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The complete guide for online stores to thrive during uncertain times

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Welcome to your complete guide to thrive

The purpose of this guide is to help you, the small online store owner to navigate this uncertain time and not only survive it… but to thrive.

This guide illuminates proactive, positive actions you can take to strengthen your business now, and into the future. We promise there is zero panic-talk or fear-based jargon. Just simple, loving guidance, suggestions and tools to help you navigate a rough sea.

Our core belief has always been that small business owners who operate with heart and soul are going to change the world. We stand by this now, more than ever.

Our purpose as a business is to help you achieve more success so you can have a positive impact on your life, your family and your community. We know that the more success you have, the more impact you can make and the better place the world will be. We have dedicated our business to helping you do this. And right now, we are being called to step up and help you to do this.

Businesses who use this time to strengthen their brand will be in an even better position when things settle down. 

A lot of brands are being affected by the current epidemic and we want to make sure that we are providing extra support to our community during this time.

In this guide we illuminate proactive, positive actions you can take to strengthen your business now, and into the future. 

We get it… we soooooooo get it

Now, we want to let you know that we aren’t being naive about this situation and we aren’t sugarcoating things. 

As we write this Megan is holding a 5-day old newborn and can’t buy toilet paper or baby wipes anywhere because people are panic buying 57 years worth of loo roll. 

One of our biggest contracts relies on events and we are unsure of the certainty of this contract. Some clients are completely out of stock. Some also have bricks and mortar businesses which are being impacted. We are having to pivot.

Both our partners’ income has already been severely affected. Megan’s partner owns a live music venue which means no income for the foreseeable future. While we joke that we’ll have to be sugar-mumma’s, in all seriousness we are going to have to be the sole breadwinners until things settle down. 

Of course this is added stress, but we are choosing to come from a place of calm, proactive action and we are choosing to support our community with love, rather than go into panic, stress or fear. 

Shit happens. While some things are out of our control, we can control our thoughts, feelings and actions. And it’s the way we approach the conditions around you that define your success. 

We believe it so much that Megan has the following quotes tattooed on her bod: 

  • A ship in the harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.
  • A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.

Well, we’re far out to sea and a storm’s brewing! Time to practice what we ink.

Our clients are all being affected by this epidemic.

eCommerce is the future

Let’s start on a positive.

Online shopping is on the rise. It has been for quite some time. The retail game is changing and this crisis is a catalyst for rapid change.

Forbes reported 24% of men and 18% of women reported increasing their frequency of online shopping due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

As more isolation and quarantine measures are put into place this is likely to continue.

Not only will people be shopping online more, they are spending more time on social media.

We are going to deep dive into some practical tips for how you can take advantage of this shift in human behaviour a little later in this guide. But before we do that we want to remind you to take care of the most important asset in your business… you.

Take action:

Take a moment to recognise that as an eCommerce business owner you are progressive and be grateful that you don’t have the huge overheads that a bricks and mortar store has.

You’re in the right place

Running an eCommerce business can be tricky at the best of times, let alone during a time of a global pandemic. If you feel overwhelmed and confused let me tell you…

  1. You are not alone. We are all in this together.
  2. Ups and downs don’t discriminate. Our clients and students range from solopreneurs to global brands and no matter the size of the operation everyone has obstacles to face.
  3. Just by finding your way to this guide you’re on the right path. High fives for being proactive.
  4. We believe the world needs conscious, meaningful, ethically produced products. Not more mass-produced crap. If you’re nodding, we’re going to get along! We are here to help you achieve the success we know you deserve.
  5. We got you. We’re here to help you change the world. We’re here to help you achieve success. We’re here to hold your hand to create the business that exists in your dreams, and make that a reality.

Let’s dive into your guide to not only survive… but THRIVE.

Look after you

Practice self-care

What does personal health have to do with eCommerce success?

Everything!

If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of business. Your health needs to be your highest priority. Full stop.

This may seem trivial but let’s just get this out of the way:

  1. Drink enough water. 2-3 litres a day.
  2. Get enough sleep. 6-8 hours a day.
  3. Meditate daily. Even if just for 10 minutes. Try the free app Insight Timer for some great guided meditations.
  4. Put good stuff in your body. 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of veggies. Every damn day.
  5. Move your body for 30 minutes every day.

Take action:

Take a few moments now to create a system that will ensure you do these 5 things every day. You may write them on your whiteboard, put sticky notes around the house or put a reminder on your phone. Whatever works for you.

Hot tip:

The Merrymaker Sisters have kindly offered their yoga and pilates program for free until the 1st of April so you can work out from home. More details here.

Surround yourself with support 

“Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” — Mark Ambrose

Stress is cumulative. There may be nothing worse for your overall health – mental and physical – to be socially isolated. 

Who you surround yourself with is critical to your success all the time, but even more so now. 

Spend time with people who light your soul on fire. Not energy vampires. 

If you spend your time with people who are constantly complaining or talking negatively about others or telling you why you can’t achieve something, you will inevitably be affected in a negative way.

On the other hand, if you spend your time with people who are positive and supportive and encourage you to slay your goals, you will be elevated, inspired and motivated.

This is a two-way street. If you want people to support you, you must support others.

Lead the way by being supportive, sparkly and soulful. And in turn be intentional about surrounding yourself with supportive, sparkly, soulful people. 

Take action:

Find one thing you can do today to support someone you know. 

Hot tip:

Make sure you are in the free group, Unstoppable eCommerce Entrepreneurs. This is the best place to be to surround yourself with supportive, positive, purpose-driven eCommerce lady bosses. Click here to join

Curate the information you consume

Is your newsfeed filled with stories of scarcity, stupidity and selfishness? Are you watching the same news broadcast on repeat? This negativity is going to be affecting every fibre of your being. 

Stop it. Now.

The media is designed to keep us addicted. They do this by triggering emotions and in particular fear. Limit your media consumption to only necessary intake and focus on consuming content that makes you feel GOOD. 

Take action:

Set yourself boundaries around how much mainstream news you consume. Follow some feel-good social media accounts to fills your feed with positivity and fills your heart with joy.  

Hot tip:

Here are some accounts we love:

Set your intention 

Choose calm, not chaos 

“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.” — Pema Chödrön

How we react in a situation is completely up to us. You can panic, crumble under the fear and sit in the fetal position for the foreseeable future OR you can use this time… a precious commodity we’re often lacking… to knock off your big picture to-do list and strengthen your business.

So we implore you not to panic, to make the most of this time and to build your business up ready for growth on the other side.

Remember, this too shall pass.

Use your time wisely 

If you are being quarantined, have to self-isolate or are experiencing a quiet period in your business you have a few options: 

  1. Watch Netflix, stress, panic buy and spend hours figuring out where you are going to store your hoardings. 
  2. Chase your dreams, deep dive into learning, do all those things you “never have time to do”, strengthen your business and lay foundations for your dream life. 

Choose wisely.

Use this time to deep dive into learning and implementing how to improve your online store. 

Hot tip:

Manage your time or it will manage you. If time management is not your thing, click here to read this blog How I manage my time and get shit done.

Set your intention and write it down 

When going through any uncertain or abnormal situation it really helps to set an intention and give yourself some guidelines or rules to live by. 

Write these down and put them on your fridge, on a sticky note on your laptop, on your bathroom mirror. 

Your intention and rules to thrive might look like this: 

  1. Don’t panic
  2. Use this time wisely 
  3. Take 3 deep breaths to reset 
  4. This too shall pass 
  5. I am capable

Take action:

Brainstorm your intention and guidelines for yourself, write them out and display somewhere you’ll see everyday. Bonus points if you share this in the group

Hot tip:

To get some seriously powerful and motivational tips on how to win, get advice from someone who knows. Click here to read Lessons from Layne Beachley, 7-time world title holder.

