We sat down with Ashley Janssen, CEO of Code and Effect and Former PeerSpark member to ask her about everything e-commerce and what you need to know as a business owner.
Ashley is facilitating E-Commerce: How to Get Started on April 26, 2017 at the ATB Entrepreneur Centre in Edmonton. You can register here.
Q: What does a successful e-commerce website need to include?
That is a really big question with a number of different answers. The short answer is that you need to actually set up and be a business, you need a strategic plan including financial management, you need to pick the appropriate platform for selling your products, and then implement a detailed marketing plan. (Whew!)
The long answer is that, as you will see in my workshop, there are many strategic planning and business administration steps that need to happen behind the scenes before an e-commerce platform is selected and items are sold. These steps are the building blocks to setting up a successful e-commerce website. They include building a cashflow spreadsheet to make sure the numbers work, setting up the business properly through incorporating and getting everything all your business numbers, GST, licences, etc.
Then you can confidently go through the process of selecting the right e-commerce platform, payment platform, and template for your business.
Once your e-commerce platform is setup, you can’t just hope people with come to it. It is at least as much work as a traditional brick and mortar business. You need to have a marketing plan, social media and social validation, email newsletter marketing, Adwords and online marketing with landing pages, blogs for organic search results….I could go on.
Q: How do Google Analytics and Keywords impact your website overall?
Google analytics and keywords are vital to the success of an e-commerce website. Your analytics, if properly set-up, are an important decision making tool that you should be checking regularly. Your analytics are what tell you what parts of your website and marketing campaigns are effective and when you need to make changes/updates to your website.
Adwords with effective landing pages can be instrumental in educating and raising awareness to potential customers and, in turn, driving sales.
Q: What systems (tools) do you recommend to someone just starting out with their website?
This is also a hard question to answer because there are so many variables. You needs tools/systems for: productivity, email, accounting, e-commerce platform, payment platform, newsletter management, analytics, landing pages, social media management, etc. The answer to which one in each category, is, “it depends”. In my workshop I will go into more detail about some of these and give more clarity on how to make educated decisions about which tools are right for you.
Q: How has your website evolved since you first started your business?
Well, it has been a decade so that is a long answer. The short version is that we have redone our website 4 times, recently rebranded from AgileStyle to Code and Effect, and each time we get a bit better at communicating who we are and what we do.
We started out mostly building brochure type websites and evolved to custom development and web applications.
Q: Tell us more about Code and Effect.
Our tagline is: “Need software but don’t know where to start? Let us help”.
We do custom software development. Customers come to us when they can’t find an off-the-shelf solution for a business problem. We work with them to find their pain points and develop software that solves that pain.
Rather than specializing in particular industries, we serve any small or medium-sized business that has unique processes requiring unique software. Some examples would be custom e-commerce, membership portals or customer management systems.
Q: Any other advice you would like to share with a website newbie?
A website is just a small part of your overall business strategy, even when you are an online business. It is a just one of many tools at your disposal. Your website is not your business but rather a platform for serving your customers. Just building a website is not enough, there are many other things, as I will go over in the workshop, that must be done in order to make your website effective.
Join Ashley and AWE for Introduction to E-Commerce: How to Get Started on April 26, 2017 at the ATB Entrepreneur Centre in Edmonton.