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E-Commerce Adapting to Change- Video

May 1/20 Virtual Mentor Series presentation facilitated by the Dufferin Board of Trade. This session features an discussion on E-Commerce by Liz Skorski, Skorski Web Design Inc.

Topics covered:

Concept: 15 things to consider when implementing eCommerce
Mechanism- Which E-Commerce platform to choose
Metrics- realistic stats
Marketing- importance of marketing plan

Agri Food E-Commerce Grant

Are you a CSA Farm in Ontario? 

Do you normally sell in your farm store or farmers market?

E-commerce for your Agri Food business may be the answer.

Government of Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has just launched an Agri-Food Open for E-Business initiative.

The first funding stream is to Bring Your Business Online: Provides a grant of up to $5,000 to eligible organizations/businesses to help establish an online e-business and marketing presence. Funding under this stream will be quick and responsive for those needing immediate solutions. 

Target Audience

Eligible agriculture, agri-food and agri-products businesses/organizations (such as farmers, processors, individual farmers markets, on-farm markets, retailers, garden centres, greenhouses, nurseries and agricultural associations) that are looking to bring their business online quickly can apply to receive a grant of up to $5,000 in order to capture business opportunities and address marketing challenges through a new, expanded or enhanced online e-business and marketing presence. 

Stream 1 Priorities
Agri-food and agri-products businesses develop market channels to retain and/or expand sales with primary objective of bringing products to customers.

Eligible Activities
Costs Incurred on or after April 24, 2020 for the following:

  • Development, enhancement and expansion of an online marketing/sales platform (e.g. e-commerce capability, website, online ordering, overall online presence)
  • Initial or start-up licensing or subscription fees up to six months
  • Domain acquisition
  • Website design and graphic development
  • Marketing (e.g. Search Engine Optimization, web ads, building social media presence)
  • Distribution system/model development
  • Training key personnel on processes
  • Initial development and validation of new operational processes, including creating processes for logistics of delivery through new marketing channels, shipping, delivery, fulfillment, warehousing and related transactions   
  • Piloting sales practices and systems
  • Minor facility modifications to address social distancing requirements that are directly related to the project (e.g. curb side pickup for online orders)

 

Ineligible Activities
Activities that create new Ontario only branding in order to explicitly promote Ontario products over products of another Province or Territory

Program Details Intake Application

Read more about E-Commerce Solutions

E-Commerce for Your Business

The use of e-commerce on your website is imperative now and for the future.  Adaptability is key!

As I write this post we are 1 month into the Covid 19 pandemic and I am so saddened by the state of business. The Ontario and Provincial governments have put in place many great programs but there still seems to be a hole where small business is concerned. Case in point, as of today, there is no mandated commercial rent relief which has caused many client hardships.

As we look forward, most businesses will need to adapt their business model. Not just for now, but for the future, if this were to happen again.

I have had many conversations about ways to monetize businesses now.

The biggest and most obvious answer is E-Commerce.

Established businesses have quite successfully turned to online sales. I recently did a fast (3 day) development of a start up business and a local farm.  Both have yielded great results right away, because their customers were wiling to adapt with them.

The hard part, of course, is the service industries. I have coached one business to offer online fitness classes and by using newsletters and Zoom, she could offer 1/2 hour classes for free to get the customers interested in it, and now she is graduating to paid Zoom classes using a Mailchimp Shoppable Landing Page.

Many are looking for options; In the service industry like a trade, what if you offered a no touch/contact service with online payment. You would have to come into the clients home in full PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) to do the service, however payment would be automated (touchless).

One store who can no longer be open, was able to offer one-on-one sales using PPE to protect her and the customer. By showing the product on social and on the website, she could book interested customers with fittings in privacy and with no one else in the store. Payments are done online.

Solutions

It is best to contact a professional when implementing e-commerce. Sure you can do it yourself on Shopify (which is a great platform) but why house that function outside your current website/domain?

E-commerce is best integrated properly into your current website if at all possible, it will keep your branding intact, and help SEO too.  We want to make sure there is a seamless integration. We like to use WooCommerce because it offers immense flexibility and expansion opportunities and will work with WordPress perfectly. Out of the box WooCommerce is feature filled and easy to integrate with Square.

Some commonly used features are: Simple and variable products, stock management, wholesale sales, appointments with pre-payment, member sales, Canada post intregration and many more.

Whether it is 1 product or service or 500, we can get you set up, teach you how to manage the store and empower you.

 

Data is Key

It is imperative to collect stats where web visitors come from, where they go, and how long they stay. By analyzing the data, we can see what is working and what isn’t.

