Thinking of launching an eCommerce website? Online sales sound like a dream come true for any business, however it’s important to make sure you have all these things covered first to make sure that your eCommerce enterprise is both profitable and easy to maintain.
Step 1: Have you decided what you are going to sell?
This one sounds very basic but it may not be appropriate to list every product or service your company offers on an eCommerce website. It’s also really important to make sure it costs you less to provide the services or purchase the products than you are planning to charge if it’s a new product. It’s really important to do the maths and make sure you are able to offer the products and services at a price which customers will be prepared to pay AND you’ll still make a profit on online.
Some competitor research is a great place to start – check who is selling the products or services you are planning to sell already and at what price. Don’t forget to check the cost of postage to factor this in, as well as your wholesale prices.
Step 2: Have you decided the features you want your website to have and how users will navigate these?
Consider the elements you want to include:
- Just an online shop
- Will you also have a blog?
- Will you want to give away things for free?
- Would you like customers to leave reviews?
- Will you store payment information yourself or direct off to a third-party payment service? (make sure you comply with PCI standards if you are storing information)
- What kind of payment options will you accept? (Visa, MasterCard, Amex etc)
- Will you trade internationally? (Consider currency exchange)
All these details will need to fit in with your product and / or service categories and subcategories so that you can decide how customers will navigate your website … this navigation may also help you decide on the next step… your platform!
Step 3: Have you choose the platform for your website?
There are lots of options to choose from so it’s important to do your research here too. Check out which features they each include and as well as how easy each type of platform is to administer.
Here are some great articles comparing eCommerce platforms to get you started:
Whatever you choose, make sure your website is responsive. With more and more purchases being made from mobile devises, having a mobile friendly website is a must!
Check out our favourite eCommerce solution here, one that features heavily in the above articles.
Step 4: Have you choosen a domain name?
If you do not already have one in mind then here is a guide on how to check what is available
When choosing domain names the top things to consider are:
- Support available
- WHOIS protection
- Domain API
- Simple management and ability add sub accounts /manage multiple domains
Step 5: Have you forgotten about the hosting?
Every website has to be hosted. You can get free hosting but you’ll find that you pay for what you get. You may find that free hosting means slow website speeds and unoriginal domain names.
As with platforms and domain names its research time … to help you here are some articles comparing the best:
- The best web hosting services of 2017
- Best Web Hosting Companies of 2017
- The Best Web Hosting UK of 2017
- Us of course!!! Check out our hosting solution and also our website care plan.
Step 6: Don’t forget to decide on your website design!
You may choose to use a template or to go to a design agency. If you are looking for a design agency… you know who to call! ☺
If you use a template most of the popular platforms have 2/300 options so you should be able to find something suitable. You will also be able to amend colours and fonts as well as adding your own content so your end product will look very unique, even if you are using a template.
Remember the features you want to include from step 2 and think about how this fits in with your design. Do not forget about buy buttons and your shopping basket. Both should be noticeable, look good and accessible easily (not too many clicks)
Step 7: Have you created your content?
It is really important that you describe every item you are selling in a brief and concise description and provide several high quality photos, as well as video if needed.
It’s a great idea to include customer testimonials, product ratings and comments. If you have some positive quotes already and links to independent product reviews, that’s a great place to start. Leaving space for customer comments (either positive or negative) is great too. Comments, either positive or negative, help you to improve your product. Having a blog is also a great way of providing this type of information. If you are going to have a blog you need to have in mind who is going to write this regular content. If you do not have the capacity to do this within your company you could consider paying a copywriter to do this. It’s not as expensive as you might think and this type of regular content has a massive positive effect on sales.
Don’t forget to include contact information in your content too. Will you just have a contact form? Or a newsletter or even a chat support. Whatever your mode of contact, make sure it’s working and all the information is correct.
Step 8: Have you created your order, despatch, delivery and returns process?
Customers expect their purchases to arrive quickly now. With many retailers offering next day and same day services you need to get your process for dispatching goods in place before your website is launched.
- Do you need a special facility on site to manage orders and dispatch goods?
- Will you pay for a courier to manager your orders?
- Have you prepared packing materials?
- Will you be able to display order status for customers at all points in the process?
- Will you offer refunds?
- Will return packaging be free and included with each product?
Whatever you decide on the process needs to be set and clearly outlined on the website so that customers know what to expect.
This list doesn’t cover every single detail applicable to every business but it should make sure you have the fundamental information which will help make your new eCommerce website a success.
Good luck with your new venture, we wish you many sales, minimal refunds, no complaints and hardly any administration!