Online store website

You’ve done the analysis to create your D2C strategy. You’ve worked out the prices and costs and still feel strongly there’s a business opportunity for you. Now, you work our your plan for your online store website. How will you drive marketing and the shopping experience to attract online shoppers and grow you sales?

Online store website

The launch of an online store website can require a lot of different actions to take place. We’ve grouped these actions into broad themes which you can read about in this and other articles in this section.

The first of these we call the ‘front of house’ experience. It means you need to create the online connections that will get an online shopper to buy from your online store website. From advertising to website experience to check-out, there are many steps to consider. 

This is essentially the marketing element of your D2C strategy with a focus on website development.

Welcome to marketing billboard sign to introduce our integrated marketing approach

Online store website marketing

We have a whole separate section on Digital Marketing. Most of the concepts and skills outlined in that section also apply to D2C.

You will need to build out a digital marketing plan to drive ‘acquisition’ or visits to your website. The most common acquisition channels for D2C are social, search and display.

Social media channels 

As most social media channels are essentially visual and are ‘shareable’, they are where most D2C businesses start their advertising and media planning. It is relatively simple to set up and run small advertising campaigns on channels like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We cover these in more detail in our Digital Marketing section. 

A couple of specific call-outs though for D2C. We’d highly recommend making sure that you have some knowledge of tagging and analytics. And that your campaigns in social channels have been properly tagged.

We’d also recommend you spend some time testing and learning what works in terms of message and style with your audience. You want to show your products and if possible in a lifestyle image or as part of a carousel or video campaign. Plain backgrounds and poor imagery will likely result in consumers ignoring your advertising. 

Consider testing different messages.

Can you do a promotional offer for example? (e.g. 20% off until this Sunday) Or can you do exclusive or limited edition product offers (e.g. last 50 units left in stock)?

A budget of A$10 will reach about 600 people currently and is a good test number to see if your ad works before deciding to spend more. 

Search 

The second key area to focus on in your D2C store is search. You want to make sure that your website and its contents are findable by search engines. This involves making sure that the content you write for the product pages are optimised for search.

Consider the brand names and the product descriptions. Make sure all the relevant meta data has been completed to make it easier for search engines to find your products.

digital marketing

It is worth registering for Google Merchant Centre. This helps your store appear in Google surfaces. These include image and shopping searches. If you are able to supply Google with the relevant information, Google can deliver free search results for your D2C store. There’s a great article on the process here.

You can also used paid for (search) advertising to boost traffic to your site. If you already have a well-established brand that people search for, this can help boost traffic to your D2C site.

But if you are a relatively new D2C store, you should consider this as a ‘stage 2’ part of your launch plan. You will need to build awareness in order to drive search traffic looking for your store.

Display advertising

You should also consider more traditional advertising models to drive traffic to your store. Your advertising, packaging and PR can all be used to make people aware of the existence and benefit of your store.

If you are working on a small budget, social media advertising as discussed above is the easiest and most effective route to test.

But if you have more budget, consider where your target audience are likely to be shopping online. Can you look at using existing online marketplaces like EBay or Amazon as an advertising channel to drive people to your store?

Three brains working together

Build your online store website

You have many options when it comes to building your D2C website. Which you choose depends on your business requirements and your level of expertise and budget. 

As you can see on this link, WooCommerce is the most common e-Commerce platform with about 45% market share. Much of this is down to it being part of WordPress which dominates the Content Management System sector. many businesses find it makes sense to use a platform that’s already set up to connect to your website. If you are already paying for a WordPress site downloaded from WordPress.org, it usually comes with WooCommerce included.

The other two notable options are Shopify and Magento. These have been set up to be online shopping specific platforms (rather than general content hubs which stretch into e-Commerce). Both come with a price attached though.

Shopify packages come at basic cost of $29/month, a more advanced option at $79/month and a much larger scaleable version of the platform at $299/month (all prices in USD).

With these options you get access to a lot of customisable templates and plug-ins to set up your D2C store. Even on the basic level you get technical support and can certainly get a serviceable D2C store up and running.

Spend more, get more

The more expensive platforms come with much more customisable features like gift cards, report building and more options to tailor the shopping experience such as the display and check out to fit your brand. Shopify do take fees for managing payments. But these drop in % terms the bigger the package you pay for.

