12 Key Elements to Consider While Building an Ecommerce Platform
Ecommerce is expanding daily and provides companies with distinctive options to interact with their target market worldwide. Having a user-friendly ecommerce store is not an option; it is a necessity for all businesses wanting to grow and expand these days globally. For e-commerce business owners, using well-featured ecommerce software that can keep their customers engaged and keep on buying from them has become extremely important to stay competitive and identify new opportunities.
In 2021, retail e-commerce sales was approximately 4.9 trillion U.S. dollars worldwide. This figure is forecast to grow by 50% over the next four years, reaching about 7.4 trillion dollars by 2025.
Ecommerce platforms allow businesses to sell online and make their products and services available globally beyond their local stores. If you’re just starting a business, an ecommerce store can give you a global market and brand recognition before you even open a conventional store. Starting a dedicated ecommerce platform allows you to control every aspect of user experience, from branding to shipping and customer service.
In this article, we will walk you through the significance of creating an ecommerce website and the key elements to consider while building it.
Significance of Creating a Successful Ecommerce Website
1. New Market Acquisitions
It is impossible to target audiences worldwide if you are having a local physical store only. With the help of an online store, you can expand your reach to global audiences. Irrespective of the distance and time zone, an ecommerce platform will allow you to reach out and sell your products to customers around the globe.
2. Higher Conversion Rate
Customers will enjoy the ease of shopping whenever they want, and you won’t miss out on sales with an online store that is open round-the-clock, seven days a week. Instead of waiting for a regular store to open, potential customers are more likely to make purchases when they can place orders instantly. Having an online store means reduced overheads and increased sales, eventually leading to higher conversion rates and accelerating business growth in the long run.
3. Strengthen Your Brand
If you sell on an online marketplace like eBay or Amazon, your products are presented generically and often incorporate the marketplace’s logo. Thus, consumers won’t be exposed to your brand name. When you build your own ecommerce platform, you have complete control over how your products are displayed.
4. Search Engine Optimization
With effective SEO, your website will rank higher on search engines, and partnering with an SEO services provider will give you insight into how your target audience searches online. Using this knowledge, you can create an ecommerce marketing strategy to drive relevant and highly motivated visitors to your website.
5. Create Unique Shopping Experiences
The consumer journey can also be directly impacted by online businesses by offering a distinctive buying experience through videos, stories, and customized services. Additionally, these interactions with customers can continue even after they make a purchase by using social media marketing or emails. Customers are often persuaded by these encounters that online buying offers that a brick-and-mortar store normally does not.
6. Flexibility for Consumers
An important advantage of ecommerce to businesses is that they can provide flexibility to consumers. The products and services are ready 24x7, which lets businesses offer their products anywhere, at any time. Also, customers return for repeat purchases because of the conveniences they enjoy. These conveniences generally include door-step delivery, free shipping, express order delivery, deals and discounts, and subscription advantages.
7. Reduced Overheads and Better Profits
Physical stores come with investing in space and spending on overheads which ecommerce stores don't require and thus can sell products at a lesser price than physical stores giving them a competitive advantage. This will also increase the profit you make on your products. The shopping cart and payment options on these websites also mean you are gaining a 100% payment from the customer straight away, thus improving your cash flow.
Now that you know about the benefits an ecommerce platform can offer your business, let us look at the steps you should take before building your ecommerce store.
Steps to Best Setup your eCommerce Business
1. Know Your Audience
You can expand your client demographics by creating an online business. However, this does not imply that you should make an effort to cater to everyone. Select your target market with care, so you know to whom you are selling. This might also affect the things you decide to stock in your online store.
2. Research Your Products
Whether you are offering tangible goods or digital services, you must test them first. Determine your target market and check to see if the goods you are selling are in demand before you conclude your business orientation. Determine the products your audience wants and offer solutions to their immediate needs.
3. Troubleshoot the Development
While it could be alluring to rush through the development phase so you can begin selling, doing so might only cause glitches for your clients. Build the store slowly and test out several iterations. Make sure the payment methods function properly and that your consumers receive an email confirmation as promptly as possible. Such precise details are vital.
4. Decide the Packaging
Choose your product's packaging strategy and place your materials order in advance. Ordering more than you think you'll need could be a good idea because it could prevent delays in the future. Establish your label printing procedures, then figure out an affordable shipping method.
5. Prepare the Marketing Budget
When you initially begin selling online, you should include a variety of online marketing tactics in your business strategy to support your other types of advertising. Decide the amount of cash or a consistent flow of funds to cater to your marketing needs well in advance.
Before you begin selling your products to your customers, several factors can decide the fate of your business. Thus, when you initiate the process of building your ecommerce platform, consider the following key elements to make your project a success.
