Posts

Bounce rates measure how many visitors leave your website after they have only spent a short time in it. If you have high bounce rates on your pages, this can have several reasons. In this article we will show you how you can prevent 7 common mistakes in your online shop to easily improve user-friendliness and may even reduce your bounce rates.

Read more

The “About Us” page is a great way to offer a closer look to your brick-and-mortar business and thus gain the trust of your customers. Along with other factors such as high-quality product photos or detailed descriptions of your products, a well-crafted “About us” page can have a lasting influence on your customers’ buying decisions. In this article, we will show you why this is the case and how you can fill such a page with relevant content.

What makes the “About us” page so relevant?

When potential buyers of your products visit your online shop, they may be interested in several pieces of content beyond your products. For example, the story of your company or an introduction to your brick-and-mortar shop may be important to customers.  Merchants can benefit from presenting the background of their company, the idea behind it as well as the faces behind their online shop. Online shoppers often look for more information about a shop – for example, to make sure it is trustworthy and that the products are not counterfeits. An “About Us” page creates a solid foundation and builds the necessary trust in your shop and the products.

Compared to companies that only sell online, you have a big advantage: You can present your brick-and-mortar business and its story. Some of your online customers may already know your physical store or may have already bought something from you. If prospective customers do not know you at all yet, for example because they found your website through search engines, the “About us” page is a perfect platform to present yourself, add your personal touch, and thus gain trust in your online shop. Additionally, you may use this opportunity to give visitors a virtual tour of your brick-and-mortar business with visually appealing pictures of your store and your team.

How do other shops do it?

First of all, check out other websites, for example your favourite online shop. How does the company position itself?  What information does it present? It is also worthwhile to look at competitors in your sector for inspiration and to figure out important aspects – such as how the categories and pages are structured. If you want to find out more about how to find the right categories for your website, visit our blog article.

What questions do customers have?

Think about the customers from your brick-and-mortar shop. What topics come up in conversations with them? What questions have customers already asked? Focal points for your customers already emerge here, which you should include on the “About us” page.

What is your background?

Behind every business there is a story that moves the team behind it and motivates the customers. Tell them your story! What inspired you to start your business? What were your first products and how did you grow? What were the milestones in the history of your business? The “About us” page is just the right place to talk about these experiences and give consumers a brief overview of who you are.

What makes you stand out?

Find keywords that make you and your products unique. What makes you and your shop stand out from similar shops in your area? Perhaps it is a wide range of products or the many years of practice you have in your field. What else is important to you about your business? Note down criteria that you pay special attention to in your products or in your shop. Do you sell local products? Does the tradition of your business mean a lot to you and why? Such information gives shop visitors a rounded impression of your business. This shows prospective customers why exactly you are the right choice for them. The “About Us” page is the right place to highlight these factors.

How to find the right structure for your text

The W-questions offer good inspiration for the structure of your “About us” text.

For example, you can ask yourself the following questions about your business:

 

  • When did you open your physical store?
  • What other branches are you involved in?
  • What makes your business stand out?
  • What makes you different from the competition?
  • Why did you open your online shop?
  • What products are available in your shop?
  • Who is your product range aimed at?
  • What kind of relationship do you have with your customers?
  • Why should a prospective customer buy from your shop?
  • Which products do you only sell online and why?

How to structure the site for your online shop

You may already have some initial ideas for your own “About Us” page. For the right structure, it is best to first think about all the additional content elements you want to include – for example, texts, images and videos. You can experiment with these elements until you have an idea of how the page should be structured. Not only will you be able to coordinate content and text a lot easier, but it will also be much clearer and smoother for visitors to read.

On your website, we recommend displaying your “About Us” page in the main menu, so that prospective customers can find it at first glance.

The “About Us” page in the navigation

Alternatively, you can link to the page in the footer of your shop.

These and other tips may have inspired you to create your own “About Us” page and give your online shop the unique feel of your brick-and-mortar business. We look forward to hearing from you and your story!

 

Are you looking for the right structure for your website? An intuitive category structure can significantly improve visitors’ impression of your website by allowing them to easily find what they are looking for. Even if websites differ considerably in what they offer, there are practical approaches for structuring online presence – websites as well as online shops – that you should know about. In this article, we share best practices for deciding the right categories for your website and demonstrate these methods using the example of an online shop.

To find the right structure for your online presence, the first step is to put yourself in the shoes of the website visitor. How do you as a visitor quickly find what you are looking for? Regardless of whether the content is more or less broadly spread out, the needs of visitors sometimes vary widely. The focus here is the task of satisfying all interested parties, the solution is user-friendliness.

Categories as a guide

Imagine the following thought experiment: You are on holiday and want to go on a cycling tour. Which guidebook tours do you tend to focus on? At a glance, tours with too many stops seem confusing and those with too few, uninteresting. An ideal tour should catch your interest and allow you to quickly find the places you want to visit.

