19 May 2017
So, you’re considering opening or rebuilding your webshop? There’s a lot to consider! What platform are you going to use? products do you want to sell? What’s your marketing strategy? At Garden Connect we currently host and service over 100 webshops of garden centres so we know what we’re talking about. If you think we have a fixed template to launch your webshop and make it as successful as anyone else you’re wrong.
Every centre has its own goals so every webshop is bespoke and designed based on the requirements and challenges of the customer. You might want to use your webshop as an online showroom without an order button or you might want to sell plants in your own area only or maybe you want to use a different domain to sell furniture nationwide.
Every goal needs a different approach. However, the underlying principles can’t be neglected. So, based on our experience there are 3 things you have to know about your new webshop. Read & apply them to make the next step forward!
EPoS providers & integrations
If you’re on an EPoS you should integrate your webshop with it. It will sync prices, promotions and transactions. If you’re doing proper stock control that can be synced as well. Some EPoS providers offer a more in-depth integration so we’re able to allow customers to log in with their loyalty card and redeem points for example. An EPoS integration saves you time.
It could be an idea to ask your EPoS company to provide you with a webshop to keep it all under one roof. That’s as clever as buying plants at Lidl: it looks like a good deal but in the long run, it won’t grow and prosper. The technique of a webshop is only 30% of the work you have to do: the other 70% is about online marketing. And online marketing is a job on its own as you probably know by now.
Rather than picking the easiest looking solution, consider your options and ask your EPoS provider if they have partners to integrate your webshop. If you’re running a decent EPoS it won’t be complicated and you will get you a lot further in the future.
While your webshop is a great place to showcase products a lot of consumers are searching for products on Amazon, eBay and other online marketplaces. Some garden centres are just selling on eBay or Amazon. It works but it comes with a price: If competitors cut their prices you have to follow them to keep the orders coming in. You also fully rely on those online giants and they tend to be a bit unpredictable. With a regular webshop, you can generate orders just by using your own brand and via Google’s organic search results.
So rather than choosing between them, you can integrate your webshop with Amazon and eBay. The approach we take is that the webshop is your main hub. All your products are shown on your own webshop. Via the back office, you can decide which products will be pushed to Amazon or eBay. If you’re running out of stock of products it can be taken off Amazon automatically. And you may want to avoid selling products for £5 or less on eBay. Another benefit: you can easily expand to other marketplaces if you want so you’re not tied into one network.
Apart from marketplaces, you can link to price comparison websites like Google Shopping, Garden Centre Guide, Pricerunner and Pricespy as well.
By using your webshop as a hub you can maximise your exposure and growth while keeping everything under your own control.
Online Marketing & conversion optimisation
So, your webshop is up & running: what’s next? As said, getting it online is just 30% of the work you have to do! The marketing of your webshop is taking up the other 70% of your time. Now as a rule of thumb you can keep in mind that the marketing costs of online orders are about 10% of the transaction value. It can vary per product and brand but on average it will be something like this.
The first step to take is to understand the importance of search engine optimisation. We won’t go into too much detail about this here, but without proper SEO you won’t be successful. Write bespoke texts for each & every product on your webshop, be sure relevant keywords are included and make sure you’ve got plenty of backlinks pointing to your website. Don’t let people drive you crazy: SEO is all about texts, texts & texts!
The second step is conversion optimisation. To explain this, we’ve got an example. Imagine you spent £10 to get 100 visitors on your webshop. They place 2 orders so the costs per order are £5 and your conversation rate 2%. To get 4 orders you would need to spend £20.
Rather than spending more money to get more people on your webshop, we like to focus on getting more out of your existing visitors first. So, if we apply a few tricks to get 3 orders out of 100 visitors, the costs per order drop with 40% to £3.33 per order. If we double the budget to £20 it will get us 6 orders and not just 4: that’s a 50% increase and makes your webshop a lot more effective!
Doing online marketing without conversion optimisation is a guarantee you’re wasting money.
Now the texts are all fine and the conversion rate has been increased you can proceed to the next step: getting more traffic. Google AdWords is a proven way to get this done. Since you’ve already optimised texts and website you should be able to generate orders via AdWords which will cost you about 10% of the total transaction value. Since gross margins are roughly between 40% and 60% this means every order will generate a net profit for your garden centre. Now that’s what you’re looking for, isn’t it?
If you’re using your webshop as an online showroom you can target your marketing efforts on your own area. This can be done in an easy way and will help you to generate footfall rather than online orders. You can leave the order-button off of your webshop but use wishlists instead so visitors can prepare their visits in the best possible way.
A webshop or not?
If you’re considering opening a webshop: stop thinking. A webshop is a must-go for every retailer. However, that doesn’t mean you have to sell nationwide or ship products. You can use it as an online showroom to help consumers navigate through your product range before they visit your garden centre.
Regardless of the direction you’re taking, be sure to consider your options and make the right decision: it will make a difference in the long run and can harm your business if you don’t. Don’t hesitate to give me a ring if you want to learn more about webshop, e-commerce and online marketing or visit our website.
Have a great week & enjoy the spring!
0203 475 5541