Be proactive and prepared

While it’s important to not panic during uncertain times, it’s also important to be proactive, rather than being reactive.

Burying your head in the sand is not a strategic plan.

If you sell food subscriptions, toilet paper or hand sanitizer now is your time to shine. If you don’t, you may experience a decline in orders. Don’t despair, be proactive and:

  • Brainstorm different situations. Don’t dwell on what could go wrong, but be prepared for different scenarios.
  • Contact your suppliers and ask them what their plans are.
  • Review your stock levels and know how long this will last you if you can’t get a replenishment for a while.
  • Review your supply chain and strengthen your relationships with your current suppliers (they will appreciate loyalty at this time) or look for other options if you aren’t happy with them.
  • Be proactive about getting updates from your transport and shipping company so you can communicate with your customers in real-time.

Make it easy for people to give you money

Many Australians are being encouraged with cash incentives to continue to spend money to help the local economy. Ensure you are an option for people who are ready to shop.

There is a big push for people to support local by shopping local. Continue to spread this message and encourage your fans to shop at local supermarkets, local butchers and local online retailers.

  • Make your value points clear throughout your website, social media and everything you do. These could include:
    • 100% Australian owned and operated business
    • Family-owned business
    • Australian ingredients
  • Use hashtags to help extend your reach and show you are a local business. These could include:
    • #ShopLocal
    • #ShopSmall
    • #SmallBusiness
    • #LocationBusiness i.e #BrisbaneBusiness #HobartBusiness

Hot tip:

Include a “thank you for supporting local” badge on your website and social media channels – you can download the below images free here.

Focus forward

With people spending more time online window shopping will increase. 

Even if people don’t buy from you on their first visit to your website, make sure you have systems in place to strengthen your relationship with them now, and be able to follow them up into the future. 

  • You may like to run a giveaway to increase awareness of your brand. You can retarget everyone who has engaged with your brand when things settled down.
  • Ensure you the ability to retarget people after they have left your website. 

Hot tip:

Click here to learn how to continue on the conversation with people after they have left your website. And click here to learn how to deliver the right message to the right people at the right time.

Review, strengthen and streamline our 8-keys to eCommerce success

Key 1. profit plan

You can’t manage what you don’t measure.

As entrepreneurs, we often do things based on gut feel. And we need that to be able to take risks and step into the unknown that is starting a business. But, as we grow and scale, we need to balance this with making decisions based on data as well.

When you boil it down, everything in eCommerce and digital marketing is literally just data.

Magic things happen when we start to use this data meaningfully. 

Running an online store is very personal and this is the very reason we need data. By tracking and measure data we get a quantifiable measure on how things are going.

Numbers show us the truth. They show us the true state of our online store, without any emotion, reasoning or bias. And when we have this we can make data-driven decisions, rather than just going off gut feel.

For example – let’s say your favourite colour is pink, so you make all the buttons on your website pink. IF you test this and the data showed you that green buttons convert better, what colour are you more likely to go with? It’s going to be the one that gives us the best results. And that’s what we mean by making data-driven decisions.

Now, Often people will measure their number of sales, the amount of revenue they are making and their profit left at the end of the day. This is a good start, but this is a really limited view.

The reason it’s limited is because a sale is not the start of your customers’ journey, so it doesn’t make sense for us to just measure just this metric.

The purchase journey is like a funnel. 

This funnel is the steps a customer takes to go from not knowing you exist, to purchasing from you. They start at the top and end up at the bottom, and there are steps in between.

Your customers have to progress through the funnel step-by-step until they either purchase from you – or exit the funnel altogether. If you have a product that is a more considered purchase, like a luxury item or a car, people will take longer to go through the funnel. If you have a product that’s an impulse buy people can progress through the funnel super quickly, and sometimes instantly.

The steps of the funnel we have awareness, interest, education, decision, action, loyalty and advocacy. Now each step of the funnel has a metric associated with it.

Click here to learn more about the funnel.

