Whether you’re using an ecommerce platform or creating your shop from scratch, a new online store requires a lot of planning and setup. This can be both time-consuming and confusing, and that means smaller details are often overlooked. To help you get started, we crafted a cheat sheet to guide you from your initial concept to actually making sales.
Start With the Basics:
Name, Title, Domain, Logo, Tagline, About, Contact
You’re going to need a company name and a title for your shop. While these things are often identical, some companies prefer to use slight variations or something completely different. Be sure to check for domain availability before you decide on a name; nothing confuses customers more than a random domain address for your shop.
Additionally, you’ll want to come up with a logo, a tagline, and a brief explanation of who you are for your about page. Don’t be afraid to put your real name and face to the company. With so much competition out there, you’ll want to establish an identity for your company that customers can trust. This simple step can make a big difference.
Finally, ensure you provide contact details. Customers will want to know the best way to get ahold of someone if they run into any problems. Failing to provide a way to contact your company may drive customers to take their business elsewhere.
Building Your Shop
Online storefronts often require complicated coding, but there are platforms that make setting up a shop far easier—and less expensive. Examples include Shopify, Magento, PrestaShop, and WooCommerce. Each platform has different features and tools to make setting up shop easier, but almost all offer shopping carts, payment services, and additional plug-ins.
If you choose not to use a platform, there are also integrations that can help you take payments, run fraud protection, get analytics, and manage inventory. You’ll need to research them individually and work with your site designer to see how they all work together.
Though it should be included in your terms and conditions, make sure you also provide information about where you sell and ship your products somewhere prominent on your site. This removes any confusion for customers about who you serve and whether they can purchase your products.
Next, Get Your Content Right:
One of the most important parts of your site will actually be the product descriptions. With so much competition online, providing detailed information about each product will help your customers understand exactly what they are purchasing. To keep return rates down, update these descriptions as needed to maintain accuracy.
Like descriptions, images for your products are extremely important. Since customers can’t see the item in person, a picture can give them a clear idea of what the product is.
Make sure the pictures are high-quality and taken from multiple angles. Ensure that the pictures accurately reflect the product. Avoid using stock photography or picture manipulation. Your product should arrive to the customer looking exactly the way it looks in the picture.
Less important than descriptions and pictures, categories can be helpful for customers trying to find particular items. These are particularly helpful if you sell specialty items, like health supplements or clothing for specific events.
By creating individual category information, you can tell customers more about your products and help boost your SEO with terms that customers may use when searching.
Don’t Forget About Payment:
Other things to consider when setting up shop are how your customers are going to pay. If you’re using a dedicated ecommerce platform, it likely offers a payment gateway that can accept multiple types of card payments or possibly even echecks.
If not, you’ll need to determine which payment services you want to work with. Each card will vary in both its cost per transaction and ease of integration on your site.
Mobile Wallets/Payment Apps
Beyond credit and debit cards, there are now mobile wallets and payment apps that can be added to your site. These include PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay, and Amazon Pay. Integrations with these options will depend on how your site is structured and your checkout process. These also tend to be more widely used by younger customers, so consider your target audience when deciding on which payment options to offer.
You’ll Also Need to Attract Customers:
Setting up social media accounts before you open your doors helps you establish a name for yourself and hype up your grand opening. You can create buzz to ensure your success right from the start. You most likely won’t have the time or staff to handle creating and maintaining accounts on all sites, so consider which will be most effective for your target demographic.
Additionally, services like Hootsuite and Buffer can be helpful here. They allow you to queue up and schedule posts, see how your social media strategy is working, and more.
While you may not have a lot of money to spare during your initial launch, getting people to visit your store will be very important. Digital advertising is the easiest way to target your target demographic and get more bang for your buck.
Consider your advertising strategy carefully, however, since ad fraud can be extremely costly, especially for a new company. Consider using fraud prevention services to ensure that your campaigns reach real customers instead of bots.
Offering newsletters and promotion emails can be a great way to reach customers interested in your products. Whether you create these emails yourself or utilize a service that makes the process easier, you’ll want to keep your mailing lists organized and up-to-date. Consider content carefully before it including it in campaigns, and avoid sending emails too often, as you don’t want to spam your customers. Don’t forget to utilize a good analytics service and include an unsubscribe link for customers who wish to opt out.
Search Engine Optimization
As stated above, helping people find your store will be incredibly important. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can help. To ensure that your site ranks well with Google and other search engines, make sure to include tags, captions, and metadata for your pictures. Also take care to provide detailed information about your store and products and create easy navigation paths on your site. The web crawlers that help search engines determine rankings will take all of these things into consideration.
Some Other Things to Think About:
Now that you know how you’re going to get purchases, it’s necessary to consider how you’re going to protect them. Transaction fraud is all too common in ecommerce, and excessive chargebacks can lead to fees and other problems with your payment service providers. To avoid these issues, consider fraud prevention software that will protect your new investment and make sure fraudulent orders get caught early.
You’ll also need to provide a way for your customers to contact you. Email, phone, live chat, social media, and SMS are just a few of the ways you can interact with your customers. If your team is small, there are automated services like chatbots that can be implemented to help take care of simpler requests. In general, customers that need to wait for more than 24 hours to get a response may end up getting frustrated and taking their business elsewhere.
Depending on your products, fulfillment and shipping may be very important or non-existent. If you are shipping products, know the regulations in the areas where you deliver. Also, ensure that both shipping and fulfillment time frames are accurate, as customers often become angry if items are not received when promised. This is especially important when you sell specialty items such as birthday, holiday, and anniversary gifts that need to arrive by a particular date.
Data is important to every business, but it’s absolutely essential for an online store. You’ll need information on inventory, customer locations, purchasing patterns, website performance issues, and more.
Create custom reports using the analytic software of your choice, and review these reports regularly. This can help you make changes to your initial design, try new promotions and marketing campaigns, and change up your content to optimize results. For the best results, set up a plan for how to handle this data (as well as how to protect your customer information) before you launch.
While setting up a new store requires a lot of focus and planning, it doesn’t have to be difficult. Make a complete plan from the start and be prepared to make changes as ecommerce continues to evolve.