Freelance | Services | web development | Retail to Ecommerce Business

Retail to ECOMMERCE

Embarking on a web build project, especially the transition from retail to e-commerce, is an exciting journey that demands meticulous planning and collaboration across diverse skill sets. WordPress stands out as a versatile and user-friendly platform, providing an ideal foundation for crafting dynamic and scalable e-commerce websites. In the ever-evolving landscape of the World Wide Web WordPress’s dominance ensures a reliable and globally recognized solution.

To ensure the success of the project, it is paramount to assemble a team with expertise spanning the sales cycle, data analysis, SEO, marketing, content creation, and technical proficiency.

Before crafting the project brief – I would also recommend you have a read of the ‘Digitising your Business’ page, this designed to allow you as a business to decide whether your website is best replicating your retail business model, or perhaps is ripe for some digital diversification

Updating your website from a traditional retail business to a digital ecommerce site offers many opportunities to generate additional revenue streams often reach new customers Retail to Ecommerce Business

Choosing an Ecommerce Platform

Certainly, the choice of the e-commerce platform is a crucial decision that can significantly impact your online business. Let’s compare the benefits of WordPress WooCommerce, Shopify, and Etsy to help you make an informed decision:

  1. WordPress WooCommerce:
    • Pros:
      • Flexibility: WordPress is a highly customizable content management system (CMS). WooCommerce, as a plugin for WordPress, allows for extensive customization to meet specific business needs.
      • Control: You have full control over your website, including hosting, design, and functionality.
      • Scalability: As your business grows, you can scale your website easily with various plugins and extensions.
      • Ownership: You own and control your data, which can be crucial for long-term business sustainability.
    • Cons:
      • Learning Curve: If you’re new to WordPress, there might be a learning curve. However, many resources and tutorials are available.
      • Maintenance: You’re responsible for updates, security, and backups, which may require additional attention. Opt for a Freelance WordPress Designer to ease the burden.
  1. Shopify:
    • Pros:
      • Ease of Use: Shopify is known for its user-friendly interface, making it easy for beginners to set up and manage an online store.
      • Hosting Included: Shopify provides hosting, eliminating the need for external hosting services.
      • App Ecosystem: A wide range of apps and plugins are available to extend functionality.
      • Security: Shopify takes care of security measures, ensuring a secure shopping experience for customers.
    • Cons:
      • Monthly Fees: Shopify involves monthly subscription fees, and there are transaction fees for using external payment gateways if you don’t use Shopify Payments.
      • Customisation Limitations: While customizable, Shopify may not offer the same level of flexibility as self-hosted solutions like WooCommerce.
      • Specialist SEO knowledge is required, but it is not SEO friendly.
  1. Etsy:
    • Pros:
      • Built-in Marketplace: Etsy is a well-established marketplace, providing exposure to a broad audience.
      • Simple Setup: Setting up a store on Etsy is relatively straightforward, and it handles much of the technical aspects for you.
      • Community: Being part of the Etsy community can lead to increased visibility and potential collaborations.
    • Cons:
      • Transaction Fees: Etsy charges transaction fees and takes a percentage of your sales.
      • Limited Branding: Your store on Etsy will have Etsy branding, limiting your ability to establish a unique brand identity.
      • Competition: You’re part of a larger marketplace, which means increased competition with other sellers.

There are approximately 1.88 billion websites online in 2024, according to Colorlib, we can calculate that the number of websites built on WordPress is around 810 million. That’s leagues away from their nearest competitor, Shopify, which powers just 4.1% of all websites (around 70 million). 

CMS

Websites (% of total)

Websites (number)*

WordPress

43.1%

810 million

Shopify

3.9%

70 million

Wix

2.5%

43 million

Squarespace

2.1%

38 million

Joomla

1.8%

30 million

*source: Colorlib https://colorlib.com/wp/wordpress-statistics/

 

Choosing the Right Platform:

  • Consider Your Goals: If you want complete control and customisation, WordPress WooCommerce might be suitable. If simplicity and ease of use are priorities, Shopify could be a good fit. If you prefer leveraging an existing marketplace and don’t mind some limitations, Etsy may work.
  • Budget: Compare the costs associated with each platform, including subscription fees, transaction fees, and potential customization expenses.
  • Scalability: Consider the long-term scalability of your business. Choose a platform that can grow with your business without major disruptions.

Ultimately, the best platform depends on your specific business needs, technical expertise, and long-term vision.

For any site of size, I would personally recommend WordPress, this is for many reasons, and I am happy to arrange a no-obligation discussion to scope your requirements.

Updating your website from a traditional retail business to a digital ecommerce site offers many opportunities to generate additional revenue streams often reach new customers Retail to Ecommerce Business

IMAGE SEARCH and SHOPPING

Always an essential part of site optimisation are going to become increasingly important for any type of product search, beyond the alt tags and optimisation, you need to be thinking about Google Lens and Samsung Bixby and currently the advice would be:

  1. Add Alt Tags.
  2. Include EXIF and IPTC Photo Metadata.
  3. Add Structured Data.
  4. Have High Quality And High Resolution Images.

