Make Your Ecommerce House a Home

Published on October 16, 2023
Written by
Filed under Shipping Basics
Read time 13 Minutes

This blog was co-authored by Anthony Mikhael and Jack Swift, Senior Marketing Manager at Irish Titan.

If your website was a house, what would it look like? How big? What color? How would someone get from the front door to the back?

The parallels for building an ecommerce website to building a house are there. Or at least we’re forcing the analogy so humor us for a little bit. We’re all looking for a lovely spot to call home. Your website embodies your identity, your unique vibe, and most importantly, your success, which in turn provides a secure foundation and protection for your business.

But your website shouldn’t be the same as your neighbor’s. Even on the same street, you two have wildly different needs. Perhaps you’re building a woodsy cabin, a glitzy mansion, or a tiny home on a big yard, OR you’re working on a fixer upper and retrofitting your own style into it.

If you’re wondering how to spend your building budget on an ecommerce home, we’re recommending three categories. Put (forced) into our home analogy, it’s the Foundational spending, the Structural spending, and the Furnishing spending. Our suggestion? You need ALL three but if you spend too much in one section, you’ll end up creating a house that is strong as steel but doesn’t have a couch in it.

Want an image of YOUR ecommerce home? We have a home inspection self-assessment.  

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1. Foundational

For your foundational spending, we think about something that EVERY merchant needs to have. You might spend more or less on these sections than your neighbor but if you don’t have one of these things, you’re missing a big section of foundation and your business could face sinking or collapse. Think of these as the slab, plumbing, roof of the house, that kind of thing. Remember the woodsy cabin might have less spent on plumbing, but you still need something.

  • Website – At its most basic, you need a website. Like the foundation/slab, you need a place to build everything from. If you take anything from this, you need a solid foundation to build off of. You can’t think about moving a couch in if your foundation is crumbling.   
  • Fulfillment operations – These might be the windows and doors. Get things in and out. Critical for selling something. You need to get things out of your house and into the hands of others.
  • Effective means of communicating with customers – There’s a reason we register our address. Like the government, you have to provide your customers with a way to contact you. This also includes promotion and marketing. Don’t forget that no one will know you moved in if you don’t tell them!
  • Payment processing and tax system – The plumbing, nothing exciting here but you’ll quickly know when you’re missing it. 
  • A system to manage your inventory – Your inventory is the power to your business, this is your electrical system. Where is everything and how is it connected?
  • CRM – Your security system– it’s how you know who is coming and going. Are you getting the analogy? We’ll let you fill the rest of these in by yourself. Let your imagination run home.
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2. Structural 

While you might not necessarily need these per se, not having one of these will definitely negatively impact your business. You might spend more or less on these sections than your neighbor but if you don’t have one of these things, you’re still missing a ton of structure to your house. These are your walls, your room layout, appliances, beams, and boards. This is where businesses might start making decisions that differentiate them from their neighbors. How do you walk through your house? These are the things that ultimately increase the inspection value of your house.

  • Branding – The substance and style of your personality? Are you ultra-modern and minimalist? Over the top and colorful? This impacts everything from your baseboards to your window size. Branding is what makes your business look like you, and not the brutalist guy down the street. 
  • Integrations between systems –  This might be from your ecommerce platform to CRM/ERP but it also can include more complex integrations across a web of systems. Think of it like the space between your walls. Everyone has it, but what you’re shoving in there makes a difference.
  • Customer Service (email/chat) – Stuff goes wrong. Usually, when it rains, it pours too. The best way to handle customer service is directly, quickly, and with a hefty dose of overcompensation. If there’s one thing that can make a forever customer, it’s how you respond to a problem. 
  • Performance Marketing (Ads, SEO, Social, etc.) – The person next to you might know you showed up in your house but two streets away? They have no idea. Remember the old saying ‘Build it and they will come?’ That’s garbage. We like ‘Build it and then tell everyone that you built it and about 10% of them might come’.
  • Reviews – A good site is a good site. But reviews can take you up to a great site. Social proof, honest reviews, and great photos can all take a customer on the edge and send ‘em right off the cliff into loyal customer land. Nail your reviews and you’ll soar.
  • Fulfillment/Shipping Software – A rock solid, optimized fulfillment process with well-built automation, order management, and more is one of those items that look back and say ‘how did we get anything done before this?’ It’s not like a couple extra square feet, it’s like moving to a whole new neighborhood. Good process accelerates good businesses to powerful performers.

3. Furnishings

Here’s where the fun stuff lives. These aren’t less important, they’re just different priorities. You might have some walls up but without furniture, electronics, home entertainment, photos on the wall, your house will never be a home. These things make your house feel comfortable, comfortable to have people over, and even feel like home. With these add-ons and capabilities, your business might need an addition soon. Without them, you got some sticks on a slab.

  • Email to SMS Integrations – Email is great. SMS is great. Integrations between these systems make your brand look like it’s moving at 100mph.
  • Loyalty, Rewards, Subscriptions – The big three. The way you roll these three out could be like the couch, loveseat, and chair in your living room. They make people feel warm and invited into your home. These three are powerful retention tools, keeping your best customers the closest.
  • Buy Now, Pay Later/Split Payment/Flexible Payment options – Again, not going to replace your credit card processor but alternate payment options and flexible financing might be the difference between getting a sale and another abandoned cart. 
  • Branded Shipping + Returns – Want a prime example of branded shipping and returns? Look at goodr. Their brand shines through on their tracking pages, email confirmations, and more. Custom-branded shipping may not replace a solid infrastructure, but it definitely makes people want to celebrate your brand.  

Optimizing Shipping and Fulfillment with ShipStation

Shipping and fulfillment play a crucial role in your online business, covering various aspects. First and foremost, it’s about getting your customers the products they’ve ordered, whether through home delivery or in-store pickup.

But it goes beyond that. Efficient shipping and fulfillment processes are not only time and cost savers but also key to creating a great customer experience. Tools like ShipStation simplify order management across different selling channels, allowing you to compare carrier services and print labels from a single platform. You can even benefit from discounts and automation rules to reduce errors in packing and fulfillment, ensuring faster and more accurate deliveries. 

Happy customers result from speedy order processing.

Additionally, shipping and fulfillment can contribute to your brand’s image. Rather than sending generic carrier-branded emails and tracking links, customize these communications with your branding. Use them as an opportunity to recommend related products or request reviews. This added personal touch enhances your brand’s presence without much extra effort. While branding emails and tracking pages might not be a primary business tactic, they create additional touchpoints for customer engagement, potentially driving more sales and improving customer retention. In summary, it’s a simple yet effective way to build loyalty and rapport with your customers.

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Partnering with Irish Titan: Building Your Business From the Ground Up

Having a trusted agency to implement this plan is crucial. Without a knowledgeable team of designers, builders, and marketers, your project may lack the necessary foundation and could face significant setbacks. We specialize in constructing homes correctly from the ground up, working closely with merchants to craft a blueprint, allocate resources, and add the finishing touches. While it’s possible to proceed without such a team, it carries a higher risk of requiring a costly rebuild. Can you afford to take that chance?

Remember, constructing your project is just the beginning. To attract visitors, you’ll need a well-thought-out marketing plan and budget for invitations. Disregard the notion of ‘build it and they will come’; we prefer ‘build it and announce your housewarming party to everyone.

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Written by

Anthony Mikhael

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