UK eCommerce, along with the global digital commerce market is an incredibly big business, and there’s a constant flow of online stores catering for everything you could possibly think of popping up every day! If you’re reading this, then you are quite possibly one of the people looking to make the move into the world of eCommerce.
At this point, if you are looking to set up your own online business and you have typed into Google, ‘How do you start an online store?’, then you are sure to be bombarded with all sorts of tips and advice. Here at Media Lounge, though, we have compiled all the best bits for you to take on board and utilise. With this new-found information, you can add it to your plan and begin to look forward to a lifetime of success, if all goes to plan.
When owning an online store is boiled down to the essentials, and the main ingredients for success are considered, there’s a proven sequence of steps to follow that will help guarantee the chances of success when you’re starting an SME (small medium enterprise) online.
Here Are Those Seven Essential Steps:
- Find a niche… and fill it!
- Write copy that sells
- Have a slick, smoothing running website that’s easy-to-use
- SEO is your friend, so use search engines to boost traffic your way
- Be considered an authority through a good reputation
- Help drive sales with follow-on emails to customers and subscribers
- Increase your income through back-end sales and upselling
So there you have it. Follow these points and you’ll achieve success…theoretically. You have the main points, but here’s some more detail to help you out with:
What Platform Should I Use?
Once you’ve established the niche and you’re ready to start selling, you’ll need to choose where you’ll sell. Etsy and eBay are cool and handy channels, but they don’t equate to good retail options. They can be used to supplement your main website, so don’t count these marketing channels out totally. You need a fully functioning eCommerce platform that you can use to start from scratch for how you want your business to be conveyed and marketed.
It’s easy to get bogged down the deluge of eCommerce platforms, so consider remembering these points when choosing the platform for you:
- Attractive themes and customisable design features
- SEO-friendly options
- Unlimited support
- High percentage of uptime
- Professional support to assist with your growth
- Powerful integrations
- Easy and secure payment processing
If you’ve got slow page load times, you’ve got a loss of customers. Fact! If you’ve opted to go down the route of having a hosted solution for your online store, there’s not an awful lot you can do in terms of optimisation, but more often than not, the hosts will have this covered off for you. If you set up shop using WordPress or a similar, self-hosted system, then optimising the page load speed is essential. This will allow users to browse through your website like a knife through hot butter, as they seamlessly navigate through your dream of a website!
The eCommerce sector can be particularly susceptible to SEO problems, so you don’t want to kick things off by not having your SEO optimised. This will automatically put you on the back foot, and before you know it, you’ll be treading just above water once Google has implemented its ever-changing algorithms alterations. We can tell you why with some more useful pointers:
- Product variants such as size or colour can generate unique URLs with effectively duplicate content. These should all be canonical so that the navigation stems back to the main product page.
- Product descriptions tend to be short, leading to a small amount of actual on-page content – which can be considered “low quality” by search engines. Have a more in-depth description and rise above the rest.
- Avoid the pitfall of not rel-canonicalising products if they are in multiple categories. This is because they create duplicate URLs.
- Product categories often span multiple pages and thousands of products – make sure all the items are indexed with the correct use of rel=next and rel=prev tags.
Solutions such as Magento agencies will have support on hand to help you through any of these issues if you are unable to get your head around the technical stuff
Budgets are much more manageable when you don’t have to rent a brick-and-mortar store, so outset levels are reduced dramatically.
Be prepared to encounter unexpected costs and make budget allowances accordingly.
Bear in mind the following:
- The raw cost of the products
- Website hosting and security
- Paid advertising
- Website design and development (if customised)
- Logo design, product photography, etc.
Do More Than Just Sell
There are no two ways of putting this; today, the customer really does have the ball in their court. They can hop on to a rival website in an instant if they aren’t satisfied with something. The main reasons for consumers to stick around will be if you’re competing on price (tough to do), or if your site is more than just a shop.
At the start of your adventure into eCommerce, you aren’t going to be able to compete with the approach that brands like Nike and Adidas have, so it’s not worth having that idea in mind at this stage. This is where your prior knowledge of your product comes in. Use your unique product knowledge and skills to offer that little bit more. Think about publishing high-quality blog posts on your site, which you can then use to link internally to your own products. This will help to cement yourself as an aficionado. Sharing is caring and people will appreciate your knowledge, and be a part of the community around the products (if there is one) – be more than just a place that sells and set yourself apart from the competition.
The want and need for consumers to leave their reviews and opinions are at the highest level they’ve ever been. Offer rewards to people who take the time to write a review, which can then be added at the bottom of the product page to help populate it. Not only will this look good for potential customers, but it helps build a presence and assists in terms of SEO.