eCommerce Website – Cliqued Media are one specialist ecommerce website design company who know that consumers are quickly migrating online to buy all manner of things. In fact, it is estimated that by the year 2040, 95% of all purchases will be through ecommerce websites (Source – Nasdaq).
Currently, there are an estimated 12 – 24 million ecommerce sites on the internet, with more proliferating on a daily basis. Most of these are pop-up sites, started by entrepreneurs and small businesses and like websites, many are inactive. But, the point is, that there is a lot of competition out there.
For anyone wanting to launch a new ecommerce website there are limitless opportunities. Even if you are based in Galway, Ireland, a well-designed ecommerce site can help you to compete on a global basis. Consider that globally, 57% of online shoppers buy from retailers who are overseas. For Europe the figure stands at 63,4% (Source – Nielsen).
So, it is clear that anyone with a good product, or innovative service, has a more than even chance of successfully marketing their product through an ecommerce site. So how do you go about it?
Here are the steps that you need to take.
STEPS FOR CREATING YOUR OWN eCOMMERCE WEBSITE
Step 1: Plan & set objectives
Any successful business venture begins with rigorous planning. And this applies to an ecommerce site as well. As part of a marketing strategy, your site will be the main platform for interaction with customers. The quality of user experience on the site will determine your success or failure as a business.
With this in mind, it makes sense that you carefully analyse upfront 1) whether there is a demand for the product or service online 2) what will be the overall goal for the site 3) who will be your target market and 4) how the site will address their needs.
Having done that, you’ll need to set specific objectives for the site, which will be used as benchmarks, against which to measure performance. Without having objectives your site will lack focus and is unlikely to be successful.
Step 2: Decide on a name and purchase a URL
Now you’ll need to decide on a domain name, or URL for the site. Quite simply, this is the web address that someone will type in when searching online.
If you’re starting out for the first time, then it’s important to choose a domain name that will make it easier for people to find you, when searching your product category online.
If carefully chosen, your URL can become a valuable marketing tool. Ideally it should reflect the type of business that you are in eg: mylosfurniture.com. Not only does this let people know what product you sell, but it helps to make the site more attractive to search engines like Google.
Once you have a name then it’s a simple process to register it on one of the many domain registrar services, for example Google Domains, Domain.com and Dream host. Simply search for these online, make a decision and sign up.
Step 3: Choose an ecommerce platform
Your next step will be to choose an ideal ecommerce platform on which to host your site. This is a big decision, because making a mistake can affect the future growth and success of your site.
There are many platforms to choose from, depending on your business model and future growth plans. Some are free and others charge monthly fees, depending on the services provided.
Here are a few examples of the different types of platforms to consider:
WordPress Ecommerce Plugins
We all know WordPress and many people host and build their websites on this platform. So it’s good to know that WordPress can also be a low-cost ecommerce alternative, off the base of an existing website.
You can add online store functionality to a website, using one of the e commerce plugins that are offered. Examples of these are Shopify, Woo Commerce, Big Commerce for WordPress and others, each offering various features and functionality.
Free eCommerce Website Platforms
Free ecommerce website platforms are available if your product catalogue is not too big or complex. They’ll normally allow you to list a limited selection of products for free, but usually offer fewer features than some of the other platform options.
You’ll find a long list of platforms if you search, which include the likes of Shopify, Big Cartel, WooCommerce, Big cartel and the like.
Dedicated ECommerce Platforms
If you’re wanting to start off big, with a fully-fledged and comprehensive ecommerce site, then this is the way to go. While not free, these platforms offer more comprehensive features and support, including important functions such as secure payment options, emarketing facilities and multichannel sales support.
A cursory search will reveal many options, including Prestashop, Shopify, Magento and others.
The stakes are high in ecommerce and its reassuring to know that most of these platforms offer a free trial period, giving you the time to decide on the best option or change when necessary.
Website Builders With Ecommerce Features
If you’re intending to grow your ecommerce site substantially over time, then a dedicated ecommerce platform is the way to go. Website builder platforms however, are the answer, if you’re looking to a simpler DIY option.
