Build eCommerce websites (2022)
The digitization of business has changed the business in many ways. Now, the traditional form of business where buying and selling took place physically is not a requirement. Today, the consumer market has changed. Even if one has a traditional business, it has become a requirement to have a presence online. This presence can be in the form of social media or on a website.
Even marketing today has shifted from traditional marketing. The final point for the business in the consumer process is not selling. The marketing has now shifted to cater to the consumers and their needs. The consumer is the most important part of the buying process today. Marketing your business online has also become an important aspect of the selling process today.
Not only has this shift in technology resulted in businesses having an online presence, but there are businesses today which are only present online. This has also resulted in the possibility of starting online small businesses as well. This marketing can be done in the form of creating various kinds of content on sites such as Instagram or Pinterest. It can also be with the help of content writing, creating a blog, and so on.
The technological shift has created increased opportunities for both youngsters and people who have been in the business industry for a long time. This has made it possible to sell your products to people across the countries. Whereas in the traditional business there were geographical hindrances and you could only cater to people living around you. This has changed with digitization.
Before building your own business online, it is important to have the idea for your products ready. You also have to consider how you will be sourcing the creation of these products. Whether a small or a large business, it is important to ensure that you have got these aspects out of the way. However, once these things are done, building a website does not take much time or effort.
In this article, we will discuss how to build an eCommerce website. The process can be slightly confusing and this can help you get a better insight into it. We will also try to understand why it is important to sell products online and the things you should be careful about before starting an eCommerce website. We will also discuss how to market this website in order to make it even more successful.
Why are you required to sell products online?
It is important to understand why you should sell products online before you decide to take the step. There are many reasons why setting an online store could be the right step for you.
- Customers spend money online: It has been observed that consumers scroll through the internet stores even when they do not require to buy something. People tend to spend more money online as compared to spending physical money. While there are consumers who still prefer the experience of going to a shop and buying, users tend to spend more money online.
- Cost of setting up: One of the major benefits of selling products online is that there is less cost to set it up as compared to building a storefront. Having a physical space also has higher operating costs. You might have to pay regular rent and also look into arranging furniture inside the store as well. When setting up a website, it has been observed that you are required to pay for web hosting and marketing. There might be some cost for the staff as well, however, they are lesser as compared to setting up a store.
- Convenience: Another major benefit of online shopping is that it is very convenient. You can click through and go through all the products available in the store also very easily. The products reach your doorstep and without moving afoot, it is possible to make purchases. Even for people with certain disabilities, this removes certain kinds of hindrances. It requires a lot less energy.
- You get what you are looking for: When you make a google search about a product that you require, it is possible to get options for what you are looking for. With the online medium comes SEO or search engine optimization, based on these, the sites will appear as per certain ranks. As a seller, you are required to ensure that the SEO practices of your site are such that you can rank higher on a search results page, enabling people to click on you.
- Various devices: Today, many people own more than one device. The main being a mobile which they have with them at all times. With the increase in usage of mobile phones, the users can be able to shop anytime and anywhere. Users can sit in a waiting lounge and make a purchase. This has increased access and convenience further.
- Measurable: With the online medium, there is analytics available for your eCommerce sites or other marketing platforms such as blogging as well. This helps you to measure what is going wrong and what might be working correctly. You can constantly work on your strategies to ensure that you improve with time. This is not possible in traditional forms of business, you cannot analyze many aspects.
- Less time consuming: A storefront or having your own physical business can take much more of your time, before and after setting it up. However, with an eCommerce site, you can set it up quite easily with the help of professionals. You also are not required to monitor the site all the time. This can help you utilize the time you might have to improve your products and work on other aspects.
- Opening-closing time: Your site will not have to open or close at certain times. It will be working all the time, however, with the traditional business, you have to go and physically open the store.
These are the various reasons why you need to sell products online. There are various benefits for both the consumers as well as the sellers
Advantages and disadvantages of eCommerce websites
Before starting an eCommerce website, it is important to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of starting one. This will enable you to get a better idea about the platforms that are available today.
