10 tips on what you need to know when setting up an e-commerce store

Businesses and customers gradually went digital as lockdowns became the new reality, offering and obtaining more products and services online, increasing online trade.  The upward trend in e-commerce we all witnessed in 2020 is anticipated to continue post lockdown. Merchant Machine have come up with a guide for smaller players in the e-commerce industry and for those who need tips on how to create a successful online store.

1. Decide what to sell

This is the most important and first step in setting up an e-commerce store. You can skip this stage if you already have a physical business and know what items or services you’ll be selling. The most important thing to remember from this tip is to sell or provide a product that you understand and are interested in. Offering a service or a product that you are already familiar with will help in the long run.

You must still conduct research on what you will be providing. Does this product or service have a market? Who are your biggest rivals? Is there a gap that has to be fulfilled in the market? Who do you want to reach out to? A key takeaway from this tip is that you must focus on a niche in order to make your e-commerce shop profitable. Check to see if your niche is competitive. If there is no competition, this most likely means there isn’t a market, to begin with. But you might not want a market that’s already saturated. Finally, pick one that is distinct and one-of-a-kind. The more narrow your speciality, the less competition you’ll face.

2.  Choose and register a business name and domain

Your domain is crucial since it is the address that customers will use to find you, and it is a step that you must understand when starting. Use a name/domain that is descriptive as well as memorable. Select a name that will reflect your growth in the future. Customers should be able to access your site through the URL you specify. As a result, keep it brief and choose a relevant domain name.

3. Implement an effective marketing strategy

If you know who your target is, you can tailor your marketing strategy to suit them. The way you present your brand online influences people’s propensity to visit your online store. Social media is the best way to reach a large number of people fast and for free, but it takes time to build a following. Setting up social media profiles before starting a business is a good method to be noticed. You may use content production, SEO, social media, and influencer marketing to let customers know you’re open for business.

4. Keep your competitors close

You may get ideas for your own online store by looking at the websites of your competitor. Determine what they excel at, what they need to improve on, and what you have in common and what you don’t. Pay close attention to the distinctive particular demand, services, and benefits mentioned on their website. Do they have a good return policy? Is delivery free or do you have to pay for it? By analysing what makes competitors more successful, sellers may determine what they need to change about their business in order to keep repeat customers and potential buyers.

5. Compare different e-commerce platforms

The most convenient and practical method to create an e-commerce website is to use e-commerce platforms. Many e-commerce players, particularly those who are newer and smaller, would benefit from using commercial platforms in order to spend their time and resources on other parts of the business. There are a variety of e-commerce platforms available for example Shopify, BigCommerce, Wix and WooCommerce, and you should research which one is suitable for your own online store before launching your business.  

setting up an e-commerce store

6. Take care of your SEO

When it comes to setting up an e-commerce store, one of the most important things to consider is how effective it is to maximise your SEO potential. SEO influences how well your websites rank in search engines such as Google, with the goal of getting as close to the top as possible to generate important traffic from potential customers. Most importantly, you should find and use appropriate keywords for your business across your content. Keeping data updated, precise, and helpful on a constant schedule is also a major advantage.

7. Engaging web design

Your online business will fail if your store’s web design is inadequate. It doesn’t matter if you have the best quality in your industry and, on top of that, the best customer service. Consumers must be captivated by features such as full-width pictures and the avoidance of distractions.

E-commerce expert Jacquelyn Corbett, Founder, JC+CO growth accelerants, comments on the importance of having an engaging web design:

‘’When you’re starting to set up your ecomm store, it’s critically important that you’re focused on your unique selling proposition front and centre on the home page – how your product is different from the competitive set, why the customer should care – and hitting the barriers to purchase right at the add to cart zone – things like free shipping threshold reminders, satisfaction guarantees, and return windows. These are probably the most helpful tools to reduce quick dropoff on the front end and at the most critical point in the purchase funnel when you’re getting started.”

Ensure your website’s user interface creates a favourable first impression that leads to conversions. Just to name a few different ways this can do: easy to read fonts, clear graphics, intuitive navigation system, easily accessible information and incorporate call-to-action which includes ‘buy now’ buttons.

8. Create a strong branding strategy

One thing to keep in mind when building an e-commerce business is to use strong branding to make your e-commerce store memorable. Your company’s name, logo, colour palette, and tone of voice are all examples of branding. Your company’s brand should be closely related to the sort of business you run and who your target market is. Your brand approach should be mirrored when writing product descriptions, social media postings, and emails. Customers are more inclined to purchase if your brand identity is strong from the outset.

9. Ensure your store is mobile-responsive

With the rising popularity of smartphones for online purchases, businesses must guarantee that their websites are mobile-friendly so that customers can make purchases regardless of their device. To guarantee that your site is compatible, digital retailers should verify operating system requirements. Choosing designs that are simpler for clients to browse and see content on their mobile devices is one actionable advice, as is testing mobile responsiveness.

10. Track and trace

It’s time to test your business after you’ve set it up and started selling items. Testing is how you get a complete picture of what is going on in your store so you can spot potential problems and collect data for brand development. There is a list of different testing that can take place, to list a few:  usability, security, performance and functional testing. Therefore the more testing you perform, the more you’ll be able to customise your store to the needs of your customers. Also, continually tracking your selling metrics will give you long term insight into what works well with your customers, how to engage with them and also what encourages more purchases – a good tool for this is Google Analytics.