Normally, customers would have to call an associate from D & D and find out when the next trade show, showcase, or large event D & D will be featured in attendance so customers can make their way to the venue just to see the merchandise. One main focus that would have to be kept is the same local, hometown business feel.
Although D & D would be looking to expand out of the greater Indianapolis area, the focus that needs to be kept is the community. An online market would be extremely beneficial to the community and the business because the times are changing and more and more customers each day are transitioning to the online marketplace by shopping in the comfort of their own home. D & D is a community based business who believes in taking care of all our customer’s needs whether it is live an in person, or 2:00 AM on a Sunday night. We can only offer this kind of service with an online presence.
D & D wants to be the company a customer can count on anytime. Being part of an online environment will be a large part in making that a reality. As a business, we must ask ourselves is this a venture that will be successful for us? Given the type of market that our company is tapping into, we have the ability to be very successful. The quality of products that we offer along with our competitive prices will give us the competitive advantage over other similar small companies as even over some larger companies as well.
Establishing D & D in an online environment against competition in the same type of business will force us to be aware of all that is going on with our competition. This way, we will able to compete with the larger companies like a JCPenny or Sears and the smaller businesses like D & D that have been in the online environment for a long time. We will strive to keep the quality of our products high and be able to keep our prices low. The success of our business will lie on our quality, and providing the best quality products will help us in generating income and building a larger customer base.
Current Online Competitor Assessment Being that D & D is a very small local business; large competitors (Nordstrom. com, Macys. com, Sears. com, etc. ) offer more of a broad selection of merchandise while D & D specializes in one specific area of sales at extremely competitive prices and unique craftsmanship quality. Most of these larger companies will hold sales that provide their merchandise at discounted prices in-store and online but customers will not always catch the “Great Deal” or clearance sale. D & D wants to provide quality products that customers feel are always on sale.
One competitive advantage that D &D will have over these companies is the originality of products. A large portion of the merchandise sold is hand-made, developed from original designs and ideas. Larger companies will most likely buy their products in bulk from over-seas distributors that will mimic merchandise of their competitors while D & D will offer quality products made right here in the United States. D & D will be able to back all the hand-made merchandise with a ‘Made in The USA’ tag which is something that most of the larger competitors will not be able to do.
There are some name brand designers that are sold through D & D; however, prices for that particular merchandise will still be competitive. We understand that there are customers with a demand for name brand designers no matter what the item may be and we want to be the provider for that segment of customers as well. Larger companies in the retail industry will often sell merchandise seasonally in regards to the specific time of year or holiday. A huge advantage that D & D will have will be the ability to purchase seasonal merchandise year round.
For example, if a customer wanted to purchase a Christmas themed hat in July or another customer wanted to purchase a Valentine’s Day gift basket in October, these options would be available to them. A larger company will most likely not offer that option on their site and especially not in their store. D & D’s goal is to be able to take care of each and every customer’s needs (and wants) to create customers for life. We know that we are not the only company in this market and we need to be aware of the disadvantages we face while competing against larger companies.
One large disadvantage that we will face is the distribution of our products. D & D does not have a warehouse where stock is kept in comparison to a Sears or Macy’s. Therefore, in order for us to be successful, we must be able to maintain our stock and make sure that we keep enough on hand at all times. Another disadvantage that we face is the production of our hand-made items. Although our items do not take extremely long to make, we can run into the problem of not having a specific item when it is needed.
This could be a major issue in the success of that particular product, but one advantage that we do have is that everyone on the sales team is able to help us create products if we happen to be short on certain items. This gives us a slight advantage over competitors large and small because there is no need for a middle man in our product line. All handmade products are able to be created and ready for sale immediately. We will still be in a similar situation with our competitors when it comes to all of the name brand clothing as far as shipping, ordering, receiving, etc. but being able to have our custom products manufactured and ready to sell within a fraction of time it would take for shipping procedures will keep us ahead and generating income. Online Marketing Suggestions & Strategies The strategy for D & D will be one with attainable goals. The first objective of our strategy is to know where we are going and what we want to achieve. Our first goal will be to set the amount of customers that we want to reach through our online presence.
