Build it and they will come is rarely successful in the eCommerce world unless what you build is rated and made visible by Google. In order to do that you have to ensure that your content is detailed and helps a customer make the right decision to buy the right product. Focus on that pays off in the medium term when Google delivers a constant stream of the right people looking for your offering to your site. The bad news is – it takes time and it’s not easy.
This week we are delighted to be joined by
- Donal Crotty of Little White Bull
- Stephen Jiang of Fervor and Hue
- Kanisha Karara of Beer Cloud
- Natacha Segura of Mystic Ireland
Little White Bull started in the Pandemic and initially was focused on novelty gifts coming up to Christmas. That quickly transitioned into a more targeted focus on good Irish designs and gifts, especially in the Handbag area but also including jewellery and sunglasses. The key trick here is knowing your audience and providing them with an experience that matches their expectation and Instagram and building that following has been a key element of driving this store onwards.
Fervor and Hue were a traditional home furnishing and homeware store that prior to the Pandemic had an Online presence but it represented a small part of the business and so only received a small part of the business’s attention and investment. That changed of course when things swung to online went we went into lockdown. Like many other clients I worked with, it was at least easier to improve and accelerate the Online presence once there was something there to build on. The interesting thing here is how Stephen and the team integrated this into the daily work and life of the staff. They were used to interacting with customers face to face on the shop floor now they also do this via the website and instant messaging. That is a bit of a culture change for everyone but key to success I believe. That customer will always choose the channel or means they want to reach you with and the challenge for the business is to be there at that moment to serve that need.
Beercloud is a reflection of changing patterns tastes and a great response to the both the growth in Craft beers as well as the challenges of the closed Pubs. Having done some work with a couple of craft breweries there is a real challenge in that customers in this space always want to try new beers and having a loyal customer to your brand alone is really difficult. Working as an aggregator and one that introduces people to new beers in this space has to be a win-win for both the craft brewer and the aficionado that wants to try different ones without too much work. Creating different bundles, adding snacks to help re-create the pub experience at home, and introducing a subscription service are all elements of a well-thought-out user experience that should help grow a loyal audience for this innovative store.
Mystic Ireland is a store in the early stages of developing its offering and is aimed to help establish the physical retail presence also. The challenges here include needing to educate and explain the nature of the offering and indeed finding the right audience. The approach here is to build slowly but consistently towards a good experience and by doing that in a way that keeps the customer engaged then success can be found.
These are all unique and interesting offerings and of course Irish to boot. t proves that there is a bigger opportunity to compete and gain back the rightful share of the Online business for Irish owned and operated online stores but it also means eCommerce Operators have to double down to make sure their stores, their offerings are actually found and that takes often us back to a fundamental programme for successful eCommerce which is Search Engine Optimisation or SEO.
It’s a topic that drives me mad because it has a bad reputation and rightly so for people promising things that they can’t deliver and full of technical jargon that makes this seem like a mystical thing – so yes there are the technical aspects to good Search Engine Optimisation but I don’t expect a Painter to talk to me about the chemistry of the paint he is using when he comes in to paint my shop. Likewise with SEO – it’s really simple.
Google became the biggest search engine for one simple reason they were completely maniacally focused on delivering the end-user the best result or the best answer to the question that they asked or searched. It’s that simple. Google got very good at understanding what we value in terms of both content and user experience and they also got good at learning who we would trust. So if Google looks at your site and can’t understand it, does not see good relevant content, does not see other people linking to it as a measure of its authority then guess – Google ain’t going to show it to anyone and we are down the bottom of a dark alley as we mentioned last week.
So you have to look at your site and your product pages particularly and ask the question – does this page answer all the questions that a customer might ask a Sales Assistant in a real shop about this product. Is it clear and understandable and is it well presented?
Chances are if it does that – it will also rank well in search engines and if 30-40% of your traffic is not coming from people who Google thinks are looking for what you sell then generally you will have a much harder job to be successful. It is like having the world’s Biggest Finger sign pointing to your window telling people here is where you will find what you are looking for.
The challenge is making that happen, investing in good content and descriptions, imagery, customer reviews even video. But you have to think of it the same way as hiring good staff, training them, motivating them so that they are engaging and helpful to customers, and rewarding them appropriately.
I really want a picture that when I search for something in Google the first page is full of good quality Irish options to fulfill that requirement – not just Amazon and out-of-country retailers. In order for that to happen as operators, we have to think constantly and invest consistently in optimizing our store to get that traffic because the bad news is – it does not happen quickly – it can take 12-18 months. So set your activity and budget with that in mind and invest accordingly
You can’t compete with Amazon on price or even product selection and size of their catalogue but you can compete in terms of how you present your offering, what additional insight and expertise you bring to the conversation as well as your connection with that customer – how you communicate, how you continue to be useful – as humans the pandemic has taught us that we crave those connections and as eCommerce operators we have to think how we can be more than just a product provider but build and connect to our audience, our customer base and turn it into our tribe if we can.
Enjoy the Listen