Well, in the first place, you may ask me why should my small business have a website. The answer is, successful ecommerce websites are needed for the following reasons.
8 Reasons Why it is Good for Your Small Business to Have an eCommerce Website
I can understand you asking me for valid reasons to go ahead and have my own ecommerce site. Reasons listed below,
To begin with, I want to assure you that building a business website or ecommerce store doesn’t require you to have any coding or designing knowledge.
Furthermore, your online business store is not restricted to business hours. Moreover, it is one of the best means of free advertising.
Your Customers Expect You to Have a Website
Imagine, would you trust a business that didn’t have a website? In today’s digital-savvy world customers mostly consider your business to be valid only if you have a website.
Successful eCommerce Websites Provide Social Proof
Several customers claim that online reviews influence their buying decisions.
One useful way to boost your brand image is to include customer testimonials on your site. Doing this will impress your potential buyers.
You Can Control the Narrative
By having a business website you can influence public perception by creating your own story. This is done through writing blogs etc..
It’s Worth the Money
For example, if you build your website using WordPress you have a great advantage of Google crawling and ranking your website soon. So, think of starting one now.
You Need not Fear of Having to Know Extensive Coding or Technical Skills
Believe me, there are numerous website-building platforms, like WordPress for example, that offer website building resources. They provide you online tutorials and community-based support for you to start and run a website successfully.
Your Competitors Have Their Own Websites
Customers start their journey of buying a product by researching online. They tend to believe educational materials, reviews and testimonials about the product they want to buy.
Your Business can Run 24/7
Having a business website means that you can sell products all the time. You need not say “closed for business”. Your business keeps running.
You, Will, Appear on Google Search Results
When customers want to buy something, they usually search for it on Google. And websites that have been optimized for search engines appear on top of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) during customer search.
So you can do Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and other techniques to make your business appear on top of customer search.
Now moving on to the crux of the matter.
How to Build and Market Successful eCommerce Websites?
I am going to take it right from scratch. You can create your website as you keep reading. Let’s go.
Picking your Market
I proceed further explaining from scratch, assuming that you do not have an established brick-and-mortar store.
Finding your Audience
This is an important factor for running successful ecommerce websites.
First, you have to know what you’re going to sell and who you’re going to sell to.
If you choose the right mass markets to intersect it becomes a lot easier to find and target the people who are likely to be the most interested in what you have.
Product Research, important for running successful ecommerce websites
To get ideas on what to sell, you can look up what’s already selling or see if there’s the possibility to intersect the idea with a mass market.
Let me mention a few free and paid tools to research for what’s selling,
Some of the free tools are,
- Google Trends
This helps you to look into Google’s massive search data.
2. Google Keyword Planner
Once you have a product idea in mind, you can go to Google’s own Keyword Planner tool and get specific keyword searches. And also a comparative data range of the number of searches that term gets every month and an estimate of how much it would cost per click on the ad: http://bit.ly/2GmbElH.
In addition to the number of searches, you have to pay attention to the cost per click. If there are plenty of related search terms with ‘buyer intent’ that’s a good sign.
3. Amazon and eBay (various URLs)
Furthermore, to find out what’s selling, you can go to the largest ecommerce websites such as Amazon and eBay.
Amazon has a ‘Bestsellers’ section for each country.
Interestingly, online auction site eBay has a ‘Top 10’ trending section and an ‘Explore’ section where you can see what’s happening in real-time.
4. Chinese ecommerce websites
Owned and run by billionaire Jack Ma, the AliBaba Group operate two of the largest ecommerce business websites on the internet, namely, http://www.alibaba.com and http://www.aliexpress.com.
Product ideas can be searched on AliBaba and AliExpress. AliExpress also has Bestseller and Hot Product sections for more ideas.
Similar ecommerce websites to AliExpress are, http://www.dhgate.com and http://www.wish.com.
Shopify is a third-party ecommerce platform where you can set up your own store with their system. You need not worry about stuff like web hosting, installing the ecommerce store, integrating payment providers, etc.
Just select the category from the top menu and work your way through the top 20 ultra-hippest items and cross reference if a similar item exists in AliExpress, DHFGate or Wish.com.
7. Social media searches
You can make use of the power of social media search using Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for terms like ‘free shipping’, ‘limited time offer’ or ‘limited offer’ or hashtags like #offer, #specialoffer, #discount, #deals. etc..