As long as we have an idea of how many customers we wish to gain through this method, we will stay focused and stay on the correct path to achieve our goal. The next step in our strategy is to dissect the final goal numbers and turn the results into action plans that we can use to repeat success. For instance, if D & D sets the target number in a time period for customers gained through our online presence, because the goal was dissected prior and broken down; D & D knows exactly what must be done to achieve that goal.
The last step that D & D will implement in the strategy is to make sure all success is reviewed and evaluated thoroughly. All information that we received must be evaluated so we are making sure we are getting the results that we expected and wanted. One of the major tasks that we plan to accomplish with D & D’s online marketing efforts is to attain customers of a younger age group. Typically the D & D customer base age ranges from 30 – 60 for women and 29 – 50 for men. With the addition of new products and the expansion to an online environment, the goal could be easily reached.
Another marketing strategy that D & D will use is advertising the current events and trade shows we will be featured in. By advertising and marketing D & D online as well as the different venues, customers will be informed of different things to do around the city in addition to taking some time to shop. Marketing ourselves this way will not only help our business, but it will also help our community which is helping us keep our main two focuses; Service our community and sell quality products to our customers.
Search Engine Considerations & Optimization Strategies Taking into consideration that there has been a lot of cross-border selling, there is a growth that is happening with search marketers. This growth causes websites to be optimized for visitors from different regions and cultural backgrounds. There are constant attempts to develop techniques that attract visitors through search engines and search ads. One technique that D & D will be able to do is use country specific domain names, and possibly change spelling variations (i. e. color v. colour).
D & D will also use keywords in other languages, which will target search engines such as Google AdWords and give us more search result hits. Expanding our name in search engines will be an excellent way to open the door to us being found by more people who are searching for similar items. Encouraging our customers to post regular reviews of our business on a variety of local search sites will not only let potential customers know we do a good job, but it will increase the number of search hits we receive. The more reviews we receive, the reviews will appear high within search results.
The approach also will make it more likely for the next potential customer searching for a store like D & D to possibly contact our business based on the information they are receiving in the search results. A strategy such as this will improve the amount of search hits simply by choosing the words we want to be associated with our business and as long as we are doing a great job for our customers, a large portion of those words will be positive. Social Media Integration D & D is a small business that could benefit very well from using social media.
The majority of D & D’s name being spread around the community is by word of mouth; however being well known in a small community can only take you so far. Integrating a social media site like Facebook would be a wonderful opportunity to promote the business and inform potential customers about the site as well as allowing current customers to refer a friend to the page and even comment. Integrating Facebook with the site will allow customers in a matter of seconds to “like” the D & D Facebook page and there will also be a link to click to directly go to the D & D web site.
The potential comments left on the page could end up helping D & D by possibly providing suggestions that D & D could use to improve the overall customer experience. Along with Facebook, Twitter can also be utilized in the social media are by “tweeting” pictures of merchandise as well as updating customers with current information regarding products and shows. For customers who are always on the go, D & D will also reach customers by the use of Instagram. By using Instagram, customers who are following D & D will be able to see recently received merchandise that will be uploaded onto the mobile page by the D & D staff.
With use of these sites, D & D will able to keep the current customer base updated with information about the products as well as allowing potential customers to gain a little bit of knowledge about D & D’s products and services by utilizing the online environment that is used in day-to-day life. Using these sites will also provide another medium of communication from customers so we can listen to their suggestions, wants, and needs. By listening to customers, we are able to receive first-hand feedback and a better understanding of how we can improve our service.
In addition to using social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, D & D will also incorporate a small blogging section on the company website. This will give customers additional medium to converse and blog about their experiences with our company. Online Customer Relationship Management When a customer makes the decision to do business with any company, the customer expects that they will receive a very high standard of customer service. As a company, D & D will also hold a very high standard in providing customer service.
A key component of customer service in any business is building a relationship with the customer. Communication between the customer and seller will have to be maintained in order to build that relationship. The best way to keep this channel of communication open with the customers would be through the exchange of email for any situation, problem, or question that may arise. Email would allow our customers to ask questions regarding our products, address a problem, or even inquire about making an order.
Specific email templates, for whether there is a problem or a general question, will be made for any possible topic a customer may have and this will be integrated in the site. If there is any issue, a customer will be able to be as specific as they need to in asking their question. To be as efficient as we can with offering the email option to our customers, we will offer with all emails a ‘Within 24 hr. Guarantee Response Time. ’ Putting a guarantee on a service such as this will ensure to the customer that they will receive the most efficient and effective service available.