It is similar with your website categories. Your categories should provide enough information that there is a good overview – but not so much that it overwhelms visitors. Because if your online shop is not easy to navigate, you risk losing customers.

Get the big picture!

What all websites should have in common is a smooth communication with the visitors: This means the website’s categories and options should be able to guide them optimally through all the more detailed content you provide.

To ensure this user-friendliness, think about your overall concept first. Collect your ideas for your website and what you want to achieve with it. If you want to set up an online shop, you may already be able to derive a strategy from your brick-and-mortar business in sense of product line and creating a branding. Or maybe take the online shop as an opportunity to redesign the overall concept. If you are interested in a pure online presence without an online shop, even then you should consider an overall concept for your storytelling.

Another tip is to look at the structure of competing websites. You can sometimes find surprisingly simple and intuitive solutions for categories that you could adopt for your website. Categories in online shops now have a certain pattern. For example, imagine an online shop for fashion, where the first level is usually sorted by men, women and children.

Step-by-step: Creating categories with Card Sorting

Card sorting allows you to filter out your categories without overlap.

You can create your website or product categories in four steps using a method called ‘card sorting’. An advantage of card sorting is that you can first visualise your ideas and then flexibly move them around until you have created a selection and structure that suits you best. It can be helpful to share these ideas with others (ex. associates, friends…) who create their own category structure thereby finding out how other visitors orientate themselves to your content. Take care not to miss or duplicate categories. You can master card sorting in four steps:

  1. If you are creating a simple website without a basket, collect all the content and topics you want to present on individual cards. For an online shop, collect all your product types that you offer in your brick-and-mortar business and also want to offer in your online shop. Product attributes, such as size or colour, should not play a role here.
  2. Sort these cards into logical groups for you.
  3. Think of a suitable title for each group.
  4. If you have covered all of your content and nothing overlaps, you have worked out your appropriate categories!

When giving titles to your categories, make sure they are easy to understand. This is especially important for prospective customers who do not yet know you or your product range; they should find familiar terms here. To reach a broader audience you should also avoid using overly technical terms in the categories.

The next consideration is how to incorporate these categories into your main menu. There are several ways to do this as well, including an important feature called a ‘Mega Menu’. This allows you to create several menu levels in order to avoid overwhelming visitors by displaying too many categories in the main menu. An optimal number is about five to seven categories in the first level, which you can supplement with appropriate sub-categories if needed.

We hope this information has already given you some ideas on how to organise your website. We hope you have fun sorting!

To prepare your brick-and-mortar business and website for the future and set the right priorities, doing a SWOT analysis is a best practice. It enables you to identify and understand current strengths, weaknesses and other aspects of your business. We will show you how to apply this method to your business step by step in order to act confidently in the digital market of tomorrow. This article is useful for merchants who want to set up their online presence or even start an online business.

But what does SWOT actually mean?

SWOT stands for four dimensions through which you can evaluate your business and its potential:

 

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

 

A SWOT analysis is a self-assessment done by gathering and considering information within these four dimensions. Drawing from this assessment you develop strategies and apply them to both your offline and online activities.

While the idea is simple, for you as a merchant, embracing and using this strategic planning technique can help you improve your online and offline business. With respect to online presence, the analysis helps you set up an efficient strategy and make grounded decisions. Especially if you are about to enter e-commerce, use these points to determine your recources. Considering your strengths and opportunities can help you more effectively present your business with a website or online shop. Furtermore, this technique can affect minor and major areas of your company: Do you want to develop further in online retail by integrating social media and marketplaces platforms such as Amazon and eBay? Or are you thinking about offering a new product category? Perhaps your company is facing major changes. SWOT helps you to run through the corresponding scenarios. This article guides you through the four factors of SWOT and provides a palette of questions that you can use directly in your business assessment and for assessing your competitors too.

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Strengths and weaknesses are mainly about internal aspects of your business and website that you are able to influence. There are some external factors that are not easy to influence, such as threats to the industry, the location of your shop or similar. These are addressed in the next section.

Instead, consider your current situation: How much expertise does your team bring along? What are your personal backgrounds and how do you use them? If you already have an online presence, what content does it currently offer visitors?

What are the opportunities and threats?

On the other hand, external factors – opportunities and threats – deal with aspects that you cannot influence yourself. What competition is there on the market, both online and offline? What head start do these merchants have? What developments and trends are happening in your sector?

To illustrate this process and clarify the differences between these points, try imagining all of these questions arranged on a timeline: Your strengths and weaknesses reflect the current state, while you consider the questions delaing with opportunities and threats to analyse the future prospects of your business.

Checklist: How to approach your SWOT analysis step by step

Before you start with a SWOT analysis, consider the following points:

  • Research the environment: The demands of working in your brick-and-mortar business may hinder you from doing a detailed market analysis. But keep in mind that important insights about your industry and competition will help you to understand the external factors for SWOT. So make sure to research your environment towards trends, competitors and their online business model as best as you can.
  • Ask friends and employees: the more ideas, the better. To get an accurate impression of your SWOTs, it’s a good idea to ask people who already know your products, your brick-and-mortar business and your online activity. Perhaps you have regular customers whom you can approach for their opinion. If you already have a platform for collecting customer reviews, include these impressions in your analysis as well.

