Times are changing, and with more of us looking to become our own boss and take charge of our own future, it is now more possible than ever to make this a reality. The internet of things makes it more achievable to run your own eCommerce business as it creates an exciting avenue for exponential growth and success.
Wondering how to start an ecommerce website? Unfortunately, eCommerce isn’t quite like the Field of Dreams – just because you build it, it doesn’t mean that they will come. While the future of eCommerce is incredibly bright, starting an eCommerce business can be somewhat hard work. In order for your eCommerce website to succeed, you’ll need to ensure that your website is easy to find and that your site is a place where people will want to shop.
In this blog, our digital marketing experts take a deep-dive into the steps you must take to build your eCommerce empire and how best to develop your own eCommerce marketing plan.
Don’t want to read all of it? Skip to the bits you need here:
1. Know Your Focus
While it’s never a bad thing to embark on your eCommerce journey with plenty of ideas, you should first put your ambitions aside and look at the bigger picture at a more practical level.
Rather than jumping straight in, we advise you to identify your demographic in order to achieve targeted traffic specific to your niche and industry. Getting traffic to your website is not enough, the people visiting your website need to be interested in what you have to offer in order to make a conversion.
2. Do Your Research
Research is integral to the success of not just your business, but your eCommerce store too. Gather as much research about your target market and identify your competitors to understand the market better and to know how your customers behave online.
It’s also best to know how much money and efforts are needed to invest in your startup and how to focus your efforts into going digital. After all, do your competitors heavily invest in ads? Did they face any obstacles that you could also face? Carrying out research can provide a better understanding of how to make your business successful and how to succeed on an eCommerce platform.
3. Ecommerce User Experience
There’s no secret that many of us prefer to visit a physical store, however, recent circumstances have meant that we are no longer able to visit some of our favourite stores and are now opting to shop online instead. The reality is that if a business doesn’t have an online presence, they are at risk of falling behind and missing out.
The biggest inability with eCommerce is the lack of a personal touch, with customers unable to feel, smell, touch and see products up-close before making a purchase decision. Fortunately, there are ways to compensate for these inabilities by offering customers discounts, appropriate pricing, free delivery, repeat offers and by making the checkout process as simple as possible.
Your eCommerce website should be easy to navigate so that visitors can find what they are looking for with minimal clicks. It’s critical that any eCommerce website provides easy-to-find products and with clear top-level navigation. After all, if you make it difficult to find products, you’ll almost be guaranteed to lose a potential customer.
If your eCommerce website offers more than 20 products or services, you should display a search bar. It is important to have this in a visible place, which is usually in the header section. This allows users to navigate through the site looking for something of choice. As well as optimising your search option, you need to give the search result pages some attention, we’ll explain more about that later.
Great website design is also a critical factor in providing user experience, so it’s important to provide your customers with the most seamless, easy, engaging and enjoyable online experience possible.
And, with over half of online purchases completed through mobile, having a mobile-optimised website is more important than ever. If you aren’t building your eCommerce website with mobile optimisation at the forefront of your web design, your website will not be as successful with your customers as you anticipate.
4. Ecommerce Digital Marketing
With more and more of us going online, it’s increasingly important than ever before to stay on top of marketing efforts in order to stand out from the competition. As the eCommerce industry continues to grow exponentially, the higher in demand businesses are becoming to streamline their marketing in order to stay competitive.
Digital marketing is becoming more and more essential as the day goes by. SEO has a number of different benefits to the longevity of your website. Organic search is a huge part of most business’ website performance, as well as a critical component of the buyer funnel and ultimately getting users to complete a conversion or engagement.
After joining us earlier this year, Wellgosh, a premium streetwear and footwear brand located in the heart of Leicester, have received some fantastic results through SEO, PPC, Paid Social, UX and Conversion Rate Optimisation. Pete Turner, Director of Wellgosh, explains “With a lot of challenges at the minute, it’s really important for us to have a good online presence. Our digital marketing has seen great success – we’ve had a lot more traffic come to the site which have converted into sales.”
5. Go Social
Your website may be optimised, you may even be using a digital marketing agency to take care of your SEO while your PPC ads are continuously running in the background, however, if you aren’t talking about your eCommerce business on social, then you can be sure that no one else is either.