We understand that all questions and issues may not be answered through email, so all escalated issues will be followed up with a phone call from a sales associate to help solve any issue that cannot be resolved in a timely manner. Within the website there will also be a FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) page provided to possibly help with several general questions. Our FAQs page will be updated accordingly if we seem to receive a large volume of questions for a topic that is not currently on our FAQs page. Updating this page will be very valuable to our customers’ time and it will show that we are very thorough in our process.
E-Commerce Solutions E-Commerce for D & D will be an extremely user-friendly process. Our plan is to utilize all E-commerce transactions through the Volusion software program. This program is very efficient and very effective on both sides of the E-commerce transaction from seller to customer. Volusion will provide multiple payment options to potential customers such as credit or debit card, using a checking account, E-check, and even PayPal. By giving our customers multiple ways to pay, we give ourselves more opportunity to make a sale.
A “checkout” and “my cart” feature will also be integrated within the site so at any time customers can quickly add an item to their cart and check out or add a few items and then edit the cart if they are not satisfied with their selection or have selected too many of one item. A link to the “my cart” section will be available on every page so a customer will be able to easily navigate there. Volusion also offers customizable tax and shipping options which will be presented for each product depending on size and time frame for customers’ desired delivery time.
Customers will also be given automatic email confirmations after all purchases to give reviews of purchases. The automatic email confirmations will also be followed up by a separate email that contains an additional e-receipt and shipping information. Customers also have the option to enroll in the D & D newsletter that will be created to update customers with information regarding current and future events as well as updates for newly created merchandise. This option will be available upon checkout so customers will be able to click yes or no.
Security will be a major concern with E-commerce in any company you are associating with. The Volusion software offers state-of-the art E-commerce security which is PCI/CISP (Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council /Cardholder Information Security Program) certified. Other security features include the “CAPTCHA” type image validation for all forms of submissions to prevent unauthorized use, as well as an integrated IP blocking security feature, and SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Encryption for encrypting customer information for additional security. International Considerations
International business for D & D would be an excellent addition to the business. What better way would there be to grow the business than to expand globally? The retail market for fashion and apparel is a market that is not just popular in just one geographic location. Fashion retail is an area where with the right merchandise and approach, a company like D & D could go from servicing local customers to multi-national in a matter of months. Social media will play a large role in the international expansion of D & D just as it will locally. All considerations must be viewed before the international ventures can take flight.
One major concern would be how the currency from other countries would be handled. Our payment system will be an incredible asset to how our transactions are completed. Exchange rates are automatically calculated and shipping calculations are also included. Transactions will not be simple for every country. Certain payment options that D & D accepts will not be available in all countries (i. e. Romania does not have PayPal), so all employees must be aware of situations like this if they were to arise. We will also have to make sure that we are complying with all government export regulations within each country.
Using the Volusion software will also help with the language barrier of different countries. The Volusion software will make sure the website is friendly and ready for non-domestic and non-English-speaking visitors. All content on our website will be internationalized to cater to different areas of the globe. We believe that if we can customize our offering, service, and payment types to different areas, the business will enjoy huge success. Web Development & Maintenance Cost The actual development for D & D’s website would be fairly inexpensive compared to the amount of return the website would help generate.
Base costs to start the development of the website would begin with the purchase of the domain name (i. e. www. DandDdesigns. com) that would range from $10 – $30. Annual fees to keep the website up and running would range from $100 – $150 in renewal fees. Most sites with under 2000 pages generally do not go over that threshold amount. There are a number of extra features that can be added to the site that could possibly increase the costs for running the webpage such as enabling Java for allowing motion images and small videos on the site (about $4. 5/month) and Restore Services that offer information recovery of any information deleted accidentally by any of the company’s associates (about $1. 50/month).
Web hosting sites such as Lunarpages & Hostgator offer all of these great services with no additional maintenance costs. These sites also offer 24/7 server monitoring and customer support so if anything were to go wrong, there is always someone to call on at anytime. This will also remove the expense of hiring a web developer because any and all problems with the site can be fixed by employees at anytime.
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