Online businesses are booming and rightly so – this year it is expected that 18% of all UK retail purchases will occur online this year. That’s partly because eCommerce website development has got easy – almost anyone can do it. But hubris might be your downfall; there are a number of important things to consider before you start to building your eCommerce website. This is especially true if you want customers to keep coming back to your site.
We’ve compiled a list of things to keep in mind for when you are ready to build an eCommerce store.
eCommerce website development begins with the right platform and brilliant Design
Before creating your eCommerce website, you need to decide which platform to create the website on. There are a variety of content management systems including WordPress, Joomla and Magento.
WordPress is a versatile and easy to use platform which also supports a large number of plugins so it may be suitable if you are offering services or only a few products.
Platforms such as Magento have been created specifically for eCommerce use. If you are thinking of opening up an online store with many products then Magento is the best option as it is easier to manage your products.
When designing your website, use a clean, simple design rather than one with too many graphics and incorporate clear call to actions.
Another thing to take into account is whether you want to create your own custom theme or choose a preselected theme and build upon it. Although it can be pricier, a custom theme allows you to add custom functionality to your website that a standard pre-made theme may not have. In contrast, pre-made themes will be much cheaper or in most cases free. If you are choosing a pre-made theme, then be sure to check that it is regularly updated and that they have support contact details in case of any queries.
Your website design should also be responsive so that your website can be viewed correctly across multiple platforms and operating systems.
Your eCommerce website needs to be secure
A secure website is beneficial for both you and your customers. With a growing number of websites being hacked and data being stolen, security is the one part of a website you cannot skip out on.
An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate is essential to get for your website, as not only does it allow for a secure connection over which personal data can be transmitted, it also provides authentication so that customers know it’s safe to make purchases on your website. SSL certificates are mandatory if you collect private information from customers via forms.
HTTPS – (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure) is an encrypted standard for website client communications. In order to for HTTP to become HTTPS, data is wrapped into secure SSL packets before being sent and after receiving the data.
As well as securing data, HTTPS may also be used for search ranking purposes. If you utilise HTTPS, you will have a slight boost in ranking over competitor websites that do not utilise HTTPS.
eCommerce plugins make adding features to your site easier
If you have decided to use WordPress to create your eCommerce website then there are a number of eCommerce plugins available to help you create your online store. Top eCommerce plugins include WooCommerce, Shopify, Shopp and Easy Digital Downloads.
SEO attracts organic traffic to your eCommerce site
If you want potential customers to see your products before that of competitors then optimising your website pages will aid in trying to be on the first page of search results.
Undertake a keyword research to get the words that potential customers are most commonly using to find the products you offer. Google’s keyword planner is quite helpful in managing your keyword research. You can then add relevant words to your product names and descriptions. Revisit these keywords occasionally to update them and experiment with which keywords work better.
You can improve your rankings with good page titles that include relevant keywords. Although meta descriptions do not improve ranking, it’s good to add useful meta descriptions as a better description may draw more clicks. Also ensure that the product URLs mirror what the product is and isn’t unnecessarily long.
Other things to consider when building an eCommerce website
You may wish to consider additional features in order to increase your chance of returning visitors:
If your website is slow then it’s likely that customers may not return for a repeat purchase if it takes too long for a product to load. They’ll simply visit a competitor website that loads much faster. There are a few things you can do to speed up your website including caching and using in memory technology for certain things rather than constantly accessing the database. You could also use fast hosting servers to meet traffic requirements. Site speed is also an important SEO consideration.
23% of shoppers will abandon their shopping basket if they are forced to register an account. Make it easier for customers to purchase items with guest checkout. Some customers may not wish to create an account as they may be limited for time. Create a smooth, quick transaction process by adding the option of a guest checkout. Once they have completed their checkout, you can ask them if they would like to create an account.
Utilise search functionality to allow users to search for products with the ability to filter products through a variety of options (if applicable).
Address potential concerns customers may have before purchasing your products by displaying information they may have concerns or queries about. This can include delivery options and whether free returns are offered.
In 2017 almost 59% of ecommerce sales occurred via mobile. There is an increasing number of users who now shop online using their smart phones and this trend will most likely grow. That’s why optimising your website for mobile is a must.
User-generated reviews and testimonials
Use social proof on your website with user reviews and testimonials. If a potential customer reads customer reviews then they are more likely to purchase a product. However, user-generated reviews can go both ways – a user may also post a negative review which may not be good for your website/online store.
Showing related items under a product is useful for customers who are looking for an item but may not have decided what type of that particular product they want. This is also useful for when the main product is out of stock.
Creating an FAQ section with common questions is very useful and saves both the customer and company time as basic queries can be answered by looking at the FAQ page.
If you’re starting out, good luck!
Yes, in 2018 eCommerce website development is pretty easy thanks to the likes of Shopify, WooCommerce, and Magento among others. But as you can see, there’s plenty you need to consider. By incorporating most of these points, you will be able to create an ecommerce website that users will be able to navigate through easily and find the products or services they are looking for.