The advantages of eCommerce websites are:
- Customer reach: Naturally, as we have already mentioned, access widens when it comes to eCommerce websites. Everyone has a phone in their hands. Geographical constraints are not faced when it comes to eCommerce websites. Anyone who would want to buy your products can buy them. It will give a wider audience to your products. If you have a traditional business, having an online business only widens your customer reach.
- Lower costs: having a traditional business will require you to invest in a physical space. However, an eCommerce business does not require you to invest in a space like that. You will have to pay for hosting but those costs are not that high. Even the operating costs are lower as compared to having a physical space. You will not have to pay bills for electricity or invest in furniture as well.
- No time and place constraints: This is an advantage for both consumers and sellers. When you sell your products on an eCommerce website you do not need to have a closing or opening time. It is available to everyone 24x7. Even as a seller you are not required to stay in a particular location to be able to sell your products. The Internet is everywhere, so now you can be too.
- Measurement and reporting opportunities: Having an eCommerce business, allows you to access several types of analytics that can help you measure your results. This can help you identify the successful products and those which require some work. You can use the right tools for reporting which can help you access this information easily.
- Scalability: Another major benefit that is provided by eCommerce platforms is the scalability factor. When you notice some products are selling more than others, you can increase the production of them and thus increase your scalability. You can also use data to diversify your successful products and widen the horizon of your site. Amazon is an example of an eCommerce website that has shown how large a platform can grow. Monitoring your customers closely helps you do so as well.
- Gaining new customers: As we mentioned briefly earlier SEO makes a difference in the digital platforms. We will talk about SEO in-depth in the later sections of the article. However, this SEO can also help in gaining new customers on a regular basis. This might not be as quickly possible in the case of a traditional business, however, it is possible in online business. This is why it is also important to focus on marketing as well. That can help in pulling new customers at no added cost as well.
- Enabling deals: There are bargains possible in traditional businesses as well however, it is easier to give deals and discounts on online platforms. The consumers can also avail the discounts easily.
These are the variety of advantages that are provided by eCommerce platforms.
The disadvantages of eCommerce platforms
However, there are disadvantages of eCommerce platforms as well.
- Security: When it comes to online platforms, one of the major issues is that people are concerned about security. Some cybercriminals can easily hack certain systems as well. Consumers also might not be comfortable sharing their card details on the internet. However, it is possible to ensure that your site is as safe as possible. If a data breach occurs, the owner must take the required steps.
- Personal touch: Whenever you enter a physical store the shopkeepers or the salesperson add a personal touch and persuade you to buy certain products. While you can use various techniques to ensure that your consumer buys the product, it will still lack the personal touch. A lot of people like a traditional business because of this reason. They like the reassurance that they might receive from the shopkeeper.
- Not being able to experience the product: If you have gone on a shopping spree on a Sunday, it is possible that you went in without the intention of buying something but after trying it you decide to. Shopping is an experience for many who like to interact and feel the product before buying it. The product images on the sites cannot provide you the same experience. However, employers can assure that they have reviews and clear images. They can also include videos on their social media platforms.
- Crashing sites and other bugs: Your eCommerce site will be dependent on the internet. Users might face bugs and site crashes which will frustrate them, resulting in them going to your competitor. While these problems occur it is important to understand that they cannot be in your hand. If your site is on the right platform you can reduce the chances significantly.
- Cultural differences: While having no geographical barriers can be a benefit in accessing new customers that would not otherwise be possible, it is important to understand that people from different regions might access your products. This can pose certain cultural barriers such as understanding language. You can avoid this with thorough research.
- Competition: Anyone can set up an eCommerce business. While this is a benefit that is provided by the platform, it also means that there is more and more competition. You have to be on the tip of your toes at all points to be able to complete with all the platforms. It can prove to be stressful as well. Even when there is not much competition in your field at first you might notice an increase after a few months.
These are the disadvantages that are posed by e-commerce websites. However, these can be tackled and reduced, if not avoided entirely. There are more advantages as compared to disadvantages. Hence, if you are pondering whether or not you should, if you find yourself ready, you can overcome the cons as well.
