I’m going to make this short and simple. Every now and then, people ask me to help them with their shopping carts. And you need to understand that with shopping carts, not only do they take a long time to build, but it takes a long time to get all the content together. Like the pictures. The text. Market research to figure out the pricing. Setting up the merchant account that processes credit cards when a product is bought. I want to be clear. Building a shopping cart is a big investment of time and money.
And on top of all that, it’s too late. It’s 2012. You missed the boat.
Here’s why. Marketing locally works. Local small businesses compete within 10 mile to 25 mile radius. They’re not going to compete with big, national companies. With shopping carts, you compete with other small businesses all across the country and even the world. And you compete with big business. Why is that important? Because for big companies, the cost to acquire the sale will be a lot lower than yours.
SEO for shopping carts? Forget about it. Too late. Maybe, maybe a company can start doing SEO now and maybe in 1-2 years pick up organic rankings LOCALLY. But nationally? Unless you’re inventing a new product, you’re out of luck.
So the only option is paying for traffic. Here’s the most important part of my post: Let’s say, it takes you 50 clicks to get a sale. Well guess what? The big, national companies, it’s going to take them a lot less clicks to produce a sale. Why? Trust. Brand recognition. For Target, they probably only need maybe 15 clicks to produce a sale. Maybe less. Because people know Target. If they have problems, they’re confident Target will resolve them. But people have no clue who Joe’s Shoes is. They don’t have much confidence there. So Therefore, if Target only needs 15 clicks to make a sale and you need 50, Target will be willing to bid a lot more per click than a small business would. And big business drives the cost per click up so high to where the small business can’t compete. Like even when they make a sale, the cost to acquire it is so high, they don’t make any money.
Is it impossible to build a shopping cart right now and have success with it? No. It is possible. How can you do it? You need to build up your brand online. You need to spread positive reviews about your company like wildfire. All the forums and blogs the potential customers in your market go to, you need to advertise there. Give people time to get familiar with you. You need to be on Facebook like no other and evangelize your brand. You need to make friends, get to know people. Build relationships with people. Hopefully they’ll spread word of mouth about your shopping cart. You would need to build up your brand so much, that if someone typed in your company name into Google to do background research on you, they find all this positive stuff. Then maybe, just maybe, it could take you 30 clicks, 25 clicks, 20 clicks on average to produce a sale. And that’s when your shopping cart can possibly, financially become a viable business.
But building a brand up takes a long time. I’m not talking about it taking a few weeks. Or months. I’m talking about at least a year, if not two or three. Maybe even five. It should be viewed as a long term investment.
So my conclusion is that most small business owners shouldn’t waste their time with shopping carts. Because they won’t have the patience or skill to build up their brand. It’s too late. Building a shopping cart and having success with it was very do-able back in 2001. Maybe 2005. You waited too long and missed the boat. For those of you who are going to do it anyway, may the force be with you. You’re going to need it.