If you don’t measure each one of those metrics you don’t get a full picture of the funnel – so you can’t see where the weak spots are and identify opportunities for improvement. By tracking and measuring the important numbers we can get curious and see what we can do to change those numbers.

As a final note: if you aren’t naturally a numbers person – data can seem overwhelming at times. Just because you can track and measure everything – it doesn’t mean you should. We like to have a powerful dashboard of key metrics so you can see how your online store is going, at a glance.

Take action:

Start to track and measure the numbers that matter to your business.

Hot tip:

Get an accountability buddy and check-in regarding how your numbers are tracking each month. You’ll be able to find one in our super supportive free group for eCommerce Entrepreneurs. Click here to join.

Ignitor Students:

Download the tracking template and calculations cheat sheet from your learning portal

Key 2: get crystal clear on who your audience is

If you try to be everything to everyone, you will be nothing to no-one. 

You want to know your audience so intimately that when they discover your social media, read your emails or visit your website they feel as though you are talking directly to them.

You want them to think “OMG they read my mind”. 

Now, you’ve probably done some work on your ideal customer avatar before but we want you to dive deep – deeper than you have before. 

Take action:

Create a profile of your Ideal Customer Avatar. Really go deep into who they are, who they be, what drives them, what they fear and want they desire.

Ignitor Students:

Download the ideal customer avatar questionnaire and Ideal Customer Avatar poster template from your learning portal.  

Key 3: master magnetic messaging 

People don’t buy your product, they buy what it will do for them and how it will make them feel. 

Having solid messaging helps to make your brand and products stand out from a sea of options. 

Shopping online is all about making decisions. When people buy from a physical shop they can use all of their senses to experience the product and get a good idea if they like and want it — or if they don’t. Plus they have a shop assistant whose sole purpose is to assist them in their decision. People don’t have this same experience through their computer screen. 

Use this time to master your brand voice, your brand value proposition and your product messaging. 

Brand voice

You need to have a true and strong brand voice so that you have a true north to follow, maintain consistency and resonate with your ideal customer avatar. 

Take action:

Refine and document your brand voice. Get crystal clear on the vibe you want to portray, your brand values, words and phrases you use, words and phrases you don’t use. 

Hot tip:

Remember… you can’t resonate with sheep and wolves at the same time. Don’t be afraid to upset a few sheep, in order to resonate with your wolves.

Ignitor students:

Access the training video, examples and template for your brand voice in your learning portal

About us page

Humans buy from humans.

And now more than ever we are craving human connection. Review your about us page and read it through the eyes of your ideal customer avatar. Chances are your about us page could use a revamp. 

You want to use your about us page to tell a story of how your brand was born and really get to the heart of your why.

  • Why does your brand exist?
  • What matters to you?
  • And what do you stand for?

Take action:

Review your about us page and spend some time making it relatable and real. Add lots of photos of you and your brand’s story into it. 

Ignitor students:

Access the fill in the blanks formula for your about us page in your learning portal. Share your about us page in the group for feedback.

Brand value proposition

Your brand value proposition needs to instantly tell people exactly what you sell and why they should buy from you. If someone has never seen your brand before, this is what you want them to see. 

Your brand value proposition needs to have the following elements: 

  1. Your headline is the end benefit you are offering to people who buy from you. 
  2. Your sub-headline is a more detailed explanation of what you offer, to who and why it’s valuable to them. 
  3. An image speaks a thousand words. Your image should reinforce your headline and sub-headline. 

Take action:

Create your brand value proposition and update your homepage banner, facebook page information, instagram profile with it. 

Ignitor students:

Access a range of examples and a fill in the blanks formula for your brand value proposition from your learning portal. Share your about us page in the group for feedback.

Here’s a fantastic example of a brand value proposition from one of our Ignitor students.

Product value proposition 

Similarly to your brand value proposition you need to have clear, compelling messaging for each of your products. This tells people exactly what your product is, what it will give them and why they should buy yours instead of the ocean of choices available to them. 

