Planning Tips for Your First Online Shop
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When setting up a new business that sells a product, whether it is physical or digital, one of the first things you will create is a website. Ecommerce sites cater to all walks of life, like those offering a service, manufactured goods, or digital downloads.
Although it’s an exciting project that puts your product out into the world, it can also be a daunting task. There is a lot to plan, from what the design will look like to what content should you put up.
With so much to think about, there are often questions that don’t get asked before going live that have to be addressed after the fact. Here are five questions, some obvious and others not so, to help you set up a great ecommerce shop.
What platform to choose
As is the case with building a house, websites need to have a good foundation otherwise there can be issues down the road. There are so many different ecommerce offerings and new ones are coming out regularly. So where do you start? Services like Shopify offer a simple, quick and robust starting point but what happens if you outgrow or want to sidestep what they make available to you?
This is where a platform that you can develop yourself, and backed by a big community, is the best choice. The biggest of these is WooCommerce, a plugin that turns WordPress from a standard CMS into a powerful ecommerce platform. Nearly a quarter of ecommerce sites run WooCommerce, so you can be safe in the knowledge it’ll work right away. With this option, you also have a huge amount of scope to adapt and evolve at a speed consistent with your business.
Selecting your hosting
The process for choosing a hosting package that runs a normal website and one that runs ecommerce has some similarities but also some key differences. The first key factor comes from the platform you have chosen. Most hosting solutions will be able to install and run almost any CMS but many often provide a specific one set up for their preferred CMS, in the case of SiteGround, this is WordPress.
This comes with better, WordPress tailored security and performance as well as easier install and transfer processes, all built into your hosting. Once you’ve got your shortlisted hosting packages you can list some key details that will help you make the decision; how much space do you need? How many visitors do you anticipate on your site? Do you need a staging area? From this you can then determine the level of hosting you need. You can always hop on a chat with a sales rep too.
Starting with content
It’s very easy to come up with a big list of all the content you would love to have on your site. The home page making a big splash, the product(s) themselves, about the company, the team, a blog etc. But making such a detailed list often leads to delays with a website.
Whilst all intentions are good, most people, unless hiring a dedicated marketing person, will struggle to find the time to produce well written and concise copy for their site. This can lead to users either not engaging with or trusting what you have to offer. Start with distilling what people need to know with your product. Are you meant to be an expert on a subject, a fitness instructor for example? In this case, a blog is likely very high on the list of what is needed.
Are you offering something simple like a publication? Then you might only need two pages, home and the actual product page. If you are totally stuck on writing for yourself, why not try reaching out to a copywriter with knowledge of your customer base? A good copywriter is worth their weight in gold.
Optimizing your checkout
The checkout is just as, if not more, important than the rest of the site. It’s easy to get caught up in the fun front part of your site, but if your checkout process isn’t well structured and thought out, users will either get bored or flat out give up. How many times have you gone through to pay and something isn’t easy or doesn’t work so you give up on the product?
One of the biggest parts to think about now is not just the payment gateway (Stripe, Braintree etc.) you choose but also what methods you want to accept. Each method comes with its pros and cons and requires certain services but think about how easy it was to pay when PayPal first got introduced. Now with Google Pay or Apple Pay, it’s like contactless payments for your online shop. It’s not a bad idea to take cues from brick-and-mortar shops.
Have you ever noticed the small items at checkouts? They invite impulse buying, add-on purchases, and upsells so why not add this to your checkout process? Ecommerce sites and physical shops can have a lot of things in common. For more details on payment gateways and checkouts management, watch the following video: