The Ultimate Guide To Creating An Ecommerce Website
Whether you’re building a business from the ground up or you’ve had one for decades, it’s no question that making your products available for purchase online has shifted from a “nice-to-have” to an absolute must.
By 2021, global B2C ecommerce sales are projected to reach over $4.5 trillion, according to Shopify. They would know: they’re one of the world’s leading ecommerce platforms.
Nevertheless, how do you build an ecommerce site for your business? The task can appear so foreign, daunting, and expensive that many businesses continue to put it off.
Here’s the secret: it’s a lot easier than you think. Making an ecommerce site for your business comes down to choosing the right platform, adding in the essential, high-level product information, and keeping it simple.
If you do it right, you could get an ecommerce site up and running in just a few months. Here are the 7 steps to make it happen.
1. Pick Your Ecommerce Platform
Guess what? The most complicated part of ecommerce—setting up the back-end of online shopping for your products—is already done.
There are tons of platforms where you can build an ecommerce site, then connect it to your existing website. All you have to do is choose one. Here are a few to consider:
- Shopify is the most popular ecommerce site, great for a wide variety of products and services.
- Wix is good for those who are new to ecommerce and just getting started.
- Square Space is great for creative companies—they have a plethora of artfully designed templates that will make your products look beautiful.
- Weebly is tailored for small businesses owners, with products that help you scale as your business grows.
Before choosing a platform, do your research. Some platforms cost more than others, but come with a lot of bells and whistles you probably won’t need when you’re starting out. Consult a marketing expert for an outside opinion or ask other business owners what they use.
2. Design Your Ecommerce Site
Every ecommerce platform offers hundreds templates for you to choose from, then customize to match your existing brand. When choosing an ecommerce template, there’s two things to consider:
- Ease-of-use: Which template puts your products front and center, making it as easy as possible for visitors to browse and find what they’re looking for?
- Style & design: Which template most resembles your existing website? You don’t need an exact match, but visitors toggling between your existing site and ecommerce site should be able to tell that it’s all one brand—so make sure the two sites look similar.
3. Connect It to Your Existing Website
Before you can launch your ecommerce site and start offering products to your customers, you have to connect it to your business’ website.
This will allow users to visit your site, learn about your products and services, then seamlessly move the ecommerce section of your site and start making purchases.
Every ecommerce platform has simple ways to connect the site you build with your existing domain.
If you don’t yet have a website, now’s the time to register a domain and build that site. Be sure to educate yourself on how to optimize your website before you build it.
4. Set Up Shipping & Payment Options
Most ecommerce platforms can be customized to match your existing shipping and payment methods. The two key decisions here are determining your rules for shipping and rules for payment.
- Setting Up Shipping: where will your products ship to and what are the rates? Each platform will let you customize your shipping rules and even create deals to incentivize larger purchases.
- Setting Up Payment Methods: Which payment methods will you use? Ecommerce platforms offer a variety of options with external payment processors, like Paypal. Many also come with built-in payment processing systems.
5. Add Your Products
If you’re a company with thousands of products, how will you add them all to your new ecommerce site? The key is to start simple. Add your best-selling products first—maybe it’s 50, 20, even just 10. Next, make a plan to add the rest of your products on a monthly basis. Before you know it, you’ll have loads of products available for online purchase.
- Product Name: Stick to the most basic, commonly used names for your products. The way people find your products (and your site) is by typing the products or tools they need into Google and seeing what comes up. The more your product names match what people are searching for, the more likely your products will come up in Google search results. In other words, now is not the time to get creative with naming.
- Product Description: Each product on your ecommerce site needs a unique description, explaining what your product does, what problem it solves, and what special features it comes with. For highly technical products, this is where you list those features—as many of them as are relevant.
Again, think about that potential customer Googling the technical terms they know or the problems they’re trying to solve. It’s your job to write a description containing all that information, so when that Google search is performed your product pops up.
- Product Photo: Professional photos of your products are a must. Not only will they show what your products look like, they’ll help you rank higher in Google search results.
Try this two-second experiment: Google any product—anything from ‘car socket’ to ‘fun socks.’ What appears at the top of your search results: Products with images. If you don’t include photos with your products, they’ll never appear in these top search results.
6. Publish Your Ecommerce Site
When everything’s ready to go, it’s time to publish your ecommerce site.
In most cases, this means signing up for a paid program with the ecommerce platform. Some free versions do exist, but they’re generally very limited in their offerings. While allocating a portion of your budget to pay your monthly ecommerce fees is a standard at this point, you’ll absolutely want to make sure you’ve explored all your options and gotten some second opinions, as mentioned in Step #1.
7. Make Sure You Have Technical Support at the Ready
You launch. Your products are up. And then it happens: a technical glitch you didn’t see coming. It’s every ecommerce business’ nightmare but it’s easily remedied by planning ahead.
If technology is not your line of expertise, find a technology partner. Not only can you lean on them for crises like these, but they can help you get started and guide you through every step of the process. It’s a critical consideration, especially if you need to ensure a smooth transition from your current business model to one that incorporates ecommerce.
Get Your Ecommerce Site Up and Running
By now you know that building an ecommerce site is a lot easier than it sounds. If you’re ready to take the next step, I’d be happy to help with advice, support, or in any other way I can. Shoot me an email at [email protected] or give me a call 781-369-5154. Let’s get your ecommerce business going!
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