Whether you’re using an eCommerce platform or creating your shop from scratch, a new online store requires a lot of planning. To make sure nothing slips through the cracks, we crafted a quick cheat sheet discussing the most important elements to consider before you make your first sale.
Company Set Up:
Name, Title, Domain, Logo, Tagline, About, Contact You’re going to need a company name and a title for your shop. While they are often the same, some companies prefer to use variations or something completely different. 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, tagline, and brief explanation of who you are for your about page. With so many options available online, people tend to trust stores that look professional right from the start and show real people are behind them. This simple step can make a big difference. Finally, ensure you provide contact details. Customers will want to know how to get ahold of you if they have problems.
eCommerce Platform Online storefronts require a lot of coding. But there are platforms that make setting up a shop far easier. For example, NS8 partners with Shopify/Shopify Plus, Magento, thirty bees, PrestaShop, WooCommerce, and Big Commerce. Each of these platforms offers shopping carts that make it easier to set up your shop, take payments, and more. They also generally offer apps or plug-ins to make customizing your store and how you run it simpler. 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. However, you’ll need to research them individually and see how they all work together.
Social Media Setting up social media accounts before you open your doors helps you get established and hype up your grand opening. You can create buzz to ensure 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.
Paid Advertising While you may not have a lot of money to spare during your initial launch, getting people to your store is going to be very important. Digital advertising is the easiest way to target your demographic and get more bang for your buck. Consider your advertising strategy carefully, however, as ad fraud can be extremely costly for a startup. Consider using fraud prevention services to ensure your campaigns reach real customers instead of bots.
Email Blasts There are several ways to do email blasts. Offering newsletters and promotion emails can be a great way to reach customers interested in your products. While you can simply create these emails yourself, there are also companies out there that make it easy to not only set up and send individual emails but also send email campaigns with multiple blasts over a set time period. You also get detailed analytics which can then help you further target your marketing campaigns.
SEO 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, include tags, captions, and metadata for pictures. Also, 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.
Product Descriptions One of the most important parts of your site will actually be the product descriptions. With so much competition online, providing effective, detailed information about each product will help your customers understand what they are purchasing. Ensuring this information is accurate and up-to-date will also help in keeping return rates down.
Product Images Like descriptions, images for products are extremely important for purchasers. Since they can’t see the item in person, clear distinct pictures are necessary to provide an 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. Try to avoid using stock photography and picture manipulation as customers can feel cheated if they receive products that don’t look the same in person as they do in the picture.
Categories Less important than descriptions and pictures, categories can be helpful for customers trying to look for 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.
Credit/Debit Cards Other things to consider when setting up shop are how your customers are going to pay. Some eCommerce platforms offer their own payment gateways that accept multiple credit cards. Others require you to determine your own payment services. Most likely, you’ll have to choose which credit and debit cards you want to accept based on how much of the transaction they require.
Mobile Wallets/Payment Apps Beyond credit and debit cards, there are now mobile wallets and payment apps that can be used. These include PayPal, Venmo, Zelle, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay, and Amazon Pay. Integrations with these options will depend on your platform and your checkout process. These also tend to be more widely used by younger customers, so consider your target audience when deciding on payment options.
Fraud Prevention Now that you know how you’re going to get paid, it’s necessary to consider how you’re going to protect those purchases. Transaction fraud is common in eCommerce, and too many 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.
Customer Service You’ll also need to consider how your customers will get ahold of you when they need to. 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 with 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.
Fulfillment/Shipping Depending on your products, fulfillment and shipping may be very important or non-existent. If you are shipping products, however, make sure that you understand the regulations in the areas where you deliver. Also, ensure that both shipping and fulfillment time frames are accurate as customers often become angry when incorrect information is provided. This is especially important when you sell specialty items such as birthday and anniversary gifts.
Analytics The final consideration for setting up your eCommerce store is analytics. 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. You can get a jump start by creating custom reports using analytic software and reviewing those reports regularly. This can help you make initial changes, try new promotions and marketing campaigns, and even change up the website to optimize results. Set up a plan for how to handle this data (as well as one for how to protect your customers information) before you launch for the best results.
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.