How to build a six-figure e-commerce business in five easy-to-follow steps

E-commerce is a great space to position yourself in as an entrepreneur; worldwide online retail sales are on an upward trend and expected to hit over $4.8 trillion  USD by 2021 –  there were 258.9 million online customers in 2018, in the United States alone.

No matter its appeal, building a profitable e-commerce website can seem like an impossible task. There are so many things for you to think about, from business strategy and website design, to marketing, sales, and customer service – it’s dizzying stuff indeed.

It might seem like it’s best left to the experts. But the truth is there are a number of excellent resources and strategies you can use to build an online store from scratch – or take your current e-commerce store to the next level.

Follow the steps outlined in this guide to build an e-commerce site that will attract and convert customers, reduce your cart abandonment rate, and avoid other pitfalls along the way.

STEP 1: Do your research

Whether you’re starting a new online store today, or you’ve reached a plateau in your sales and want to grow, the first thing you need to do is answer some fundamental questions.

What do you want to sell?

Online research quickly shows you the markets you might be interested in. For example, of the U.S internet users who purchased online in 2018:

  • 57% bought clothing
  • 47% bought shoes
  • 40% bought computer electronics
  • 36% bought books, music, and games
  • 32% bought cosmetics and body care

These are macro trends and, while useful to know, they can’t really help you choose the real hotcakes.

On the other hand, Google Keyword Planner can show you which exact terms people are typing into Google and their associated search volume and competitiveness. When using the planner, be aware that single-word terms are too broad: for example, “shoes” gives you no indication what the person wants (they might want to buy shoe cleaner, sell shoes, find shoelaces, etc.).

Long tail keywords of four to six words, however, are more descriptive: look for phrases like “men’s white running shoes size 11”. Not only do keywords like these account for 70% of all search traffic, but long tail terms with a high search volume are also a good indication of a popular niche. You can exploit this with your e-commerce store, but be careful to avoid terms with very few monthly searches as these won’t get you many customers.

Next, look at what other online retailers are doing. Start with the world’s largest online e-commerce platforms – Amazon and Alibaba – where you will see best sellers, trending items and interesting product lines. This will give you a clear indication of what works and what doesn’t. You can also browse local seller sites and other retailers for inspiration.

Who is your target audience?

As Seth Godin says “everyone is not your customer”. We agree: If you try to target everyone, you’ll end up selling to no-one. So, how do you choose who to target?

Google Analytics is an amazing resource if you already have a store up and running (see how to set it up here). You can set up specific dashboards that bring together useful statistics, including demographics, interests, referring sites, search terms, onsite behavior, sex, and much more. If you’re not sure how to set up a Dashboard within Google Analytics, there’s a brilliant plug-and-play option; the Google Analytics Solutions Gallery, which collates and rates dashboards from thousands of other users. Simply choose the e-commerce dashboard you want and install it. Et voilà, you instantly have all the data you need!

Tools like ours have their own analytics software built into the platform. This way, you’ll be able to see all the data you need to define and target your audience (and then optimize your sales!).

We also recommend Inc’s complete guide to conducting market research, which will help you get to know your customer. Once you know who your ideal customers are, we recommend building comprehensive buyer personas (personalized descriptions of your primary clients), as these will help you when targeting your marketing and advertising campaigns.

How big is my niche market?

If you haven’t already fallen in love with Google Trends, now’s the time to swipe right. Simply type in the terms you are interested in (“men’s shoes”, for example), and you’ll see whether its popularity is growing over time. You can look at data from the last week, the last five years, and everything in between.

In the screenshot below, you can see that search volume for “men’s shoes” has steadily grown over the past five years, with regular peaks over the holiday period.

You can also compare several search terms at once to see which are growing in popularity and which are fading. In the screenshots below, you can see where the searches are most popular (which will help with ad targeting) and which are trending. It also gives you a number of other related terms to explore; the fact that “men’s shoes near me” has exploded 1,900% is pretty noteworthy!

Who are your competitors?

You also need to scope out the competition. This could be local sellers, people in the same niche, and people targeting the same markets. Find out:

  • What they’re selling and at what price
  • Which ads they’re running
  • Which keywords they’re targeting
  • Which social platforms they’re active on

There are also a number of excellent (paid and free) competitor analysis tools you can take advantage of, which Neil Patel breaks down in this useful blog post about improving your site traffic.