12 Key Elements to Consider While Building an Ecommerce Website
#1 Select the Right Technology
The benefits that businesses want to obtain from their online shopping solutions have a significant impact on the platform they choose. Simple open-source systems may be adequate for small firms because they are inexpensive to license, can be downloaded for free, and don't require much setup time.
Larger businesses require more complex ecommerce website features and structures, as well as more adaptable platforms that allow for limitless customization. Nowadays, various ecommerce platforms are available, allowing any firm to find a fit for its needs. Platforms like WooCommerce, Shopify, and Wix ecommerce are perfect for SMEs, whereas large businesses could need a platform with more robust functionalities and capacities.
Let's take the example of a business that sells thousands of things, offers shipping, and takes numerous payment methods. In this situation, an ecommerce website requires the creation of numerous product pages, the connection of payment systems, and the configuration of other capabilities (such as blogging tools, shopping carts, and so on).
Oracle Commerce, IBM WebSphere Commerce, Magento Commerce, and others are some of the major market players. Although these solutions are relatively expensive, large businesses can make up for their investment since these ecommerce platforms add value to the business by effortlessly supporting high-volume processes.
#2 Project Appealing Website Design
Businesses must capture and hold customers' attention if they want to stand out amid similarly styled online stores. Because of this, companies tend to use website builder software to create an interactive and responsive design, that gives a nice look and feel, decent usability, and excellent graphics.
Below are some elements that should be considered when designing an ecommerce website:
- Put your best-selling items on the homepage since it will save your customers time and anticipate their requirements.
- To make browsing and decision-making easier, group related products together into collections and apply category filters.
- To increase sales, use product suggestions based on the buyer's information at hand.
- To better serve customers, provide thorough shipping details.
- To establish trust, including contact information and a feedback option.
- To help customers make better decisions, include a wishlist feature and an option for product reviews and ratings.
- For better representation, make use of high-quality product photos and the zoom option.
- For a more appealing page appearance, make sure there is enough white space
#3 Integrate CMS with Online Store
All of your written and graphic content, as well as marketing paperwork, can be stored and managed in one place with the help of a content management system (CMS). Once published, you can make modifications to the content or add new information, and the website will automatically update to reflect the changes.
A CMS will also help your employees promptly solve the tickets generated from customers. A ready-made solution like PrestaShop, OpenCart, or Magento can be used. Since these options are open-source, they can be easily incorporated into your website code.
#4 Ensure Compliance and Cybersecurity
Due to the massive problems caused by cybercrime and increasing customer payment data on the web, payment security is now of utmost importance. Thus, ecommerce businesses must prioritize the provision of secure payments. To ensure that payment-related customer information is kept secure, implement encryption, PCI compliance, authorization requests, and 3D security.
In addition to payment-related data, cybercriminals frequently target personal user information. Using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology, attacks and exploits can be avoided. SSL certificates encrypt private data, preventing intruders from reading and using it maliciously. You can use either a Private or a Shared SSL certificate for your website, which enables your site to transmit data securely over the web.
#5 Optimize Website Navigation and Search Options
If visitors cannot quickly search for what they need on your ecommerce platform, they’re unlikely to stick around for long, let alone make a purchase. Intuitive navigation around your ecommerce website is a crucial component of user-friendly UX/UI. This implies that rather than clicking haphazardly and failing to discover what they are looking for, users should instinctively understand where to find a site section.
When creating navigation options, make sure the structure of the website is logical. The main navigation menu should be at the top of the page and highly visible, with the search bar prominently displayed. Product categories should be systematically arranged into meaningful groups. You can also enable users to sort and filter products by style, size, price, manufacturer, and other relevant characteristics.
Robust search functionality is another crucial element, particularly for an ecommerce website with numerous products. Buyers can easily discover what they are looking for with the use of an effective search function without having to browse through multiple product pages. The addition of ‘related searches’ and autocomplete functionality will make navigating even better!
#6 Write Detailed and Informative Product Descriptions
It is necessary to give potential customers all the information they need by equipping your online store with thorough, comprehensive product descriptions that will perform the job of sales personnel. Creating product demonstrations in the context of their use will add more value to your descriptions. Use bullet lists rather than paragraphs when writing textual product information as they are easy to read and comprehend.
As your customers can’t touch and see their items from every angle, you need to give your consumers all the information they require to picture your product in their heads. This includes the type, color, size, weight, cut and fit (for clothes), thickness, and all the necessary details they need to know before making a purchase.
