The common challenge and concern many distributors face when they extend business to online store is: ROI. “When will I get my investment back and how far it will help my business?” is a question often felt by merchants.

Also, here are a few other common questions…

  • How to increase orders and revenue through my eCommerce store?
  • My products are complex and need customization, how to market them online?
  • Do paid adverts (PPC) help to bring in more sales?
  • Will I be able to see what is working and what is not in my online store?
  • My orders come through phone and salesperson, why do I need to move online?

In a research conducted by CEB Marketing Leadership Council in partnership with Google, the survey revealed “that the average customer had completed more than one half of the purchase decision-making process before engaging a supplier sales rep directly. At the upper limit, that number ran as high as 70%.

How Soon Should Distributors Go Online?

The millennials are joining the distribution workforce and their purchasing behavior is different, they prefer to research online and expect Amazon-like experience.  Why distributors must invest in eCommerce growth for business and Amazon disrupts distribution – what must distributors do explains the changes and churn disrupting the distribution industry. For distributors, going online is not an option. It is not a question of WHY but a question of HOW SOON? 

When building an eCommerce store, the stakeholders invest time in the ‘look and feel’ and the feature/functionalities. SEO, product descriptions, and clear HD product images are usually an afterthought.

The most common challenge that the distributors face comes AFTER the site goes live. The traffic comes down, the bounce rate goes up, and the lead flow reduces. 

The real work begins after the site goes live. 

Other Marketing Channels for Distributors

Let us look at a few ways in which you can drive traffic to the site for engagement and conversion.

PPC campaigns help to drive traffic to the site but they also drain your budget. Once the visitors land on the site through a PPC campaign, the site should be good enough for the conversion to happen. 

For B2B, SMM and SMO can help in building brand awareness but are not very helpful to drive traffic or conversions.

Email Marketing is one of the best marketing solutions for the B2B market, but the real challenge is to build a database list (email-ids)  to run email marketing campaigns. 

Usually, SEO is an afterthought. 

SEO is one of the best ways to improve site rankings bringing visibility and traffic to the site. SEO helps Google to recognize the focus keywords and boost the website rankings bringing it to the top of its page. (Very few searches beyond the first page).

But unfortunately, in most cases, SEO is usually an afterthought. SEO team must be involved right from the beginning, particularly if it is a migration project. SEO is  a continuous process that yields results (Traffic+Conversion+Brand) for years.

Warehouse and Online Store – An Analogy

Online Store Warehouse
Domain name Company name
Robots.txt file Security guard restricting unauthorized access
Sitemap.xml Blueprint of the warehouse
Category name Rack name
Product name Name of the product
Product description Description of the product
Meta Title and Description Title and Description of the product in your catalog
Heading Tags Labeling the racks
Paragraph Tag Content Sales rep explaining about the product to the clients

 

The online store is similar to a warehouse. (Please refer the above image). This analogy compares the SEO parameters and the warehouse components and the purpose of each of the SEO parameters as compared to the warehouse component.

Bringing your product to the top of the Google page

When a buyer is researching for a product, the first thing that they do is to google for the product.  When a buyer searches for a product on the search engine, they need to see your products in the first half of the first page of Google. How to make this happen?

Choosing the focus keyword:

Your products and categories need to be named correctly. As a distributor, you have the industry knowledge to choose the right keyword – the keyword that the buyer will use for searching the product. There is free keyword research to double-check your focus keywords. 

  • Keywords Everywhere
  • Searchvolume.io

Also, products need to be categorized properly with an appropriate name.

Takeaway:

Choose the focus keyword that brings your target audience to your online store.

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Impact of content on SEO

As all say content plays a vital role in SEO and marketing. The search engine ranks your website based on the website content. Always the good content acquires more traffic and conversion, create content with your focus keyword to engage your audience. You need to have a detailed form of information about your category and products like below,

  • Meta-Title and Description
  • Heading text appropriate to the focus keyword

Here are some of the pain points that have kept buyers from completing a purchase. 

  • Lack of product content specifics (e.g., product characteristics, color, etc.)—46% 
  • Incorrect product content—32%
  • Lack of reviews about the product from other customers—29%
  • Lack of product images—24%
  • Lack of product videos—19%

The quality of the content determines the ranking of the webpage for the focus keyword. So the stronger the content, the better the results for your website. No doubt, it is a time-consuming task but if you have quality content, the results are long term.

Takeaway:

The right content at the right places to bring the right audience to your online store. That’s how you do it.

Optimizing online store for SEO

An online store is like a  supermarket. People always love to visit the store which gives the best shopping experience. No one will visit an offline store that has wet floors, haphazard product placements, empty or no stock shelves, improper lightning and store layout, and long billing queues. 

The same is true for an online site too. The site must be fast, have user-friendly navigation, good product images/videos, and detailed descriptions, and easy checkout to name a few. Make sure you give the best online shopping experience with an error-free website.

  • Rectify broken links  eliminate 404 errors
  • User/SEO -Friendly URLs
  • Redirect to the appropriate pages and categories
  • Optimize the website speed
  • Proper navigation
  • Optimize your heading tags
  • Generate updated sitemap

SEO for Distributors 

If you are planning to build a new online store or migrating to a new platform then along with your website design plan you need to have the marketing/SEO plan. 

Follow the below steps:

  • Find your focus keywords 
  • Create content with those focus keywords
  • Optimize your website for conversion

References

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