STEP 2: Choose an e-commerce platform

Your e-commerce store is the solid foundation of your business. We recommend that small business owners with a tight budget go for a plug-and-play option, rather than choosing to build a site from the ground up, as that can take months of front-end design and back-end development.

But if you’re more established and are expecting a large amount of traffic and transactions, it might be worth shelling out for something more robust that easily handles the traffic, customer service issues and payments.

Note that if you do decide to build your site from the ground up, make sure to optimize it for mobile. According to Pixel Union, four-fifths of Americans shop online, more than half of them making purchases on mobile. On the flipside, users who have a negative experience in your mobile store are 62% less likely to purchase in the future. For this reason, a robust mobile platform, with mobile-native payment gateways are not optional extras anymore.

In alphabetical order, here are the e-commerce platforms we recommend and support at Carts Guru:

Magento:
Although not a plug and play solution, Magento is a robust option for bigger e-commerce stores. Pricing ranges from a free ‘community’ version, with enterprise support packages upward of $US 22,000.

Prestashop:
This is a free and open-source e-commerce solution. Additional features cost between $50 to $150 per add-on and it also offers the option to create and sell digital products.

Shopify:
Shopify is generally considered to be the industry leader. It offers access to online marketplaces and social media sales channels among other solid features. Basic plans range from $29 USD per month up to $299 per month. They also offer an Enterprise solution.

WooCommerce:
If you opt for a WordPress site, WooCommerce is the plugin you need. WooCommerce says you can have a high-functioning site for $662 ($55 per month), with customizations pushing that to $1,000.

STEP 3: Select a payment gateway

If you are building your shop or site from scratch, then you will have to think about payment gateways. The importance of these systems can’t be understated. If your customers can’t pay quickly, easily and securely, then they aren’t going to trust anything else about your brand, company or site. Again, there is no solution that will suit every business, but there are enough options out there that you should be able to find something that is the right match for you.

  • Amazon offers a one-click payment service for your e-commerce store.
  • WePay provides a flexible, free-to-set-up payment service.
  • PayPal offers a popular and well-trusted payment solution.
  • Stripe provides a native e-commerce platform with a wide range of features.
  • Worldpay gives you a pay-as-you-go and monthly subscription omnichannel solution.
  • Merchant e-Solutions allows you to create customized payment systems region-by-region.

STEP 4: Make a marketing strategy

Now it’s time to think strategy. Your objectives will be defined by your current situation, your budget, and the resources and tools you have available. To make things more manageable, you can think about it as a series of questions.

  • Do I use Facebook/Social advertising or Google Ads/search marketing? Agency Analytics has a quick guide to doing that.
  • Do I engage in influencer marketing? Twitter reported in 2016 that 40% of active users bought something based on a Tweet from an influencer. For a guide on how to identify influencers, get meaningful content out there and monitor their performance, check out this post by Disruptive Advertising.
  • What keywords am I going to use for SEO? Use Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest, Google Trends, and Google autocomplete searches to help you. Also, see this post by consultancy Reliablesoft for a strategy on how to do that.
  • How will your customers access information about returns policies? See this post called How 10 e-commerce sites present returns policies for more.
  • How will you get people to come back to their abandoned carts and make a purchase?

For more, talk to us here at Cart Guru on the chat or by email at contact@carts.guru.

STEP 5: Measure your performance and optimize, optimize and optimize again!

The last and most crucial step is one that you will do regularly, like a check-up. By keeping a keen eye on your metrics, you can see what is and isn’t working, in real-time, so you can change tack if that’s what you need.

But for businesses both old and new, it can sometimes be tough to work out the questions you should ask and which metrics you should follow closely. If you want to grow, retain customers and avoid unexpected challenges, we recommend that you keep your eye on the following things:

  • Add to Cart ratio: How many of the product page visits turn into cart-icon clicks?
  • Conversion Rate: What percentage of site visitors made a purchase?
  • Referrals: Where did those customers come from? Social channels, search engines, referrals or affiliates, etc.
  • Average Order Value (AOV): How much do certain types of customers spend?
  • Cart Abandonment Rate: What percentage of customers stop shopping before completing payment?
  • Revenue on Advertising Spend—ROAS: How well did your investment in online advertising convert into sales?
  • Customer Lifetime Value—CLV: On average, how much are your customers spending over the long-term?

