Jersey Shore Retail E-Commerce CaseResearch Paper

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e-Commerce

Our clothing store on the Jersey Shore boardwalk is thinking about going online as an e-commerce operation. There are a number of logical reasons for this. First, the Jersey Shore is a seasonal place to do business, with most sales coming from Memorial Day to Labor Day. To offset the impact of seasonality, we feel that it is critical to sell all year around online, where we can reach a much bigger audience, and trade on the brand that we establish with our summer visitors. The current website generates some traffic, but it does not have e-commerce capabilities, and we feel that this is a lost opportunity. This paper will outline the strategy for building the online side of our business.

The Domain

We have been offered $1,000 for our online domain name. We currently use the site to promote the store, but have not developed any sort of e-commerce capabilities. The decision to sell or not to sell would be based on a rational examination of the costs and the benefits, and there a number of factors to take into account (Kyrnin, 2015). The reality is that our URL is based on the name of our store. This is the name that people will recognize. While we have not, to this point, put much effort into promoting the website, the reality is that this website receives traffic, in particular during the summer months when people are visiting the Jersey Shore and have been through the store. The traffic we get currently is worth around $1,000 per year, so a fair valuation of the URL is higher than $1,000 flat. In addition, we look at the site as something that we can grow if we put effort and money into it. The sense is that this URL will actually be worth quite a bit more to us if we use it to develop an e-commerce site than if we sell it for cash. We will not sell the URL, not for $1,000. It is worth more to us, because it represents our brand. There are no conceivable ethical dilemmas here. It is a business transaction, and we have decided that the URL is worth more to us than the $1,000 offer.

E-Commerce Capabilities

In order to bring this site to its fullest potential, we need to incorporate the latest e-commerce software (Barron, 2015). This includes such features as catalog software, shopping cart capabilities, and secure transaction processing. These are all critical to the website, because they are the basic functionality that is expected of any e-commerce site. The catalog software is valuable because that is how the customer will be able to view the merchandise. The catalog software provides an area of the website for the customer to browse the different products that we are selling. This software should be linked to our inventory management software, so that the customer is able to see exactly what we have on offer at any given time.

Shopping cart capabilities are an essential for any e-commerce site. They allow customers to browse the website, and put things in a virtual cart. This information is stored, so that even when users exit the site, the site will remember what they put in their cart, so that when they come back later, the items are still in the cart. The virtual shopping cart thus provides a valuable function. It allows the visitor to continue shopping, thus accumulating more purchases, but in addition to that it allows for goods to be stored, and then purchased later. Therefore not only does shopping cart functionality improve the shopping experience for the customer but it encourages a higher degree of sales as well, which is beneficial for the business. This highlights the reality of e-commerce that doing things to enhance the customer experience will also benefit the organization as well.

The third element is the checkout. Without this, the site does not generate money. So the checkout performs an obviously critical function for the website. But the important thing is that the checkout accepts a number of different payment options and that it has a high security level. These two are key to getting customers to use the website and to trust it. The more payment options that the site provides, the fewer barriers that there are to paying for the customer. The customer is going to want to be able to pay any way that they can, wherever their money is. This means debit cards, credit cards, PayPal, whatever. The site needs to deliver that functionality because the harder it is for the customer to pay, the less likely they are to make the purchase.

Security is also very important, and people will avoid sites that they do not trust (Griffith, 2011). Customers will only deal with websites that they trust. Usually, this means using a third party service for payments where the best and latest in security can be guaranteed. Customer trust is such an important element of any business, and online the company needs to take more steps to build that trust because of the issues inherent in dealing over the Internet.

Building an Online Presence

Building a presence online is quite a bit different than building a presence at a physical location. It is necessary to attract visitors to the website, and to convince them to start shopping. It is also important to encourage visitors to return to the website. Search engine optimization is the key concept here, because the store will want to land on the front page of Google when people do certain searches. This is tricky, because people search different things, and also because the store is small and unlikely to land on the front page, unless someone is specifically searching for the store name. It is important, therefore, that the company has a unique name, and that it may wish to consider placing ads as a means of bringing in traffic. But online ads are not free -- leveraging the current physical location is. One of the biggest ways to drive traffic to the website is to take advantage of the people who come to the physical store -- find ways to promote the website in the store, and to get people to sign up to the store's social media. These are ways to drive traffic, even out of season, by tapping into the established customer base of people who know the store, know what it is about, and want to buy things at the store, even if they are away from the boardwalk.

Once you get people to visit the site, you have given them a reason to stay. That means creating a great shopping experience, maybe offering web-specific deals, and building a trust with visitors. The site should reflect well on the company, by offering a superior selection and shopping experience even to what they would experience in the store. The more usable the website is, in terms of navigation, in terms of search functions, and in terms of customer service, the better the site will be at retaining the people who visit the site and getting them to buy. Also, visuals are an important part of this. A site that sells clothing needs a lot of visuals, to help shoppers with their experience. If you look at leading e-commerce sites, they offer close-ups of clothing so you can see the fabric, and different detailing elements. That is the sort of thing that customers want, so that they can tell you are selling them high-quality clothing.

Marketing Strategy

The store will need to target pretty much the same target market as the physical store targets. This consists of people who live on the east coast (NJ, NY, PA) who are in their 20s. They are both men and women, and they are outgoing, fun-loving people who love life. The target market does not necessary have a college education, but many do. In addition, they are enthusiastic shoppers for clothing and accessories. For the target market, the clothing and accessories help to define the way that they project to the world. As such, they are willing to spend a disproportionate amount of their money on their fashion.

The marketing strategy will be a combination of leveraging the physical store, and spending money to improve the SEO of the company (Google, 2015). Advertising on the web can be done in a number of different ways, but pay-per-click is the preferred method for us (Portent, 2015). We believe in paying only for what we get, and when we pay an online ad company to deliver us customers, we are willing to do that. So pay-per-click will have the company -- Google, Yahoo or whoever -- deliver only customers who are in our target market, and when they click we pay for that. As such, we are promoting our site to the right people, and we are paying when we get a new customer.

Conclusion

Building an online business has some similarities… [END OF PREVIEW]

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