While the charm of a cute local boutique will always exist, couch-shopping sprees in pajamas are more the norm these days.

No longer do you need to have a brick and mortar storefront to be a successful business, which can either be a blessing or a curse, it’s your call. There’s a certain advantage to having a place where you can interact with your customers face-to-face, but those relationships are now being taken to the world of social media and simply having an option for your customers to buy online just isn’t enough.

In the world of e-commerce you have to have it all, which sounds a lot like what we aim to do as women every day. Now’s the time to make plans, take action and step it up in the game of e-commerce, or else be left behind in the dust. By keeping these strategies in mind while laying out the groundwork, I have no doubt that your business will not only survive, but thrive too.

5 e-commerce survival strategies:

1. Have a blog and a refined voice

Your blog is the ideal space for replacing the typical in-store experience. You can go into further detail about your products or services, provide advice and opinions and use it as a launching point for conversations with your customers. When someone can’t physically pick up your product or see how your service works (unless you have a sample or free trial option) it’s important to showcase it through your blog so customers don’t feel like any part of the shopping experience is missing.

In addition to boosting your site’s SEO, your blog gives you the opportunity to share your voice via social media channels with ease. The more original content you post, the more people will find your site. Additionally, putting yourself out there on your blog helps your customers to feel more connected to you and to your business.

2. Make a great first impression and invest in a well-designed website

Have you ever been to a store that had shelves stuffed to the brim, or things piled on the floor, up high and everywhere in between? It’s a bit overwhelming and often results in a customer leaving empty-handed. In that aspect, websites aren’t dissimilar.

Although nearly every business has a website, the difference is a website that is easy-to-navigate, visually appealing and functional will bring in the money, whereas a bad website will just allow you to say “Yeah, of course we have a website.”

Having a website with a clear layout and an easy navigation system will keep customers on your site and more inclined to buy. If you’re not savvy enough to design your own site, work a designer’s services into your budget. Also, don’t be afraid of white space—with more white space comes less frustration and a better first impression.

3. Set yourself apart from other retailers with an authentic brand voice

Be original, post frequently and respond timely. These are three simple tips that will gain you a solid following on social media, which should be a big part of your marketing plan.

Not only does social media allow for immediate interaction with your customer base, it’s also free and an easy way to drive users directly to your website and blog. Make the most of the platforms you choose to take advantage of, respond to customer inquiries and gather feedback to show you’re accessible and transparent.

Additionally, by crafting a schedule of social media posts, you can shape your voice to fit your target audience’s wants and needs. By giving the people what they want, interest will be piqued and engagement will be increased.

4. Have a secure site; ensure no Heartbleed bug for your customers

Online shoppers know they’re going to fork over their personal information and credit card numbers if they want to make a purchase. And although we are much more comfortable paying for things with a couple clicks of a mouse (thanks for making it so easy, PayPal), if a site looks fishy, customers will opt to play on the safe side and not make the purchase.

It’s the same idea as driving through unfamiliar territory and choosing not to go into the poorly lit store on the desolate corner to get a snack and use the restroom. I don’t know about you, but I’ll usually just wait until the next brightly lit exit.

However, in the case of the Heartbleed bug, it took a long time to be discovered and sites that seemed secure really weren’t. Have a professional look into the security of your site, and if a breach does happen, communicate with and protect your customers immediately.

5. Be mobile-friendly

Not only are shoppers choosing to buy online more and more each year, the number of online shoppers using mobile devices has also soared. With information right at their fingertips, shoppers can turn into buyers anywhere with a Wi-Fi signal, but only if you have a mobile-friendly site.

A mobile-responsive site ensures that all of the qualities from your main site, like easy navigation and functionality, don’t get lost in translation when the desire to buy strikes your customers.

Now that you’ve taken a good hard look at your e-commerce site, determine what you’re currently working with and what needs to be worked on next. Maybe you already have a blog and social media channels set up and you post occasionally. Take your efforts a step further with an online overhaul, bringing your site completely on par with what customers expect.

If you’re starting from a blank canvas and your online business hasn’t debuted, go back to your plan and put these ideas into action for a strong start. Regardless of where you’re at in your online business adventure, use these strategies to see your traffic climb, and your revenue will be soon to follow.

Elaine NgoElaine-Ngo

Elaine Ngo is the VP of Marketing for HIDExtra, a leading e-commerce site helping customers with the most reliable HID kits on the market. With more than 5 years of experience in marketing, customer service and proving that girls can have fun with cars too, Elaine always takes a creative approach which shows through her innovative ideas. Graduating from the University of California Riverside in 2009, Elaine loves the sun in southern California and taking her golden retriever to the beach.

