Before Getting Started
To avoid wasting any of your valuable time, you’ll need to do a fair share of preparation prior to setting up an e-commerce platform for your business.
Build Your Customer Persona:
The first thing you’ll need to figure out is your target audience – or your most typical customer persona. This is especially important because much of your efforts in online sales will revolve around finding and engaging with this particular audience. So it only makes sense that you should take time to familiarize yourself with this demographic and know where they spend time on the internet. This will determine how you’ll need to reach them with your targeted message.
Research Your Competition:
It should go without saying, but it’s very important to know what your direct competition is up to before embarking on this journey. You can gain valuable insight from the way they run their online operations and even take a few tips for your own store. This doesn’t mean you should copy your competitors outright, but studying the type of products, content, and keywords they seem to be pushing can give you a clear direction for your own site. Similarly, you can use this information to make your content and website stand out in a way that you think will connect better to your target audience.
Find a Suitable URL:
If you’re going to take your business operations online, you’ll need to secure a unique URL address for your website. There are a couple of ways you can approach the type of address you select, and that depends on whether you’re more interested in reaching new audiences, or in keeping your existing clientele and branding consistent with your brick and mortar location.
Each of these choices has its own advantages and drawbacks, so it’s really up to you to choose one that works best for your goals.
Going with an SEO friendly URL will involve choosing a name with relevant keywords and even a geographic location. This will naturally bring organic search traffic to your site, growing your visibility and potential audience. On the other hand, if you’ve developed a loyal following for your brick and mortar store, you may find it more advantageous to choose a URL with your company name to make it easy to find for your current customers.
Analyze Your Sales:
Analyzing your current sales is another important step to getting your company ready to enter the e-commerce world. Doing so will give you a clear idea of your best selling products, which should be your go-to for online sales. Another clear indication that you should feature a product on your website is if you consistently receive questions or calls about a specific item or service. As a general rule of thumb, choose the products or services that have the most interest and buzz around them – this will further ensure your success with selling them online.
Building Your Website and Content
After you’ve invested sufficient time researching and doing prep work, it’s time to finally start building your website and crafting original content. With both of these, it’s important to focus on search engine optimization (SEO), as this will help boost your online visibility and send interested leads to your website.
Choosing The Right Platform
There are probably countless solutions out there for setting up your website, but if you’re not a computer wizard yourself, you may either consider choosing a software that’s highly intuitive or hiring a reliable agency to do the work for you.
If you’re going the route alone, you’ll most likely narrow your options down to the top “all-in-one” platforms such as Shopify, BigCommerce, or WooCommerce.
All of these let you design and manage your website while also hosting your domain name. Thanks to various ready-made themes, you truly don’t need to be experienced in the process to put together an attractive website, but your website will require more than aesthetics to reach your audience.
” WooCommerce is the most popular and arguably best eCommerce plugin for WordPress, and its integration allows for you to include both great SEO value and eCommerce ability. ”
Create An Engaging Design
Continuity between your brick and mortar store and your online business is very important, especially if you’ve established a loyal customer following for your brand. Make sure you select a theme and design elements that match or at least echo the branding of your physical store.
You’ll also need to take plenty of original photos of the products that you’re planning to sell. Doing so will further boost your SEO and visibility. Another important factor for your SEO is making sure your design isn’t slowing down your website. While attractive images are great for capturing attention, you should avoid overly high-quality or large photos, which can actually hurt your loading speed and SEO ranking.
Write Your Product Pages
Many businesses make the mistake of obsessing over their homepage and not paying much attention to their product pages. In fact, most of your traffic will come from people searching for particular products or coming in through a specific landing page. These pages are especially important in terms of keywords, and accurate meta-descriptions. When writing a product page, it’s important to stick to a specific layout and tone and try to include enough information to make purchasing an easy decision.
Set Up Shipping Rates, Payments, and Returns
To keep your customer base delighted and returning back for more business, you’ll want to make their user experience (UX) and transaction as smooth and seamless as possible. This includes everything from payment to a possible return, should it become necessary.
You’ll need to determine your shipping rates according to your shipping costs. Though, many stores find it advantageous to offer a flat shipping rate or a discount after spending a certain threshold amount. This gives your audience a concrete amount and will avoid any unpleasant surprises during checkout.
You should likewise make your payment options and return policy clear and visible on your site. You can do so by displaying various payment badges and banner in the checkout window. When it comes to a return policy, try to allow a generous amount, such as 20+ days to make returns on unwanted items. This gives your new prospective customers the courage to try your service, and you the opportunity to convert them to a returning customer.
Take Advantage Of All Forms of Sales
Your online sales don’t have to be limited to the internet alone – in fact, you can transfer your online business to your in-store sales as well. Setting up a curbside pickup is an easy and convenient way to retain your local customers while ensuring everyone’s safety during social distancing efforts. In this case, your local customers will be able to place their order from the comfort of their home, sending you an alert to prepare their order. You’ll simply contact your customers once their order is ready for pick up. You can also sell gift cards for your online store through your website – further diversifying your offerings.
Build Valuable Content
You may have heard the term “content is king,” and it’s said for a good reason. Today, your online presence isn’t complete without a steady stream of valuable, relevant content. This content should be both SEO friendly and original, which means it will take some time and effort to produce. Yet, once there, your content will generate the organic search traffic your new site so badly needs to generate sales.
Blogging is the most widely used and simple ways to connect with your audience and market your products at the same time. In fact, when done correctly, your content should actively contribute to your online sales.
Know When To Ask For Help
As all of these steps demonstrate, it takes considerable time and effort to build and manage your online presence, and that’s without delving into the marketing or maintenance that is required to run a successful online business. If you’re a small business owner with limited hours, you may consider outsourcing your online operations to a professional agency to save yourself the time and learning curve associated with such an undertaking.
While there are some who love to spend the time discovering the inner strategies and nuances of digital marketing and content management, others find it both easier and more effective to enlist the help of trained professionals. Of course, you’ll need to factor the initial cost into your decision, but you’ll also be saving some time as well as potentially wasted funds due to trial and error.