Options like Squarespace, Zyro, Wix and Web.com all offer the option of moving to an ecommerce plan if your existing website is hosted with them.
Step 4: Create your new e commerce site
Once you’ve found a name and a home for your new ecommerce site, it’s time to get down to business. Creating your site on all of the above platform options is relatively simple, if you have the basic knowhow. Each platform has a selection of flexible design options to take advantage of.
Keep in mind that the most important underlying factor in the success of your site, will be to provide visitors with a seamless, high-quality experience. Users must feel that they are in a credible, trustworthy and secure online environment.
Branding and Aesthetics – an uncluttered and well-designed site, that clearly reflects the brand image and identity, will help to create trust and make users feel more comfortable.
Navigation – ease of navigation is the key. Make use of menu bars where the facility is allowed and provide a clear path to information that is logical, helpful and relevant.
Quality and depth of information – providing in-depth product information, high-quality visual content, and well-written product descriptions, is the key to achieving sales conversion.
Calls to Action & Payment – using clear calls to action and well-designed action buttons will help to stimulate users to take action.
Make use of blog posts – research has shown that the majority of online purchases is driven by blogsite content. Influence your prospective customers, by providing up-to-date, interesting and informative information via blogposts on your site.
Quality blog posts, with backlinks to credible sites, are an important criteria for search engines and hence, an important part of ensuring that your ecommerce site is search engine optimized.
Step 5: Set up payment, distribution and marketing tools
Having a well-designed and attractive ecommerce site may well interest and excite users into wanting to make a purchase. But the final hurdle is to convince them to make payment, and to trust that delivery will take place as and when promised. Trust is the major issue here.
The type of platform that you decide to use, will determine how you tackle these issues and you need to pay close attention to this aspect when deciding on which route to follow.
The platforms that offer a more comprehensive service, usually include payment processing facilities and even aspects like tax calculation and shipping-label printing. Some also include marketing tools. Others require that you integrate these services from outside suppliers like Paypal, Stripe or ApplePay for instance.
For smaller businesses it is probably cheaper and simpler to make use of platforms that include a built-in payment gateway system.
Fulfilling orders timeously and efficiently is a major challenge, but means a lot to customers. You need to have this issue nailed from the start.
By integrating shipping software into your ecommerce platform, you can streamline the whole process. This allows for the synchronisation of orders, shipping and customer communication, leading to a seamless process.
Built-in shipping comes automatically with some of the dedicated platforms, while others allow for the addition of third-party platforms.
Some of the all-in-one solutions also offer various marketing tools in addition to their other services. For instance, you’ll be able to create e mail lists to send out to your customer base, or even connect with them on your social media accounts. This allows for product promotions and other tactics, aimed at stimulating awareness, interest and demand.
Step 6: Test & launch the new site
With consumers you only get one chance, and the last thing that you want is negative reviews. So before launch, you’ll want to run at least a few test orders and transactions.
All of the platforms offer some limited testing before a site goes live. This allows for test orders going through to the payment processor, without actually deducting any amount off a credit card. Once these orders have been tried and tested and any bugs fixed, then you’re ready to rock n roll.
Step 7: Promote, monitor, analyse & improve
Creating awareness of your new site and encouraging visitors, will be the main challenge in the months after the launch. This will be the function of your digital marketing strategy. At this stage it is important to ensure that all advertising and social media activity, is aimed at driving people to the website, with a clear and consistent message.
Furthermore, ensure that you maintain a focused and disciplined approach to growing and improving your new site. There are various tools available to monitor and analyze activity and behavior on the site. Be sure to make appropriate changes as and when required, and keep all content fresh and appealing along the way.
MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICES
Making the right choice of platforms is critical to the future success of your ecommerce site and is a fairly complex decision, depending on how big you plan to become. But that is just the starting point in the process.
Creating and managing a successful ecommerce site takes commitment and dedication. Also the skills of specialists, as the site grows and becomes more complex.
Specialist web design agencies like Cliqued Media are there to help individuals and companies of all sizes develop successful ecommerce sites. Cliqued Media are certified web wizards, who work closely with their clients to develop successful ecommerce sites, aimed at achieving business growth and excellent ROI.