The first steps in the analysis:

  1. Brainstorming your SWOTs: You might already have initial thoughts about your SWOTs. Below you will find our list of questions. Start there and do a first brainstorming to generate and capture details. Don’t be afraid of long lists. More is helpful! You can always delete unimportant points. In any case, be fair and honest with yourself. Unacknowledged weaknesses can hinder your path to the most viable solutions. Instead, take the opportunity to use SWOT to develop a new strategy that moves you forward in the long run.
  2. Give yourself a break: After you’ve started a SWOT process, take a few days to get used to that thinking and reflect on it. Managing the processes of your day-to-day activities can help bring to light new ideas and prioritise the importance of those already noted. Make a note of these factors too!
  3. Form your strategy: When you think you have summarised all your SWOTs in detail, begin to structure them into a strategy. How can you highlight and use your strengths and opportunities? How can you counteract weaknesses and threats? What at first sounds like a theoretical construct is sometimes easier to implement than you think. Outline time-bound goals that you derive based on these points. Link the strategy to each point of SWOT:
  • Strengths and opportunities: Highlight your strengths to maximise your opportunities
  • Strengths and threats: Use strengths to limit or cancel out threats
  • Weaknesses and opportunities: Reduce weaknesses to increase opportunities
  • Weaknesses and threats: Reduce weaknesses to reduce threats

Start small to get used to a new strategy. An example: You regularly receive large numbers of enquiries about a certain product and that hinders your day-to-day business. Adjust the product description to address these enquiries! If the volumes decreases, you have successfully counteracted a weakness.

  1. Update your SWOTs: Your SWOTs are dimensions that are always in flux and can change over time along with your priorities, capabilities and environment. Periodically take the time to adjust your SWOTs and update your strategy.

Questions for your SWOT analysis

Use our question template to filter your SWOTs. We recommend writing down your thoughts in bullet points.

Strengths

  • What are the advantages of your products?
  • Do you offer products that are not available in any other shop?
  • Which product is particularly profitable?
  • What distinguishes you personally as a business owner?
  • What expertise do you bring to the table as a business owner?
  • What positive feedback do you get from customers?
  • Does your shop have a good reputation in your environment?
  • Do you already have a website?
  • What experience do you have in your business area?
  • What makes your shop so special?
  • Do you already have contacts who have helped you with your business?
  • Do you already have experience in ecommerce?
  • What hurdles have you already overcome with your brick-and-mortar business?
  • Where can you save money to maximise your profit?

Weaknesses

  • What are things you do less well than others?
  • Is there anything that bothers you about your shop?
  • Have customers ever given negative feedback?
  • Where are you losing money?
  • Where do you lack resources?
  • Do you only have little experience in some areas?
  • Have you ever made serious mistakes?
  • Do you have revenue difficulties with certain products?
  • Does your staff lack knowledge?
  • Do your customers have interests that you could not serve with your retail shop?
  • Were some product descriptions unclear to customers?

Opportunities

  • What customer needs could you serve in the future?
  • What strengths do you see through an online presence for your business?
  • Do you have the ability to distribute your products locally, to other countries?
  • What external resources can you use to respond to customers’ needs?
  • What goals can you achieve in the near future?
  • What disadvantages do competitors in your industry have compared to you?
  • What are the trends in your market?
  • How can you take advantage of future developments?
  • Do you have the opportunity to address a new target group, for example a different age group?

Threats

  • What are the potential threats to your industry?
  • Which developments could be dangerous for your business?
  • What threats do you personally see in the next three years?
  • What lead does your competition have?
  • Do you have products that are only sold for a short period of time, for example trend products or seasonal products?
  • Are you tied to other companies, for example to a supplier?
  • Do you know companies in your immediate environment that will soon enter your industry?
  • Which of your competitors dominates the market and why?
  • For what reasons are your sales not greater?

How to get the most out of your SWOT analysis

Once you have gained a deeper impression of these four dimensions, you can better assess your environment and your position in the market. Dare to think outside the box to identify advantages and disadvantages of your brick-and-mortar business that you might not have considered before. Most importantly, do not be frustrated when discovering weaknesses and threats. The SWOT analysis serves to generate ideas for counteracting these supposedly negative points.

Often, a well thought-out online presence helps to compensate for the weaknesses of a physical business. It already might help to start by putting an entry in Google My Business to achieve a first online presence and help online customers find your shop through location-based search. Particularly when opening your online shop, the SWOT analysis is a good way to rethink and optimise your strategy. We have summarised for you the most important tips for starting your online business here.

 

We hope that this introduction to the SWOT analysis will be useful and may already have helped generate ideas for your new strategy. We wish you success in planning your online and offline business!