When you typically think of an online store, you probably don’t think of a blog, careers, white papers, marketing landing pages, content campaigns, or microsites. Your first thoughts most likely go to product pages, search, and checkout. You may have briefly thought about the shopping cart page too. The point here is that you don’t have to think that way, and you shouldn’t be anyway. Your online store could be so much more than it is already as long as you embrace having your store be an e-commerce CMS. Once you do, the world of endless opportunity and flexibility for your online business strategy opens up for you.
Additional Types of Content
If you’re reading this, you probably already have at least one type of content. You call them products. When your store first starts out, that’s really all you need and it’s literally the only place most stores should focus. That is, until the store becomes successful. Once your customers begin ordering again and again, your needs and focus will invariably change. Eventually, you have too many orders for any one person to track or fulfill. You end up finding and using an ERP. You have so much money transferring that you’re using an accounting software program. You’re not able to do this on your own, so you need to hire people. Now you need to find a way to share reports from those other systems because your employees can’t access them all. Customers keep asking for information that your product pages can’t add or manage, so you keep telling customer after customer the same things, copied from one e-mail and pasted into another. Then support begins to get too much for e-mail, and you end up using a help desk system.
All of the issues described above are incredibly common – and if you’re feeling this way, congratulations! This means you’re experiencing “growing pains” in your business, and those pains are some of the best pains you’ll feel in your life. Your company is growing. Just the same, how are you going to get all of those things done, and how are they going to work with your website? Are you going to have to hire someone to manage each issue, and how do you even let people know you have open positions in your company? All of these things can be resolved using CMS capabilities. With the right CMS, you can get your job openings posted in no time, and get your “About Us” pages up, and show your reports in an easy way, but only to the correct people.
Take Advantage of New Marketing Mediums
The obvious thing here is a blog. If you blog, then of course customers will begin pouring in. Have you ever tried it? It’s not that easy, and where are those customers? Regardless, a store having a blog is so obvious that standalone e-commerce solutions began adding blog capabilities a handful of years ago. However, while these are called a “blog,” most of them are little more than a list of titles and descriptions with the blog label slapped on. You lack all of the true blogging features you may be looking for. What if you had those missing blogging features, and you were also able to sell your products equally well?
As our partner T-WORX mentioned recently, more and more e-commerce businesses are looking for fully integrated marketing funnel solutions. This means content campaigns, landing pages, full SEO capabilities across all areas of the site, banner/ad management, and even microsites to generate and feed leads into your primary store. All of these things require a much more robust set of capabilities that no store alone can offer. If you want to really take advantage of these kinds of marketing strategies to grow your business, a CMS is not only helpful, but it’s absolutely necessary and cost effective. Your alternative is to have someone build all of those things, which is quite costly in every measure.
Consistent User Experience
You might be saying, “But I can do this already. All I have to do is build another website, and link the two together.” Sure, that’s definitely true. However, how many times have you known any plan that involved technology to be quite that simple? Simply put, it’s not that simple – ever. Having your store use an e-commerce CMS allows you and your team to use the same tools to accomplish the overall business objectives. This reduces the dependencies on software, lowers the downtime and cost of training and re-training, and boosts productivity. There’s only one tool necessary to learn and use, and since everyone is using it, your team probably only needs to get to know it once – and they only have one set of usernames and passwords to remember. That’s the power of a single user experience, but what about your customers?
Your customers can benefit from using a single tool as well. If you’re “bolting on” a CMS instead, your customers will instead have a disconnected experience. How will you ever be able to tell if your customer that purchased the waffle maker did so because of your marketing efforts? When they’re in the CMS part of your site, they have no idea about their cart, and when they’re looking at products, they have no idea what your blog was recommending. If they’ve logged in at the store and want to comment on your blog, now they need to login again, and they’re wondering why. In fact, your customers may not even have a noticeable way to transition from one to the other.
Your store and any other website properties that you have really need to be aware of each other. You and your customers both deserve a seamless user experience.
Insert All of Your Other Needs Here
If you’re really using a CMS, you have a giant checkbox that you can check off right now. It’s the “What if?” checkbox. What if you need to integrate a store location look-up? What if you need to build a workflow management solution for tracking new hire training and onboarding? What if you need to have an area to help arm your affiliates and partners with marketing and sales materials? What if you need to build a contest section to help drive interest to a new product offering or drum up demand during the offseason? Without an e-commerce CMS, your answers to these questions and any other you’ll have will be much more difficult to swallow in the future.
An e-commerce CMS ensures that you’ll always have a way to get the job done when it comes to building new and unexpected types of content and integrations. You’ll be ready when the time comes. It’s a no-nonsense way to future-proof your online store.