google tries to present websites in it’s search results that it knows are reputable and trustworthy businesses. It knows that there’s thousands of fly-by-night shopping cart websites that appear and look amazing, taking peoples cash and gone the next month. This means you must first establish credibility with Google if you want your shop to appear high in a Google search result.

Have a good pre-launch shopping site strategy

It’s all about having an online and offline marketing plan before you signup to any shopping cart site. Before a single graphic is designed or line of code written.  Our intro to eCommerce  is worth a read, but the exact pre-launch plan to setup a successful online store we covered on my NZ Digital Marketing blogsite back in 2012 and the formula still applies today.



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