Most people have taken the opportunity of having e-commerce to establish a business. It has provided businesses the power to establish their market presence without having to go through the hassle of establishing a physical store. Since almost everything now is done online, it makes sense why businesses are also shifting to the trend of offering their products and services on their websites.
But just like building a physical store, e-commerce websites also need careful planning. And planning is always crucial part of web development, whether it be for a personal site or a client site. Here are the 5 tips on how to start an e-commerce website, from our mentoring session with Mr. Henry Ong of Inventive Media:
User experience (U|X) is very crucial when it comes to customer engagement. Many businesses are already investing in U|X for their websites, since consumers have become intolerant of bad ones. And this makes user experience a big factor in the buying decision of consumers.
In most cases, a customer spends more time on a website will most likely purchase from it. That, however, will depend on his experience while going over the site. If the U|X did not meet the expectations of the consumer, there is a higher chance that he will leave the page without buying.
A simple, yet organized website allows users to easily go over the varieties of products or services offered. Option icons are best to cluster similar items, keeping the page clean and more appealing to users. Here are the icons that you can put in your site to improve user experience on your website:
A good web design gives a competitive advantage over competitors. At the same time, it decreases acquisition costs (for paid ads) and increase conversion rates, and fosters loyalty to brand and boosts customer satisfaction. Investing in a good one is worth the time and resources. After all, it only takes a few seconds to make an impression.
2. Use CMS Platforms
Not all website owners are familiar with the technicalities of web development. That is why they invest in good Content Management Systems (CMS), to help manage the contents in their e-commerce sites.
CMS allows users to easily control the contents of the site, without the need for a developer to make changes in the HTML or codes. At the same time, it makes role delegation for an organization easier – having someone do the content and the other does the approval.
Here are some of the recommended CMS for e-commerce sites:
Drupal Commerce – is a software that integrates commerce, content and community in order to create engaging web experiences which will drive traffic to e-retailers sites.
WordPress WooCommerce – it allows users to have overall control of their store, from design to the ability to accept major credit cards, PayPal, BACS (bank transfers), and cash on delivery.
WP e-Commerce – is an open-source solutions for business owners that allows users to manage products, monitor sales and reporting, and configure taxes and shipping.
Joomla VirtueMart – allows users to add products and their variants to the cart directly from the category browse view, offers improved page load speed and many more.
In terms of scalability, platforms that are built primarily for e-commerce are highly recommended, as they house more extensions or add-ons for eCommerce. Such platforms are:
OpenCart – gives users the power to manage every aspect of their site from any device, by offering a fully mobile friendly admin area, with detailed product, order and customer management, sales reports, marketing tools and more.
Magento Community Edition – provides complete code visibility to developers, supported by a community of developers and partners who contributes codes, creates new extensions, and participates in Magento forums and user groups.
osCommerce – provides tools to set up a self-hosted online store website for free!
Optimization is very crucial when it comes to driving traffic and improving a website’s ranking in search engines. And this may require website owners to understand the technicalities of web development. The following are the things that you need to consider when driving traffic to your e-Commerce website:
a.) Search Engine Optimization
If a brand aspires to be number one, a website on the other hand, aims to be visible on the top list of the major search engines.
Website owners use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in order to make it easier for search engine robots understand what your website is all about, and how it can be helpful for users. SEO is a technical, yet creative method or strategy of improving rankings, driving traffic, and increasing website awareness in search engines. It is a good way to market a website, at the same time, avoid website owners to spend money on advertising (when website attains high rankings). However, this should not only be the means of marketing your website, given the constant flux of search engine algorithm.
b.) Search Engine Marketing
There are some businesses that uses Search Engine Marketing (SEM) as supplement to SEO to boost awareness of their site.
SEM is a way to market a business with the use of paid advertisements, which appears on search engine results page. Also known as pay-per-click ads, SEM enables business owners to make their sites visible on the “sponsored” area of the search engine.
c.) Social Media Marketing
One of the most powerful ways to market now is with the use of social media.
Social media, aside from it’s original purpose – that is to connect, helps in the SEO efforts of a website. Updating and sharing of contents in social media feeds, prompts activity in search engines. Nowadays, people use social media sites not just for networking, but also for content searching. This is why social media and search marketers are closely related.
Some website owners offer marketing opportunity to other businesses through affiliate marketing, and other way around. With affiliate marketing, users are allowed to recommend products and services from other companies, and are paid by the affiliate once someone purchases an item. In order to track the purchases based on the recommendation, a special link that contains a unique code will be given to the partner business. Once a customer buys the item based on the referral, the affiliate will automatically get a commission. Here are some examples of affiliate marketing plug-ins for both WordPress and Joomla:
a.) ThirstyAffiliates – allows users to administer affiliate links, assist with inserting them into posts, pages and comments, and gives the user a central location in WordPress to manage all affiliate links.
b.)Adsanity – makes ad management in a site easier. It allows users to create and show ads on the website, as well as get statistics on views and clicks.
c.) Constant Contact – an email marketing plug-in that helps you create a personalized email which you can set to send automatically on events like birthdays.
d.) OptinMonster – provides popups and other types of high converting forms that will help you grow your email list and get more subscribers.
e.) Google Analytics – helps you collect and manage data with single, accurate view of the customer that can be customized to your needs.
a.) Affiliate Tracker – helps you track sales, user registrations, conversions, referrals and reward commissions to your affiliate partners.
b.) Virtue Affiliate – is a complete affiliate solution for Joomla and VirtueMart which offers unlimited number of affiliates and multi-level marketing and many more!
c.) Virtuemart Affiliate – allows VirtueMart store owners to easily deploy an affiliate tracking system, in order to operate their own ‘in-house’ affiliate marketing program.
d.) Affiliate Trackback – adds the Joomla! user id, username, real name and even page title to your affiliate reports, automatically.
When creating a website, it is important that the owners think of their site visitors. A website has only few seconds to keep customers. And that few seconds are already critical, in terms of client acquisition and retention.
Make your customers stay longer on your website by keeping them engaged on your the variety of products you offer. Aside from the physical look, you may also incorporate some features to keep the consumers more interested on the page. Engagement could be easily achieved by implementing the following features:
Henry N. Ong II is the CEO and Founder of Inventive Media, a hands-on learning hub for digital media, website development, computer networking, technology solutions and service provider. His company has been on top in various services, such as graphic designing, corporate branding, web development, mobile app development, and many more.
Henry finished BSBA Computer Application and MBA from De La Salle University. He has 18 years of extensive training experience, having conducted trainings for both local and overseas. He has been into numerous speaking engagements, seminars and trainings for various multinational corporations, companies, banks, BPOs, government agencies and schools (local and overseas). He is the resource person for Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP), Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) and National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).