Magento is a much more advanced option. It can develop much more sophisticated options for your D2C store. In particular, for the back-end set-up of your store managing orders and deliveries, you will have much more flexibility to adapt it to your needs.

If you are a large existing business that needs to integrate a D2C store into your SAP set-up for example, Magento is likely a good option for you. You can read a comparison of the different options here.

For the purposes of this article, we are going to assume that you are a beginner when it comes to setting up a D2C store. It is relatively straightforward to set up a store in WooCommerce and Shopify. It can be done without much technical knowledge. But if you plan to use Magento, we’d recommend hiring a developer or agency with experience on developing on that platform.

Customer Experience

The Online Shopping Experience

As you build your D2C store, we recommend drawing out the different steps the shopper needs to go through from landing on your site to making a purchase. Write each step out on a post-it and map them out on the wall. Then go through each step and work out if that step is really necessary. Is it adding value to the shopper experience or getting in the way?

Your aim is to create the minimum amount of clicks required to complete a purchase. Research shows the more ‘clicks’ it takes to complete a purchase, the more likely a shopper will NOT complete the purchase.

In particular a couple of things to watch out for. If you are a new D2C store, you will want to capture information about your shoppers so that you can re-target them in the future. So you may be tempted to force an account set-up or sign-up to a membership e-mail or registration. Recent research however, showed that if new shoppers are give the option, about  the guest check-out is chosen about 20% more than the logged in check-out when both options exist.

By all means, offer subscriptions and memberships. But think very hard about where they come in the shopper experience. To maximise online sales, you want to eliminate friction points in the process. We highly recommend once you have the first draft of your store ready, ask friends and family who are not involved in the site to test place an order.

Things that you thought were obvious will not be to shoppers who come to the site cold. You can easily refine and smooth the experience pre-launch to increase the likelihood of sales.

The selling proposition, content and branding

If you build out your site on a platform like WooCommerce or Shopify, you’ll likely complete a standard set of templates / pages which are common to most e-Commerce sites. The home page with access to a product catalogue. A product information page for each product. The check-out page to complete the order. And a ‘basket’ page.

There are ways to refine each of these steps which we will be covering in a future article. But we wanted to close off this article by referring back to the ‘marketing experience’.

The content including the imagery and wording should relate back to your brand identity. If you are selling premium ice cream, you want the design to reflect the premiumness of the product and show people enjoying your product. If you are selling fashion items, then you want the style to come though and show people actually wearing your items. And if you are a service, lets say a coffee shop or a hairdresser, you want to make sure the points of difference about your service are conveyed through the online buying experience for your shopper.

Keep improving the experience

It can be quite confronting when you start out building your D2C store. But if you keep focussing on improving the experience, you will win over online shoppers. Keep looking for ways to improve.

If you find you have large drop-out rates at the start, use your site analytics to work out what’s going wrong and fix it. When the shopper comes back, they don’t remember what it was like before anyway. Most successful e-tailers evolve their sites on a daily basis to constant improve the shopping experience.

It’s worth checking out where some of Australia’s leading retailers started off their websites selling online to see how hard it is to get started and what can be done with continued improvements. Check out how Australia’s biggest supermarkets started our selling online for example. 

Woolworths website from 1997  

Coles website from 1996 

Three-brains and e-Commerce

We have worked on many e-Commerce projects and have good experience across strategy, working with retailers and building D2C stores. We know how to connect these expertise areas back into driving your brand marketing and growing your sales. 

If you want to know more about how we can support your e-Commerce to grow your business  through our coaching and consulting services, click the button below to send us a message.

We can coach you to reach the top of your competitive game.

D2C Online Store Status dashboard
Click to download the pdf

Downloadable D2C status dashboard

Setting up an online store needs you to define your strategy and plan, work out the sales and marketing and also set up the whole operational side of the business including the finances and the delivery / supply chain model. It can be complex to manage.

That’s why we’ve used this project dashboard to great success in the past to have a simple one-page summary of the key actions require to set-up and manage a D2C online store. Download it here or from our resources section. 

Powerpoint and Keynote versions of this document available on request. 

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