A good product description should contain the following elements:
- Rick overviews of features and product capabilities
- High-quality videos and pictures offering a 360-degree view of the products
- Details of the manufacturer and manufacturing process
- Shipping information
- Details of product warranty/guarantee
- Prices and discounts
- Availability of the product
- Customer reviews
#7 Provide Easy Access to Customer Support and Contact Information
The Payments Methods Report mentions that millennials value personalization, such as tailored recommendations from a support agent. While online businesses work on making this possible, customer service agents can assist customers in issues with orders, payments, returns, and more. Integrating AI-based chatbots on your website will enable you to respond to customer queries quickly, all round the clock.
Having a contacts page on your website is always a good practice, along with a strip of information at the top of each page with a clickable phone number or email address. To increase your credibility, have your physical address and contact mentioned on the website. Also, consider adding a Whatsapp or Messenger chat button for the younger generation, who typically prefers to converse online.
#8 Keep Checkout Process Simple
Make sure your potential customers won’t abandon their carts due to an unnecessarily complex checkout process. Thus, your online store should make it simple to add things to the cart and speed the checkout process. Create forms that are simple to fill out and include an auto-save feature so that customers can make rapid purchases.
To enable rapid and anonymous transactions, you can offer the option to check out as a guest. Another useful feature is the ‘persistent’ shopping cart, which enables customers to come back later and find the cart contents unchanged.
Other important additions to the checkout process include:
- An eye-catching checkout button
- Multiple payment methods
- Easy editing of cart contents
- No hidden/unexpected costs at checkout
- High loading speed
- Promo codes and coupon buttons
- Simple and unfussy shopping cart design
- Support department availability through call
#9 Implement Right SEO Tactics
Speaking of bad reputations, Google’s newest user benefit is the ability to flag websites that load slowly. As per a study done by Think with Google, the likelihood of users leaving a page increases by 90% if it takes up to five seconds to load. That makes it even more important to consider optimization and ensure that your website is operating at peak efficiency.
In addition to page loading speed, SEO aims to improve your website's search engine ranking and increase sales by using a variety of tactics and strategies. Including keywords in new website content and page titles, descriptions, and image captions is a big part of it. Many professionals overlook the fact that if you provide "alt" descriptions to your visual material, customers can find you through an image search.
An SEO expert may assist you with organizing page structure and internal linking, developing a content strategy, designing a mobile-friendly design, enhancing loading speed, and other crucial factors. The website should, at the very least, launch with all the necessary meta tags.
Finally, before you run the site live, testing is critical to make sure there are no technical problems. As insufficient testing can result in the creation of technological debt, running an A/B test is a crucial step of website development.
#10 Mobile-Friendly Adaptation
HootSuite's Digital Report shows that 5.112 billion unique mobile device users - or 2/3rd of the world’s population - spend 48% of their online time on mobile devices. Also, a majority of smartphone users prefer shopping for products online.
Thus, it is crucial to ensure that your ecommerce website is mobile-friendly responsive design so that users can have the best possible experience, regardless of the device they use to access it. A responsive website design aims to ensure that mobile device users have a good experience with your platform, from navigation to payment and checkout.
#11 User-Generated Content and Reviews
User-generated content is content created and submitted by your customers themselves. UGC is a great way to generate social proof for your products. Along with photos and videos, it can also include reviews and testimonials – which can be invaluable to your brand. In fact, the lack of reviews on your website can easily make potential customers disinterested and search for alternative brands.
Consider how you can obtain and show customer feedback since it is always beneficial for giving your website more credibility. Customers may have the ability to upload their video reviews and product photographs to the website, in addition to textual reviews and product unboxings. On the home page, you can also have a comment carousel with links to the products that have been reviewed.
#12 Price Filters and Wishlists
Provide your customers with the option to search and sort for products within their desired budget by embedding price filters. The overall details of the pricing of the products should be transparent with no hidden charges. Also, a product wishlist is a feature that every ecommerce store needs to have. It allows your customers to save a product for the future in case they do not have to make a purchase at the moment.
People frequently forget what they loved on a website from their prior visit, but a wishlist undoubtedly helps them recollect what they liked previously. This can be taken one step ahead by gently reminding your customers about the discounted prices on their wishlisted products. Don't forget to make your wishlist appealing and engaging so that visitors to your website can easily see it and want to utilize it.
The e-commerce industry is growing like never before as many shoppers have started to purchase online at their convenience and preferred timings. To eliminate the basic bottlenecks in the industry, any business can make use of the ecommerce web development strategies mentioned above. It all includes understanding the business requirements, optimizing the website content, and offering the best services to attract customers.
By considering these elements, you can create an ecommerce platform that offers a positive user experience, converts visitors into buyers, and brings profits. Choosing the best shopping cart software can help build the perfect ecommerce store for you, both in terms of design and functionality.
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