In the first two installments of this four-part guide to e-commerce for small businesses, Brendon Williamson of payment service provider PayGate and web designer Petrus Schoeman of Eye-D Solutions looked at the strategic decisions you need to make before starting to develop your site, and then at the importance of developing your own catalogue and other content.
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1. A successful site is a living site
A successful e-commerce site is not built once and then left alone to fend for itself: You will need to put in ongoing effort to keep it fresh and relevant to entice customers to come back. Popular retail site YuppieChef is a good example of this. They are constantly adding new products, creating specials and advertising special sales.
This kind of active marketing means that small changes need to be made to your site, all the time: You need to be able to add new products to your catalogue and remove old ones, change prices, create sales, change headlines and pictures on your home page and create your own blog posts or newsletters.
We can’t guarantee that if you do this marketing work your e-commerce site will succeed; but we know that if you don’t do it, your site will fail.
2. Take responsibility for your own maintenance
In theory, it’s quite possible to have a website that’s always evolving and changing, without ever having to touch it yourself – you could simply outsource it all to your web developer.
In practice, this is often a bad strategic decision. If you want a site that is nimble and fresh, the best thing you can do is invest time in learning how to manage it yourself. With modern content management systems it really is not all that hard – and the more you become familiar with the back end of your site, the more you will understand its possibilities and how to apply them to grow your business.
So, when you ask for a quote for your website, make sure you ask the developer to include the cost of training: It’s not a frill. The training should include how to log onto and understand your site’s admin dashboard, how to make simple changes — and importantly, what areas you should stay away from.
One session of a couple of hours, followed by a refresher a couple of weeks later, should be enough to set you on your way.
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