It comes as no surprise: the Internet is now a formidable tool to raise the profile of any organisation, but it’s also a major channel to develop your revenue by breathing new life into your activity and reaching a wider audience. If your museum has its own shop, now’s the time to seize the many opportunities that e-commerce opens up by launching your merchandise e-store! An e-store gives you a showcase open 24/7, motivates or extends the visitor experience by publishing your collections around the world while also diversifying your income streams.
We take a look at the key steps to follow to ensure an easy, relevant and effective roll-out of your e-commerce website.
Opt for a turnkey, scalable solution in line with your strategy
Although there are many options these days when it comes to launching and managing an e-store, it’s important to remember that not all options offer the same level of functionalities, that they are not all as easy to use, and that prices can vary greatly. You need to evaluate them carefully using a benchmark based on your needs and means: ergonomics, ease/difficulty of use, customisation options, visitor functionalities, scalability, possibility to integrate other Marketing tools… and, of course, budget. Another essential point: make sure to check potential commissions to be paid to your publisher for sales and/or transactions. This research component can admittedly take time, but is not to be taken lightly. In order to give you some pointers, here is a comparison of existing e-commerce sales solutions [French only].
If you already have a corporate website and your publishing tool allows you to develop an e-commerce space, check out the functionalities available. An “all-in-one” tools is always more practical than several different tools and ensures full design consistency.
Strike the perfect balance between sales pitch and mediation in your product descriptions
You know better than anyone: you can’t sell collection merchandise the same way you sell bread in a bakery. You need to be agile in order to motivate sales while conveying the values of your establishment and the sense of your exhibitions and collections.
Which is why we recommend using high-quality visuals (photographs and videos) that show the product from all angles within its specific cultural sphere. At the same time, you need to create and capitalise on a naming system for your products that is both coherent and understandable for your visitors. And add a clear (composition, dimensions, uses, etc.) and fun description that reiterates their cultural significance and promotes the collection or exhibition they are connected with.
Plug a flexible and personalised offering
Simply acquiring a product or service is no longer enough to satisfy Internet users 100%. As well as quality, your customers and prospects are constantly searching for speed, flexibility and personalisation; in other words, they want the whole package. By adjusting your commercial policy to the purchasing patterns of your audiences, you demonstrate flexibility and confirm your interest in advancing theirs.
Allow them to pay for purchases securely by bank card (debit/credit, including foreign cards), bank transfer, gift card, PayPal and why not even in instalments with no added charge for totals over a certain amount! Similarly, offering different delivery options helps offset losses. A simple reminder of your refund policy can also contribute to getting a hesitant buyer to the checkout. Lastly, why not follow the price strategy of your ticket office by offering discounts depending on the buyer profile: child, student, young person, etc.
Have you developed a loyalty programme for your cultural agenda? Don’t hesitate to update it by incorporating the same programme into the transactions carried out on your e-store. A move that will multiply your chances of additional sales, promote your products and cultural services and increase your customer loyalty.
Likewise, it is important to make a dedicated customer space available to your Internet users that offers them the possibility to consult their previous and current orders and to reach you easily in case of a problem, via a chatbot, for example. This will foster proximity and reassurance. At the same time, the data input when signing up will directly feed into your customer records which help you individualise your communication strategy; personalised emails, occasional discounts, private invitations, automated reminders, etc. Use your imagination!
N.B. make sure you write up and publish your general terms and conditions of sale – it’s mandatory! A box stating that your customers accept your T&Cs must also be included at the final purchase stage.
Streamline your browsing as much as possible
Guaranteeing an optimal discovery experience from end to end is key to converting your visitors into buyers and building their loyalty. By offering a rapid and coherent user journey through an enjoyable browser visit, you’ll have the best chance of leading them to the end of the purchase tunnel.
To give your Internet users the best guidance, it is vital to include a menu in your e-store. Products, product ranges, products presented by collection, new arrivals, exclusive merchandise, partnerships, promotions, searches by price bracket… Always keep in mind that your visitors don’t all have the same needs, anticipate them by including a smart search bar that offers alternatives, suggestions and product ideas, incorporated so that it is always visible.
In terms of the footer, we recommend using a fairly wide banner that duplicates the main sections of your website (plus your general terms and conditions of sale) to provide a point of reference.
The last thing to remember is be responsive! The use of mobile Internet is increasingly spreading, representing 60% of global Web traffic in the second quarter of 20221. Your store therefore needs to adapt to all screens.
Promote your new e-commerce space
Once your e-store is fully configured, it’s time to assign it a clear and concise sub-domain (like you did for the different sections of your website)! Assuming that the Musée du Cristal de Paris (Crystal Museum in Paris) had registered the domain name “cristal-paris.museum” for its corporate site, it could choose the sub-domain “boutique.cristal-paris.museum” or “cristal-paris.museum/boutique”, for example.
Once that’s done, make sure to introduce your e-store strategically on your website! Your Internet users won’t guess by themselves that it’s been uploaded, so add a dedicated insert on your homepage (header, separate section, footer, etc.) in addition, of course, to publicity on your online and offline media (newsletter, SMS, posters, flyers, etc.) to announce its launch.
Once your customer base is sufficiently replete, why not send out regular information on your products by launching a dedicated newsletter? To do so, you’ll need to get the consent of your Internet users on the processing of their data (GDPR) via an opt-in form, or double-opt in if you already send out a newsletter on your cultural events and you wish to determine (and register) their preferences.
You now have everything you need to take full advantage of the opportunities of e-commerce! Good luck!
1 – Digital 2022 July Global Statshot – We Are Social / Hootsuite