Staying Connected – Episode 3

Welcome to Staying Connected, brought to you by SkyCastle Productions. 

In Staying Connected our goal is to help business owners navigate the uncertain times we’re currently living in, and help provide tips to operating a business when your customers and clients can’t physically be on site.

In today’s episode we’ll be discussing how to choose the correct shopping cart for your business. 

The basics

In our Monday episode we discussed that goal setting for your business should help you decide on important factors about your website. One goal we talked about specifically was being able to sell your products or services online. Sure you could always set up an image gallery showcasing your food, or products, you could even set up a form where your clients could call or email in their orders, but those methods are not very effective. 

In 2016 Open Market released poll results revealing that Gen X, Millennials, and Zoomers all prefer texting to making a phone call.  Four years later you can only imagine that those numbers have jumped higher. 

So if your clients aren’t looking to make a phone call how many sales are you losing by not having a shopping cart, or “purchase now” feature on your website? 

Getting Started 

When you’re starting to plan an online shop it’s better to think before you leap. Just like starting your physical store or restaurant you have to think through the start to finish method to making happy customers. 

Begin by looking at your website, maybe even ask an elderly friend or relative to go onto your website and try and make a purchase or place an order. How many times did they have to call you to get through the process? Next log on to your website on your mobile phone, does it display in a way that makes ordering easy? Metrics released by finds that 53% of all website traffic will be to the mobile version of your site. So making sure that your site looks, and acts correctly on all mobile platforms is important. 

Once you’ve decided your website is ready for computer-challenged and mobile-device-using customers think about what would entice them to purchase? Do you have images that entice your customers to purchase or order? If not, check out our Wednesday episode with William Twitty for tips on making sure your photos look great and effectively represent your products. 

You’ll also want to keep up with your stock so that someone placing an order is ensured their order will arrive to them in a timely manner, and that they don’t waste money on limited items that are already sold out.  If you aren’t currently tracking your stock you’ll want to take an inventory of items you’ll be selling online before purchasing a shopping cart platform. 

Finally you’ll need to decide how you’ll be getting your product to your client. 

In a typical situation this would begin with deciding between a flat rate shipping, or knowing the weight and measurements of a product for delivery costs. If you’re a restaurant it would begin with deciding if all orders should be pick-up or delivery, and then discussing with your insurance agent how you should proceed with delivery drivers and their coverage. 

However with COVID-19 self quarantine laws in place the conversation may look a little different, and knowing what is allowed for your industry is going to be the most important part of research for your delivery options. 

Choosing a Shopping Cart

Choosing the right shopping cart for your industry and products will make or break the success of your online store. 

You need to take the answers to all the questions you’ve just asked yourself (Stock management, mobile compatibility, ease of use, and notifications for delivery) and make sure that the shopping cart platform you decide on will be able to handle them. 

You’ll also need to decide on what processor you’ll be using to process credit cards and bank transfers. For more on this tune in on Wednesday when we’ll be talking with merchant service provider David Finete about credit card processing. 

For now I will say if you’re currently operating a brick and mortar store and you’re already processing credit cards go onto your merchant service providers website and see who their trusted shopping cart platforms are. 

I know for a fact that square, paypal and stripe will all work well with Ekwid, and WooCommerce platforms. However if you’re using a more advanced system like Clover or a bank provided credit card processor there are tools built by these companies to take your store online. 

Choosing the right cart for your needs, and your payment processor will make building your online business platform easier to keep up with in the long run. 

What if my products aren’t physical?

Not all industries and services are going to have products that they will physically be selling. Sometimes you’ll need a shopping cart that allows you to sell products for digital download, or to schedule a service and receive payment. 

In my career I’ve worked a lot with the music industry and one of the hurdles the music industry has faced as shopping has become more prevalent online is how to get music to their listeners while still protecting their copyright. One of the easier solutions was to sell music through itunes, however the royalties received from purchasing through itunes and similar platforms was oftentimes very small. For a local musician selling on iTunes was usually way to seem more legitimate as an artist than to actually make money off of their art. This is why providing digital downloads from your own website is a better solution to controlling your money. 

If you’re products are available for digital download you’ll need to make sure that your shopping cart monitors the amount of time a download is available for, and how many times a customer can use the download link. 

If you’re selling a digital service you may allow 3 or more downloads of that service or “license” but if you’re selling music or movies online you’ll want to make sure the purchase price is only good for one download. 

If you’re a beauty salon, or lawn care company your online services are usually by appointment only, and you’ll need a way for your customers to schedule and pay for your time through your website. Because of this a traditional shopping cart may not be ideal for you, instead, look for a scheduling plug-in or service and using the same methods of goal setting we discussed before choose one that allows your clients to easily know your availability and select a time that works for them, while being able to pay you, or at least pay a deposit online.

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