As the world is moving more and more towards digital realm, the significance of online stores or ecommerce stores is increasing by each passing day. Online stores are getting major business contributions, which has led to the change in a way business is done. Now, everyone who is into business is looking for the ways to convert their brick and mortar shops into ecommerce stores. No matter you have a small business or you are a consummate business giant, everyone can have their ecommerce stores and can benefit from having their own eCommerce website. Apart from selling physical products, you can use your ecommerce store to sell consultations, intangibles or appointments, making it an easy to go solution for kinds of businesses.
Ecommerce is believed to be an easy means through which you can fit into busy lives of your customers. It is convenient to shop through these online stores from your place. Moreover, ecommerce is believed to influence purchase decision of customers. These stores are alleged to provide a personalized experience, resulting in broadening of your brand.
Setting up an online store is not that easy. You need to work closely with ecommerce platform provider to set up your ecommerce store or you can also hire a website professional to handle design and development part of your website. It’s true that development is a complex part of the website and also depends on several factors which make it successful. From performance to user-experience, website development of a large-scale enterprise is a complex procedure and one has to go through numerous challenges. It is important to take many steps and decisions together at the right time. You need to take care of a few things before you start creating your website.
IDEA AND BUSINESS PLAN
- Choose The Product To Sell: Firstly, you need to know what kind of products you want to sell. If you are already into the business, then it’s not of much importance. But if you are planning to initiate a new business, then it could be the most challenging part. You must first decide your product and highlight strategies to find out product opportunities.
- Evaluate Your Idea: Once you have decided the product or when you have the product idea in your mind, you need to find out whether the idea of selling product is good or not. There are several exhaustive methods of evaluation that will help you evaluate the product as well as the market for your product selection.
- Get Your Product: When you have done with evaluation, it’s time to figure out where and how you are going to get the products. There are several ways of getting your products and each one of these methods has its own pros and cons.
- Check Your Competition: Before you even start thinking about the product, it is necessary to evaluate the potential of your product and supplier. It’s right time to write your business plan, but before you do that, thoroughly research your competition so that you can get to know what exactly you are up against.
- Write Your Business Plan: Once you are done with competition research, it is the right time to write your business plan. A business plan is a more kind of your road map that will help you assemble your ideas and thoughts. A business plan is considered to be important so that you can decide how to move forward and compete effectively.
DOMAIN & HOSTING
When your business plan is all set, the very first step that you need to take when starting to establish a new ecommerce store is choosing the right web hosting service provider and a domain name. It is an important decision that you have to make, as both of them are somehow related to the search engine optimization. Both the domain name and a web hosting service play a crucial yet different role in the success of an ecommerce store.
- Domain Name: Choosing the right domain name for your ecommerce business is necessary as it impacts the success of your store in nearly every area such as Search Engine Marketing, Social Media Marketing, etc. If you really wish to see your store growing successfully on search engines and maximize referred traffic, then you need to keep a few things in mind.
- Building Trust with Uniformity: If your domain name and business name are same, then it will build needful uniformity across different places where your business exists. It strengthens your brand’s identity both online and offline. So, it would be a good idea to choose a short and relevant name for your ecommerce store that goes with the persona of your business.
- Keyword In Domain Name: In order to reach out maximum people, it is necessary that you should have a good search engine visibility which is a bottom line with the requirement. For this, you need to choose a business name that includes relevant keywords related to your business. For example, if you have well-written services, then your domain name must include related words like content, words, writing, etc.
- Lead Generation: People have doubt that how domain name contributes to lead generation. It can be explained like this – things over the web are multinationals. So, when you book your domain name with “.com” domain, you also need to register your business with other valued domains like “.au”, “.co.uk”, etc. to reach more and more people of these nations where these domains are trusted. This is the trust that turns a user into a potential lead.
Apart from this, always choose some easy to remember domain name as it will have a lasting influence on the people. Moreover, your domain name should be easy to spell. Make sure it is short and crisp, not more than 9 characters.
Web Hosting Services
Once you have selected the suitable domain name, now it’s time to choose a suitable web hosting, which is the biggest challenge for your ecommerce store. Hosting is necessary as it is the only engine to keep you alive over the web. Web hosting also affects search engine rankings of your website. If your web pages load slowly even after they are fully optimized, then you need to change your web host as changing web hosting location directly may affect your website performance. Further, it’s already confirmed that there is a considerable amount of impact of e-commerce hosting on online sales. And it is accurate for every web store present on the web.
No matter whether you have selected a dedicated hosting server like windows or Linux or shared hosting server for fulfilling your ecommerce web hosting server needs, but all these possess some specific set of features to maintain the expected performance level required for any ecommerce website.
Given below is the list of features that can surely be the guidance for you to choose the most suitable web hosting server your business demands.
- Server Uptime: Staying on the web for 24/7 is the major requirement. For any single moment, if your ecommerce website is not available to your customers, then it affects badly to your customers. The typical server uptime as per industry standard is 99.99%.
- Page Loading Speed: Experts believe that delay in page loading even for 1 second can result in 7% reduction in conversions. You can even lose up to 40% of your customers if it is delayed for more than 2 seconds. Page speed depends on the RAM and bandwidth of your web hosting, which are the major factors that decide the speed.
- Secure Versatile Payment System: If customers previously had good and successful shopping experiences, then only they come back to an ecommerce website. For this, integration of versatile payment gateways is necessary. Moreover, you have to employ serious security standards to protect confidential information of your customers like credit card details, login details and purchasing history.
