The global pandemic COVID has shut down the high street and businesses across the UK and Ireland. With a return to work being slowly phased and uncertainty ahead, the online garment decoration industry is not going to be the same again. Andrew Langridge of eTrader Websites outlines why now is the time to head online.
Footfall in retail premises will decrease rapidly to the point of being non-existent, customers are looking to be safe and secure in their shopping. Taking your business online gives customers the comfort blank of being able to order their workwear, printed and embroidered from the comfort of their home and so on.
With the summer fast approaching the problem is intensified for those who provide school uniforms. Customers will not be able to just pop in-store, try on items and takeaway their uniforms the same day. An e-commerce website is especially pivotal for those who rely on the school uniform rush to build up cashflow.
The demand for creating a website that can take online orders recently has taken off with solutions (such as the one we offer!) providing a popular choice among garment decorators. There are pros and cons when it comes to using a solution. Bear in mind they are built for the industry and will cover most bases but maybe not tick 100% of the boxes you want, there is a bit of compromise to be had. But the time, money and resources that can be saved using an e-commerce solution is invaluable.
To get your business thriving online in the post-COVID era I have put together some advice to help you achieve success with an e-commerce website:
- Ensure the website layout is mobile and tablet friendly: An almost essential for a website which is still overlooked by many. Your website needs to look great on both a desktop PC/ laptop and a mobile and tablet. Customers shopping from home are looking for a crisp, easy user experience to buy their goods online.
- Mirror how you work in-store online: Make sure users know all about your knowledge and expertise. Customers previously would have potentially visited your store to find out about your products, service, and branding methods. With this being limited ensure this can be found online to put their minds at ease and help with any queries.
- Communicate with your customers through the website: A simple point inexplicably overlooked, provide clear call to actions (CTAs) for customers. Make it easy for them to reach out to you, this can also be through the use of chat bots and live chat facilities.
- Set up designated areas for your customers: There will be existing customers – schools, clubs, businesses who will want to reorder. Provide them their very own shop facility to make their repeat orders simple.
- Keep products and prices up-to-date: This is a mammoth task, but one that needs to be considered. Products are continuously discontinued and added from suppliers with prices often changing. There are website solutions from wholesalers that manage this aspect but are extremely limited and tie you in to using their products offering no choices or flexibility. Create a website selling the products you want at the prices you want.
- Keep your website safe and secure: Customer information needs to be safe and secure and since the introduction of GDPR this is under more scrutiny than ever before. Your website needs an SSL certificate to appear safe in your customers browsers. If it does not have one it will display an error and give your customers a poor user experience or cast doubt in their mind.
- Taking payments online: Something not many consider when looking for an e-commerce website, you need a secure payment processor and checkout plus in most cases a merchant account. There is often a monthly cost to these services from banks and payment providers.
Lastly, consider the costs of building an e-commerce website. The garment decoration industry is unique and to build a solution from scratch with products and branding options is complex and expensive. There is also the cost of hosting to consider, research what options you have available and see how industry specific solutions can work for your business.
They may not tick every box a bespoke website does, but it will save you thousands in development and increase your businesses sales post COVID-19.