The ecommerce landscape is an exciting place to be right now. While it is undoubtedly highly competitive, the internet has empowered aspiring business owners to take their first steps towards making their dream a reality.
Although setting up an ecommerce website might seem an intimidating prospect, there are a variety of tools and services that will simplify the process and help you to start doing what you do best; selling your products. To help you get going, here are six things you should know before setting up your online store.
Finding your Niche and Getting Ready to Sell
If you want to succeed, planning is essential. Your business plan doesn’t necessarily need to be a long, detailed document, but you do need to understand what you want to achieve. A good place to start is to write down every question that you want to know the answer to. This can be anything from, ‘what will my website’s user interface look like?’ to ‘how much investment will it take to get the website I really want?’
You will find it much easier to build and sustain momentum with your ecommerce business if you are invested in and have a passion for what you are selling. You will also find it simpler to establish yourself as a relatable and knowledgeable figure within your niche if you understand the market, know who you want to appeal to and have a solid foundation of knowledge that you can leverage.
Selecting your Domain Name
Your domain name should reflect and represent both your business and the products you will be selling. Ideally, you should select something that is memorable, short, catchy and easy to spell as this will help you to attract more visitors to your site.
Selecting your Web Hosting Service
In order for your website to be discoverable on the internet, it needs to sit on a server. Not all web hosting services are created equally and it is, therefore, important to select a service that fully meets your needs and will ensure that your website is consistently performing well.
Generally, ecommerce stores need to be able to handle fairly heavy traffic and it is in your interest to select a service that will be scalable to handle the future growth of your business.
Choosing an Ecommerce Platform
Selecting the right ecommerce platform for your business is one of the most important decisions you will make. The world of enterprise e-commerce is very competitive so it’s incredibly important to invest in the right platform, that will allow you to scale and easily manage your online content and product pages
We recommend Shopify as it’s simple to use and is incredibly customisable with hundreds of plugins available, but there are loads out there so make sure you do your research and find one that works for you. Although there are lots of specialist platforms aimed at specific industry sectors, these often lack technical support and can become a real burden further down the line as they’re difficult to optimise, making the job of SEO a bit of an uphill struggle (more about that in a bit).
From here, look carefully at all the features that are available within each platform and select the option that fully meets your needs. Important things to consider include payment options, security certificates and access to detailed analytics data.
Designing your Website
It is imperative to present your products in an attractive, appealing and engaging way. With so many online businesses out there, you simply cannot afford to have a poorly designed website. Instead, you should strive to provide your visitors with a seamless browsing experience that allows them to feel confident and assured that investing in your products is a smart decision.
In addition to being highly intuitive and responsive, optimised for mobile devices and easy to navigate, your website must also reflect the ethos and personality of your brand. Consumers increasingly want to purchase from businesses they can relate to, so don’t be afraid to showcase the heart and soul of your brand.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Strategy
There is no point having a carefully designed website with a variety of exciting and innovative features if no one knows that it exists. This is precisely why you need to spend time developing smart marketing and search engine optimisation (SEO) strategies that will drive high quality, convertible traffic to your store.
There are a variety of ways in which you can approach online marketing, including pay per click (PPC), banner ads, and Google AdWords.
Whilst PPC will deliver you traffic you pay for the clicks so it’s expensive and no substitute for ranking in the organic listings (those that don’t have ‘Ad’ in the description). There are a range of steps that you can take to ensure that your approach to both your on-site SEO and off-page signals are helping your site to secure a solid organic ranking position in those all-important search engine results pages (SERPs).
SEO is a big and complicated field and it’s essential to successful ecommerce strategy so don’t think you can get away without investing in professional help forever. For the time being though, there are some great guides out there, including the two links above from US based Moz who are industry leaders.
Go forth and sell and good luck!