Just like the brand proposition you want to tell people the end result they will get from using the product and also include a more detailed explanation of what the product is, who it’s for and why it’s valuable to them. 

Example product value proposition description: 

Thankyou nappies: Super soft, slimline and beautifully designed, our nappies are absorbent, with triple layer protection to help prevent nappy rash and keep baby feeling drier for longer. Thankyou nappies are also enriched with soothing aloe vera and vitamin E, are hypoallergenic and free from nasties like chlorine and latex. 

Take action:

Create and update your product value proposition for each of the products on your website.

Hot tip:

Make sure your images are high quality and show all angles of your product. 

Ignitor students:

Access a range of examples and a fill in the blanks formula for your product value propositions in your learning portal. Share in the group for feedback.

Key 4: get traffic ready & optimise your website for conversion

Perhaps the biggest mistake we see people make is they drive traffic to a website that isn’t ready for it.

It’s like turning on a tap without having any buckets in place to capture the water, or at best, having very leaky buckets.

Before we dive into this one, we want you to understand the interdependent relationship that traffic and conversion have. Every business needs traffic… but traffic alone is not the goal.

Traffic is important because you can’t achieve conversions without traffic.

More traffic equals more conversions… BUT only if it’s the right traffic and you have a good conversion rate. A good conversion rate is around 3%.

Take action: 

Get your site traffic ready and make sure your site:

3-second test

When we live and breathe our products it’s so easy to forget that not everyone knows as much as we do about them. It’s so easy to end up with messaging that’s not clear and a little bit diluted.

When someone hits your site you have a few seconds to make a good impression, and for them to take that next step.

The 3-second test is a really useful exercise to see if your site is clearly communicating what you sell.

So how do you do the 3-second test:

  1. Get a screenshot of your website so they aren’t tempted to scroll.
  2. It’s important you do this on both mobile and desktop.
  3. You can simply load your site on desktop and mobile and take a screenshot. If you don’t have a smartphone – or you have a really old one – you can go to Google Mobile Friendly Test and put your website in to generate a preview of how it looks on mobile.
  4. Get at least 5 people who do not know what you sell to look at your website for 3 seconds and ask them “What do you think this website sells?”

Don’t get your husband or your mum to do this. Get someone who doesn’t know what you sell to do this.

If it’s not clear to people what you sell, you don’t pass the 3 second rule and you are not traffic ready. So you have some changes to make.

Take action: 

Do the 3-second test on your website until you pass.

Key 5: create content that converts

Your content is so important as it sets to tone for your brand and helps people to connect with you.

Deep dive into our content formula to create content that converts. 

Take action:

Click here to watch the training video to learn what content you need to be magnetic, unique and recognizable.  

Hot tip:

if you are not scheduling content yet, get in the habit of creating and scheduling your content in advance. It will save you so much time. 

 

Images

Images are one of the most important elements of your online store.

When people walk into a physical store they can use all their senses to experience the product – but when you have an online your customers can only see what you show them. No matter how amazing your product is – if your images don’t convey that – you won’t sell much.

We highly recommend getting a professional photographer to create a library of photos for you because it is that important. 

The types of images you will need in your library are:

  • Product only images
  • Product demo images
  • Lifestyle images
  • Storytelling or brand images
  • User-generated content

Take action:

Review your image library and update if needed.

Ignitor students:

Access the example library and training videos in your learning portal.

Let the face behind the brand shine

People relate to people. Humans buy from humans. 

In a world of highlight reels and shiny instagram feeds, people are craving real human connection.

Brands that have a human presence behind them – connect, align and convert. I promise that by giving your customers someone to connect to, your brand will be more memorable, more magnetic and more attractive.

Step out from behind your product, and let people get to know you.

We know this may seem scary or goes against what you would think for an online store.

We’ve heard every excuse under the sun as to why this shouldn’t be done. But we promise that’s just you resisting.

