Developing an Online Presence: Deluxe Lizzies

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Deluxe Lizzies Boutique is a local retailer specializing in consignment and other fashion items. The business thrives from its consignment sales; however, the other fashion items add a level of diversity to the revenue stream. While the fashion items are not as profitable, the diversification is a strategy to reduce business risk. In addition to the diversification strategy, Deluxe Lizzies uses the non-consignment items as a marketing strategy to bring in high end clients in the hopes that they will purchase other items while inside the store. The CEO of Deluxe Lizzies Boutique has contacted a consulting firm in order to help further develop the business strategy to expand the business. Upon consideration, the consulting firm quickly realized that the addition of an online presence could fuel sales growth and encourage business opportunity well beyond the local populous. At the heart of the expansion opportunity is the development and implementation of a big website to establish the organization online. Luckily, the CEO at Deluxe Lizzies Boutique has a brother who is willing to design and manage the website remotely for free of charge. This takes care of the development portion of the strategy and allows the CEO and consultants to focus on implementation and executive management of the website. The consulting firm, in collaboration with Deluxe Lizzies’ CEO, has devised a strategy that includes the following key considerations to support the website’s effectiveness: E-Commerce payment solutions, search engine optimization strategies, making the website internationally friendly, and online customer relations management.

The online presence will work to increase exposure to potential clients and encourage sales growth. This strategic component must be supported by the ability of the organization to collect funds from customers. There are many options for online payment solutions that can be integrated effectively into the website. The available payment platforms are ACH gateways, merchant accounts, payment gateways, payment processors, and PCI compliance. After much consideration and taking into account the nature of credit card payment economics, it was decided that a payment gateway that allowed debit and credit card processing was the best support for the online Boutique. The CEO understands that the customers at the Boutique are prone to impulse buying and the ability for them to use debit or credit cards helps to facilitate the ease of purchasing. According to Credit.org, “Sometimes making purchases with credit cards or checks feels like you’re not really spending your money.” The strategic work team wishes to take advantage of the nature of credit cards being a supporter of impulse buying with the addition of Authorize.net as the payment processing authority.

The second area of support for driving website sales is the refinement of search engine optimization strategies. The strategic team plans a meeting with the CEO’s brother, who will be designing the website, to ensure that he will be using the best practices of search engine optimization. The CEO’s brother is well versed is search engine optimization and tells the consulting firm that he will be manipulating content and design to increase the website’s rank with the search engines to increase the number of visitors as well as encouraging the quality of those visitors to be those who are more likely to make a purchase. The goal of the Boutique’s website design is to create an increase in awareness and exposure to the market of the brand. The first task to optimize the website is to develop a database of words and phrases inherent to a boutique. Through understanding how customers will likely use a search engine to find the items they wish to purchase, the web designer can tailor the Boutique’s website to be more likely to be “found” by the search engine when customers are shopping online. The words held in the database will be incorporated into the website to promote the website being picked up during web searches. In addition to developing the keyword database, it should be sorted to increase effectiveness. According to Wordstream (2010) “Keyword grouping and organization are absolutely critical to long-term SEO success. In fact, keyword grouping is the key step that differentiates top-ranking sites from the rest… Keyword grouping turns an unwieldy list into a meaningful, useful taxonomy.” Fortunately for the Boutique, the web designer understands that the management of the search engine optimization strategy is ongoing. It is vital for the competitive advantage of the business to consistently update the keyword database and the website’s content to reflect the search engine entries made by customers who made a purchase. In the beginning of search engine optimization it is very much a guessing game; however, once sales start to come in via website, those customers can be studied to improve the keyword database to attract additional customers.

The third strategic point is to tailor the website to encourage international sales. The convergence of the internet and culture has made it possible for any business to grow into a global player. As such, the consulting team wants to stress the importance of having a website that promotes international purchases. The team decides that in the beginning that the website will have a domain domestically; however, as the business grows they will install a contingency into the plan that triggers a domain to be served in the target country. For example, if sales from Mexico or Australia begin to increase, it will be important to have a domain in those areas to further assist the search engine optimization strategy. Luckily, the CEO’s brother also studied programming at Harvard where he picked up the ability to use Unicode. This programming code is known to be a valuable option if designing a website for markets abroad. Basically, Unicode allows programmers to use multiple languages when programming. This will allow the website’s content to be in the target language instead of universally English in all markets. Last, the content must be aware of the use of colors and fonts in various cultures. For example, some cultures have traditions that frown upon the colors pink and violet. Fonts that are universally accepted are the traditional Arial and Times New Roman.

The fourth strategic point is to ensure that customer relations are managed with the online presence. Traditionally, customer relations were managed in person exclusively. Online business ventures provide a new dynamic to this relationship. The strategic team has devised a plan to support customer questions and concerns with an ever-present messaging system that is staffed regularly. If a customer has a question or concern about the business transaction, they can simply type their concern into the messaging system and get a response immediately. In addition, the website will promote the email address of administration in the even a customer would like to contact an executive level staff member. The staff will be trained in customer service techniques such as friendliness and being prompt in response.

In conclusion, the CEO is pleased with the consulting team’s efforts and plan of website implementation. The consultants have accomplished the task of being thorough and identifying the key support areas to promote the Boutique’s expansion into the online market. Certainly, the business expansion strategy will be a success with these new developments. The success of the website measured by an increase in sales will be supported by the efforts to implement an efficient payment process, developing and continually managing its search engine optimization strategy, the ability to encourage international sales through content management, and providing the highest level of online customer relations. The Boutique will now contact Authorize.net to set up payment capacity onto the website design. Second, the web designer will begin working and continually monitor the keyword strategy and the development of a sorted database full of keywords and phrases. This tactic will be further supported by the study of buyer’s search words as the business moves forward. Third, content will be managed through the use of Unicode in programming as well as the mindfulness of colors and font for target markets. Last, new staff will be hired and trained in effective online customer service techniques. In concert, these items will facilitate the transition of the Boutique from a brick and mortar business to a multifaceted organization.

References

Credit.org. (2013). “Controlling Your Buying Impulses.” Retrieved fromhttp://credit.org/blog/controlling-your-buying-impulses/

Wordstream.com (2010). “Search Engine Optimization Best Practices.” Retrieved from http://www.wordstream.com/download/docs/wordstream-seo.pdf