Covid-19 means the online space just got a lot more competitive, so now you need to align your resources to ensure your brand and products are highly visible across search engines and social.
There is no point having a beautifully crafted website for your retail business if your order inbox lies empty or your sales dashboard remains flat. Are you just ticking the eCommerce box or truly committed to growing a successful online business? Sitting on the fence is not the best option.
Loughnan Hooper, Dotser founder, is advising companies to dig deeper and challenge themselves if they are barely tipping their hat to their digital strategy.
“The website can look beautiful, and we have had new clients come to us that are questioning why they are only getting a few online orders. The key is being found on Google and I’m not talking about the easy stuff. Finding your business name on the first page of Google is nothing to celebrate and should be a given. I am talking about competitive keywords that directly relate to your products and services in your industry sector. It makes sense that potential customers will use Google to check suppliers and pricing at least once in the sales cycle. Many elements will influence the sale conversion including simplicity to order, brand value, trust and price. If you are not on first page search results, you are not competing at the level expected. If your serious about getting my business, make sure you can be found easily.”
The cloud-based business solutions company’s e-commerce platform, Dotser Commerce, boasts online tools to manage products, orders, web content, search engine optimisation and social media integration in one secure central system.
“When we were building the platform initially, we had three key building blocks. Obviously, the sites have to look professional on desktop and mobile, that’s a given. As a user, you want to be able to easily edit every piece of text and images in the system and we have new users telling us how simple and intuitive Dotser Commerce is. Then thirdly, that we would achieve top Google natural rankings for our clients which we have proven time and time again for valuable and competitive keywords, which doesn’t happen overnight and we get there with a realistic and informed digital strategy.
“Obviously the online world has evolved since Dotser was founded in 2000 and over two decades the team has contributed in no small way to building clients’ sales revenue with clever digital strategies that differentiates their offering from competitors namely achieving higher natural ranking and improving conversion rates of online visitors.”
Hooper believes that it is entirely possible to keep your business visible and relevant without only using Google Ads.
“Key to a business being self-sufficient over a long period of time is achieving high ranking natural results for the most relevant keywords to your target audience. We’re not saying to you to use AdWords, paying a fortune to Google for what I believe are less effective clicks.
“It’s how you create the site behind the scenes, how you make sure you’re using search engine-friendly page names, where you can easily edit your image names and add meta tags reflecting your particular page or product data – we’re doing everything we can to try to influence the Google algorithm to make sure your page is ranked higher.”
The company of 12 employees, who remain working remotely, have had to do a little restructuring of their own offerings since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis.
Alongside the eCommerce platform, Hooper has been successfully building a platform to support events and trade exhibitions. SuperShow is an online competition, trade stand and results management software system based in the cloud. Having built a strong reputation supporting leading agricultural shows across Ireland, SuperShow prepared for a very healthy 2020 within Ireland and the UK only to see Covid-19 force the cancellation of events and wipe out a significant part of his order book.
“Thankfully we have a diversified product portfolio and we made some bold decisions which paid off and now SuperShow has successfully delivered solutions to large agricultural shows and trade machinery exhibitions across Australia from Perth to Sydney.
“Having weathered the storm and secured a steady flow of good clients in new export markets, the challenge we are currently experiencing is finding personnel. We are actively recruiting a project manager, digital marketing manager, web developer and sales manager to meet the demand. It looks like is a new landscape in recruiting as it now acceptable on several fronts to hire and work remotely.”
Dotser also supplies software to the waste recycling sector with WeRP, its resource management software offering cloud-based materials, logistics, contract, process management and production. More recently their crowdfunding platform, FundMajor, helped raise over €200,000 when launched by Club Faithful, the Offaly GAA’s supporters club.
Hooper remains focussed on the e-commerce space and with his scalable platform of which he still retains 100 mper cent ownership of, he has quickly moved up the food chain to build advanced integrated online retail solutions that support bricks and mortar and delivers significant online sales growth.
As more and more companies look at how they can restructure to ride out the challenges the Covid-19 crisis brings, it means that, no matter what market you are in or what product you want to sell, it is going to become even more competitive in the online space.
“You’re first or nowhere – that’s the fact. I see it with our clients. You’re on page two (in a Google search), even number 11– the first of the second page – it’s so different to being on that first page. People are getting less patient; if they don’t find you on the first page, they don’t click ‘next’. Depending on the sector Google Ads are very expensive and euro for euro less effective than prioritising a ‘natural search’ strategy and watching your conversion rate increase, ultimately driving sales up.
“We’ve put a lot of thought into this when designing the back end of the system – URL, page-friendly names. The ability to give effective page titles to your web pages, naming your images, putting in decent enough content where you’re mentioning your keyword for that specific page two or three times, editing your keywords and meta tags. The process that I’ve built over the last 12-15 years continues to work repeatedly. Now there are more tools available to measure and track effectiveness and we have developed simple tools within our content management system to automate what can be a time consuming process.”
The Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment (DETE) last week proposed a further call for Online Retail Scheme applications in response to the Covid-19 crisis and the continuing urgent need for retail companies to achieve a step change in online capability.
With 80 per cent funding of up to €40,000 for businesses with over 10 employees to grow their website offering – there is no better time to invest in your online retail store.
“We have devised a tailored Online Retail Programme specifically for this scheme. Based around implementing a digital strategy that is focussed on delivering long term search engine results, enhancing your website for mobile, improving sales conversion rate of visitors by reviewing the customer journey removing any points of friction and minimising cart abandonment. An integral part of the program is knowledge transfer where me and the team work closely with your online retail champion and management on a weekly basis over 4 months to impart 30 years of experience, allowing your business to become more self-sufficient and help grow your online sales.”
For further information about the Online Retail Scheme please visit https://www.dotser.ie or contact Loughnan Hooper / 087 8241782 / [email protected]