By Debra Amato, Special to California Business Journal.
Since the start of the year, Australia and the rest of the world have fought against the coronavirus pandemic. With many brick and mortar shops temporarily closing as a result and potentially never opening again, more and more business entrepreneurs are jumping onto the e-commerce bandwagon and setting up their own online store.
Online shopping used to be seen as a luxury, but in 2020, it’s a necessity. If you have a passion and want to set up your own e-commerce store, knowing where to begin can be challenging. To help you on your journey, here is a guide on how to launch an e-commerce store this year.
Build a Strong Foundation
Once you have an idea for your e-commerce store, it’s vital that you set aside plenty of time for planning and preparation. Your first port of call should be to create a business plan that outlines your objectives and goals, financial forecast, and how your store will stand out from the crowd. Even if you think you have a unique idea, it’s likely that there will be somebody else with a similar mindset, so noting down every aspect of your operation will help you stay on track.
There are several questions that you need to ask yourself before getting started, such as why you want to run an e-commerce store, what you’re planning to sell, who your target audience is, and how you plan to market and promote your brand. Once you have a thorough plan in place, this should boost your confidence and help you on your journey.
Choose the Right Platform
Once you’ve created a business plan for your e-commerce store, the next step is to pick a suitable platform to house it. Don’t worry if you haven’t got experience in coding, as there are many options out there where you don’t even need to touch code. Some of the most popular platforms to pick from include Etsy, Amazon, and eBay.
Etsy in particular is a great place to begin your e-commerce store, as your products can be exposed to millions of buyers from across the globe. In the last year alone, Etsy reported that over 30 million buyers purchased more than $2.8 billion dollars worth of products. Amazon and eBay are other reputable platforms that are home to thousands of e-commerce stores across Australia and the world.
Pick a Suitable Hosting Plan
If you’re unfamiliar with what a hosting plan is, it’s essentially what will power your e-commerce store. Without a hosting plan behind you, your store won’t run, so it’s vital that you consider your hosting options before launching your e-commerce page. While platforms like Amazon and Etsy take care of the hosting for you, there are advantages and disadvantages that you need to weigh up.
Popular hosting sites such as SiteGround, Bluehost, GoDaddy, and HostGator each come with their pros and cons, so to get the most out of your experience, you may want to pay extra for additional features.
Find the Perfect Domain Name
To attract as many customers as possible to your e-commerce store, it’s important that you pick a domain name that stands out and represents your brand in a short phrase. Ideally, your domain name will be related to your business, otherwise you may have difficulty gaining traffic. If you decide to go with websites like Amazon or Etsy, you are only allowed to add your store name to your URL, whereas platforms like BigCommerce and Shopify let you use your own URL.
Try and keep your URL short, simple, and readable. If you create a domain name that’s too long or overly complicated, users may be hesitant to check out your store. Your URL needs to be memorable and straight to the point, so try not to let your imagination run wild.
Build Your E-Commerce Store
Once you’ve taken all the steps above, it’s time to get building your e-commerce shop from the ground up. Getting started can be an overwhelming experience, so it’s important that you take the time to familiarise yourself with your chosen platform and check out tutorials and guides that can help you from start to finish.
There are all sorts of things to consider, such as writing engaging content, using high-quality photos for your products, as well as details on shipping. Consumers are spoilt for choice when online shopping, so you need to pull out all the stops to get their attention and get your brand noticed.
Don’t Forget About SEO
SEO (search engine optimisation) is a crucial component when it comes to launching a successful e-commerce store. It’s only natural that you will want as many people as possible to click on your store URL, so make sure that you use the correct SEO strategies to boost your search engine ranking result. PWD is an SEO Perth business that are experts in everything SEO. The company has many years of experience in helping brands like Scott Park Group, The Patio Factory, and Pharmacy 777 with their SEO, helping to boost their ranking on Google.
It’s important that you use the correct keywords that are related to your products so consumers can easily find your store. Make sure that you don’t stuff keywords unnaturally throughout your page, as this can make things complicated and do more harm than good to your brand.
Set Up Payment Processing
Platforms like Shopify and Amazon Marketplace have their own payment gateways set up, which you can use. There is also the option to collect payments with a third-party payment company such as PayPal. If you decide on Magento or WooCommerce for example, you will need to create and connect your own payment processing gateway. Thankfully, there are many reliable options to select from, such as Stripe and Square.
To help you find the right one for your e-commerce store, you can check out their websites and compare their credit card fees, transaction fees, and monthly costs to make the decision process easier.
Add an SSL Certificate
Before your e-commerce store launches, customers need to know that they can trust your services. To add an extra layer of safety and security to your page, it’s advisable to add an SSL certificate. In a nutshell, an SSL adds a padlock to your page, which keeps important data like credit card information confidential.
In regard to SEO, an SSL certificate will give your e-commerce store a boost in search engine ranking results as it will show that your page is trustworthy and safe to use.
Before your e-commerce store goes live, it’s crucial that you thoroughly test it. If your customers are unable to complete a transaction, you will find that all your hard work and determination will go to waste, meaning you may lose out on tons of revenue.
You can get your family and friends to test your operation to ensure that everything is working correctly, so you can be safe in the knowledge that your customers will have a user-friendly experience.
Starting an e-commerce store and getting your idea off the ground can be a daunting experience, so make sure that you take all the tips listed above into consideration, which should help make the process more straightforward and stress-free. No matter what products you plan to sell or services to offer, the e-commerce market is booming, so getting your slice of the pie and staying committed can help you build a reputable and successful e-commerce store.