Zen Cart store owners often seek help from us about how to make a schedule of technical development of their shopping cart. They want to know what to do and how to do certain jobs in a specific stage. They don’t want to think too much on those topics since they are not their focus. They just want to do the right things on the right time.
We try our best to give you a guideline on this topic.
3 Stages: Starter, Growing, Mature
Let’s define the 3 stages:
- Starter Stage – you set up a zen cart store to see if it can bring you some customers and profits
- Growing Stage – you got some customers and profits, and want to make more
- Mature Stage – you have handsome customers and profits, everything is the best
For new zencarters, 3 stages above are inevitable experience you got to taste. To those veterans, you already experienced the whole processes. So what’s the key of them? What should store owners focus on each stage?
We are bold to say the secrets directly:
Starters: Focus on Testing
Testing is the key of first stage. In this stage, you want to know only one thing: will there be anybody who actually buy my product? You don’t and you can’t care about your income, profits or anything else. When you found out “yep, some guys paid me real money”, you can go to next stage.
This sounds simple, right? All you need to do is setting up a zen cart store, upload products, and make sure checkout pages are working. So people can view your catalog, place orders, you can receive orders confirmation emails and deal with them in zen cart admin.
Let’s repeat it again: focus on testing whether it is a practical business; don’t focus on others. If people do buy from you, it’s good, you can go next step. If people don’t buy from you, it’s also okie, because you know this is not the business as you imagined, stop here.
Therefore, a very basic zen cart store is good enough: a simple catalog, all default checkout pages, no add-ons, no SEO, no content management system. People buy from you even your store looks ugly. They pay you because they need you, no matter what your store look like.
Growing Stage: Focus on Marketing
Lucky you are!
Once you came here, you have already attracted some clients and made profits. You know this business is practical, so you want to attract more clients and make more profits. Then you will have to focus on marketing, which help you to grow your customers database.
What should you do technically? You know you are selling online, so all you need to do is about online marketing. There are too many technical details in online marketing. We don’t want to make you confused, so we only tell you two basic aspects: attracting people to your site, convince them to buy.
How to attract people to your site? You can use 3 basic methods: SEO, buy traffic and affiliate.
- SEO is a common strategy to attract people. You need to add keywords to content pages, including products page, URLs, images name, news, articles and any other pages. What does this contribute for? It makes a keywords-pool, which leads people to your site when they search those keywords in Google, Yahoo, Bing etc. To help search engines indexing your site better, you need to make XML site map and submit it to search engines.
- Buying traffic is also a common strategy. You can read other online marketing gurus’ books, like Google Cash.
- Affiliate is similar to buying traffic. You need to set up a affiliate system, which allows you to publish affiliate plans and track the leads generated in your affiliates’ website, email or ebooks.
How to convince people to buy? You also have 3 basic methods: lower price, higher guarantee, and tons of testimonials. You may think they are simple. Indeed they are. What we want to tell you is: these are golden principles proven by our clients.
- Lower Price – Zen Cart allows you to create special products, which has a discount price that compares with normal price. People love this. You can also use “Sales Maker” to put a category to be special products.
- Higher Guarantee – You can guarantee more than your competitors, like longer guaranteed return period, less return terms and security promise etc. To do this, you don’t have to install on many add-ons, but to highlight those guaranteed items, like set up a sidebox with “100% satisfied” and SSL logo.
- Testimonials – The more testimonials you have, the more likely your customers are convinced of how great it would be if they buy your products. We saw conversion rate upgraded 270% to some clients who added testimonials. It should also work for you. This is an add-on you can install. But the key is to encourage customers to leave testimonials on your site. Focus on this.
Also, in this stage, you can pay some attention to make Zen Cart template more appealing. This is the right time.
Marture Stage: Keeping Stable Revenue
We assume your store is now making tons of money since you proved it’s a practical business and attracted lots of customers. Now, you would like to sustain the business as long as it could be. What do you need to do? Keeping customers buy from you.
How to do that? It’s basically the topics of Customer Relationship Management. You need to take care of what your customers think of, satisfy them in every aspect to prevent them embracing your competitors.
Technically, you’d better focus on Customers Experience Optimization. Here are a few clues you may need:
- Wish List, a reminding tool
- Fast checkout, make checkout processes easier in one page
- Back in stock notification, remind of customers new stock arrives
- Live chat to help people stay on shopping
- Reward and Points system
- Newsletter is powerful to remind people of your business. It also has been prove to be marketing effective, with unbelievable 10% conversion rate to some clients of ours.
- Makes sure your shipping and payment modules are working on the best level
If you have enough resources support, you can setup a community for your customers, like Forum and Blog. You have to think of every possible way to make your customers keeping satisfied. The key is more communication.
Basic Principle: Put Customers Above Your Need
If you feel tired reading all those things, we have a simple conclusion for you to remember: think more need of your customers. This is a principle you have to follow. For example, don’t install any add-on unless you are certain your customers will need it. Don’t make any customization unless that is meaningful to your clients.
In stage one, before you know whether your business idea is practical, a nice template is not meaningful to your customers, right? It will be good to install a better template in stage two or three.
We have to apologize that we can’t talk too much in detail. If you need more specific help on this topic, please reply to the post below or contact us for a quote.