No doubt some of you have children who can’t remember life without smartphones and tablets. But the question is, how do we, as parents, manage this shift in their lives to the online world? What should we be aware of, and how can we keep our children safe? Leaders in Heels had a chat with Dr. Justin Coulson, a parenting expert who is also well clued-in to this new and evolving digital landscape.

These days, it’s common to see young toddlers playing with tablets and smartphones. What kind of limits and boundaries do you think parents should be placing on their children’s use of technology?

To sum up, parents might consider limiting children’s use of devices when their children show an inability to let go of their screen time, or choose not to engage in physical activities, or social activity offline.Technology is becoming increasingly integrated with our lives – both for adults and for children. In the recent Safeguarding the Future of Digital Australia in 2025 report from Intel Security, 16% of Australians indicated being uncomfortable with the increasingly dominant role of technology in our lives and around a third of parents were unsure of how they felt about the increasing pervasiveness of devices. A further one third of people were genuinely concerned about safety and security associated with the technological changes we are seeing. These issues strike at the heart of what is and is not ok for children, and they are things parents worry about a lot.

It’s challenging to give a blanket statement regarding what kind of limits and boundaries we ought to place on our kids’ tech use though. It depends a great deal on their age. Experts agree that children under 2 shouldn’t have any screen time, kids up to 5 should only have a half-hour per day, and from 5-12 it shouldn’t be more than an hour. That’s TV, computer, phone, tablet… the lot! And it’s meant to be under 2 hours for teens! But why are they using the devices? The broader context matters to some degree.

In general I like the expert’s standards, but I think we need to think carefully before we get too militant about them. Similarly, we need to be wise enough to know when to say “when” as well. If our children are using technology to do useful things or for appropriate levels of ‘down’ time, then we should take that into account. But at the same time we want to balance the cyber-world with physical activity and in-person contact.

It’s probably also worth pointing out that our children don’t draw distinctions between the online and offline worlds like we do. To them, it’s all one world!

To sum up, parents might consider limiting children’s use of devices when their children show an inability to let go of their screen time, or choose not to engage in physical activities, or social activity offline. If children are infants and toddlers I’d advise against ANY screen time. And for pre-schoolers and children in the early school years keep it to a minimum. They don’t NEED it. And they are unlikely to get left behind if they don’t know how to play Club Penguin, Candy Crush, or Fruit Ninja.

Cyberbullying has increasingly come into the spotlight lately, with many parents only discovering it’s happening to their kids long after the fact. How would you suggest parents keep an eye on their children’s online activities without being too overbearing?

It’s so critical to keep communication channels open. Kids can get defensive about these things, so it is really important that they don’t fear getting in trouble.The first and last answer to this is that we build a strong relationship with our children and communicate consistently. We want to watch out for cyberbullying at both ends – as perpetrator and as victim. When children are young I think monitoring is central to our strategy. When we spot something on our timeline or on theirs that we think is concerning, we can use that as a platform for conversation.

As parents get older there is less cocooning, and more deference. But our children should know we are ‘friends’, and expect that we’ll monitor. (Note, monitoring is different to snooping.) I also encourage parents to talk with their children about cyberbullying incidents that make headlines. Ask them questions about whether any friends have had cyberbullying issues. Have they been perpetrator or victim? How did it affect them? How did it affect others? What else could have happened? How could it be avoided? And ask them whether they have ever had such things occur to them, and to talk about what they would do if it happened to them or someone close.

It’s so critical to keep communication channels open. Kids can get defensive about these things, so it is really important that they don’t fear getting in trouble. Rather, the process is about teaching and keeping them safe.

Additionally, be familiar with the apps your child uses. Talk about why they use them and how they use them. Get them to teach you about them. And if you have concerns about them (particularly in relation to snapchat, ask.fm, kik, and others), work out how they can be safe – either by deleting the app, refusing to respond to messages from unknown addresses, or doing a ‘friend cull’.

Finally, how do you see the increasing popularity of video games (and video gaming parents!) influencing this generation of children?

Gaming is addictive – of that there is no question. But it’s also fun, and it’s how many children and adults choose to relax and spend their recreation time. As long as gaming does not interfere with a person’s capacity to function and contribute, I think this is a development that we simply need to accept and work with.

Featured Image: GSCSNJ

Dr. Justin Coulson is a parenting and childhood expert who runs the Happy Families blog with tips on parenting. He’s been featured on TV shows such as The Today Show and The Project, as well as various radio programs. He was interviewed here as a spokesperson for the Intel Safeguarding the Future of Digital Australia in 2025 report.