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E-commerce sites have an advantage over traditional brick-and-mortar stores which are expensive to set up and maintain. Physical stores are also limited in terms of how many people they can reach. At the same time, they have the advantage of allowing you to strike up candid conversations with visitors and guide them towards a purchase. Like all business models, there are pros and cons to traditional and online stores.
If you have a retail store and want to expand without the large overhead costs, or you want to get your feet wet in retail without shelling out tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of dollars for a location then an e-commerce business may be what you need. It gives you greater reach and comes with lower overhead costs.
An e-commerce website can go by many names like an online shop, online store, e-commerce storefront, etc. The name isn’t as important as what it’s designed to do. It’s an outlet or storefront that manufacturers, retailers, and even distributors use to sell their products and services online in a much larger geographic area than is able with a physical location. An e-commerce website can be direct to consumer (DTC), or business to business (B2B). There are many types of e-commerce businesses from small businesses to large online retailers, but they all provide convenient online shopping to users via direct sales, drop shipping or other e-commerce models.
When you begin to learn more about eCommerce websites, you’ll find out that there are many e-commerce solutions to make building your own website easy. They range from less to a hundred dollars to thousands of dollars depending on what you need. E-commerce platforms can be as simple as a WordPress site with a secure shopping cart addon, or a full-featured BigCommerce or Shopify site with integrated email marketing, social media marketing, and other features. Here are a few things to consider when trying to determine the best one for your situation.
An e-commerce website that looks like every other one is far from ideal. One of the first things to look at is the ability to customize the store design. Can CSS and HTML be added or tweaked? Can the templates be changed or fully adjusted? How flexible is the editor and how many elements does it have? BigCommerce is an e-commerce builder that gives you a lot of control over the website design.
Without accurate inventory management, it’s nearly impossible to maximize profits and keep an e-commerce store well-stocked. Any e-commerce builder you choose should have multiple inventory controls and give you notifications when stock is low. Square Online is an e-commerce builder that does this and so much more.
The simple act of providing multiple payment options to customers can increase conversions – especially if the website is new. An e-commerce builder should have direct integrations with popular services like Stripe and PayPal and alternative payment options like Google Pay and Apple Pay. Wix does a great job of providing multiple payment gateways.
There are many benefits to be gained through online sales, but one of the biggest is being able to reach your target audience with less effort. You don’t need to open up large retail outlets which have their own fixed costs and staff. 10 people managing an online store can produce the same revenue as multiple retail outlets with 10 staff members each. In addition to a larger reach, you can also. have thousands of items on your product pages. That simply isn’t possible with traditional retail.
Starting an e-commerce website can be lucrative but it also requires a different set of skills and a unique approach to marketing. Take the time to understand the advertising channels you can use, e-commerce website design, your target audience, etc. It’s also a good idea to research your competition to see what they’re emphasizing in their marketing, their site design, and the kind of market they’re targeting.
When you’ve completed your research, it’s time to get your website set up. You will need a custom domain that should be the same as your brand name. If you’re starting from scratch then try to strike a balance between a descriptive and branded domain name.
There are many e-commerce website builders to choose from and a few have already been mentioned. Before you choose one, make a list of the must-have features you’re looking for. Do you want control of CSS and HTML, do you need a drag-and-drop editor, is a large selection of templates important, or are you interested in specific payment processors? When your list is complete, only focus on the options that meet the criteria you set.
The next step is creating the website. If you chose the website builder properly, you’ll be able to do this yourself by taking advantage of the professional-looking templates and intuitive interface. If it doesn’t have those things then you may need to continue searching for the right e-commerce website builder.
The customization aspect is what you’ll spend the most time on. It’s not because it’s difficult but because it’s an ongoing process. You can speed this up a bit by choosing a template that has a layout and overall feels you’re going for.
When customizing, there are a few key things you should keep in mind. The color palette should match your brand but also use shades that are inviting to your visitors. Incorporate trust factors such as an HTTPS website, clear contact information, and trust seals. Use a clean and minimal design that highlights your products and take the time to create compelling product imagery.
After you’ve designed your e-commerce website and are happy with the end result, move on to your online payment processors. Before choosing the e-commerce website builder, you should have confirmed that it works with the payment processors you already have a business relationship. Getting set up is a matter of copying codes from one place to another. If not, consider where you want to sell your products. Will you offer your items to customers all over the world or just in a specific country? This will have a big impact on the payment processor you choose.
Setting up fulfillment may be more difficult. Some e-commerce website builders have direct integrations with popular shipping services like DHL or UPS. Others have a plugin library that contains apps designed to help you get real-time shipping quotes and reduce your costs. This is an important area so spend time getting it right because it can eat into your profit when not set up properly.
Even if you have a solid customer base offline, it’ll be an uphill battle to establish a reputation online. That’s due in part because you’re competing on a global scale instead of within a limited geographic region. Your customers have near-limitless choices.
In order to grow your store beyond a few sales, it’s necessary to promote it far and wide using a variety of strategies. In the short term, you’d focus more on social marketing strategies like paid ads on Facebook and Instagram. You could also focus on things like search engine marketing (paid ads on search engines). The exact mix you choose will depend on your budget, your skillset, and your niche.
Longer-term strategies include search engine optimization, building an email marketing list, and forging partnerships. Both long and short-term strategies have a place so focus your attention on both of them.
Another area you want to prioritize is collecting feedback. The feedback you collect will be in the form of reviews or testimonials. You can display them prominently on your website to make it easier for people to purchase your products. The other type of feedback is related to your products. Did the product meet expectations, where can you improve, would they recommend it to their friends or family, etc.? This customer experience feedback is important because it helps you improve over time based on the opinions of real customers – not your gut feelings.
An online store is a powerful way to grow your brand or launch it from scratch. There are many tools that will help you succeed such as e-commerce website builders, advertising platforms, and social media platforms. They’re only as effective as you make them. The first step is understanding how to use them properly so you can reach your goals. If you’re looking for the right e-commerce website builder then be sure to check out our helpful reviews so you can quickly shortlist the best candidates based on your situation.