Types of e-commerce platforms
Different types of eCommerce websites are there. It is important to understand these in order to be clearer about the business models. These business models will differ based on the position that you assume. You can either be a consumer in this case or a business owner. These models comprise both consumers and businesses.
- Business to Business: This eCommerce model, as the name suggests, is where companies sell their products to other companies. These products or services are focused to provide use to other companies and make their functioning easier. A software company, for example, provides services such as web development or UI/UX design to other companies to enhance its business.
- Business to consumer: Another popular form of e-commerce model is the consumer-to-consumer platform. Here, the business is from the company to the consumers. You can sell products through eCommerce websites and earn a profit. These are the platforms that most people visit on a daily basis. These B2C companies can have physical as well as online presence such as Forever 21.
- Consumer to consumer: Another form of e-commerce model is consumer to consumer. This form of business takes place between two consumers. There are various platforms today that allow us to do so. One of the popular platforms from C2C business is Etsy. Here consumers can share their work and earn money as well. Some sites allow consumers to open C2C websites as well.
- Consumer to business: Consumer to business is another type of eCommerce platform that helps in increasing the scope. A popular example of a consumer to the business platform is being a freelancer. A freelancer gives companies their services and pays for them online.
What are the types of eCommerce sites?
Single brand websites are those websites where companies sell only their products. Here, you can assert dominance. This can help the consumers that come on your site to focus only on your products. Not everyone can afford it. Larger retailers have their online retail websites. These are bigger stores and can help you get wholesale products of various products.
Marketplaces is a website where there are individual entrepreneurs who can list their products and then sell them. Vendors can sign up on these sites and sell their products easily. Another type of eCommerce website is affiliate websites. Here, you need to have your products. This can help in getting a commission and some extra money.
However, if you have products and you are confident about them, you can also make your website. This can help to be more sustainable in the long run.
How to build an e-commerce website
This is the most important step you can take if you are sincere about starting your business. Give time to set up your website. You are supposed to follow the following steps.
- Building your eCommerce website
When you want to build your own eCommerce website, there are several things you will need before you proceed to do so. These are the steps that you are required to follow.
- Buy a domain name
The first step to take is buying a domain name that will fit your brand. The name that you choose should not only define your brand but also make it easier for the users to remember it. Having a very complicated name can confuse your consumers who might want to buy the product again. A short, simple name will fit in their brains easily. Some websites can provide you the facility of buying a domain name.
- Web developer
The next step is to get a web developer. If you are serious about your career option it is important to get your site made professionally. A web developer will ensure that your site is made perfectly. Make sure the web developer that you hire has enough expertise in the field.
- Paperwork for a legitimate business
If you are planning to do your business professionally you will have to do some paperwork to make sure that the business is legitimate. These aspects might differ based on the country you reside in. Make sure to check these details out.
2. Incorporating elements in your eCommerce site:
A. Ecommerce website: When you are planning to add elements to your website, it is important to know what elements should you add. These will include themes, pages, categories, etc. These elements will have to be looked into by you and make specific to your site. In order to make sure your elements are relevant to your site, you will have to ensure that you are aware of your target as well as potential consumers. It is important to take them into consideration when doing so.
The website architecture has various rules which can ensure that you have a high SEO rate. There is a pyramid structure that you can follow. The hierarchy is such that the home page is at the top. It is considered the most important page on your site. The next is the main category pages. These pages include the about page which will give consumers the opportunity to learn about your business and also other main pages are included. The last is the subcategories and individual pages.
The site you get constructed must be intuitive and easy to navigate through. Metrics are based on bounce rates and the amount of time a user spends on your website. Hence, if the site is difficult to navigate through it will frustrate the user. You need to be sure of the primary and secondary categories that you would like to incorporate into your page. This will help you identify which pages need to be descriptive and which of them need to be intuitive. If you can minimize the number of clicks a user will be required to do when navigating through your site. The more clicks and time taken for the user to reach the product they are looking for, the chances of them not buying from your site will also increase.
