One of the wonderful things about the internet is that you no longer need a store front to sell products. There are many successful businesses that only have an online presence and excel beyond their offline counterparts.
So, if you've carefully selected your product(s) and you're ready to jump into the depths of online shopping its time to create, launch and grow your business.
Many Web Entrepreneurs will sell on Ebay, Etsy or Amazon which are fit for purpose and will guarantee some sales but also potentially take a cut of your earnings. Instead, create your own online store, get direct traffic and stop paying the giants!
Step 1: Domain name and hosting
I would recommend to choose a name easy to remember and related to your business! Coming up with a company name is difficult but its important to check that you don't have any competitors with a similar name and that your business can be registered.
You can always buy one for a year to start with and extend it later. Domain names are cheap and hosting prices vary but if you don’t expect large traffic to your website its not really worth spend a lot of money.
When you buy your domain name and hosting, you will be provided with a domain email address e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org. This is extremely beneficial, it makes your business look professional and allows your customers to communicate without knowing your personal contact information.
The best e-commerce software/platform to use
Your main task is to find an e-commerce solution with a content management system. This will help you to upload and edit your product details. There's plenty of e-commerce software and platforms on the market, a lot of which are free. Some are even integrated with a hosting platform (1and1 for example), but you could also use a ready to sell platform like Shopify or use software such as Magento or Prestashop. Woocommerce is also a very popular free plugin for online stores.
Before you launch your online store you still need to set up the delivery and payment methods you want to use (I recommend Paypal, but you can also choose Worldpay or Sagepay). I'd also check with your bank to see if they have payment provider for your website.
Creating and optimising content
When you've sorted out the logistics its time to create content for your website. Content needs to be both informative including T&C's, contact information and FAQs and engaging.
When you're creating content, either copy across your web pages or descriptions for your products keep search engine optimisation in mind. Always write in a clear and engaging manner for the customer but be mindful of how Google and other search engines rank your website (we have more on this here)! Moz also have a really helpful guide on why SEO is important.
For starters, writing a well-researched (using Adwords) title and description with relevant keywords will help search engines rank your website and product pages, bringing them to the attention of potential customers.
Your homepage needs special attention, concentrate on including your chosen keywords in the copy and in your page title and metadescription (you should be able to edit this in the CMS). Your page title should be a maximum of 60 characters and your description 160 characters.
Remember, each of your page titles and descriptions should be unique. Duplicating content can cause some big issues; search engines won't know which version to rank, include or exclude from their indices or whether to direct the link metrics to one page or keep it separated between multiple versions.
Increase your product's visibility
By using the internet you have the potential to be found by billions of users 24 hours a day. To ensure your products are visible don't forget to add an XML sitemap to your website and verify it with Google Search Console. By verifying with Google Search Console it proves that you're the site's owner or webmaster and you can then use it to gain detailed information about your site's performance. Once again, Moz has a helpful guide to this!
If you're interested in paid advertising, you can start an Adwords Campaign with a low budget! I would recommend you test your market by researching keywords matching your product. For example, with £200 and low competition on your keywords you can expect a few hundreds clicks and potentially a few sales! At Quadra we use Adwords to drive sales for our clients, if you're interested in this service take a look at what we can do for your business.
I would highly recommend to creating an account with an online Affiliation Programme like Webgains to link your website to affiliates that you'll only reward with a commission when a sale is made.
Congratulations! You've just got your first visit or your first sale. To understand the way your customers find and engage with your website you will need to link analytics software to your website, the most popular is Google Analytics. Data gleaned from Google Analytic's audience, acquisition, behaviour and conversion reports will help you improve and drive sales.
If you need help creating your own e-commerce website or want some advice on how to do so, please contact us!