By Angela Baker, Freelance Writer at TrustMyPaper
Whether you plan to sell your own products worldwide or operate as a reseller for large brands and production businesses, an e-commerce website can be highly useful for your business opportunities. According to 99 Firms, 80% of US citizens have made at least one online purchase, while 95% of all global purchases are expected to come via e-commerce platforms by 2040. The rising importance of e-commerce, regardless of the type of products you aim to push to the market, cannot be overstated.
However, building your own online presence and starting the e-commerce web development process on the right foot is also extremely important due to your brand reputation and first impressions. If you have aspirations toward e-commerce web development and want to become a part of the global sales market in the near future – read on. In this piece, we’ll be taking a look at why an e-commerce website should be considered a safe investment, as well as several essential factors worth considering before you jump into it.
Reasons to Start an E-Commerce Website
Let’s start off with some basics of e-commerce and what makes the industry so appealing for a variety of entrepreneurs and business-oriented individuals. As the name suggests, e-commerce revolves around “electronic commerce”, or an exchange of goods for monetary compensation via the internet. According to Finances Online, 67% of millennials prefer shopping online rather than through retail stores due to convenience, while the number one reason for online shopping is cited to be the ability to shop at any time of the day.
Some of the most popular e-commerce platforms in the world are Amazon and Etsy and their websites can give you a clear indication of how a typical website should look like in this industry. These platforms often use PPC, organic SEO and social media platforms to promote products relevant to individual search queries.
E-commerce is extremely useful in a variety of sales scenarios, whether you produce and ship products in-house or work with major production facilities and operate as an intermediary between them and end-consumers. Starting your own e-commerce website can thus have several major benefits for you as a sales-oriented business, including the following points:
- Global sales opportunities
- Fast and controlled exchange of goods for income
- Organic search engine customer attraction
- Higher profit margins due to bulk trade
- Omnichannel website marketing opportunities
- Easily gather reviews, testimonials and data
Things to Consider Before Starting an E-Commerce Web Development Process
- Set your Goals Early On
You should outline your business goals and long-term Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) early on, before approaching the web development process. Your goals can be anything from “Convert X amount of leads until the end of the year” or “Generate Y amount of revenue in the next Z months”.
Catherine Brook, Head of Business Development at Studicus spoke on the topic of planning recently: “The only thing differentiating your business, website and storefront from others in the industry is your ability to operate with clear, long-term goals in mind. Your business culture, customer servicing approach, as well as content marketing strategy, will all hinge on your initial goals for the future – take time and define them as clearly as possible.”
This approach will allow you to design an e-commerce platform with a meaningful customer’s journey which will appeal to a very certain demographic. Goal-setting methodologies such as SMART can be effective in the early planning of your e-commerce platform since they are objective, empiric and deadline-oriented. Make these goals a part of your e-commerce website’s and brand’s identity and the public will accept your platform with much more enthusiasm as a result.
- Research your Niche
Whether you see it as competition or nuisance, your e-commerce website will quickly become a part of a bigger market of platforms and storefronts on the internet. This makes it easy for you to conduct basic research into your industry and niche when it comes to websites that will compete for the same market and demographic as yours.
It’s good practice to search for websites in your niche and research the way in which their landing pages are designed and how their product descriptions, sales, checkout and other elements are formatted. Once you go through several existing platforms of varying scales and ambitions, you will start to notice potential mistakes to avoid and areas in which you can do better than them.
- Original Content Matters
When it comes to attracting and retaining an audience on your e-commerce website, original content matters more than anything. This rule applies to any form of textual or multimedia content present on your website, including product descriptions, blog posts, product images and other media. You can refer to platforms such as Grab My Essay and Evernote in order to manage your content writing and editing activities more easily.
Apart from that, you should make sure that your content is always relevant to the niche your e-commerce website operates in to avoid confusion or drops in your search engine ranking. Focus on original content production and avoid reposting old content or publishing multimedia produced by other businesses or individuals to avoid copyright infringement claims.
- Don’t Overlook SEO
Positioning your e-commerce website on the global market is about more than just careful design decisions and creative content. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) remains one of the most relevant topics in the e-commerce industry due to its importance in website optimization. All of your published content, landing page, sitemap and other pages should use relevant keywords and phrases which are trending in your industry.
You can find out which phrases to rely on via platforms such as Google Keyword Planner and SEM Rush. Likewise, your multimedia should be kept on a separate hosting platform and not embedded directly into your website for faster load times and lower bandwidth constraints. Sites such as Image Shack (for images) and YouTube (for videos) are highly efficient in terms of hosting your content which can then be linked back to the e-commerce platform through a lightweight link.
The same SEO activities should be applied throughout your website, making it important for you to maintain a steady stream of original content backed up by optimization for web viewing. The combination of the two will allow you to maintain a high search engine ranking for your e-commerce website while also constantly generating new leads.
- Set Up your Customer Support
No matter how localized or specialized your e-commerce platform and its product lineup are, customer support is an important aspect of your business from day one. With that in mind, your customer support should be operational from the get-go in order to respond to questions, feedback and concerns regarding any of your products.
This can be done either via real-world agents familiar with your products or by introducing chatbot AI into your website. Customers are generally happy with both options as long as one or the other is fully available for their shopping convenience. Don’t launch an e-commerce platform with dysfunctional or non-existent customer support options and your business will be able to successfully attract and retain customers due to pro-active communication on your part.
- Make the Checkout Process Simple
Every element of your e-commerce web design should be centered on making sure that the purchase process is simple and straightforward for the end-customer. To avoid this, you should ensure that the checkout procedure on your website is streamlined as much as possible to lower your cart abandonment rates to a minimum. If it takes more than three or four pages to complete a purchase, customers will grow tired and look for relevant items on other e-commerce platforms.
Don’t make sign-ups, login and authorization checks mandatory (at least at first). You can entice customers to subscribe or register by offering them exclusive deals, discounts and other goodies as a thank-you for taking the time to commit to your platform. Make several different payment methods possible to allow as many people as possible to make purchases, including credit card, PayPal or even cryptocurrency (depending on your own possibilities). Most importantly, try to place yourself in the shoes of customers when you design shopping cart and checkout procedures.
- Prepare for Continuous Development
Lastly, it’s important to note that e-commerce websites require ongoing maintenance, development and monitoring in order to operate at peak performance. After all, your competition won’t rest and give it their best to outperform your platform and attract more customers over time. To avoid this, new products, deals and offers should always be rotated in and out to allow for flexible and affordable shopping all year long.
Likewise, your SEO, keywords and internal links should be monitored to ensure high search engine ranking. This type of commitment will require you to have web development, content production and customer support staff onboard for the indefinite future, especially if you aim to attract a global audience. However, running an e-commerce platform in this manner can be highly lucrative and beneficial for you, your coworkers and brand as a whole.
Even if you operate out of your back room or a rented office, an e-commerce platform can be managed and marketed quite successfully. Don’t feel threatened by a competitive industry whose main goal is to attract as many individuals as possible to their online shopping platform.
After all, there is a whole world out there ready for a new, creative and appealing e-commerce website to appear and grab their attention. Start small, plan your moves carefully and invest time into product acquisition, platform marketing and customer servicing – the rest will happen naturally over time.