The eCommerce industry, that is selling goods and services over the Internet, is considered one of the fastest developing business domains. According to the information at Statista – an online statistics, market research and business intelligence portal – the eCommerce market has yielded $1,713,971 in profits in 2018. In four years’ time, this figure is expected to increase by almost 10 percent and amount to $2,472,788. Amazon, one of the leading eCommerce companies in the world, alone reported the net income of $1.9 billion in the fourth quarter of last year, with many other, smaller market players showing remarkable progress as well.
Seeing such extraordinary revenues, more entrepreneurs are moving their operations to the Internet in the hope of taking their businesses to new heights. However, building a successful eCommerce enterprise is not so simple as it may seem at first sight. Just creating a website with photos and descriptions of products and a big “Buy” button is not enough. There are many more aspects to eCommerce that determine if a web store will attract customers and become lucrative or miserably fail. If you’re one of those aspiring business people who want to try their luck at eCommerce, in this post you will learn about the best way to build your eCommerce site and the most important considerations for an electronic commerce business owner to keep in mind.
First, you should know that there are three main types of eCommerce sites.
This is rather a place online where a company can promote its brick-and-mortar business, for instance, a car manufacturer such as Ford. The key mission of a static content site is to give the visitors exhaustive information about the products or services and direct them to land-based locations where they can purchase them. This is the simplest type among eCommerce sites. It is cheaper to create and maintain since it contains no technologies required for complex financial operations.
This type of site gives online representation to ordinary ground-based retail stores. Customers can search for items, place orders, and transfer money to the store over the Internet. Additionally, using the site’s online form or live chat, customers can contact the company’s support department for any requests or complaints. Transactional sites also normally include essential business modules such as the accounting module or customer relationship management module. Here is an example of a transactional site.
If building your own transactional eCommerce site is too time-consuming or expensive for you at the moment, an auction site will help to avoid the trouble. Basically, is an eCommerce website where third-party companies can sell their products or services to consumers. And all of the transactions are processed through the website owner. The main function of online marketplace is to allow customers to find sellers for the products or services. Amazon website is an example of an online marketplace.
Not all eCommerce sites are made equal. User experience, easy navigation, and speed are crucial characteristics of online stores that contribute to conversions and provide an edge over competition. Here are ten most important features your potential customers may expect from your site.
According to Statista, over 1.6 billion people in the world bought goods and services via their mobile devices in 2017. As this trend is likely to continue, an eCommerce site must be well-adapted to this category of customers and have the following features:
– Responsive design that looks good regardless of the device it’s being accessed from
– Checkout cart that is easy to use on mobile devices
– Simple and clear links
– Optimal size icons and buttons so that smartphone or tablet users can easily navigate the site by tapping on those elements with their fingers and thumbs
– Images optimized for mobile devices
All eCommerce sites ask their users to create an account. That has benefits both for the business and for the customers:
– The site administrator can obtain valuable personal information about a user including age, gender, and shopping preferences.
– Customers can bookmark things they’ve liked in order to buy them later, as well as receive updates on discounts and new items.
However, many users also like quick shopping without having to complete a yard-long registration form with tens of questions. Time is everything in eCommerce. To retain customers, you need a checkout without registration.
The main checkout of an eCommerce site must be easy-to-use. If customers struggle with your checkout, you can be sure: they will never return to your site. A badly designed checkout is the key reason why customers turn away from eCommerce sites. The following features make a good checkout:
– It has a clearly visible “Checkout” button with a good design
– It is not cluttered with too much graphics or text
– It operates really fast
– Users can clearly see the images of the products they’ve put in the cart
– Users can easily change what is currently stored in the cart
– Users can clearly see the shipping details
No matter how big your site is, the search functionality is of utmost importance in order to make user experience smooth.
– Make sure the information about your products is clearly structured so that you customers could easily find them.
– Extend your basic search functionality adding several different criteria such as category, manufacturer, price range, and others.
– Have the autocomplete feature in place to speed up the search process.
As Kevin Pursglovem, a spokesman for eBay says, the main challenge for companies in the online auction space is “the idea of creating trust and confidence among users.” The SSL protocol is a must for eCommerce sites. It helps encrypt all sensitive data such as details of financial transactions, as well as customers’ personal information. Many Internet users now are more tech-savvy and if they see “http://” instead of “https://” at the beginning of the site’s URL, many of them prefer to shop elsewhere. Also, no company that conducts credit card transactions can operate without using the SSL protocol.
An easy-to-remember corporate logo must be visibly displayed not only on the homepage of your site, but also on every other page. It lends confidence and trust to your business.
