Are you looking into the possibility of starting up your own e-commerce store? Perhaps you already own one, but business has been dwindling in recent times? Or maybe your business is currently thriving, and you want to maintain this success for years to come? Well, whichever of these is the case, it is important to plan accordingly.
To do this effectively, it means that you will have to combine tried and tested methods with new technology. After all, you need to move on with the times. If you are left behind, that means you are giving the competition a chance to overtake your position. Read on for the best practices to setting up a modern e-commerce store and bettering your online viability.
Focus on your brand and products
Firstly, it is vital that you choose the right business type and products. For the best results, you should have a strong passion for the subject matter of your proposed company. Then it’s a case of choosing products that will not only sell, but also churn out enough of a profit to make it worthwhile.
On top of that, a strong focus on your brand identity is also imperative. Ensure you have a strong business name – preferably one that is relevant, usable for marketing purposes and memorable – and go with a creative, original approach when possible.
Choose a web host that meets your needs
Alongside picking a relevant domain name – preferably one that matches your business name and ends with .com – you need to spend plenty of time researching the right web host. To do this, there are numerous things to take into consideration.
The choice will depend on your needs and budget. The more customers you expect on your site, the more bandwidth you will need. Plus elements like shared hosting, cloud hosting, customer support, data center locations, security, etc. all have to be analyzed.
There are of course out-of-the-box solutions for e-commerce hosting that have a strong reputation such as Shopify, but a more custom design – say, if you want to use WordPress – will require you to go it alone and choose an independent web hoster. Before committing to a web hoster, read reviews and ask people who already use them. You need to have a reputable web hoster, otherwise, your customers (and your business) will suffer.
Modern and responsive web design
If you have a website that looks like it comes from the early 00’s, it is unlikely to retain a new visitor. After all, appearance is everything when it comes to first impressions. As a result, you need to produce a site that looks modern while also being responsive and simple to navigate. Scrap the generic templates, and enlist the help of a professional web designer. Before you start panicking about needing to learn the latest PHP and CSS skills, pre-built themes (which you’ll find with most CMS and host sites) have helped make this easy.
In addition, take into account the need to go mobile in this day and age. Thankfully most specialist hosts and modern themes are mobile-optimized from the beginning, so there is no need to worry about needing expert web design skills or hiring a specialist. Although with that said, if you have a website that was developed some years ago, you will have work to do to get it ready for mobile. In fact in that situation, starting from scratch might be the best course of action.
SEO and other marketing techniques
If you don’t market your website, nobody will know that it exists.
That said, it is vital that you incorporate SEO practices – think of including keywords, producing content-rich articles, linking your site to like-minded blogs, etc. – when establishing your site. It doesn’t just stop there, either. Look into other marketing methods such as using social media, emails, AdWords, and even traditional techniques when applicable. Whatever you feel will spread the word about your website in a fruitful manner.
Utilize productive software
One of the main reasons to go ‘modern’ is due to the technology now available. Plus this doesn’t mean just standard software like antivirus packages and content management systems.
In fact, software like Salesforce Commerce Cloud is a cloud-based solution that offers a full, personalized customer experience. With the Commerce Cloud (former Demandware) connector, you can combine the aforementioned software into one super package of productivity for your site.
Be prepared for a rush of custom
Once the website is launched, it is imperative that you are ready for the wave of customers it could potentially attract. As well as making sure your site can handle traffic volume, you also need to check you have enough product stock in place. While it is tricky to predict just how much inventory you will need – especially if you’re just starting out – it is always better to have more stock than not enough. If you keep track of the trends, though, you will be able to forecast demands. Keep check of your books and sales, and you’ll be able to recognize what’s popular, and what isn’t.
With this in mind, it is also rather essential to know how many employees you’ll require covering the work needed. Can you do it all by yourself, at least from the start? Will you need to hire a couple of people to package products or answer enquiries?
Stay connected with customers
Once you have gotten started on the road to running an e-commerce business, and done all of the previous points, the easy work has been done. That’s right: the setting up of your website is arguably the easiest part of the process. This is because when you get up and running, you have to keep it going at a steady rate – there are no days off, you have to keep plugging away promoting your goods, and manage the day-to-day processes of running a business.
This also includes staying connected with your customers. If they send an enquiry or feedback, attempt to respond to them ASAP. This way you will build a relationship and also gain a greater chance of attaining/retaining their custom.