A very useful point to keep in mind when building a website is that you need to use the interlinking aspect very strategically. This will help you to drive consumers towards buying the product.
4. Including a search bar: You must include a search bar when building a website. While chances are that the consumer will land on your site from a google search, having a search bar can help them reach other products easily. This will reduce the time they will take and add to the convenience as well.
The shopping cart and customer log-in are also important elements that you can incorporate. Having a customer login can help you consumers come back to your site after using it once. If they like the products and the marketing, they may become loyal consumers of your brand over time.
5. Call-to-action: If you have done enough research on the internet you will be aware of the power that call-to-action can hold. These have a major impact on your sale. A clear call to action can ensure that the customers proceed to buy the product. A hint to urgency or even adding an expiration date can help you get the effective result of your sites.
6. Logo: Everyone requires brand identification. Logos can prove to be extremely good marks to identify your product. This logo should be symbolic of the brand that you are and what you would like to reach out to your consumers. It can be also used as the face of your company. The design of the logo will also include typography and this will speak on behalf of your brand. It will help consumers identify your brand over time.
7. Contact information: another aspect that should be taken into consideration is the contact information page. This page can help consumers rely on your brand when they know that they can contact you In case the product delivery faces some issues. Having all your contact information can also help you clear the doubts of your consumer as well
8. Including reviews: under your products, you must include reviews. These reviews are specifically necessary for the consumers. When they read positive reviews even from people they don't know, it gives them a certain kind of reassurance. Negative reviews on the other hand can help you further develop your customer service and make it better. There might be issues with the production, delivery, or customer service that might have triggered the negative review. Some sites reward the consumers who are regularly involved in giving in-depth reviews.
9. Having a shopping cart: whether traditional or eCommerce shopping, a shopping cart can help the users to get more products and look through the site at their own pace. However, this page is also extremely crucial. It has been observed that many users end up abandoning the shopping cart once they see the total. If the payment gateway page is not intuitive or clear, it can also result in the consumer losing the interest to buy the product altogether. Instead, ensure that the shopping cart page exists and is user-friendly. It should have an effective call to action measures.
10. The wish list functionality: some sites do not have this function. However, a wish list functionality can benefit you in the future. This feature also allows the user to sit through the site and add the products they might like at first glance without needing to buy the product itself. This can be useful when the consumer returns to the site again in order to see their wish list and might even choose to make the purchase.
11. Theme: selecting a theme for your eCommerce website can be a tedious task. When you are making your eCommerce website it is important to ensure that the theme you select must fit well with the software you have chosen. Not all themes do. There are sites that have their themes and provide a wide range of options for the same.
The features that every eCommerce website theme should are mentioned. There is some amount of technical assistance that is required with the theme. There might be bugs coming in, ensure your theme is easy to use and quick. The theme that you select must also be updated and not one that is not updated.
When selecting the theme, apart from the aesthetic appeal of your brand, you need to make sure that the theme is responsive. It has been observed that having a theme that is responsive in nature can be incorporated on a variety of devices. This is important because as we have already mentioned, it is possible that the users might be using different devices. Having a theme that is suitable for mobile is very important.
The theme should resonate or relate to your consumers. Before starting the website you must have done research about the target audiences. This research can also be useful in the selection of a theme. The theme that you select must also be one that fits well with SEO. Having a theme that is open to customization can also be helpful. Your brand might evolve as time passes by, having the option to customize can help you evolve with the image.
After you are finished with these steps, you can opt to launch your website. There might be changes that you will have to make based on the reviews and usage of the consumer. Your developer can make the changes accordingly.
How to market your eCommerce website
Building your eCommerce website is not enough, you will be required to market it. There are several marketing strategies that you can keep in mind to ensure that your eCommerce can do the business that you set out to do initially.
1. Utilising the email list
Even with so many tools for social media coming it has been observed that email marketing is still one of the most effective ways of marketing. You can collect email addresses from the customers and then email them details so they are aware of your brand. You can also create a community with the help of this email list and also give them referral discounts. This can give them incentives to be a part of it. A flow of communication is possible through the email list configuration. People go through a lot of sites today, having an email list can help your consumers remember your brand.