SET UP YOUR ECOMMERCE STORE
In order to set up your new ecommerce store, you either need a shop or create your own shop. eBay, Amazon, Shopify are some of the online stores where you can have your shop and sell your products. These are theme stores where you have to pick a free theme in your relevant category. These themes are mostly mobile friendly and customizable to fit the future brand. Always prefer choosing a plain and simple theme without much customization.
When you start with the finalized theme, your store is technically ready. You just need to add a few things and fine tune your settings. Below, we have discussed how you can customize your store taking Shopify as a reference. These include:
- Adding Payment Gateway: If you are creating your store in Shopify, then you need to add your PayPal email address under Shopify payment settings. You can also add, change or remove additional payment options. There are several ways of adding payment gateways, but the best method is to incorporate an iframe. It allows the merchant to integrate the relevant payment methods effortlessly on a page which will give the same look and feel just like other pages of the website. This type of checkout page brings confidence in the customer and gives them a feeling of security and continuity, resulting in a higher conversion rate.
- Add Free Shipping Prices: There is a tool named as dropshipping that offers most of the products with a free delivery option. It is necessary that you should add free shipping rate for all of your orders. You can do it by going to Shopify settings, then shipping and then delete all shipping zones that are non international. Also, edit the international zone rate to free.
- Generate Terms And Conditions: The shopping platforms like Shopify offers a tool that can help you generate terms and conditions, return policies and privacy policies. Go to Shopify Settings>> Checkout and you will find privacy, refund, and TOS statements section. Here, you can generate each policy sample.
- Create Online Stores On Multiple Channels: With Shopify, you can sell your products across different channels like Facebook Store, Online Store, Brick & Mortar store, etc. To create an online store, follow these steps – Shopify Settings>> Sales Channels>> add online store as your sales channel.
- Buy Domain: When you create your shop on Shopify, your URL will look like [storename].my-shopify.com. But if you wish to appear it like normal [storename].com., then buy a domain. To buy a domain, go to Shopify Online Store>> Domains Section>> click Buy New Domain.
- Adding Products: You can add products to the store with the help of Oberlo app that is simple. It allows you to import dropshipped products through different methods, but the quickest method is to Oberlo Featured Categories page and imports entire products categories.
- Customizable Updates: It is important that you should customize a few things in your store. These include:
- Store Menu/Navigation: Shopify>>Navigation Section>> Select edit main menu card>> add your products in different categories.
- Upload Banners: Creating cool looking and suitable banners related to your store are just matter of a few minutes. There are banner editing tools available. You just need to select banner dimensions, upload any image of your product, choose a background, insert attractive text, add a ‘Buy Now’ button, and it’s done! You can add as much as banners you want to add on your store and create homepage slideshow.
eBay, Amazon, Shopify are third party tools that give you an easy to create store of your own without any external help. You can also choose CMS solutions like WordPress and Magento to create your ecommerce websites. But these platforms are a little complex and require expert help for proper installation.
ECOMMERCE STORE OPTIMIZATION
Once you are done with the website development and product import part, now it’s time to gear up and start performing efforts to get your website rank on higher in search engine result pages (SERPs). When a user types a particular phrase into a search engine, it gives back a list of web pages through some sophisticated algorithms. The websites that rank on the top positions are the ones that are relevant to the results.
Always keep in mind that majority of the search engine traffic is gathered by the first page of search results. That’s why brands compete to be featured on the first page of SERPs as it will give more visibility, more visitors, and more profits.
The first place to start with SEO of your ecommerce website is by considering on-page and off page factors.
- Site Structure
- Page URL
- Alt-Text of Images
- Title Tag
- Internal Links
It involves link building from other parts of the web to your site. You need to focus on building relationships, not links. It is always a good deal to reach out to your customers through social media. You can also share some good and interesting content on your Facebook and Twitter. There is a possibility that the customers you are interacting with may share your content on their blogs or in other communities. It will help in creating links naturally. If someone visits your ecommerce store by following through that link, then you just gained a backlink!
PROMOTING YOUR ECOMMERCE WEBSITE
Creating an ecommerce website is the most profitable decision that one can ever make, but you need to follow the right marketing strategies to see it growing successfully. But if you fail to promote it accurately, then you won’t be able to find new customers. Today, what you need to do is advertise your ecommerce store so that your customers around the world can easily shop at your virtual store. There are several marketing methods, both paid and free, that allow you to choose that best fit to your business plan as well as budget.
- Create An Ecommerce Blog: Blogging does help in the promotion of your ecommerce store. When you write articles and blogs related to the products on your store, it proves positive. When people engage with your blogs, they start visiting your website frequently which significantly improves website traffic and sales.
- Adding Website To Google Places: If your ecommerce store has a physical location, then you can add the location of your store on Google places. This is beneficial if you want to attract local customers.
- Find Related Forums: If possible, participate in forum discussions regularly. It will make you familiar name among the users and also give you an opportunity to know others.
- Get Social: We all know the power of social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many more. These social platforms can serve as the best place to share your website, its products or services. You can engage with your customers, talk to them, discuss what they like or what they don’t like. Social channels are the best platform to share special offers and news related to the website.
- Give Discounts To Your Existing Customers For Referrals: You can give special discounts or offers to the customers who refer your ecommerce website to family or friends.
- Pay Per Click Ads: Give an instant boost to your brand with PPC ads. This type of advertising is quite effective but often expensive.
So, it can be concluded that building an ecommerce store is pretty easy, but it is necessary you must know all the steps that are essential for creating a new store from the scratch. From business plan to store promotion, everything should be completely planned prior and you must be clear with the strategies that you need to follow to make your ecommerce website successful.