Published on June 10, 2020
As you know better than we do, your clients love to spoil their faithful companion. And where do they go shopping? On the web, of course! In urban areas, 63% of consumers buy their pet products online. So the question is: why not reach out to these “connected parents” by launching an online store? There are many advantages for your veterinary practice… provided that you choose the right platform! To help you navigate the choices, here is a list of the most important criteria.
CRITERION 1: Think technology
Managing a website takes a little practice, but you certainly don’t have the time to become an expert in computer coding. Some solutions are designed for advanced users, while others are known for their simplicity. If you are a beginner, or simply do not want to spend too much energy administering your e-commerce platform, here are some questions to consider:
- Is the proposed platform delivered as a turnkey solution? Does it include complete development of your catalogue (choice of products, photos and price algorithm)?
- Does the platform offer key features, such as the ability to add and remove promotions or to activate recurring orders? Who manages these features?
- Based on what you want to offer your clients, does the platform offer different delivery options, such as the ability to receive an order at home or in the clinic?
CRITERION 2: Think security
Security is all-important issue for any transactional platform! Imagine what would happen if negligence on the part of your technology partner resulted in the theft of your clients’ personal data. Opting for a platform that offers strong safeguards is therefore critical to your peace of mind as you launch your new activity. There are several issues you should discuss with your service provider:
- Is the personal information of consumers protected in accordance with Canadian legislation?
- Does your supplier have ready-made content that explains to your users why its platform is reliable and secure?
- Does this supplier deal with other service providers, such as for the management of payment transactions? If so, who are these providers?
- Does the web hosting platform guarantee a high availability rate of 99.9%? Does it allow fast page-loading speeds and automatic adjustment of the server in case of high traffic? Is access to the site secured using the HTTPS protocol (will visitors to your site see the small padlock next to the URL)? Is security further enhanced by the use of multiple firewalls?
- Is the platform’s content regularly archived to avoid data loss in the event of a power failure, regardless of its source? Where will these data be processed, and based on what standards?
CRITERION 3: Think marketing
For an effective presence on the web, it’s not enough to simply set up an online store: you also have to make sure people visit it. This phase involves things like deciding how you want to promote your products and persuade clients to buy them. This step is essential… but it is also energy intensive! Here are some of the things you need to take into account:
- Do the service providers offering the different existing platforms include a marketing component in their offer? Can it be offered in two languages for a bilingual market? Is the quality of both the English and French versions up to par?
- Are the marketing actions targeted and varied, offering a mix of both informative, transactional, promotional and educational content? Are they based on buying behaviour, to ensure precise targeting? How well do these actions perform? Compare the solutions offered by the different service providers in order to choose the one that is the most comprehensive or suitable for your needs.
- Are you willing to handle the marketing component? Are you familiar with digital tools and communication channels? Do you have the technical expertise to mount and distribute marketing materials? Are you capable of analyzing the feedback on your marketing actions in order to optimize results?
CRITERION 4: Think effectiveness
Depending on what aspects, if any, you decide to delegate to your chosen partner for this project, the amount of time you dedicate to your online store can vary considerably. The following questions can help you get a clearer picture in this regard:
- Who is in charge of managing returns and deliveries? What proportion of the different tasks should your team be responsible for?
- Will the management of client supply be integrated with that of your clinic, or will it be managed by your service provider, meaning no extra work for your team?
- Will deliveries intended for your clinic be clearly identified, or will your staff need to spend time separating orders?
- Does the implementation package include training for you and your teams? Does it offer rapid access to technical assistance in the language of your choice? Will you have access to support and a dedicated team able to provide customized advice?
As you can see, finding the ideal partner for your online store is a task that requires your undivided attention in order to avoid regrets later. The right partner should have a clear understanding of your reality and offer much more than just technical services. But don’t let the challenges of choosing the right e-commerce platform discourage you from offering this new online purchase option to your customers: the advantages are well worth the effort.
Still not sure what digital solution is best for you? Contact our e-commerce experts, who can guide you based on your needs.