By keeping an eye on your KPIs, you are free to enjoy your business and benefit from the revenues rolling in. Good luck with your new project!

==

We hope you’ve found this guide useful – if you still have some burning questions, please get in touch with our friendly team today.

==

6 Best Practices To Recover Your Abandoned Carts

E-merchants everywhere are looking for best practices to recover abandoned carts, as the industry is constantly expanding on a rapid scale. With 2019 well underway, e-commerce carries on innovating and adapting to new trends.

However, despite all this growth, the average visit conversion rate of the top 100 online retailers is 2.8%. This means that fewer than 3 in every 100 visitors turn into purchasers. Cart abandonment is still the number one challenge e-commerce businesses face. With 68% of website visitors dropping a purchase before the finish line, it’s no wonder that the conversion rates are so low.

So, how can e-merchants tackle this disheartening issue? We decided to share 6 best practices for recovering abandoned carts.

 

1. Use multichannel retargeting for better reach

Retargeting is one of the most useful ways to get visitors back to your website. Because they have already expressed interest in your product, there’s a higher likelihood of conversion when you contact them again.

But, only one channel is no longer sufficient to re-engage visitors. Emails often get marked as spam and Facebook Messenger has a strict 24h policy in which you can contact users.

A quick win is to include multiple channels into your retargeting strategy, such as:

    • Emails (30% open rate)
    • SMS (98% open rate)
    • Facebook Messenger (80% open rate)
    • Facebook Ads
    • Instagram Ads

Combine the limited power of the email with the strong open rates of SMS and Facebook Messenger campaigns. This ensures that you reach your customers through various ways and encourage them to finalize their purchase.

 

Multichannel retargeting strategies

 

2. Plan marketing automation based on customer behavior data

Marketing automation simplifies marketing tasks by automating them. It enables marketers to assign, run, and measure tasks and workflows. You not only save a lot (and we mean a lot) of time, but you can also focus on more important aspects of your company, like strategy.

You should follow a smart and efficient approach to marketing automation. Instead of having a sequence of several emails, use multiple channels to enhance reach. For example, you could create a workflow that sends one Facebook Messenger message after a few hours, and one email + one SMS after 2 days.

For best results, you can trigger the messages based on your customer’s behavior. This is why in-depth segmentation is helpful, as you can select audiences to target with specific communications.

Consider offering a discount to new customers and those that have been inactive for some time. Or, if the cart amount is higher than a certain amount, you could offer free shipping. The opportunities are endless.

 

3. Customize your communications

Everyone is different. Everyone wants to feel special. To provide a personalized and relevant experience to your customers, the strategy and segmentation are the first steps. Next, you should start customizing!

Include the person’s first name at the beginning of your message. As you will be using marketing automation, this step will be easy and carefree 😉.

Second, include the abandoned cart’s content in the message (picture + short description + price). Bear in mind that it’s not possible to include all of these in an SMS, but email and Facebook Messenger pose no boundaries. Using a personalized approach shows interest in your customer’s preferences and increases engagement.

Third, include automatically generated product recommendations relevant to the product/s left in the abandoned cart or according to your website’s best sellers.

 

 

Finally, include a direct link to the abandoned cart for customers to finalize the purchase in the easiest possible way.

 

4. Time it wisely

In this day and age, everything is a question of time, especially when it comes to recovering abandoned carts. Sending an email 3 weeks after a cart is abandoned is counter-productive and won’t benefit your strategy.

So is sending an SMS with a discount code at 4 a.m.

Let’s make one thing clear: people who abandoned their carts had a reason for doing so. Maybe it was an impulsive purchase, or they didn’t have enough money in the account, or they saw something else that they liked on another website. Regardless, the interest was there.

You should take advantage and not wait too long before reaching out. After 20 minutes of inactivity on the website, the first message should be ready to go. For example, emails sent within 20 minutes of inactivity get an average conversion rate of 5.2%, compared to 4.5% for those sent after an hour and 2.6% for those sent after 24 hours.

The numbers speak for themselves. Be careful not to put too much pressure on the user, though! One message after 20 minutes should be enough. After a few days, you can try engaging again through a different channel.