Some of the paid tools you can use for products searches are,
- Intelligynce (https://intelligynce.com)
This tool enables you to perform comprehensive research on product types and also competitive analysis on specific stores to find out their best selling items.
This is a similar tool for researching AliExpress.com where you can search by category, specific words, etc..
Apart from the above, you can also do research on AmaSuite, Jungle Scout and Terapeak.
Later you look into the legal aspects of setting up your stores.
Naming your Company and/or Store, vital for running successful ecommerce websites
You have to come up with a company and domain name that is unique and easy to remember and spell. Be creative with the words you use but don’t change the spelling of them.
After choosing a name check if the related domain names are available by pasting them into http://domainr.com.
Don’t worry if the .com is gone. Look at other Top-Level Domains (TLDs) like .io, .co, .ly.
Next go to http;//knowem.com and type in your brand name and it will tell you if any or all of the account names and URLs are available on the top social media websites.
Store Design: traditional vs funnel
This is another important factor for running successful ecommerce websites.
Of late, ‘Internet Marketing’ (digital marketing) community based ‘direct response’ sales website approach has come up.
The ‘direct response’ approach for ecommerce websites has a page containing only one product offer and no other links to any other products. This leads to what is known as ‘sales funnel’ or an ‘ecommerce funnel’. Because you are funnelling a visitor through a tightly controlled series of pages and offers.
It is up to you to choose between traditional ecommerce or funnel.
Self-host or remote host, a predominant factor for running successful ecommerce websites
You have to decide whether you want to host your ecommerce store yourself on your own webservers, or whether you want to use a third-party company to handle everything for you.
If you intend to set up a traditional ecommerce store, then the two most popular options are to use a combination of WordPress + WooCommerce or Magento ecommerce systems.
Sales Funnel eCommerce
The below-listed self-hosted funnel page builders are either themes or plugins that work with WordPress, so they are able to be up and running for your ecommerce project just with a few clicks,
- Thrive Themes Architect
- FunnelKit GO
- SiteOrigin Page Builder
You can choose from any above two to run successful ecommerce websites.
Whether you are using WordPress, Magento or any other type of self-hosted system, it is extremely important you keep the core system and any additional plugins or theme files up to date. This will prevent hackers from exploiting any bugs or security holes in the software.
Risk Management: Automating Website Backups
It will be a good practice to make sure comprehensive backups are regularly made for your website. Especially, if you are constantly adding new items and content to it.
Secure Socket Layer Certificate (SSL or Secure Certificate)
When you usually view a website the connection between you and the website is not encrypted. This means any personal information you send via an order page or contact form on the site can be intercepted by hackers.
The simple solution to this is to have an SSL (Secure Socket Layer Certificate) or what’s commonly referred to simply as a ‘Secure Certificate’ installed on your website.
This encrypts the connection between the user’s computer and your website with the same level of protection that banks use and cannot be intercepted by hackers.
Traditional and Sales Funnel Platforms
If you want to set up online stores quickly without prior technical skills, there are many companies that offer you fully managed, hosted ecommerce systems. Through this, you can set your ecommerce and keep it running 24 hours.
Traditional ecommerce platforms
The below listed biggest ecommerce platforms will help you set up your successful ecommerce websites,
Sales funnel platforms
If you want to try the sales funnel approach to ecommerce, then you can try the following platforms,
- Clickfunnels (https://clickfunnels.com)
- LeadPages (https://www.leadpages.com)
- Unbounce (https://unbounce.com)
Shipping and Taxes, essential for maintaining successful ecommerce websites
You can set up shipping rates by all manner of complicated rules and maths, and there are plugins where you can set up bespoke shipping options.
You need to remember to set up the shipping options so your customers can easily choose the right one for the item they’re ordering.
Moreover, different payment options such as using credit cards, Paytm, Google Pay, etc. should be provided to your customers. Hassle-free checkout processes are important to provide a better customer experience.
Furthermore, all top ecommerce platforms have built-in functions to process appropriate taxes at the point of sale.
Some of the essential design elements to be in place on every product’s sales page are,
- Removing the homepage slider
- Good product image quality
- Lifestyle product imagery
- Customer reviews
- Showing related items
- Countdown timer and
- A clear call to action
A good looking landing page with user-friendly features is important to attract customers.
Providing options for live chat will also boost your customer services.
Good site design boosts your chances of running successful ecommerce websites.
Selecting Your Payment Provider
There are dozens of companies who can process payments from customers for you. The payment option you go with will depend on what platform you’re using, what you’re selling, where you’re located and where your customers are likely to be.
