So you have decided you want to start selling your products online and have identified that you need to create an eCommerce website to do so. Next step, how do you actually go about creating your online shop? You will be relieved to know that there are plenty of options available. Your technical ability, resources & budget will play a part on what option will work best for you, however, the most important thing is to understand what the possible, most-costly mistakes are.
Non-existent business plan
Unlike a business plan you may create for the bank or investors, the type of business plan you need for your online shop should address issues such as
- Are your prices competitive?
- Do you know who your target customers are?
- Who are your competitors?
- What will make your store and products stand out?
- Are you able to cross and upsell?
Do not underestimate the amount of work involved
From planning to implementation, in order to create a successful e-commerce business, you will need to put in the time. If you are looking to save costs then you may consider outsourcing less of the work and carrying out more of the tasks in house, however if the end result is not going to be a professional looking solution, don’t consider the in-house option. Whilst you may save the pennies, if your online store looks unprofessional, does not work properly and does not rank well in the search engines, your project could end up costing your more in the long run.
A few things which you will need to consider that do take up a lot of time to implement are:
- Your e-commerce design
- Deciding on your pricing model
- Deciding on your shipping options
- Deciding on how you will process your payments
The chances of a successful store will be greatly increased if either you or a key member of your team are actively involved in this process, regardless of whether you decide to outsource the whole project. Do not leave it up to your developers, YOU need to get involved. After all it is your business.
Poor product display
You need to understand that your website is your storefront and salesperson. Most business owners do not objectively put themselves in the shoes of their website visitors. Perceiving how your products and services are presented to your visitors is a critical area that is often neglected. Make sure you include high-quality, decent-sized photographs for all of your products. Your product descriptions must be excellent and informative. Ensure that you include essential information such as measurements, colours, size and any other information that may help a potential customer to make a purchase. Engaging product information will heighten the experience of your shoppers and will increase the chance of a sale.
Lack of marketing plan
Getting your online shop up and running is your first hurdle. The next is to get visitors to your site. The idea that potential customers will just find your online store just because it is live and has been launched unfortunately does not work. You need to have a plan in place to generate ongoing traffic. Firstly, you should check out your analytics tracking. Find out where people are coming from and how they are using your website. Use social media to drive traffic and interest to your site. Understand the difference between Pay Per Click and SEO campaigns. Most importantly create useful content! Your marketing plan is key to driving the desired traffic to your e-commerce solution. If this is not something you are confident in, outsource the whole process or at the very least use the help of a specialist online marketing agency to draw up an initial marketing plan for you to follow.
Using the wrong ecommerce solution
There are various options available when deciding which ecommerce solution will work best for you. Check out our article “What Is The Best eCommerce Platform?” You need to establish what functionality you will require for both your customers and for yourself when it comes to the back-end management area. A wrong choice would mean you will be stuck with a platform that is unsuitable for your needs, outdated, and not professional. Another thing to consider is if you decide to get your solution put together by a friend or a friend of a friend, the chances are it will not be professionally supported. This is a disaster waiting to happen and we have heard so many horror stories. Ensure that your e-commerce solution will be able to provide an optimal user experience all the way right through to the checkout. This user path is one of the most important aspects of your website so make sure it is right.
Following the guidelines above and also using our FREE ecommerce checklist, you will be in a better position to successfully create an e-commerce website.