AI-Assisted

Shopping:

 

AI-assisted shopping and interactive video shopping have become innovative ways for retailers to enhance the online shopping experience. Here are examples of companies successfully utilizing these technologies:

 

  1. Amazon:
    • Recommendation Engine: Amazon is a pioneer in utilizing AI for personalized product recommendations. Its recommendation engine analyses customer behavior and purchase history to suggest products that align with individual preferences. Additionally its AI for logistics and fulfilment equally impressive.
  1. Alibaba:
    • AI-Powered Virtual Assistants: Alibaba’s virtual shopping assistant, Xia, uses natural language processing and machine learning to provide personalized product recommendations, answer customer queries, and assist with the overall shopping experience.
  1. Sephora:
    • Virtual Artist: Sephora’s Virtual Artist uses augmented reality (AR) to allow users to try on virtual makeup products. The AI-powered tool analyzes facial features and applies virtual makeup to help customers visualize how products will look on them.
  1. Stitch Fix:
    • Personalized Styling: Stitch Fix combines AI algorithms with human stylists to curate personalized clothing selections for customers. The AI analyses customer preferences, feedback, and style trends to make tailored recommendations.

 

 

AI shopping Integration to your site

 

Currently, much of AI shopping is only available to the large ecommerce enterprises, this mainly due to the development costs of such a project, typically:

 

AI Development

Data Infrastructure

Platform integrations

Ui/UX Design

AI training and maintenance costs

Security Measures

 

However, my advice to you as a SME without massive budgets to sink into this would be to keep a keen eye on this space, as more advanced AI becomes available and is released open source to developers to ‘play’ with, I anticipate there to be many bolt-on initiatives available.

 

It would be excellent to see some entrepreneurial investment into this area, and again, I expect in time this will happen allowing a broker buy-in for those wanting to utilise the technology without the full development expenses.

 

I will endeavour to keep you informed of any such breakthroughs. I would expect WooCommerce to be one of the first to release something for WordPress as their Related Products add-on does utilise some quite advanced AI.

Interactive Video Shopping:

Live video on insta is perhaps one of the best performing combinations, and platforms such as dot.vu provide some examples of interactive shopping video that are affordable to most businesses.

The following provide additional examples of how video experiences are being utilised to enhance or create a shopping experience.

  1. Ntwrk:
    • Live Video Shopping: Ntwrk is a platform that combines live video shopping with exclusive product drops. Users can watch live shows, interact with hosts, and make purchases directly through the app while the content is streaming.
  1. Talkshoplive:
    • Live Social Shopping: Talkshoplive is a live streaming platform that integrates social media and shopping. Influencers and brands host live shows where viewers can engage in real-time, ask questions, and purchase featured products.
  1. Bambuser:
    • Live Video Commerce: Bambuser enables retailers to incorporate live video shopping into their e-commerce websites. Brands can engage with customers in real-time, showcase products, and answer questions through live video. This option is affordable starting at around the £1500 per month and
  1. NTWRK:
    • Shoppable Content: NTWRK, besides live video shopping, focuses on creating shoppable content, where users can watch exclusive shows, interviews, and behind-the-scenes content while seamlessly making purchases within the app.
  1. Covet Fashion:
    • Virtual Try-Ons: Covet Fashion allows users to engage in interactive video shopping by virtually trying on clothing items. Users can see how different products look on them through the app’s augmented reality feature.

These examples showcase how companies are leveraging AI and interactive video to create immersive and personalized shopping experiences. These technologies not only assist customers in finding products tailored to their preferences but also add an interactive and engaging layer to the online shopping journey. As these trends continue to evolve, more retailers are likely to adopt AI and interactive video shopping to stay competitive in the digital marketplace.

Assigning specific costs or cost ranges to the items listed can be challenging as they depend on various factors such as the complexity of the project, the scale of implementation, geographic location, and the specific requirements of the business. However, I can provide rough estimates or ranges based on industry averages. Keep in mind that these are general figures and actual costs may vary:

Interactive Video Site integrations

Interactive video is also an increasing element of online shopping, there are ways of creating a similar experience and whilst, true interactive video also commands significant budgets, a budget of around £50-100k could see a valuable video purchasing production, perhaps best utilised for high design purchases such as interiors and furniture, jewellery and weddings.

Video Production Costs

Live streaming

Tech integrations

UI/UX Design

Technical Support

One thing is for sure, and that is this space will evolve super-fast – get comfy and join the immersive digital e-commerce race.

Updating your website from a traditional retail business to a digital ecommerce site offers many opportunities to generate additional revenue streams often reach new customers Retail to Ecommerce Business

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