 

 

5. Be fun and visual

How to differentiate yourself from the dozens of emails people receive daily?

 

Include eye-catching visuals

Visual storytelling is becoming increasingly valued in a sea of chunky irrelevant content. This doesn’t come as a surprise given that our brains process visual content 60,000 times faster than text. Presenting text in a visual manner or using beautiful professional images increase the chances of catching buyers’ attention.

 

Be funny

No surprises here: everyone knows that humor is the way to one’s heart. Use funny GIFs, jokes, or even memes to reignite the spark between you and your audience.

 

Be original

Much like visual content, originality is essential in the endless amount of information that exists on the internet. Some might argue that it’s impossible to create anything original nowadays. We’d argue that everyone is different and even the same idea might have various ways of expression.

So, play around with words, colors, channels, and strategies to create something inspirational for your customer.

 

Be nice

Being nice implies offering something to your more important customers, such as a special discount.

The discount codes will be integrated within your messages, whether it’s emails, SMS, or Facebook Messenger. Use enticing and clear language to highlight the amazing offer you’re giving away and include redirect links to the abandoned cart. If you’re using retargeting software, like Carts Guru, the discount code will already be applied to the cart in order to optimize the user experience.

 

6. Use pop-ups

Whenever you need a quick way to reach people who have not left their contact information on your website, pop-ups come to the rescue. Use them to collect your visitor’s details, from phone number to Facebook Messenger opt-in.

Pop-ups appear at strategic moments on your website. For example, one may be triggered when the visitor is adding an item to the cart or when they are about to leave the website. Pop-ups can also encourage people to engage in gamification to win a discount code, get free shipping, or download an ebook!

 

To conclude, use multichannel strategies to help you reach more customers, marketing automation to make your job easier, and proper timing and personalized messages to engage your visitors.

Start recovering your abandoned carts today!

 

 

 

Identify your visitors with our Customer Identification Technology

68% of the carts on your e-commerce website will be abandoned. Out of these 68% abandoned carts, 70% are unidentified.

It’s frustrating to sit and watch as the opportunities slip away. And, as the Internet is becoming more and more competitive, marketers are fighting an even harsher battle to nurture every incoming lead. How could your e-commerce platform gain the advantage over the competition and recover lost visitors?

 

Customer Identification and its perks

Often, people that shop through your website have already created an account and been identified. However, if they browse through it after some time, there’s no way to know who they are unless they are logged in.

Thanks to our new technology, unidentified visitors will no longer be a problem for your e-commerce business. We developed our new Customer Identification technology to enable you to identify visitors who had previously signed up with their contact details but that are now returning to your website without logging in.

Thanks to Customer Identification, you can optimize your retargeting strategy and send these visitors personalized messages. Not only will you recover lost leads, but you’ll increase the likelihood of a conversion.

 

The technology behind Customer Identification

We developed the Customer Identification solution in-house, based on our own “Fingerprint” technology.

Fingerprint technology links a previously identified visitor’s details (the “Customer ID”). It uses a collection of information about a remote device based on public information from the browser. So, even if a previously identified visitor accessed the website from home and then browsed through it again from a cafe, Fingerprint technology will be able to identify them.

What’s best, you only need to update your Carts Guru plugin to benefit from Customer Identification.

Take advantage of Customer Identification’s full potential by updating your plugin according to your latest e-commerce platform’s version:

PrestaShop, Magento, Shopify, WooCommerce

Whether you are using our software or are planning to do so, Customer Identification simplifies the process for both e-commerce businesses and customers alike.

Re-engage unidentified visitors with our widgets

A whopping 70% of abandoned carts are non-identifiedThis means it’s not possible to re-engage with those visitors on your e-commerce website because you have no contact details… and no contact details means no retargeting.  

The good news is: widgets are designed to solve this issue. Along with our multi-channel solution, they play a key role in re-engaging visitors and developing an efficient retargeting strategy.

 

What are widgets?

Chances are high that visitors who leave will never come back.  Collecting their contact details enables you to send future follow-ups/promotions and keep them in the loop.

Widgets appear in different areas on the visitor screen – you just need to choose which kind of widget you want and where you want it to appear. The widget can be embedded below the “add to cart button” or can pop up when the visitor is taking a certain action. The main goal is to retain the visitors and encourage them to give you their contact details.

