Pet Store Websites is our go-to resource for setting up an optimized e-commerce site. Many of you like the idea of e-commerce capabilities but don’t know where to start when it comes to website development. To answer all your questions, we sat down with Keegan, Pet Store Websites CEO, and got his inside scoop.
What is the first thing you tell retailers when they come to you asking about setting up an e-commerce site for their store?
Setting up an e-commerce site is like adding an aisle to your store. If you don’t add shelves, quality lighting, easy-to-read price tags, swept floors, and in-stock products, odds are you’re not going to get much use out of that extra aisle. If you don’t build a well-functioning branded site it will likely bring you little to no value. Similarly, if you set up an incredible site, but stop there and don’t touch it for months, functionality will break and your customers will stop shopping there. It’s incredibly important that retailers believe in their site, see the value it can bring, and invest in it the same way they do in their brick & mortar store.
Many retailers we’ve spoken to have set up basic informational sites and understand they may need to start from scratch. We currently have a Shopify plugin, and Lightspeed is launching soon. Do you have any recommendations for which one is best?
Unfortunately, there’s no straight answer on this one. What I can do is lay out some of the pros and cons of each.
Shopify offers a lot of advantages. It’s a really easy to use e-commerce platform with a diverse app market. If there is anything you want your website to do, the app store has it. Shopify does have a POS system linked directly to the online store, but brick and mortar store owners may find that the POS available through Shopify isn’t quite robust enough to handle all their needs.
Lightspeed offers a POS system that is very well suited for pet stores with an e-commerce platform linked directly to the POS data. Yet, e-commerce is newer to Lightspeed so the app market doesn’t offer as much as what’s currently available on Shopify.
Alternatively, WooCommerce is a great platform because it allows you a lot of flexibility in how you build your site. This e-commerce plugin is available directly through WordPress. Store owners will have the all of the flexibility of WordPress available when using WooCommerce. However, there are more developer requirements on WordPress in order to keep up with tasks such as hosting, software updates, and security.
That makes sense. I suppose it depends on each retail store’s individual needs and situation.
Definitely. That’s why we’re setting up webinars with retailers who have an interest in seeing an outline of what we can do for them. They can also easily reach out to us via our contact form on our site.
I know some retailers have asked for full-on support in both the creation and ongoing maintenance of their site, while others have resources to do the maintenance themselves. Can you share a bit more detail on the different ways you support retailers depending on their needs?
We have 3 basic packages available to retailers.
The first is the installation of our Filterize App. This app sorts and organizes the data available from Endless Aisles.
The second option available is a setup service. We help retailers get set up online. Our service includes setting up the Shopify account, installing the template chosen by the retailer and installing the Filterize app to organize the Endless Aisles catalog.
Our third, and recommended package, is really a partnership between our business and the retailer. There is no upfront cost. We partner with you to help you build, grow, optimize and be successful with the e-commerce portion of your business. A successful e-commerce business is a journey. It requires careful attention and constant tweaks. Let us do the technology work for you! This service includes (but is not limited to) product management, monthly website updates, website banner development, maintaining a blog library, email marketing, social media marketing and optimizing the website to help ensure search engine success.
Here is an example of the work we have done in the past:
That’s awesome! I’m sure there are some costs associated with all this. Do you have any advice you can give to skeptical retailers?
When it comes to being successful online, it takes work. Unfortunately you can’t build it and just assume customers will come. You have to build it, tweak it, monitor it, update it, fix it and they will come. When it comes to this process of building and managing you have three choices – you can build and manage yourself as the owner, you can delegate to an employee, or for $6,000 a year, you can hire us to do it. This allows you to have an e-commerce pro as a member of your team to manage your “e-commerce aisle”.
When it boils down to it, store owners quickly realize their time and their employees’ time is most valuably spent managing and running the store on a day to day basis than it is trying to navigate e-commerce. Hiring a pro for $6k/year pays for itself.
Additionally, we’ve seen a number of retailers going to their brand reps with marketing sell sheets; your site is just like your store! Add brand-funded banners to your homepage, send dedicated brand featured emails to your customer base, or show off a “fave brands” section with a selection of logos. Most brand reps are eager to fund those kinds of advertising opportunities, and it will help you cover the costs of running your site.
That is a really great point. Any last words of wisdom?
Let’s talk! We’re happy to walk through a demo of some of our work. One thing to think about is that your customers are going online to shop for their pet. Data trends back this fact. The question is – do you want to be there when they search for pet stores near them or will someone else be there to serve them?