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Not to sound like a broken record, but having a high-performing, well-designed ecommerce website isa necessity in 2021. If the past year has revealed anything about consumer behaviour, it’s that people will always find a way to purchase the products they want. A 2021 survey by Canada Post showed that 93% percent of Canadians plan to either increase or maintain their level of online shopping (link). Naturally, this influx of online shopping has saturated the playing field, and it's led to bad ecommerce practices becoming commonplace. For that reason, we wanted to give you a few simple guidelines to follow when planning your first ecommerce website.

Technical Performance

A faster website means lower bounce rates and higher conversions. A recent study from Google found that as little as a one-second site speed improvement can increase mobile conversions by up to 27%. With 70% of shoppers purchasing via mobile, this means up to 18.9% more conversions (link). It also means higher approval from search engine algorithms, boosting your search result ranking and gaining favour with the web browsing overlords. While most website creation platforms have built in speed tests, they lack any sort of detail and comparative analysis. That’s why we like to recommend Pingdom for a free and immediate ranking. For those of you still in the development stage, it’s a great idea to test and compare competitor and inspirational sites to get an idea of load times for your industry.

Resonant Messaging

ecommerce-blog-duco-1The best websites are overflowing with personality. They make the viewer feel like an individual, not a contact being funnelled to a checkout page. Rest assured that once someone is on your website, they’ve already expressed an interest in purchasing your product or service. This is your opportunity to sell your brand’s values, interests, initiatives, etc. Marketers love metaphors, so here’s another: think of consumers as tourists who experience your brand. In the end, the product they purchase is just a souvenir. 

We’ve explored this concept deeper in our “Brand Storytelling: Marketing in the Age of Ad-Blockers” write up, but the main ideas can be summarized here. It begins with you solidifying your brand’s positioning and identity within your industry. What are your values? Differentiators? Ideal client profiles? From there, create content that follows the story of your brand, with the consumer being another character in that story. In practice, this means long-form content in the form of videos, testimonials, blogs, etc. that promote your backstory and ongoing initiatives. Product demonstrations, behind-the-scenes videos, and anything else that adds transparency and understanding to your brand applies here.

The final cherry on top for the great content you’ve produced is consistency. Across social media, landing pages, in-store content, etc. the ideas fleshed out in your brand positioning and identity planning should remain the same. Achieving this on your own or with multiple freelancers can be tricky, but with the right agency you can execute your vision on time and within budget. In case you’re not sure if you’re ready for that level of commitment, check out our article on ‘The Truth About Working With A Marketing Agency’.

Product Selection

In our experience, one of the most undiscussed elements of ecommerce is product selection. 42% of Canadians stated that buying products that are difficult to find elsewhere influenced their decision to frequent a specific retailer. The rarity of a product can be a result of a few things, whether its scarcity or superior quality, but it’s clearly something to consider when building your product line. People love to make purchases that make their consumer behaviour seem unique and premeditated, and even if your products aren’t especially rare, marketing them as such can go a long way to boosting conversions. Having unique packaging, listed benefits, and even social or environmental causes backed up by product purchases adds a layer of individuality to your product that audiences’ crave.

Packaging & Shipping

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Effective packaging requires addressing the 2 biggest concerns among Canadian consumers: environmental impact and secure shipping. 46% of Canadians say they will shop more with retailers who are taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint. The emphasis here is on the ‘taking steps’ part. For startup ecommerce businesses, there simply aren’t enough affordable resources to have a net-zero environmental impact. Therefore, all customers are looking for is some sense of direction that your business is moving towards whether it’s helping a charity, using less plastic in product and shipping containers, or supporting local initiatives. 

Secure shipping seems like a given, but most ecommerce businesses seem to lose interest in their product once it’s left the warehouse. The customer experience lasts up until the physical unboxing of the product and the eventual consumption. This means that both the wait time during the shipping phase and the safety insured during delivery will impact their opinion of your brand. 73% of Canadian consumers say they will shop more with retailers who ensure safe delivery when they’re out of the house. Researching and monitoring your delivery services can go a long way in building trust and repeated business for your brand.

Tracking Analytics

Something we never get tired of talking about: Analytics! Not all businesses can afford customized analytics platforms like ours truly (Duco Analytics) but luckily most platforms have basic data analytic capabilities. For ecommerce newbies, getting familiar with these stats and compiling reports for statistical analysis will help you establish priorities and predict net income early, helping you plan ahead and budget appropriately. To learn more about why those without analytics aren’t likely to succeed in the long term, check out another one of our blogs here.

Conclusion

We’ve only chipped off the tip of the iceberg with these points, but hopefully we’ve made you more aware about what goes into making a profitable ecommerce business in Canada. If you have any questions related to starting an ecommerce business, or if you’re interested in developing a project with us, we’re always open and excited to discuss the topic with fellow entrepreneurs and enthusiasts. Feel free to fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch.

Zach Hazledine

Written by Zach Hazledine