Thanks to our multi-channel widgets you are able to capture opt-in details from visitors that have shown interest in your products or services before they leave your website. Our widgets collect the email, the phone number, and the Facebook Messenger opt-in.

 

What kind of widget should I use?

Widgets are a frictionless and non-disturbing way of collecting opt-in details from visitors. This makes them a powerful tool to convert visitors into paying customers. Moreover, widgets are fully customizable! You can create widgets with images and templates that represent your brand.

Don’t forget: you can activate a widget based on various triggers such as “Leave-intent”, “Inactivity”, and the action to add an item to the cart.

 

We suggest a few widgets options, including:

  • Add-to-cart embedded: this widget is directly embedded in each product page and placed below the Add to Cart button. 

add-to-cart-embbed

  • Add-to-cart pop-up: this pop-up widget appears when the visitor is adding an item to their cart.

 

  • Flyout: this widget appears as soon as the visitor arrives on your website. It’s quite discreet and can be displayed on either right or left corner.

 

  • On-exit pop-up: this pop up appears when the visitor is about to leave your website. You can try to retain them by encouraging them to win a discount.

 

  • Wheel: a small wheel appears on the right or left side of the page and becomes bigger as the user approaches it. Once the wheel is deployed, the visitor can choose to spin it in order to win something.

 

How do I personalize my widgets?

Once you have decided which widget you want to use, you can modify the entire design: the colors, the image, the text, and so on. With Carts Guru you can personalize your widgets very easily!

 

 

Once your widget is personalized, you can start configuring it!

 

 

Choose the widget type :

  • Slot Machine (gamification): visitors earn discounts or free delivery by playing a slot machine game.
  • Direct discount (discount + free delivery).
  • No discount (ex: newsletter subscription).

Always offer something to your users if you want them to give their contact details in return 🙂

Next, when you use gamification, you can manage the discount distribution: for example, 85% chance of losing + 15% chance of winning. Don’t forget: the goal is to recover contact details, not distribute discounts 😉

Once you choose your gamification strategy, you should take into account the time lapse trigger. The widget automatically appears every time the user visits your website if there’s no time lapse configuration. We recommend setting a 24 hours time lapse in order to not affect the user experience on your website.

The last step and the most interesting one is the information you want to collect. Facebook opt-in, the phone number or the email? It’s possible to collect all 3 of them; but, that’s not the best strategy. Most of the time, combining Facebook Messenger Opt-in + the phone number or the Facebook Messenger Opt-in + the Email is an intelligent strategy. This way, the user won’t take too much time filling in the information.

NB: Facebook just announced that the default state of the checkbox plugin will be unchecked. Starting from the 9th of April 2019, the pre-checked state won’t be enabled anymore. But, don’t worry! Our multi-channel widgets have high opt-in rates because visitors take actions willingly, such as spinning a Wheel to win a discount. Furthermore, these multi-channel widgets also allow you to collect visitors’ emails and phone numbers.
collect-channels-information

Conclusion

Different type of widgets enables you to customize their strategy based on how visitors usually interact with your e-commerce website and the industry that you are in. No doubt, widgets play a big role in converting more unidentified visitors into identified visitors and then into paying customers. To understand more about our widgets and where to find them, visit our knowledge base here.

More and more awesome #SaaS #startups are cropping up in #Barcelona! Here's how @cartsguru is turning abandoned 🛒 into 💰💰💰: https://t.co/wWnFe4cKuD

There's only one way for #eCommerce businesses to combat #abandonedcarts: investing in the right #software.

We sat down with @cartsguru to talk more about their software, why SMBs can use it, and how they stand out from the competition.

https://t.co/zVNygEYq7A

Cart abandonment is still the number one challenge e-merchants face, with 68% of website visitors dropping a purchase before the finish line.

Here's 6 best practices to recover your #abandonedcarts and increase your revenue!

https://t.co/H5otKY7tou

Did you know that with our Customer Identification technology you can discover who your non-identified visitors are? 👏

Read more on our blog post! https://t.co/iAQGbIx45D

We're hiring a Social Media & Content Specialist! If you're good with words and know how to charm an audience, apply below 😉

https://t.co/1YsnuDpimj

Load More...

