Want to earn more profit from your online store and don’t know where to start? Read on to get some killer tips (as shared by established entrepreneurs) on building an online store that reaps returns.
To be an entrepreneur in the 21st century is to embark a stressful, lonely journey. The excruciating maelstrom of anxiety, success and stress is a commonplace feeling shared by many. With few people to share the load and a dearth of social interaction, being at the top with no one to help can be tough. But not all hopes are lost.
It is in this spirit of bringing a community of like-minded entrepreneurs together that spurred hoolah to collaborate with Canadian e-commerce company Shopify. Here in Singapore, the two jointly organise and host frequent networking sessions for local entrepreneurs to foster a sense of belonging, engage in creative banter, and share sound advice.
For its third successful run of the year, the two partnered with branding and web design specialist, 360&5, to launch a collaboration, which took place at WeWork in late-August, that dives into the specifics of online retail and sheds light on the nuts and bolts of creating a more distinctive online presence that drives profit.
In case you missed it, here are the main takeaways:
1) Brand Identity is King
According to Brandwatch, there are 4.4 million users on the internet with close to 3.5 million active social media users in 2019. And in an earlier meetup, Nikhil Durgani, Business Manager of Apps & E-commerce of Google Singapore, revealed a shocking statistic: by 2020, more than 20 billion devices will be connected to the internet.
In other words, the competition to capture consumers’ attention in the digital domain will only become more competitive and difficult in the future. While it is intuitive that having a distinctive brand identity — an outward expression of the brand that communicates to potential clients — can help one stands out, few are doing it right.
“Companies know this but surprisingly, most of them don’t brand themselves well,” says Andrew Luke Lim, co-founder and Art Director of 360 & 5, at the event. “You have to remind yourself with these guiding questions: Who are you? What is it that you do? How do you do it?”
Web homepages, he adds, should showcase how the brand can value-add to the consumers’ lifestyle. Creative elements — in the form of the use of images, typography, and colours — should be developed and used.
What kind of images you place and where you place them in the background can affect and influence consumers’ behaviours. Consumers, who are always cognizant of the background, are likely to be convinced to stay longer on the website. Images used should be of good resolution quality, properly cropped, and reflect the brand’s positioning.
Companies should also pick the best font that reflects the brand. Make use of Google Fonts or Font Joy to help you sieve out your options. As a general rule of thumb, follow these: If your message is a formal one or addresses a formal crowd, go for conventional fonts. But if you are looking to appeal to the younger demographics, feel free to experiment around funky fonts.
The use of different header size is also of paramount importance. “Big headers and sub-headers help to concisely categorise information on the web page,” Andrew says. “They are guides that aid consumers to wrestle with the information and brands should only feed consumers with the right information only when appropriate.”
The choice of colour behind every brand is one of the most distinctive elements that make up a brand’s identity. Recent years, research into the persuasiveness of colours to influence mood and behaviours, also known as colour psychology, have yielded interesting results.
One study revealed that 90% of the snap judgements that participants made on the product are influenced by colours. While another study, titled “Exciting red and competent blue”, suggested that colours influence how participants’ perception of the brands’ personalities, and this can impel certain purchasing behaviours.
“Don’t go crazy and be overly vibrant,” Andrew jokes, emphasising the importance of maintaining consistency while a brand goes about selecting colours. “Choosing a colour is all about the art of drawing the eye around the page.”
2) Streamline the Navigation by Clearing the Clutter
Brands are often overly zealous when presenting their products on webpages. With so much to show and so much freedom over the digital domain, we get the importance of showing consumers what each of your product can do. But according to American psychologist, Barry Schwartz, who penned in his book, “The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less”, having more choices is not necessarily better and they are unlikely to yield satisfaction.
Brands should declutter and curate a selection of the best-selling products to be viewed first. “When consumers face with far too many choices, it slows down their decision-making process and inevitably likely to decrease sales,” Andrew elaborates. “If you are comparing different products together, limit the choices to three or four before bundling them together for comparison.”
3) Playing with Augmented Reality and Going Global
As announced at the Shopify Unite 2019 partner and developer conference, merchants using Shopify can now create a more powerful (and compelling) brand story with an all-new and wholly-robust product browsing experience aimed at driving better engagements with augmented reality. “The Video and 3D update to the product section of the Shopify Admin will become available to all merchants later this year,” says Sarah Tan, Partner Manager at Shopify, at the event. “They will definitely improve the conversion process.”
Beyond expanding and improving on your visual vocabulary to capture attention, leveraging on the global market can serve to be an effective test for your brand (and yield sales at the same time).
For merchants and brands who use Shopify as an e-merchant, they can also soon sell their products in multiple languages. Enhancements and updates to Shopify will now support more APIs, such as the Translation API and Shop Locale API, and this will help tap into even more hard-to-reach markets.
4) Making Consumers Stay
It has always been critical for brands to understand consumers’ needs and preferences. And a good way to do so, as Akul Dewan from hoolah suggests, is by putting yourself in consumers’ shoes and map their decision-making process. The Customer Journey Map, as mentioned in a prior meetup, should detail multiple personas of your customers’ profile, and help find solutions to problems they face.
“You should go through what your customers go through. If customers feedback that shipping is a hassle, try shipping something to yourself and see what went wrong,” Akul adds. “There is no harm in that.”
Besides creating engaging visuals, having easy navigation and improving the web page’s loading speed, having a consistent content strategy can help reduce the bounce rate. “Video content can easily engage and appeal to the audience, while written articles can serve to be informative banks,” says Andrew.
In a panel discussion, Ryan Choy, founder and chief brand officer at Faire Leather Co., emphasises the importance of having a chatbot. “It helps engage the customers immediately and we can see where these enquiries come from,” Ryan says. “That also means with time, we can determine what are some of the problems — or popular purchases — people in different locations encounter.”
5) Pilot-Testing Comes from Home
Suppose you have a new web page or that your web page has gone through a new makeover. You’d want to gather as much customers’ feedback as possible and the easiest way to gather them is way closer than you think.
“Your network of friends and families are your biggest assets,” says Joanne Lim, founder of The Letter J Supply.
Siti Amirah Mohamed Asrori, the founder of womenswear resort label Camira Asrori, agrees, “Let everyone experience your website. Ask your grandparents, your younger acquaintances, and friends around your age. For creatives like us, who manages everything alone, the details given by these users are important. Sometimes, we may lose the bigger picture of what we were supposed to go for and they bring us back on track.”