The Internet is a global network. Many visitors come to your site from abroad. How it must be frustrating for a customer to cram the cart with the goods they’ve selected only to find that their credit card is not accepted. To avoid this unpleasant situation, place icons that designate available payment systems in the footer of your landing page so that users can immediately see if they can make purchases on your site.
It’s hard to overestimate the importance of social media for eCommerce companies. Twitter or Facebook users share their opinions with others on almost everything, starting from politics and ending with fashion. According to some reports, over 40 percent of marketers claimed that Facebook was critical to their business. To leverage the power of social media, put icons that designate them on the home page and every other page of your site.
A product description may be one of the crucial factors that help a customer decide whether to buy an item on your site. Therefore, you should give as many details about all available goods on your site as possible. Try to think of characteristics that can “hook” your customers. Perhaps, some product features will save their money, while others will make their life more comfortable and enjoyable. Be creative here. Take the same Amazon as an example.
Finally, photos of your products are as important as their descriptions. They must be of good quality, clearly visible, and have their larger versions available. You can also show a product in the context by creating a gallery of images so that users can see how exactly it is used.
When it comes to actually building an eCommerce website, implementing the features listed above and others, you have several options.
The market is abundant in various site builders. They greatly facilitate creating websites by just drag-dropping the necessary elements.
The principal benefits of site builders are these:
– They are either free or quite inexpensive. You need to buy a domain name and hosting, though. That may usually cost you around 50 dollars a year. Besides, you may have to hire a freelancer for creating the textual content and images for your site.
– You don’t have to be a great programmer or know anything about coding for that matter. Using a builder simply requires some time to master its main functionality.
A site builder has its drawbacks as well:
– You’ll have to invest a great deal of your time.
– You’ll have to tackle all the aspects of your eCommerce site on your own. It means you’ll have to build, test, create content, work with images, and perform everyday maintenance of the site. That, again, takes the valuable time you can otherwise spend on your core business tasks.
– If you need extra features for your site such as advanced search, you are restricted by the extent of your web development skills and knowledge and by the characteristics of the site builder.
On the whole, using a site builder is the right choice for static content sites that are simply used as storefronts.
If you have some essential coding skills and experience with the basic web development technologies such as HTML and CSS, you can use a CMS.
WordPress is probably the most popular tool out there. It’s free to install. However, you have to pay for hosting, domain name, as well as the additional features, plugins, modules are also not for free.
The benefits of using a CMS include the following:
– Relatively low budget required to create and maintain the site (in case when you build your eCommerce site by yourself).
– A great level of customization with many freely available plugins and themes.
The cons are these:
– You need to be well versed in the basic web development technologies if you need to customize your site with advanced features.
– The range of themes is limited. So, there is a chance you will select a theme similar to that one of your rivals has chosen. That is bad from the business point of view since customers must easily recognize your site from among others. If all sites look the same, customers may lose your site and never return to it.
– Time you need to spend, just like in the case of a site builder.
The third option is to entrust creating your eCommerce site to professional web developers. If you have ambitious goals and are planning to grow, this is undoubtedly the best choice. Here is why.
– Instead of spending your valuable time on learning web technologies such as CSS and writing and editing your content, you can invest it into what is really important for your business: developing a marketing strategy, increasing your inventory, and engaging in other essential activities.
– Professional web development agencies not only build sites. They also have online marketers on their staff. Those experts know everything about the basic rules of digital marketing and can create and find materials that will be appealing to your present and potential customers.
– SEO. What’s the point of building a website with images and descriptions of your goods if it’s not shown in search results? That’s a sure way to failure. Professional web studios know how to optimize the site’s content so that it is visible to Google or other search engines.
– Web development is a constantly changing field. By creating your eCommerce site with a builder, you “conserve” it. Professional web developers, on the other hand, closely follow all the latest updates in technologies and implement them on your site.
– Unlike WordPress with a limited (albeit sizeable) number of themes and plugins, web designers and developers can make your site one-of-a-kind. You’ll get your own unique style and features that none of your competitors can boast. That will attract more new customers to your site and keep existing ones.
– Professionals will take care of every aspect of your site, including its hosting, maintenance, and support.
While hiring a web development team is the most expensive option and may cost from $5,000 upwards, remember that you’re buying experience and knowledge that will ultimately help your site become successful and compensate for any initial investment.
Building an eCommerce site is a complicated process, although it may seem straightforward to the uninitiated. There are so many aspects to consider: attractive and responsive design, cutting edge features, payment gateways, hosting, domain name, and engaging content optimized for search engines. Rather than spending your precious time on addressing all those issues on your own, we recommend hiring professional web developers who have all the skills and knowledge to give you exactly what you need.