Take action: 

  • Include a photo of yourself on your home page in the about snippet
  • Include photos of you on your about us page
  • Weave you throughout your social feeds. Now if you’re thinking you’d prefer to keep these curated and beautiful, I totally get that. Include some professional images on your feed – then bring the real and raw to your stories.

Hot tip: 

This is powerful, so don’t skip it!

 

6. Email

Email is such an important tool for eCommerce businesses. It’s one of those things that takes time to set up but once done can run on autopilot.

If this is something you have been putting off, now is the perfect time to set it up.

We want you to focus on two types of email.

The first is automated email sequences. These are emails triggered by actions people have taken. These include abandon-cart emails, post-purchase sequences, special occasion emails, welcome email and anything else that can be triggered by a date or action.

The second type of emails we focus on are broadcasts. We like to think of these as bouquets of flowers you deliver to people based on your current campaigns, your annual calendar and your content schedule.

Send it with love and it will be received with love.

Take action:

  • Plan out weekly email broadcasts while you have the time.
  • Create auto-responders for:
    • Abandoned carts
    • Post-purchase thank you
    • Birthday campaigns to wish customers a Happy Birthday
    • Sample follow up emails
    • Post-purchase nurture emails
    • Introduction emails
    • Loyalty campaign to encourage further purchases

Ignitor students:

Access the example library and training videos in your learning portal.

7. Facebook ads

A lot of brands are panicking and pulling all their budget from Facebook ads. This is not the best idea if you use Facebook ads to drive traffic when times are good.

Think of your ad account like a steam train. Yes, you might want to reserve your fuel and slow it right now, but once stock comes in, it’s easier to achieve full steam ahead if the train is still in motion, rather than starting from a complete standstill. 

Some amazing opportunities are opening up to generate results in different areas.

Facebook ads run on an auction and therefore while the demand is lower than usual, so is the cost. We see this as an opportunity to strengthen your brands’ position on the platform. 

For some of our clients their Facebook ad results have increased, some even doubled in the past weeks.

If you have no stock use this time to run: 

  • Engagement campaigns. These build up an audience you can then re-target to when pre-orders open or new stock arrives.
  • Social proof and post-purchase campaigns. You can encourage people who have purchased in the past to submit reviews and user-generated images. These are gold for use in your ads – and on your website – and now is the perfect time to focus on this. 

8. Optimise

If your online store sells consumables now is your time to shine and scale up all your efforts to leverage the current buying behaviour.

If you are experiencing a quiet time use this time to review, strengthen and streamline your business operations and systems.

Take action: 

  • Think of all the things you’ve wanted to do but haven’t had time to do.
  • Detox your direct debits and automatic payments.
  • Clean up and cancel subscriptions you don’t need.
  • Review your software and see if they are running any deals currently.
  • Review your costs.

Hot tip:

Don’t be hasty and cut all expenses (remember, no panicking). Really commit to evaluating each expense and make a decision based on:

  1. Are you using this product/service?
  2. Is this an investment or a waste of money?

A final word

Businesses who use this time to strengthen their brand will be in an even better position when things settle down.

Choose to focus forward. 

While some things are out of our control, we can control our thoughts, feelings and actions. And it’s the way we approach the conditions around you that define your success.

Choose to be proactive. Choose to use your time wisely. Choose calm, not chaos. 

We hope that this guide has illuminated proactive, positive actions you can take to strengthen your business now, and into the future.

Don’t have an online store yet?

If you or someone you know needs to set up an online store, we are waiving 100% of the enrolment fee to our eComm Foundations program. In this program, we teach people exactly how to set up an eCommerce online store.

It’s perfect for:

  • bricks-and-mortar store owners ready to transition to an online store
  • small business owners who rely solely on markets for their income
  • people who are ready to pivot from their 9-5 and set up an online store

Click here to enrol and learn how to set up your online store.

Hey we’re Karyn + Megan

We love helping purpose driven women sell more on their online store

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