The biggest dilemma faced by retailers and brand owners looking to start their e-commerce presence is – Where do I start? Should I start with design? Should I start with writing content? Should I start with a free theme? Should I get an e-commerce software? This guide will come handy if you are ready to start your e-commerce website, but not sure about where to begin…
What is your brand all about. What’s the story you are going to tell your customers and what’s the story your customers want to hear about. Is your brand story about a unique service “freshly baked cakes delivered on same day” or is your brand about passing highest value for their bucks “mobile accessories at lowest prices”. Extend your brand story online, refine your value proposition and stick to it.
“Competition” is a dreadful word, isn’t it? Whether you like it or not, your competition is going to stay with you as long as you are in business. Study your market, identify competitors and find out how you are placed in your marketing environment. Identify your market segment, carve your niche and identify your target audience, the people who will ultimately buy your brand story (and ultimately your products). You might have done this for your offline customers but when you go online, it’s a different story. So, it makes sense do to it again.
Your target customers are looking for some information or products when they visit your website. The goal of developing Information architecture is to identify and offer all the information touch points to your customers. The key here is to structure information you are offering in such a way that your customers can find what they are looking for and they find it in the most efficient way.
When your customer visits your website, they are looking for ‘content’. Content could be in any form such as special offers, helpful articles, blogs, products, product description and contact information. Hence, it is of paramount importance that your website has all the content your customer might be looking for in a way which is easy to consume. Creating a skeleton structure of your home-page allows you to structure and organize content so that your customers find it easy to consume and you drive them to ultimately shop for your products.
Now, it’s the designer’s turn to take your bare-bone structure to the next level by layering it with eye pleasing visuals and graphics. An e-commerce website is 80% about structure and 20% about design. Hence, make sure your website does not get stuffed with overdose of graphics.
With the design in place, you can set-up your online store using popular shopping cart systems which can be either proprietary or hosted shopping carts. Ensure that your shopping cart software is easy to use, so that making frequent changes is not a big challenge. We created 39shops keeping in mind the most practical challenges faced by store owners. It is also desirable to have your website mobile compatible so that your customers can shop while they are on mobile phones and tablets. At this point, you can set-up your payment gateway and shipping provider so that your foundation is laid out.
Once your shopping cart is setup, it’s time to upload your product catalogue and enter content into your website in accordance with the information architecture. Your website should have the right information at the right place such as – detailed product description, multiple product photos, shipping and delivery time, any taxes and shipping cost as well as ability to contact customer support at any point. Displaying open and transparent information in your e-commerce website is the key to generate customer trust and completed purchases.
One of the foundational aspects of any e-commerce presence is tracking visitors, studying their shopping patterns and constantly improving website based on these learnings. Google analytics is an industry standard to help you achieve this. All you need to do is – sign up for a free Google analytics account (if you do not have one) and insert the Google tracking code in your website. That’s it, you are well on your way to open your store for business.
Start promoting your store and have fun!
Hrishikesh Jobanputra is an author and marketing advisor to forward thinking entrepreneurs. He has 16+ years of experience in marketing, strategy and consulting. Hrishikesh helps businesses of all sizes gain an unfair competitive advantage using the power of inbound marketing.
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