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A Beginner’s Guide To: Ecommerce Websites In 2019

Published: 25th September 2018 | Last Updated: 17th October 2018

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Have you seen the term ecommerce used in the media recently as the online retail industry has exploded? Have you ever wondered what exactly the term ecommerce means? And the science that has enabled retailers to watch profits soar?

At Web Design Review we enjoy explaining how our industry works. So we’ve written guides on various topics to help increase understanding. Today we’re focusing on ecommerce. Just think of us as your friendly guides for everything you need to know about selling online.

In this article we discussed the following subjects:

1) What Is Ecommerce?
2) Is It Right For Your Business?
3) What Should You Research?
4) How Do I Optimise My Ecommerce Website?

1) What Is Ecommerce?

The most basic definition we can think of is: the collection of commercial transactions that take place electronically, over the internet. To say it’s that simple would be slightly misleading however. Ecommerce also includes marketing, taking payments, arranging deliveries, and unfortunately for retailers, refunds.

If your website handles money in a buying or selling format, then it’s pretty safe to say it’s an ecommerce website. This is true even if you are not the one directly selling products or services through said website. If the website connects a buyer and a seller on an online platform and the transferring of funds takes place via your website then it is an ecommerce platform.

2) Is It Right For Your Business?

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Maybe you already have a ‘bricks & mortar’ store where you sell your products. If this is the case then we fully recommend setting up an ecommerce store to accompany your shop. This would be especially beneficial if you are selling products not easily available in regular stores.

You don’t have to necessarily distribute products to customers if you’d prefer not to. You could organise collection of items from your physical store. This ensures customers can be confident they will get what they came for and, as a bonus, they may potentially buy more products from the store when they collect.

Maybe you have just invented or designed a unique product that you think would sell well, but you don’t have the means or indeed the inclination to establish a physical location on the street. Either way, by setting up an ecommerce website you have a fantastic opportunity to reach a huge number of prospective customers. Customers who may be local, or indeed on the other side of the world,

An ecommerce website is easily marketable online. You have the option of either free or paid social media marketing or paid adverts. Online marketing can prove especially fruitful for ecommerce site owners in comparison to physical businesses, due to the increased element of impulse buying, especially on products the customer hasn’t seen before.

How many times do you make a purchase via an online platform every week?

3) What Should You Research?

At this point you might not be certain about how to move forward. Should you hire a website design company to create your bespoke ecommerce website from scratch? Maybe you should opt for a one-stop shop (pardon the pun) ecommerce CMS platform like Shopify or Etsy? Or maybe something in-between like WooCommerce, which is built on WordPress, but requires a little technical know-how to set up and customise?

The platform you choose maybe guided by the type of business you own and your available funds. Ecommerce platforms such as Shopify or Etsy are perfect for businesses with a limited budget. They are usually subscription based and unfortunately, they often take a percentage of your sales too. These platforms are usually limited with the features you can include. Don’t be completely put off by this though. They can be a cost effective solution until you can afford a website that meets all your requirements.

Bespoke ecommerce websites built on WooCommerce offer a whole range of custom plugins to make your website stand out from the rest. This means they are completely unique to your business. The likelihood of your website ranking in Google search results is increased with the use of search engine optimisation.

And you can relax, as you won’t have anyone dipping into your hard earned profits. Just a one off fee to get you started is all that you require with these types of websites.

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Whichever option you choose, the following questions will help you to organise and manage your ecommerce web design project.

Your Future Customer

  • Who will be buying your product?
  • How will they find your website?
  • What device will visitors use to browse your site?

Your Customer’s Shopping Experience

  • What kind of emotion would you like your visitors to have when they view your website? Also, how do you want them to feel when they have finished their visit?
  • How will they pay? (currency, method of payment, etc)
  • What kind of support will you provide; before, during, and after their purchase?
  • How much time will it take for the typical buyer take to make a decision?
  • How many products will you have?

Your Competition

ecommerce website with shopping bags next to it

  • Which of your competitors websites might customers also visit?
  • What are your customer’s biggest concerns when shopping on your site?
  • Consider what sets your online shop apart from the rest. For example, what can you offer that your competitors don’t? We advise you look at everything from an online chat feature, helpful returns policy and even how likely your customers are to remember your website.
  • What makes it stand out from the crowd? Is there anything your competitors have that you don’t?
  • Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll have created an excellent foundation upon which to build your online shop. It will also help make consultations with prospective web designers smoother as well.

Showcasing Your Products

Next you can start thinking about the specific products that you plan to sell. Think about the type of product photos you need.

First things first – make sure every image is displayed at high quality. No one is interested in pixelated, low quality images of a product. Also think about the staging of your product. For example; studio shots, lifestyle shots, scale shots, detail shots, and group shots all tell the story of your product in slightly different ways. When done well, they can also answer most, if not all, of your customer’s potential questions before they even think to ask them.

It’s also time to dream up the compelling product descriptions that include valuable information about your products. These can be crafted into catchy copywriting that convinces your visitors to buy.

Copywriting is a prime opportunity to sell your product. Alongside the high quality images we’ve described above, the copy is your sales pitch. Tell your customer all the information that you would want to know about this product if you couldn’t physically hold it. What’s the material? How could you use this? Are there different colour options?

Describe how having the product will make their life easier, more fashionable or generally better. Having a FAQ section for anything you may have missed is also helpful. Including a page or section of customer recommendations is encouraging to visitors too.

4) How Do I Optimise My Ecommerce Website?

ecommerce charts and statistics diagram

It’s not enough to simply build an ecommerce site. Your customers need to be able to actually find it. The good news – there are many ways to optimise your website to increase your visibility and visitor numbers.

Your first task is to make sure that your website has excellent SEO. This will help people easily find your site while using search engines. Think of the keywords that might help your visitors find the products you’re listing.

If you are unsure on what to do in terms of SEO consider watching You Tube videos about this. You could also check out our blog articles discussing SEO.

We’d advise you avoid watching or reading any information on SEO that is more than 6 months old. It is probably out of date and void. You may find websites such as Etsy or Shopify are limited with ability to optimise for SEO. It’s for this reason we recommend upgrading to a bespoke package on a website CMS such as WooCommerce at your earliest convenience.

You also need to make sure that once your visitors have arrived that your website is a pleasant place to be. Much like a store in real life! Make sure navigation is easy, your pages aren’t too cluttered with text and images, and that everything flows well.

Is your site fast, or does it take a long time for pages to load? Have you chosen easy, trustworthy payment methods? How professional or amateur looking are your photos and descriptions? It might help to have a few friends take a look and give you their honest opinion.

In A Nutshell

The growth of the online retail sector is due to consumer habits changing. And they won’t be changing back the other way any time soon. Setting up a basic ecommerce website is affordable and involves little technical expertise.

By establishing an online presence you open your products up to a whole world of potential customers. For any retailer – your own ecommerce site truly makes the sky the limit!

Continue Reading: Learn How Internet Giant Google Rank Websites

What Do You Find Encourages You To Make A Purchase When Visiting An Ecommerce Website?

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This inspired us to create a Learning Zone featuring guides just like this one. They provide Beginner’s Guides to various topics relating to website design and digital marketing. You can see the various topics we’ve written about below.

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Looking For A Web Design Company?

Freshly armed with the concepts behind creating an ecommerce website, maybe it’s time you approached web design companies? But the UK is home to thousands of web designers. Who should you trust with this vital tool for your business?

Well you’re in luck. Our experienced team have conducted in-depth research on hundreds of the UK’s leading web design companies. We’ve then written reviews based on our findings before ranking them. Save yourself time and money completing research we’ve already done for you!

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