Ecommerce owners do a lot of trial-and-error work on their way to building a successful operation. Along the way to success, it often becomes clear that the road could have been less rocky if a few things were done differently. Hindsight is often painfully clear. Several ecommerce owners outlined what they would do differently, if they had the chance to start over.
SHANE MCKENZIE, PRESIDENT/OWNER
SELLS: Sunglasses & accessories
ANSWER: I would spend more time learning how a site’s design can impact conversion and search engine rankings. I would take more care with product images; improvements in this area really improve sales.
DEBRA KILLEN, OWNER
SELLS: Personalized gifts for all occasions
ANSWER: My answer is really two-fold, but both ideas work together. To build my site, I would choose a well-rounded platform — one that would grow with my store. The second and more important thing would be to hire someone to design my website at the very beginning rather than trying to do it myself. My time is best spent developing products. My money is best spent paying someone who really knows how to design a website.
ANNE CAVICCHI, OWNER
SELLS: Maternity, nursing and baby clothing, accessories and gifts
ANSWER: I would choose proven shopping cart software and a proven host. Initially, I used a program written by an acquaintance. I soon realized it wasn’t going to do the job for me, so I switched to MIVA Merchant. I had to basically rebuild my site and re-enter all my products. When it became apparent my host wasn’t all that great either, I had to switch that, too. I would have made more sales sooner — and I would have saved myself a lot of aggravation and work — had I done this in the first place. Live and learn!
SIMON MILLINGTON, PRESIDENT
SELLS: Golf equipment
ANSWER: I wish we had better understood the marketing angles that really serve to grow a business. Over the years, it’s to be hoped that you will figure out what performs best, but we could have been more up to speed with search engine optimization and affiliates. Pay-per-click was a quick solution and worked well, but we missed out on the volume of traffic other methods produce. Things move fast with ecommerce, so it is vital you move at the same speed.
NORMAN VAZQUEZ, OWNER
SELLS: Premium specialty coffee, roasted per individual order, on demand ANSWER: Use a website host that has flexibility. We chose our first host because it enabled us to build our website using its templates. It was a decent and functional site, but we quickly outgrew it. In retrospect, I can see that we gave up flexibility in order to get our site up and running quickly. Don’t rush. Select a host wisely, preferably with 24/7 support. If you don’t, you’ll end up spending time rebuilding a site at a time when you should be growing your business.
MARK HEVERLY, OWNER
SELLS: Fishing tackle and equipment
ANSWER: Paying for website submissions to search engines was not worth the cost, and it was the first thing we eliminated. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of website optimization. Create web pages that are keyword-rich to help drive you to the top of the search pages.
JULIE LEE, OWNER
SELLS: Diamond and Moissanite Jewelry
ANSWER: I would have researched and learned more about marketing an online business, and I would have spent more time measuring the items that truly matter — like conversion rates. I would have focused more on branding, and I would have concentrated my marketing efforts on the products that generated the greatest ROI. Unfortunately, I haven’t always spent my time and money wisely.