Commerce is simply buying and selling with an emphasis on doing so on a large-scale. eCommerce, then, is the conduct of this activity in an online or e-(electronic) environment. “Large-scale” is illustrated by behemoth eTailers like Amazon, Zappos, DOD EMALL, eBay and GSA Advantage. In the early days of eCommerce there was an “If you build it, they will come” mentality. This worked for a while, in part due to curiosity over new technology and often because there was something available that was truly interesting. I’m sure you’ve already noticed a real element of chicken-or-egg involved here. If you don’t have products of interest, customers will not come to your site, but if you don’t have customers, it’s hard to convince purveyors of products to take a business risk on you.
As it goes, those early days are over and all of the dust has pretty well settled. A survey of the top eCommerce platforms indicates that there are two main areas that you must get right to get to the top and stay there: performance—as discussed in my last blog post—and content. Today I’ll address content. As I mentioned in my previous blog, if you leave out half of the equation, you are essentially multiplying the half you do have by zero. More concisely put: leave out even one, and you’ve got nothing. Putting your time into improving performance for your customers is futile unless you’ve also considered content.
Four eCommerce Content Do’s
One important aspect of content that I’ll touch on first is richness. If people are unable to use their physical senses to understand a product, they’ll need another means of understanding just what that product is in order to know that they want it . Visual and textual information that aid the consumer in envisioning themselves holding or using what you are selling is vital. Including a product image is a given but please don’t stop there. Make sure you have details like dimensions, weight, materials and suggested uses—anything that will help to create a full, rich picture in your customer’s mind. Probably one of best providers of this is the opinions of others. Being able to read about the experience of others is the fastest way for your customers to see themselves in the same shoes and, ultimately, start the check-out process.
When it comes to content, please also address quantity. If you offer a product line, be sure to offer the full product line and associated products. It’s a competitive eWorld out there. When shipping costs are free or start to become lower when amortized across several items, customers are more likely to submit that shopping cart as an order. If they can’t find everything they are looking for, a one-stop shop so to speak, they are likely to go looking elsewhere to either minimize their shipping expense or simplify order tracking.
Now that you have lots of rich content, you also want to start thinking of all that rich content as an asset. It is extremely valuable. Others will want it. You need to develop strategies that either leverage or protect that data to your best advantage. There’s nothing wrong with sharing as long as you are getting equal value back from the arrangement.
The last content tip that I want to touch on is grooming your content for success by selecting and following a data standard. A data standard is going to help you organize your content in a meaningful way and point out gaps that should be filled. Once you have standardized your content using a vetted approach such as G1 or ECCMA, you have added two more items of value to your content: the ability to mine the data effectively with business analytics tools and portability of your content to wherever you want it to go.
Remember, it’s no longer the early days of eCommerce, so it is imperative that you hone your strategy when it comes to buying and selling. Keeping these four Do’s in mind as you build or improve your content will help you and your site thrive in this competitive eCommerce arena. So, what do you say; what are some of your eCommerce musts?
In case you missed it, be sure to read the first in my two-part eCommerce series: 3 eCommerce Mistakes You’re Making. Never miss a post again; subscribe to TurnLevel to receive blog posts right to your email inbox. It’s easy and it’s free.