Based on what we have learned as leading website designers and ecommerce developers, we have produced this essential checklist for setting up your ecommerce store right the first time. Ensure you have all these steps covered to give you the best chance of success.
The first step is to decide what you’re going to sell. You can sell an individual product, a range of products or even a service. Researching the product you intend to sell is critical for success.
Know whether you will make the product yourself, or whether you will import it from third-party suppliers. Will you compete on price or quality? Which of your products or services has the greatest profit margin for you to earn? Do you offer a money-back guarantee, warranty or express shipping? Ensuring that your know your business inside-out in theory, will give you a greater chance of succeeding in practice.
Domain name and hosting is essential to any website. Your domain name should reflect your ecommerce store name and should be easy to spell, so that visitors can find your website hassle-free. Avoid strange spelling and numbers or symbols within your domain name as these are difficult to explain and type into an address bar.
As part of your ecommerce website, you can choose to manage your own web hosting, or choose an option whereby your website design company manages your hosting on your behalf. For flexibility, managing hosting yourself is a better option and will generally be cheaper. Avoid incredibly cheap hosting as this can often indicate shared servers that result in slow website speeds and can negatively impact on your SEO (your website’s ability to rank in the organic search results).
Decide whether you will have a public phone system whereby users can contact your business directly. If you choose to have a phone, have a plan in place for international callers and also times-of-day that your phones will be monitored / answerable. If you do not wish to have a phone, and only receive contact via email or online, beware that this can decrease your level of customer service, however it will be easier to manage. Weigh up the option that suits your business the best and ensure the proper processes are in place for the benefit of your customers.
When starting to create your ecommerce website design, understand that it stands as your store front. Whilst the aesthetic design of a website is important, the flow of an ecommerce design is critical to conversion. Ensure that your store policies and contact details are easily visible. Highlight your strengths such as a longer returns policy or free express shipping to entice customers to purchase. Your e-commerce website designer will also be able to advise on design elements that will help increase conversion rates and enhance user experience.
When choosing a web design company to develop your ecommerce website, have an idea of the functionality you require now and in the future. It is recommended that you choose a Content Management System (CMS) platform, whereby you can edit your website content and manage your products yourself without the help of a web design company that will likely charge you for such changes. Ensure that your website design will be responsive for mobile devices, so that it will be effective regardless of whether visitors are viewing from a smartphone, tablet or desktop computer. Ensure that the checkout process, in particular, is easily usable on mobile devices.