Being present on social media allows you to connect with your audience to gain more exposure and even become face-to-face with potential buyers. It’s important to be present on all social media platforms where your customers could possibly connect with your business – whether it be on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram or even TikTok!
With social, you are also able to optimise your content for ecommerce by tagging products so that users can very easily find what they’re looking for. For example, if a user comes across your post on social media which advertises a watch, they won’t want to spend any more than time than needed to find the product on your website, unless they have a lot of time on their hands – which most of us really won’t have! Making these products as accessible as possible will help prevent consumers from dropping out before they manage to add the item to their basket.
The same rule also applies to making your website accessible by having the URL in your social media bio or posts. While Instagram only allows you to have one link in your bio, you can take advantage of free bio link tools, such as Linktree, which resolves this issue by optimising your Instagram traffic and creating a portal that displays unlimited website links. For an e-commerce business, this means that you’ll be able to create accessible links to your home page, category pages or service pages.
6. Build Trust
While eCommerce has transformed the potential for businesses to succeed, some of us may sometimes feel a lack of trust when shopping eCommerce, particularly with concerns of cybersecurity and where eCommerce businesses have no physical presence and are therefore less familiar.
In order to build trust with your audience, it can really help to incorporate user interaction to ensure a personalised shopping experience, whether it be through a live chatbox or through personalised emails. We recommend the installation of chatbot plugins, allowing customers to interact with your sales team just as they would in a face to face situation. Making online dialogue accessible will help to build trust with your customers that cannot visit your storefront.
A Simon Sinek quote we often refer to is “People don’t buy what you do; people buy why you do it”. That’s why it is just as important to explain a little bit about your brand or business, along with who’s behind the idea, what are your morals, or what motivates the business?
Also, be sure to have an SSL certificate to reassure your customers that your website is safe and protected. With Google unlikely to rank eCommerce websites without the addition of an SSL certificate, it really can make the difference for such a small price to pay.
Ecommerce Trends Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has put ecommerce at the forefront of retail, with thousands of stores being forced to close throughout 2020. Technology has mitigated disruption for retailers, with growth being made possible for traditional businesses who would otherwise be struggling. It’s clear that with careful planning and a well thought out approach, businesses that have opened their doors to transformation have been able to create new opportunities.
Primark, for example, who are the UK’s biggest fashion retailer and who rely solely on footfall, typically make around £650m every month in sales. With the lack of an online presence, Primark’s sales, unfortunately, fell to zero from April onwards, until they were able to reopen on 15th June.
According to Salesforce Inc, 63% of consumers agreed that the way they had purchased goods and services had transformed during 2020, with another 62% of consumers admitting that this year has changed how they conduct their lives offline. Whilst some traditional retailers think this movement is only temporary, it’s worth noting that 58% of consumers said they expect to do more online shopping even after the pandemic than ever before. Though many of us prefer to visit a physical store, it does beg the question – will retail ever be the same again?
Ecommerce coronavirus Google Search trends are also as expected, with some popular search queries (taken from Google Trends) including ‘Eat Out to Help Out’, ‘popular Google doodle games’, ‘Disney Plus’ and even ‘toilet roll’, after we saw the UK experience a shortage for several weeks following the first COVID-19 lockdown announcement with the plea to “stay at home”.
Search trends for ‘Disney Plus’ show a spike on the 22nd March 2020, just a day before the UK went into a full lockdown.
The search term ‘shop online’ also reached a spike during the week of the UK lockdown, with the search term now receiving more searches when the second UK lockdown began to loom with talks of non-essential shops closing ahead of Christmas.
Build Your eCommerce Empire
If your store is already up and running, then it’s worth understanding that it’s never too late to optimise your eCommerce website. However, if you’re struggling to know where to start with setting up for eCommerce, we would be more than happy to support you in skyrocketing your empire. We have plenty of tools and ideas to help you get started on the right foot for your eCommerce business plan!
If you don’t have time to optimise your eCommerce site, our SEO experts are here to support. Alternatively, if you’d like an SEO audit of your current site, we’d be happy to take a look. We can support end-to-end eCommerce SEO or ad-hoc tasks like product-focused meta descriptions. Please get in touch today!