Pay-per-Click (PPC) Marketing
As of right now, the two largest players in the PPC game are Google and Facebook.
With ecommerce you can use Google’s Shopping Ads which show above the organic search results for ‘buyer intent’ type search terms.
Furthermore, Google has its Display Network where website owners can apply to Google to have Google’s ads on their websites via AdSense Program.
On the other hand, Facebook does both Cost-per-Click (CPC) and Cost-per-Millie (CPM). But they are behavior and psychographic-based.
The two types of PPC marketing are,
- Search-Related and
Retargeting / Remarketing (the ‘ad stalking’ technique)
You can place ads in front of people who have visited your ecommerce store. You can show reminder ads to people who added an item to the shopping cart on your ecommerce website and skipped the checkout process.
This type of campaign is called ‘Retargeting’ on Facebook and ‘Remarketing’ on Google.
Social Media Marketing
If you have to be where your customers are then you have to be on Social Media. With ecommerce, you can capitalize on social media platforms such as,
- LinkedIn and
Steps to Maximize Your eCommerce Store’s SEO, the driving factor for running successful ecommerce websites
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for your ecommerce store is vital for customers to see your business.
Especially, you have to optimize your ecommerce site for a mobile device. Better shopping experiences and product pages have to align with good UI and UX.
Steps to take to maximize your ecommerce store’s SEO for good conversion rates are,
- Add your website to Google Search Console
- Create a Google Analytics account
- Create a Google Tag Manager account
- Add your website’s sitemap .xml file to Google Search Console
- Make sure all meta title and description tags are unique
- Minimize ‘duplicate content’
- Use canonical URLs
- Make sure your webstore is usable on a mobile device
- Optimize your website’s loading speed
- Simplify your store’s navigation
SEO is the lifeline of running successful ecommerce websites.
Marketing and Promoting Your Store
To run long term successful ecommerce websites you need to start with the end in mind and that means you must create a brand.
When you want to build trust and authority to a specific audience, having a personal brand is an excellent strategy. Because the human brain has evolved to remember names and faces than random words and titles.
Marketing and Promoting Essentials
- Get a memorable Logo Design done through Fiverr.com and MightyDeals.com.
- Create an appropriate Website/Funnel Design
- All your social media handles, account names and any profile images should be the same.
- You can generate traffic in two ways. By paying for ads in places like Facebook, Google, etc. Then organically by trying to grow your fans and followers on social media and on search engines.
- You can get organic growth by growth hacking the social media platforms that are the easiest, namely, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Community Facebook group.
Things to do to Make Your eCommerce Store a Success
- Log into your Google Webmaster Tools account and look for any new crawling and sitemap errors.
- Log into Google Analytics and look at the sources of yesterday’s traffic.
- Check your PPC campaigns and see if there are any that need optimizing or pausing.
- Check your customer support email and company Twitter account to see if any customers have issues that need dealing with.
- See if you’ve had any sales yesterday and if you have, go through your fulfillment process, remembering to mark them as ‘Fulfilled’.
- If you are personally processing and fulfilling orders, keep checking your stock levels to make sure you don’t run out of inventory and allow yourself adequate lead time for new stock to be delivered.
- Take screenshots of any text or image ads you see that grab your attention and save them to possibly model for your company. Also, save the destination URL to see if that’s also something worth adapting.
- Log into your business bank account and any accounting software you’re using and check your cashflow situation.
- Set your sales and marketing goals for the upcoming month.
- Create and/or outsource the next month’s content for your social media posts.
- If you’re purchasing stock in bulk on 30-day terms, pay your supplier as quickly as possible.
- Print out all the invoices, purchase orders and sales data for the previous month, check that they tally with what’s in your online accounting software and keep a paper copy of everything.
- Running an online business can be lonely, so make sure you regularly leave your office and attend events, business meetups, seminars, etc..
- Every couple of months, run a report on your email and customer databases. Furthermore, keep an eye on who’s been purchasing more than once. Run special ‘Customer Appreciation’ deals for your best customers offering exclusive discounts.
To practically develop an ecommerce website for your business you can attend a workshop to be conducted by Zuan Education on August 24 & 25, 2019. You can straightaway start building a successful ecommerce website for your small business during the workshop itself.
Set up an ecommerce store for your business and learn the ecommerce strategies to catch customers where they are and to get more ROI.