How many times have you heard, I want to build an eCommerce website? I would guess that it’s not a rare occurrence. That’s because building an eCommerce site has been on the minds of business owners since… well, the inception of eCommerce itself! You see, no matter how advanced and sophisticated your product or service is, if you don’t have a good way to sell it, your business will most likely fail sooner than later.
Online stores are popping up all over the internet, but that doesn’t mean you should use an off-the-shelf solution if you want to be successful. There are many aspects of eCommerce that you need to keep in mind while developing the website. We’ve put together this checklist of 10 important things to consider when building an ecommerce website—if you follow it, your store will be more likely to succeed.
1) Research and plan your online store
One of the most important eCommerce development tips for entrepreneurs is to research, plan and strategize your online store carefully. The reason why you need a perfect plan for your eCommerce site is that it will bring both security and trust from your users, who are interested in buying products from your website.
Create a checklist of things you need to include in your store and write a business plan before finalizing any details. Identify what products will be offered, how they will be priced, and where they will be purchased. You’ll also want to figure out how much profit you expect from your online store on day one, so set realistic goals and make sure you have adequate resources (funds) available.
2) Prepare your standard pages very-well
The very first thing is to prepare your standard pages for your online store. This means that you must update your website pages with all the relevant and useful information such as: who you are, what you do, how much it costs, why people should buy from you, and so on.
On top of that, make sure this info is accurately reflected in these pages because otherwise it will appear unprofessional and will drive away potential customers.
3) What kind of eCommerce website do you need?
There are two main types of eCommerce websites: standalone and integrated.
A standalone eCommerce website has its own domain, shopping cart, payment processing capabilities, etc. If you have more resources available and you want complete control over how your brand is represented online as well as what features are available to your customers, then building a standalone eCommerce website is probably best for you.
An integrated website is part of a larger business’ site and uses its existing domain, shopping cart, payment processing capabilities, etc. If you’re a small business owner with limited resources but want to get your business off the ground quickly and without a hefty upfront investment (e.g., setting up your own merchant account), then go with an integrated eCommerce website might be right for you.
4) Conduct a content audit
A content audit is a useful tool for any content-rich website like eCommerce. It’s a way of ensuring that you’re not wasting time-on-page elements and copy that doesn’t make sense for your audience. Conducting one on an eCommerce site will help you understand what works and what doesn’t—and why.
Your first step should be conducting a thorough inventory of each section on your site, including its purpose, whether it currently contains relevant information, how much information it contains (more often than not too much), when it was last updated, who is responsible for its maintenance and so forth.
Just taking notice of small mistakes like spelling, grammar, or broken links are all a part of an effective audit and could save you thousands of dollars later on.
5) Install an analytics tool
You should consider installing a website analytics tool on your new eCommerce website. Analytics tools help you better understand what users are doing on your site—from where they’re coming from, how long they’re staying, what’s getting clicked on and purchased, etc.
This data will give you valuable insight into your visitors and customers, helping you make educated decisions about everything from what products are selling best to which purchases are driving repeat business. The most popular eCommerce platforms — including Shopify, Big Commerce, and Magento — all have robust analytics tools, so be sure to set them up early.
You don’t have to be a data scientist (or pay one) in order to make sense of it all; Google Analytics is free and provides quite a bit of information right out of the box. This means that any relevant insight can then be used to improve conversion rates—which is critical if you want your online store(s) to succeed.
6) Optimize all images on your website
The best way to ensure a high-quality site is by ensuring your images are at their best. You may have taken great photos, but if they’re bad quality, they’ll detract from your message rather than enhance it. Check all of your images and make sure they look good. Remember that good enough isn’t necessarily good enough; take time to optimize each image individually so it looks as great as possible.
Search engines can’t see images, so they won’t be able to figure out what your image-heavy site is about. You need to optimize your images using a tool like Google’s free PageSpeed Insights or YSlow so that search engines can properly index and rank your site. Without that content, your site will struggle in organic search—particularly when it comes to long-tail keywords. What’s more, slow-loading images can hurt your site’s user experience and performance in search engines. In fact, speed is one of Google’s ranking factors (although not as important as links).
7) Choosing a right domain name
You might think that a fancy, high-traffic domain name is one of your top priorities when you’re building an eCommerce site, but experts disagree. Experts are in favor of simple and descriptive domains for eCommerce stores. According to them, if you want your customers to find what they need, it’s more important for your website’s address (or URL) to be easy to spell and memorize than it is unique or catchy.
As long as people can remember and easily share your address (URL), you’ll reap all of these benefits like:
- More traffic from search engines,
- Higher conversion rates from organic visits,
- Lower advertising costs (because ads will more effectively target qualified visitors),
- Better SEO results due to increased trust with Google.
8) Give the best design to your eCommerce website
Online store owners invest in different kinds of custom ecommerce or Shopify website development agencies and get all the benefits of elegant ecommerce website design. One of your biggest priorities should be making sure that visitors can easily find what they’re looking for on your eCommerce website.
Make it as easy as possible to locate items—and don’t forget about navigation! Your checkout process shouldn’t be a confusing maze of information. Instead, keep all pages with relevant information grouped together, so that users can quickly and easily make their way through each step.
Relevant information will also help you entice potential customers into purchasing; when they find exactly what they want at your site, they’ll be more likely to buy from you than from another competitor.
9) Make it easy for shoppers to contact you
Now that you’ve completed your online store, it’s time to fill it with items for sale. First things first: you need a checkout process so that shoppers can buy items from your site. A simple contact form is a great way to do so, and it will also help with SEO.
Using a form will help give people a fast and efficient way to communicate with you if they have any questions or issues regarding their order, as well as gather important information about your customers in order to market future products better.
Many platforms come with integrated checkouts (including Shopify, Magento, and BigCommerce), which allow you to easily choose between different forms of payment (for example, PayPal or Google Wallet).
If you’re building a custom website, make sure that your checkout system is as seamless as possible.
10) Marketing strategy development
Don’t even start building the eCommerce website without creating a solid marketing strategy. People have no idea your site exists if you don’t promote it, so make sure you consider things like SEO and paid to advertise.
Don’t forget about online reviews and social media, either. It all comes down to being found by the right people at the right time, so think carefully about how you want customers to find you—and what they should do once they get there.
And that concludes our list of useful eCommerce development tips. After researching these ten items, it’s crucial that you compile them into a checklist. Go through your checklist with every new custom eCommerce or Shopify website development project that you work on.
And if you find yourself forgetting something, add it to your list and make sure you never forget it again. Failing to consider one of these elements could lead to costly mistakes and even more costly errors in judgment.
Did we miss any tips? If so, please leave them in a comment below!