When you're setting up an ecommerce website, make sure that you're building firm foundations in the design, structure and usability of the site. Getting everything right up front will save you some serious heartache further down the line. I built my first online shop for one of my customers in 1998; many things have changed since then but the same guiding principles apply.
Here are some important points to take into consideration when building your online shop:
1. Content management system (CMS)
This is where you’ll add your products and manage the general content of your site. It needs to be intuitive, simple to use and flexible enough to serve your existing business needs and grow with your business. Being search engine ready is also a must so that you can attract customers through Google and Bing, rather than having to pay for traffic.
2. Shopping Cart
Choosing an inferior shopping cart system will negatively impact your customer experience. Have a look at the market leaders to see how they manage the experience. Does the system take care of returns? Does it display your refund policy prominently? Does it integrate with your back office system? The best software integrates a CMS with the shopping cart software, allowing you to control everything from one interface.
3. Taking payment
If you’re taking payment yourself, do you have a secure server with an SSL certificate on which to do this and a direct link to your payment provider? If you’re passing payment through to a 3rd party (such as Paypal), you’ll still need a secure server on which to take the customer’s details. By encrypting your customer’s data, you reduce the likelihood of it being stolen or used maliciously. It also has the potential to increase conversion rates, as the green HTTPS sign in the URL bar acts as a trust signal. Finally, Google announced in 2014 that it will be ranking websites with SSL certificates higher than those without, so there is an SEO benefit too.
4. Fast and reliable web host
A sluggish web host is a turn off when it comes to online shopping. With numerous images and videos to serve up for each product, nothing is more frustrating to the end user than speed. Check the speed of the host yourself using an online tool. Another good tip is to make sure that you check the speed of the server that you’re going to be using – not just the fastest one that they have.
5. Mobile friendly
Some ecommerce sites report that up to 40 per cent of all traffic comes from from mobile and tablet devices. If your website isn’t optimised for
mobile, you’re could be neglecting more than a third of your potential customers.
6. A trusted partner
Finally, make sure that whoever you choose to partner with for your e-commerce site has the right credentials. Do your research and make sure that they can deliver. Remember size doesn’t always matter. A smaller organisation can provide you with the personal service that you may not get from a larger organisation.