Is “Text Message” Part Of Your Retargeting Strategy? If Not, It Should Be!

Text Message is no longer an option. It is one of the best ways to recover abandoned carts and convert them into sales. The statistics speak for themselves… Text Message has an outstanding open rate of 98%.

text-message

We have created a short case study highlighting interesting insights comparing Text Message/Email channels.

 

Industry-Wide Case Study By Carts Guru

Based on Carts Guru industry-wide recent data, the average cart value for all industries is about €141.25. The average Text Message conversion rate of 20% in comparison to 10% for Email.

Nonetheless, there is no “one for all’ channel when it comes to retargeting strategies, therefore it’s important to evaluate and combine various channels.

The industry-wide unique Click-Through Rate (CTR), which is a very important metric- is 24% for Text Message in comparison to Email which has a CTR of 20%.

That’s why Carts Guru has decided to develop a new widget, that allows e-commerce businesses to recover Phone numbers of unidentified visitors, providing consent to do so by visitors themselves.

 

Text Message Opt-In Widget, Our New Feature!

We are delighted to add a new widget feature to our multi-channel retargeting solution: the Text Message Widget!

Facebook Messenger and Email opt-in widgets are a very effective way to collect opt-ins from non-identified visitors. But based on our feedback, we developed the Text Message feature in order to retarget non-identified visitors, whilst maintaining an excellent experience for everyone.

In this case, the visitor simply has to enter its phone number to play.

Now we will present you 3 real industry-specific examples.

 

Industry Examples

 

Fashion

Fashion is the “rockstar” when it comes to converting visitors through the Text Message channel. Its average cart value is €105.83, with an amazing 28% Text conversion rate whilst Email converted 10%.

Text Message CTR statistics are also very impressive, with 25% CTR.

On the other hand, it is important to note that the average purchase duration is 28 minutes. It is important to maintain the customer engaged shortly after abandoning the cart. 3 to 5 touchpoints are recommended, often targeting impulsive and emotionally driven purchases as a way to convert the customer.

Automotive

The Automotive industry has superb Text Message conversion rates. The average cart value is around €138.21, and its Text conversion rate close to 92%. Email, on the other hand, 10%.

Text Message Unique CTR 27.5%, and Email 21% CTR.

The average purchase period is undefined since the range of products and services offered are very broad. It is recommended to have up to 7 touchpoints for accessories below €200.

The buyer journey is more extensive for products/services above that price and so 4 touchpoints at maximum are advised for an effective retargeting strategy.

Sport and Outdoor

Our Sport and Outdoor customers have greatly benefited from the Text Message opt-in widget, with an average cart value of €160. Its Text Message conversion rate is 24% in comparison to Email 8%. There is a large contrast here.

This is also evident with the CTR conversion rates for Text Message 28%, and Email 21.5%.

 

Conclusion : 

The buyer journey is more extensive for certain products above that average cart value price, so around 3 touchpoints are recommended for an effective retargeting strategy.

No doubt, Text Message widget has excellent performance resulting in more buyers and elevating revenue for your business.

Nevertheless, when it comes to multi-channel retargeting strategies, it is important to note that some channels are more effective in some industries than others. Therefore it is vital to evaluate and combine various before deciding your business strategy.

If you want to learn more about our opt-in widgets and what they can do for your business, visit our website. 

More and more awesome #SaaS #startups are cropping up in #Barcelona! Here's how @cartsguru is turning abandoned 🛒 into 💰💰💰: https://t.co/wWnFe4cKuD

There's only one way for #eCommerce businesses to combat #abandonedcarts: investing in the right #software.

We sat down with @cartsguru to talk more about their software, why SMBs can use it, and how they stand out from the competition.

https://t.co/zVNygEYq7A

Cart abandonment is still the number one challenge e-merchants face, with 68% of website visitors dropping a purchase before the finish line.

Here's 6 best practices to recover your #abandonedcarts and increase your revenue!

https://t.co/H5otKY7tou

Did you know that with our Customer Identification technology you can discover who your non-identified visitors are? 👏

Read more on our blog post! https://t.co/iAQGbIx45D

We're hiring a Social Media & Content Specialist! If you're good with words and know how to charm an audience, apply below 😉

https://t.co/1YsnuDpimj

Load More...