As with many things we encounter in life, the first step is always the hardest one to take. When it comes to setting up an e-commerce site it is easy to get lost even before getting started. You might have an amazing idea, done plenty of research, and spent resources on acquiring the tools you need, but none of that will matter if you don’t know how to implement and use them.
Instead of getting bogged down in search of a foolproof plan for setting up your e-commerce site, listed below is a step-by-step procedure to make it easier to follow and understand:
1. Know your target market
Think of your e-commerce site as a physical store or an empty room. Your job is to fill it with items or services that people want to purchase. Firstly, who are these people, what are they like, and what are some of the things they’re looking for? Demographic information such as age, income, education, and other parameters can help you define your target and, thus, your approach to what kinds of products and services to offer them.
2. Choose the right platform
There are numerous e-commerce platforms that provide a solid framework complete with all the features necessary to set up a sustainable online store. A lot of them offer features that you may not need right away but might find incredibly useful down the road. For example, you might need to accept foreign currencies or implement analytics, depending on the industry you’re in.
3. Design your e-commerce store
This step is very difficult to overcome, especially if design, art, and creativity don’t come naturally to you. However, you could break this step down into smaller components to make the task more manageable. Here are some parts that make up the whole:
• The Name: Although this may go without saying, we’ll discuss it here. The name of your store is intimately tied to your target market, your products and services, and is a reflection of you as an individual, so make a brief list of names and choose the best one.
• The About Page and Contact Page: These pages give your customers the information they need to contact you.
• Logo and Branding: This lets your potential customers put a face to a name, allowing them to recognize and refer to your store directly.
4. Set up payment gateways
Payment gateways ensure how your customers pay you as well as how those payments flow in the direction of your bank account. Look for a processor that has secure payment handling with encryption, integrated SSL, as well as the ability to accept payments in different currencies, and from different countries. If your payment gateway can be integrated with your PayPal or other online transaction handlers, or seamlessly through WordPress, this would be even better for your e-commerce site. Of course, make sure that your site has plenty of payment logos as well as trust marks to let your customers know that yours is a trustworthy establishment.
5. Populate your site with products and services
What’s an e-commerce store without stuff to sell? If you’re selling products, use high-quality photos in every sense of the word. This includes lighting, composition, and details. Megapixels aren’t as important, except for you to remember to keep these images as small as possible. If you’re offering services, make sure to describe what you offer and who benefits from your services. Be clear and concise—the key is to give your customers plenty of information without exhausting them.
6. Implement tools for secure transactions
Online security has always been an arms race between the good guys and the bad guys. Your customers need to know that you’re implementing measures to keep their information from falling into the wrong hands. Make sure you know the laws governing online transactions and trade. This gives your customers peace of mind when working with you.
7. Customer experience matters
Your brand is more than a name, the logo, and the products. Aesthetics can make a huge impact on your brand, even the colors you choose can affect the moods of your customers, swaying them towards purchasing from your site, or putting them off completely if your choices are in poor taste. Make your site easy to navigate, to ensure a top-notch user experience.
8. Make the most of today’s technology
This means going beyond making sure that your e-commerce site uses the latest plugins and is optimized to work on the latest versions of operating systems and browser software. Optimizing your site for search engines is still an important way to drive traffic to your site, so it remains highly important to stay on top of the latest techniques. Find ways to set your brand apart from the competition, making the shopping experience more interactive, personalized and interesting.
By following these simple steps, you can create an e-commerce site that is functional, sustainable and successful.
What are your experiences with developing a website or an online store? We’d like to hear your stories, so please leave a comment below.
Michie Victoriano is a Marketing Research and Analyst with more than 7 years’ experience in Marketing, Research, Analytics and Online Marketing; with a 2 years’ experience in Search Engine Optimization. A freelancer as of the moment, he enjoys playing video games, basketball and loves coffee too.