Want to build the best e-commerce website? Where do you start? Luckily, we have the ultimate guide to online shopping websites.
e-Commerce is simply the sale and purchase of services and goods via a website. It also involves electronically transferring data and funds between two or more parties. Simply put, it is online shopping as we commonly know it.
Types of e-commerce platforms
There are a few budget platforms like Wix which we do not recommend. If your budget is tight then talk to your website developer and ask for a payment plan because building an e-commerce website is usually more expensive than an information based website.
Many CMS platforms like WordPress, Joomla and Squarespace have a shopping cart plugin that can be enabled to make the website e-commerce friendly. Having said that, we have found the learning curve and daily administration of these plugin based CMS systems are sometimes difficult for shop owners with little or no experience.
Instead, we prefer to install a commercial grade e-commerce platform like Shopify. Shopify has been purpose built for online retail and comes with a clever user interface that is conversion optimized, easy to navigate and user friendly.
From an administration point of view managing orders and customer enquiries is flawless and intuitive. Shopify also has the ability to publish your products directly to other sales channels like Facebook and Google Shopping Network.
A recent client of ours has over 20,000 products in 20 plus categories and has this integrated with a POS system in his bricks’ and mortar store.
Points to consider when setting up an e-commerce website
You should pre-discuss topics like shipping (is it free or paid).
- If paid, it is calculated by price, weight, size or location?
- Do you ship locally, interstate or overseas?
- Do you take payments in other currencies?
- What about GST …
Every product must be accurately named with a short and long description. You must supply clear product images, an SKU, a list of variants like colour, size, etc and your pricing. If you have a huge list of products you can do a bulk import using a Microsoft Excel CSV file. Ask your developer for help on this.
When taking payments also consider the payment type, whether there are fees and if you are absorbing them or your client pays. When communicating with clients it’s a good practise to create a series of email templates that clients receive during the buying and delivery process.
Payment gateways in Shopify are excellent. You can take credit card payments using the Shopify Payment facility which uses Shopify’s merchant centre to securely process your clients credit card. This means you don’t have to invest in an SSL encryption service. You can also take Direct Web Payments and setup Paypal and/or BPay. The choices continue …
E-Commerce Customer Data
A good e-commerce website will also allow you to manage the customers data, add a gift certificate facility or coupon code and reward your best buyers with discounts. Quality of data will determine how well you scale and grow.
Once you have a strong customer database you can send regular e-newsletters to encourage more purchases when you have online sales. We like MailChimp or GetResponse as newsletter platforms.
We can’t stress enough how important mobile shopping is. We don’t mean buying mobiles, we mean using a mobile device to shop online. It is crucial that your e-commerce store opens fast and displays your products with a user friendly feel.
Ideally, your customer should be able to buy a product with 5 clicks or less.
Promoting your e-commerce store
Social Media is a great tool to share sale products, product of the week and competitions. We find Pinterest is a great low cost lead generation tool for e-commerce platforms.
We suggest using scarcity in your design. For example, the product is only available for this price for xx minutes. Use a countdown clock and set cookies so that the product doesn’t show again for at least 7 days.
Use Facebook Pixel to track your audience and remarket to them through social media. On average buyers need to see the product up to 19 times before they press purchase.
Tracking Key Metrics
All website administrators (store owners) should track key data like:
- Product Sales
- Category Performance
- E-commerce Orders
- Average Order Value
- Bounce Rate
- Average Time on Page
- Track your Sales Conversions.
It is the conversions – how many people visited your website versus how many people actually bought from you – that defines your growth.
If you have a high conversion rate, you’re selling more and in turn making more profit.
How much does an e-commerce website cost?
It’s not uncommon to spend $5,000 upwards for an e-commerce store. We have built stores worth ten times that figure, simply because the client needed POS integration and required a strong SEO strategy due to their competitive niche.
If you are prepared to add the products manually into the store you can have an e-commerce store on a budget.
For an accurate quote we suggest you speak with our e-commerce specialists at Corporate Design Solutions.