The first part of my eCommerce startup guide covered the preliminary steps involved with establishing an online business. With the fundamentals now in place, you’re ready to start designing your eCommerce store with the eventual aim of launching it into the online stratosphere.
Creating the logo
Your logo needs to be visually summative of your business’ branding. Since it’ll form the aesthetic foundations of your eCommerce site, it’s absolutely critical to get right. If neither you or business partners don’t have the skills in place to design a logo, you should consider hiring a designer. You could hire a freelance designer, who solely specialises in graphic design, or approach a creative agency. Philip Elliott, Marketing and E-Commerce manager of We Sell Electrical, decided to take the creative agency route by contracting Studio ROKIT to design their smart and modern logo design and branding.
If you’re unsure on which route to take, use Behance; a great portfolio directory that lets you browse different designs created by individuals and teams. If a particular design takes your fancy, contact the creator directly asking for services in logo design.
Once you have your logo, ensure you have the raw Photoshop/illustrator file as well as exported images in various sizes. This will help you out when updating your branding/website further down the line and when you’re creating additional business collateral, e.g., business cards, letterheads, promotional banners etc.
Building your eCommerce store
Now that you have established a logo, you’re ready to start building your site. Again, the same approach from above can apply; if you have the skills yourself, you’ll be able to reduce costs by building the site yourself. WooCommerce for WordPress, Shopify and Magento are arguably your most popular choices in eCommerce platforms, with the former being ideal for smaller sites and the latter ideal for larger sites. If you don’t have the skills or resources available in-house, opt for a freelancer or agency who specialise in web design. Whoever you choose to build your site, ensure your relationship is solid. The process of building an eCommerce site is lengthy and often ongoing, meaning that transparency in communication is key.
Aron Gelbard, co-founder and CEO of Bloom & Wild, advises that a large part of your eCommerce implementation strategy should be placed on mobile. “mCommerce is becoming increasingly more adopted by users in their purchase journey” says Gelbard, with the platform accounting for a third of all ecommerce sales in the UK in 2015. You therefore need to ensure a fluid user experience on the desktop, tablet and mobile configurations of your eCommerce site.
With the inherent large size of an eCommerce site, you also need to apply the same amount of time, dedication and effort throughout each level. Don’t sacrifice content on some areas of the site due to exhaustion and boredom. Spend as much time on your homepage as you do on your category, product and checkout pages so your customers remain engaged throughout. Populating an eCommerce site is admittedly timely and resource-heavy, but remaining committed throughout the process will ensure a positive user experience that will naturally receive traction.
Think about your shipping
Just before you launch your eCommerce site, you need to spare some thought towards your shipping strategy. As mundane as it may sound, getting this right can actually result in lower overheads and additional profit. Here are the three most common shipping options available to eCommerce store:
- Free Shipping – this is obviously the most appealing option for your customer and could prove a strong influencing factor towards them purchasing from your site. The cost will have to be subsidised somewhere though, via increased product pricing or your business taking the hit via your margins (or a combination of the two).
- Charging a flat rate – if you’re going to charge for shipping, charging a flat rate can often be the simplest option for the customer. However, you need to be sure to pitch the rate just right so you’re not undercharging or overcharging yourself or your customer. This strategy works best when the products you offer are similar in size and weight.
- Charging actual courier rates – this allows the customer to purchase their shipping directly from the courier and have the flexibility to choose the exact level of shipping they require.
Your next consideration is choosing the correct packaging. You want to ensure your products fit appropriately within the packaging as any wasted space will result in higher shipping costs. Several packing services for eCommerce sites exist, including Boxtopia, whose bespoke boxes could serve to increase your business’ branding.
Encouraging traffic and revenue
Unfortunately, the popular Field of Dreams’ quote of ‘if you build it, he will come’ doesn’t really apply to online business. Once you have launched your eCommerce site, you’ll need to work at encouraging traffic and ultimately, revenue.
Digital marketing covers several disciplines with each area being as effective as the other in encouraging traffic. Consider the following digital marketing channels when looking to attract business to your eCommerce site:
- Email marketing – collecting emails is a sure-fire way of encouraging repeat custom from your users. Use Mailchimp to conduct and monitor your email marketing campaigns.
- Social media marketing – it’s nothing news that the majority of internet users engage in some form of social media activity. Get in front of your audience by crafting a well-thought out social media campaign that appeals to your target market.
- PR – getting featured in articles across the web is a great way building brand awareness. Consider the different angles and stories of your business and approach relevant publications, on either a local or national scale, to get featured and noticed.
- Search engine optimisation – a considerably large section of your audience will use search engines. Make your eCommerce site search-engine friendly to ensure you’re seen on Google and Bing.
- Paid advertising – paid advertising can span across several channels, including search engines, social media and other external websites, making the reach of this marketing channel arguably limitless. Since you only pay every time a user clicks on your ad, being granular and targeted with this approach can often lead to a significant return.
- Affiliate marketing – Affiliate marketing gets your products advertised on external sites whilst paying a commission for any sales generated in return. Several established eCommerce sites invest in affiliate marketing and it may be a viable marketing channel for your business as well.
To know which traffic channels are working for you, ensure you have Google Analytics tracking implemented on your eCommerce site.
Building an eCommerce business can be a lengthy and gruelling process. Although the considerations I’ve outlined here are arguably the most important, you’re bound to run into a whole lot more along the way. The important thing is be informed. Talk to and learn from other eCommerce business owners to avoid the shortfalls they experienced. If you have any other advice for eCommerce business owners, feel free to discuss them with me on Twitter (@petejov).
By Petar Jovetic, Digital Marketing Account Manager at Impression Digital.