Even as foot traffic at brick-and-mortar stores has declined over the past few years, eCommerce sales continue to boom. Black Friday weekend sales broke records in 2018, with total online spending reaching $6.22 billion on Black Friday and $7.9 billion on Cyber Monday, an increase of more than 19% over records set in 2017. Retail eCommerce sales in the United States are projected to grow from just over $500 billion in 2018 to $735 billion in 2023.
This growth represents a major opportunity for existing eCommerce businesses and newcomers alike. However, retailers who fail to build websites that are fully optimized and well-designed are likely to miss out on some of the opportunities created by this growth. Make sure to follow these steps for how to build an effective eCommerce website.
If you are wondering how to build an eCommerce website, you probably already have a product in mind. However, you will also want to do some research before launching your eCommerce site. You will want to make sure your product is viable and set appropriate pricing.
First, conduct market research to make sure there is a base of potential consumers for your product. Determine whether there is an existing market and, if so, whether your product will be able to break in and compete in the market based on pricing, quality, or unique features. If there is no existing market, make sure your product will be attractive and useful for potential customers.
Once you have determined that there is a viable market for your product, figure out your target audience. You will want to learn more about where and when your potential customers prefer to do their shopping, what they can afford, and what they are willing to spend.
This market research will, in turn, help you set pricing. This step is critical and often overlooked. If you set your price too high, you might not sell enough of your product to create a viable business. Conversely, if you set your price too low, you might sell more items but risk not bringing in enough revenue to make a profit or break even. Either way, you risk tanking your business and losing money on the endeavor.
To determine what pricing scheme makes sense for your products, you will need to determine the total cost of selling each unit. This includes the cost of producing each product, as well as the cost of website hosting, taxes, shipping costs, the percentage deducted by credit cards or other payment systems, marketing costs, and the amount you would like to earn and pay your employees.
Prices should also reflect what your potential consumers are willing and able to pay for the product. They should also take into account the prices that competitors are charging for similar products. You may have to adjust your pricing at the margins to make sure your products are competitive in your target market.
Once you have created a viable business plan, you must file paperwork to officially create your business. This will include filing registration documentation and applying for a vendor’s license, as well as looking into potential legal business issues. Contact a local attorney specializing in business law to help you through this process. While this will create an upfront cost, it will save you a lot in the long run, both in terms of time and issues that might arise down the road.
With the help of your attorney, you will need to decide the state in which you would like your business to be domiciled. Because each state has different requirements, you will need to check with the office of the Secretary of State as well as the state’s department of revenue or taxation to determine the requirements for new businesses.
Register the relevant articles of incorporation or organization with the Secretary of State, whether you are starting a corporation, limited liability company, or nonprofit. You will also need to apply for a vendor’s license or seller’s permit from the relevant state agency if you are making taxable sales. Many vendors will require you to have this permit before they agree to work with you, so it is helpful to get the paperwork straightened out in advance.
Once your business plan and documentation are in order, the next step is figuring out how to create an eCommerce website. First, you will need to select an eCommerce platform. Working from an eCommerce platform will make it easy to add elements you need for your site. These can include a shopping cart, payment platforms, and shipping management software. It will also ensure that you can work from existing templates and integrations rather than starting completely from scratch.
While a variety of platforms exist to provide different benefits, we recommend Magento. Magento offers a number of advantages, including:
If you want to launch your site over a relatively short period but with a professional look and feel, it is easiest to work with a developer. Again, while this represents an upfront cost, it will significantly lower your costs and raise revenue in the long run by making sure your site is user-friendly and has a professional interface. It will also save you the time, hassle, and money involved in learning these skills yourself or hiring an in-house team.
A good development team will have knowledge about best practices for building a user-friendly site that will drive conversions and maximize revenue. Professional developers can also help you select a professional-looking theme, useful plugins, integrations, and more.
Screen your preferred team of developers before hiring them to make sure they have experience building eCommerce sites on your preferred platform. Get references from other eCommerce sites built by the developer. Be sure to speak with those companies to learn what it was like to work with the developers. You will also want to meet with the developers in advance to learn about the services they offer and their anticipated timeline for completing your project.
IronPlane is a leading U.S.-based, certified Magento full-service agency with 10-plus years of experience. IronPlane’s development team provides programming and customizable solutions for B2C and B2B eCommerce businesses on the Magento platform. IronPlane’s Magento developers have earned awards and recognition for their front- and back-end programming. In addition to eCommerce site development, IronPlane offers assistance with migrating to the Magento platform for existing eCommerce websites, cloud Magento hosting, and code review speed optimization. Book a free consultation appointment with us today to learn more about the custom solutions we can provide for designing your eCommerce store.
Once you have designed and determined how to create an eCommerce website, there are several best practices to follow to optimize your site for SEO. This will help grow your store’s visibility in organic (or nonpaid) search engine results.
The Magento eCommerce platform provides a wide variety of tools and integrations that can help optimize your site for SEO. IronPlane’s development team can help you develop an SEO strategy for your eCommerce site. We can also determine which tools and integrations will be the most useful for your brand.
In addition to SEO, don’t forget other forms of marketing. For example, you can use Magento’s tools to create a sign-up or provide a promotional incentive. This can grow your email marketing list.
After you launch, continue to monitor key performance indicators, or KPIs, to fine-tune your site. Cost per acquisition tells you how much you are paying for marketing to attract each new customer. This can tell you whether a channel or marketing campaign is worth your investment. Conversion rates show how many site visitors are actually making purchases. Low conversion rates can point to issues with the usability of your site. Average order value tells you how much your site’s average customer spends on a purchase. It also provides insights into customer behavior and spending.
Keeping track of this data can help you improve your eCommerce site’s design and user-friendliness, therefore increasing revenue. Magento provides a number of tools to help track and visualize your site’s KPIs.
The tremendous growth in eCommerce sales in recent years provides an important opportunity for retailers. This will allow retailers to move online and grow their businesses. It can be intimidating or confusing to know where to start when considering how to set up an eCommerce business. However, working with the right eCommerce platform and the right designers will maximize the returns on your upfront investment by making your eCommerce site as profitable as possible in the short and long run. Contact IronPlane’s team today to learn more about our custom eCommerce solutions.