2. Optimising the site for SEO
Search engine optimization as mentioned in bits and pieces earlier can help you grow your business immensely. You should be clear about the brand image when looking out for SEO. Both the on-page and off-page content are required for SEO. Meta descriptions and meta tags can help you further optimize your SEO.
You need to drive more traffic to your site. In order to do so, you can optimize the experience a user has when they're using your site. Some tools are available which can help you identify the keywords that you might need to further optimize your SEO.
You can analyze how successful your SEO strategy is based on the analytics and improve when required.
3. Content writing
Content writing is a growing field when it comes to digital marketing. You can start your blog and hire a content writer. Launching blogs as a company can help you get more organic traffic and also help your consumers. It can work as an additional income to your business as well. Make sure you write blogs that cater to your buyers and help them overcome their needs as consumers.
4. Influencer marketing
Increasingly as days pass by, influencer marketing is gaining more and more importance. They have large audiences and users follow them as well. You can collaborate with them and get your product advertised to a huge group of people. Some influencers have a varied set of audiences. Thus, it is important that you choose the influencer accordingly and make sure that they match the audience you are catering to.
You can select influencers who have a different follower count. This can help in ensuring that the product reaches a diverse set of people as well.
5. Online events, discussions, and Quora
With the increase in platforms and debates online, it is important to engage in discussions for the same. This can help you stay relevant in the online world and also help users feel your brand is more reliable.
You can increase brand awareness with the help of these discussions. It is possible to market your brand by answering relevant questions on Quora.
6. Retargeting ads
You can place cookies on the website of your consumer. When they visit your site and visit another site, later on, this means that when they go on another site it will enable you to show ads for your products and site. When these ads appear it can ensure that your products stay visible on the site. This can help you gear your site to the consumers who require your products. They can also have a clear call to action.
7. Upsell your products
Upselling refers to supersizing your product. This means that you will suggest your consumer buy a product that is much more premium, than the product they originally planned to buy. This can help you increase the scalability of your business further. However, there are a few things you must keep in mind when upselling a product.
The upsell product must be related to the original product that the consumer has selected. Otherwise, it will frustrate the user. While the premium product will naturally be more costly you must also take into consideration that the price range if it is increased by many folds they might not be able to afford it.
8. Reduce abandoned carts
With eCommerce platforms the major disadvantage sellers get is that often the Carts are left abandoned. There might be many hesitations that you might face as a consumer when buying a product. Email recovery campaigns can help you, users, to go back to our site they have made. You can also add quirky lines to drive the consumer back to the cart.
9. Live chats
While some users find live chats frustrating, it is important to understand that they can also provide use to consumers. It can help you resolve the problems that they might be facing easily. This can also result in losing lesser consumers due to the instant engagement that they get.
The cons of an eCommerce business are personalization. Today even more personalization is possible when it comes to marketing. There is data that suggests that it can increase sales by 10%. The ads can be directed to specific consumers understanding their demographic and psychological behavior.
13. Rewarding loyal customers
User retention is important when it comes to a market with so much competition. Rewarding loyal consumers can help to retain them for longer. This can help them become loyal to your brand. There are platforms that give their loyal consumers more benefits which are monetary in nature as well.
14. Start a podcast
If you are inclined towards starting a podcast, you definitely should. There are increasingly more users who prefer listening to a podcast while they are going to work or just doing some housework. This can help you to increase your brand awareness and standing in the market as a brand as well.
Understanding social media
Social media is a very powerful tool to use when wanting to market your business. There are various platforms available of which you can make use of. While search engines can help you get organic traffic it is important to understand that social media can also bring you organic traffic. Users spend a lot of time on their social media and the usage is only continuing to grow. The market of social media is huge. You can also select platforms that cater to the specific target audience that you might have.