Often small businesses use the Spray and Pray Are you just putting stuff out there for your marketing and hoping that people will find you and become a customer? This spray and pray approach to marketing has been failing companies forever, and it’s because you are essentially leaving it up to luck for strangers to become customers.If you want to influence people in your target market to become your customer, you must dictate what that process looks like and the steps they should be taking. Create content for your website, social media channels, and email messages that help guide someone from their before state to their transformational after state of being a customer.

approach. Spraying your marketing message out to anyone and everyone and hoping that the right someone will immediately come knocking at your door just doesn’t cut it.

Our approach to digital marketing ensures the right mix of Content Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, and Online Advertising can be tailored for each individual client depending on where the data points them.

While small businesses and nonprofits recognize the need to promote their message online to grow their audience, they are often at the size/budget where they lack the expertise of an in-house digital marketer. We can help fill that gap by providing digital marketing services at the fraction of the cost of a full-time employee.

Some things to consider:

  • Know exactly what you are trying to accomplish with your marketing- set goals and know the desired result.
  • Determine who is your ideal client?
  • Research- do they need what I have to offer?
  • Do they have the money to spend on my product or service?
  • What problem does my product/service solve for the client?
  • Develop a message that speaks to the clients need.
  • Implement several marketing channels to hit your target market,
  • Analyze the data to determine success.

Professional or Do it Yourself?

Recently there has been much conversation about free or do it yourself vs. hiring an website professional to develop your site. It can be so confusing.

If you are a very small business, just starting out, you need to analyse your start up costs with the $ of sales. Do not overbuy your first website, in that case it may be prudent to do it yourself or have a one pager for credibility until you have enough sales to support your marketing. Often in a start up, the website we create first is not what you will need in 12 months.

The definition of a website professional is being morphed and changed by the “new people” on the scene. We recently ran across a company that is specializing in “Wix” sites and calling themselves a web designer. Same with Shopify, WordPress.com, square… While excellent platforms, they do have limitations and you are completely tied to their platform. You will not have the ability to develop custom functions or add programming if required.Often people are frustrated with the level of customization available these platforms.

If you are looking for a new website, redesign or developer, it is harder than ever to compare pricing and skill sets.

Professional Web Design for Small business

Here are 10 tips;

  1. There is a large difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org
    When developing a corporate site, you will be quite limited on wordpress.com because you can not add custom coding, there is no sftp protocal and it is a multisite environment. There is no option to add your own premium theme and custom plugins.
  2. A business web site should be done in a quality hosting environment using http2, php 7.2 + and an ssl certificate.
  3. Your web designer should be familiar with inbound marketing, content creation, e – newsletters, lead pages, Google Analytics and search console.
  4. Graphics are extremely important and a well rounded web designer will be experienced with graphics, photo editing and resizing. The designer will develop a colour pallet using your logo and /or industry and carry the branding forward into the website.
  5. SEO is one of the most important considerations and the web site should be developed with this in mind. We always develop using WordPress.org on a independant hosting space using a top level domain. Keyword and competition research is critical.
  6. Your designer should include a back up protocol and security software. These days we are even recommending Securi for monitoring, malware scanning, firewall and uptime.
  7. Talk to your web designer about the marketing approach, they should be very familiar with content layout, marketing language, user experience and conversion techniques.
  8. Each web designer has a toolbox of skills and that should be extensive. The more experience the better. If an agency, ask who the developer actually is, if outsourced, it could be an issue later when you need changes.
  9. Interview the web designer, you need to develop a relationship, as your site will be around for 2-3 years and then you probably need to change it up. The website will need regular maintenance and you can be trained on the content management
  10. In case of site crash, what is the response time. Do they know how to fix it? Technical ability is important as we know, anything can be hacked.
    Proactive is always better.

What is your Strategy?

Often we get clients calling wanting a website but have no plans to blog or use social media, videos etc.  Part of our job is to educate customers on the fact that just the website alone is not enough.  Each business should have a clear content creation plan to complement their inbound marketing strategy.  Gone are the days of build a website and leave it.  With millions of websites online,  we must stay competitive on the content/ information driven internet.

We work with clients to help them understand the strategy of inbound marketing and how the website works in conjunction with blogging, social media, video, newsletters, lead magnets, e-commerce etc.

Your website should be the HUB that ties all your marketing efforts together. Conversions happen on your website; whether the visitor picks up the phone, buys something or signs up for an offer. The website is the hub of all your business information.

The concept is to lead the viewer back to the website at any opportunity so that they have the opportunity to see the products and services you have.   Here are some examples of some marketing strategies and how they work with your website. 

Example: You see a beautiful blouse your friend shared on Instagram, you think, I want that blouse, so you click the link in the post and land on the website that sells the blouses.  You can then investigate what else they have and buy the blouse.

Another example; your child is acting out at school, you Google “child acting out at highschool”  the search results indicate a local phychologist written blog article that discusses parental strategies, you read the article and are impressed with the tips so you look on the website further and find you can go for family counselling.  This same example holds true with videos as well, as long a detailed description is used with the video.

Website hub of your business