Commerce is changing, especially for businesses in Hawaii. For one, tourism is way down from previous years, leading many businesses to lose revenue. Additionally, the rise of the digital marketplace changed the landscape for brick-and-mortar stores.
In a previous article, we discussed how businesses in Hawaii should embrace e-commerce to survive and thrive during this crazy season.
Today, we’ll cover how to get your e-commerce platform started, and talk about a cornerstone of healthy, long-term business: integrity.
I choose the word “integrity” because it has two key definitions.
First, integrity means inner character. A person or business with integrity does what they say they will do. They act according to stated values.
Integrity means more than “a good reputation.” It means you do the right thing, even when people aren’t looking. The business world is full of stories of people who ruined their reputations due to a lack of integrity.
Second, integrity also means structural soundness. A building with integrity won’t fall down or fall apart, despite the changing seasons. Even during turbulent times, they stay strong.
We all want to run businesses with character that stands the test of time. In a world driven by digital commerce, integrity is more important than ever.
Also Read: How To Fast-Track Recovery For Your Business
A Real-Life Example from E-Commerce
We know that if a business does something underhanded, or cheats a customer, their reputation can sour at a moment’s notice. Review platforms like Yelp, coupled with increased connectedness on social media, ensure that bad customer experiences come to light… and news spreads like wildfire.
Additionally, major gatekeepers of the online marketplace, like Google, are working to keep businesses honest. For example, take Google’s latest Merchant Center policy.
Starting on April 6th, Google will suspend merchants who show higher prices during their “checkout” phase.
What does this mean?
Imagine somebody wants to buy a pair of running shoes. If they Google “running shoes”, the results will show a plethora of running shoes for sale online. The results also change somewhat, depending on their location.
Say the customer finds a nice pair listed at $50 and clicks on them. They will be taken to a checkout page with the shoes already added to their cart. If the price suddenly jumps to $60 on that page, the business is in violation of Google’s new policy.
In the past, businesses could try to get away with this. Maybe customers would get frustrated and tell people about the shady trick they tried to pull. Or maybe they would assume that extra taxes and fees were added, and make the purchase anyway. In this way, businesses could make an extra buck by lying on the “sticker price.”
But not anymore. Under the new rules, they’ll receive a 28-day warning to resolve the discrepancies or face suspension.
For a business to have long-term structural soundness in the digital world, they need to have character.
How To Kickstart Your Hawaiin E-Commerce Business’s With Integrity
Local businesses must increasingly rely on e-commerce. Here are a few practical tips to make sure your e-commerce has a healthy start.
- If You Haven’t Already, Connect Your Business to Google
Google is the biggest force in e-commerce today. They owns 85% of the global market share for search engines. Today, most online purchases start with a Google search. So make sure customers can find you on Google.
To start, list your business with Google. This ensures you can be seen and found by people near you. If you want to rank at the top of Hawaiian searches, try local services ads. This makes sure that you show up in customer’s searches, and can also earn you extra credibility.
Next, set yourself up on Google’s Merchant Center. If your products can be sold online, Merchant Center makes it easy for customers to see and purchase your products.
- Make Sure Your Pricing Is Consistent
If you’re already set up in Google’s system, make sure your prices are consistent across the board. Whether it’s an honest mistake, or you were trying to be sneaky, fix it. Once April 6th comes around, you’ll be glad you did.
One way to test this is to take a look at everything you have listed on Google’s Merchant Center and navigate through it as though you are a customer. Does the price change from page to page? Is the final amount at checkout the same as your listed price? Make any changes that you need to make.
- Learn Local SEO
Once you connect to Google’s e-commerce tools and follow the guidelines, focus on your business’ search rank.
Local SEO optimizes your website’s content to match search terms used by your local market. It’s similar to normal SEO but focuses on the customers within driving distance.
Remember, Hawaii expects far less tourism for the next few years. Make sure your business attracts people who already live nearby. Businesses that adopt e-commerce and learn local marketing will thrive in the years to come.
If you want help with e-commerce, Google’s marketplace, or local SEO, don’t hesitate to give us a call!