Social media can be used to drive traffic to your eCommerce websites. You can also use it to create more connections, relationships and bring in engagement from your audience. Positive interaction with the companies can also help
Facebook can be considered as one of the most popular social media tools. It provides specific features to help businesses grow. It is an excellent form of media for targeted advertising. We have already talked about targeted advertising. This can help you acquire consumers. There is a good amount of data that is there to be able to understand the gender, age, and location of the consumers. You can make the most of it.
Instagram is another extremely popular form of media that is used by people. It is also owned by Facebook and has various features that could help you further increase the scalability of your business. Many social commerce features can help you analyze the engagement and insights based on your page. This could help you to further develop your social media strategies.
3. Pinterest for eCommerce
Pinterest is one of those social media platforms which can be considered as an underdog. It is one of the best platforms that there is for eCommerce. It has many features that are product-based and users that are wide. 93% of the users on Pinterest, use it to buy products.
The rich pin feature of Pinterest enables the users to find products by giving them the links for the same. There is a specific target audience on Pinterest, which means that if you are a business that caters to the requirements of women between 18-49, it can be very beneficial.
Another popular platform is Twitter and has around 800 million users. It has been observed that twitter affects the business decisions of people much more than tv ad commercials do. You can start conversations about your brand and create more awareness on this platform. You can then use it to drive traffic to your site. It can also be a really good platform to enhance customer service. There are many popular ad campaigns run by brands on Twitter and the users are known to be impressed by witty ad campaigns.
Snapchat is new territory when it comes to marketing, however, it is one worth exploring. There are 150 million active users on this application and celebrities have made it all the more popular. If the target consumers of your brand are young, you must make the most of this platform. There are two more features such as Instagram shopping and Instagram checkout. The Instagram shopping features help brands to create a storefront on the application itself where users can explore it with one tap. It is available in a wide range of markets. The Instagram checkout feature helps you make the purchase without leaving the site.
Various benefits are provided using social media for eCommerce. You can expand your reach online. A major percentage of your consumers will be using social media. You can reach out to them, make them more aware of your brand and increase your conversion rates. You can reach out to the audience where they naturally spend their time. They will not have to go out of their way. By optimizing your SEO it will be possible for you to do so. This can also help your brand get shared online. Social media can enable users to share your brand with others, helping you get newer consumers at a faster rate.
You can use social media to increase your interaction with the consumer. Making casual posts on Instagram can help you to engage with your consumers. You can create contests where consumers who have bought your products can share images and accordingly you can reshare them. This will encourage more consumers to buy your products. Influencers who you collaborate with can also tag your products. This will increase the reach you have on social media.
Social media marketing is one of the most effective ways to market your eCommerce business. In order to make the most of it, there are certain aspects you have to follow.
1. Establishing goals
The prime important factor to not lose your focus on social media is to ensure that you are aware of the goals. What are you expecting from your social media? While engaging with the consumers is important there must be some amount of conversion that happens with the help of social media.
The amount of traffic should be generated and increase traffic on your site as well. The follower counts will also reveal your reach. Other goals can include engagement rates and conversions as well.
2. Providing value
Users want you to provide value to them on social media. You need to post more than just commercial ads. The algorithm on social media keeps on changing and if you are not providing the value they might not follow you. Promotional as well as engagement is necessary.
3. Optimising posts
SEO is not only important when creating content as blogs but you can also create posts that you can optimize on social media. It can also allow you to show the proof of happy consumers. You can create different strategies for different social media platforms. Some platforms are more informal as compared to others. You can make the best of these platforms and engage more traffic to your site which is ultimately the goal.
Having an e-commerce platform today is more than just essential. Whether you have a physical business or not, an online presence is important. You can make use of many tools that are available and then build your website. It is important to take factors into consideration such as SEO, the products you are buying, and having your marketing strategy in place. Having an online business can enable you to analyze your steps and then accordingly change your strategies.
At the same time, when you have an e-commerce website it is important to also utilize social media to your benefit. You can also make social media marketing and other content marketing in place. There are various advantages and disadvantages that are provided by using these websites. However, it is not that difficult to get your site up and running. You can easily set up your site and then ensure that your business runs with ease. The article provides you with all the information that you might require for building your own eCommerce website.