Creating an eCommerce Website is simple and easy, and can also be free if you’re using the right provider.
First let’s answer the question, what is an eCommerce website?
An eCommerce website is like any other website you visit, but it’s express purpose is to sell something to the site visitor. Amazon is the perfect example of an eCommerce website as millions of products and companies who sell their products from that internet location.
Perhaps the better question is since Amazon and eBay are around, why do you need to have your own website? The answer is simple, costs, these host marketplaces charge an arm and a leg in commissions to sell via their site, and a homegrown site eliminates that profit sharing.
Ok, now that we have that out of the way, how do you create an eCommerce site??
It starts with an idea, what is it that you would like to sell? Do you already have a business running in low tech that you would like to make accessible to the digital marketplace?
Let’s use bicycles as our example today, you want to sell bicycles online, Great!
Now we need is a platform, here are some great recommendations
Selecting a platform is no simple task, the main reason being, that you never want to have to migrate to another platform as that entails large headaches and usually errors along the way. Our recommendations above are great for small and large businesses alike.
Shopify – The largest and most successful eCommerce platform is our #1 pick, it comes fully loaded with everything you need to start an eCommerce business with its intuitive platform, ease of use and 1000s of ads-ons in their own marketplace to be able to customize your store exactly the way you want it and need it to be. With additional themes to select from, it will make it as if they are there for real.
WooCommerce – One of the largest platforms that is predicated on WordPress. WordPress makes up for 40% of the world’s websites and this program conveniently lays on top of it, plug in and play! Like Shopify, its ease of use environment and customizable experiences and marketplaces makes WooCommerce a great option for those already using WordPress
BigCommerce – A major player in the eCommerce industry, a standalone product that focuses heavily on security and SEO. Combined with its ease of use and customizable technologies, BigCommerce is a great option for small and large businesses alike.
Building your eCommerce website
Building your eCommerce website is simple and easy, but first you need to do a lot of leg work to get things ready.
- Plan – Plan out how you would like your store to look, you can use the customizable themes, but have an idea in your head of what you want your store to look like, even write it down and work towards that journey.
- Products – You’ll need to have a full list of your products that you’ll be selling in your eCommerce store including names, category/department and several pictures. You will also need to note if there are variants of the same product like size or colour.
- Pricing – You’ll need to work out the pricing for each product with the new environment, you’ll save money on it not being a brick and mortar store, but you’ll need to work in shipping, plan carefully!
The next stage is not difficult but takes a long time to do. After you’ve selected your theme and come to the editor, you’ll need to create the categories and departments you’ll want to be using and start building products. Most builders will ask you for the category (or make new category) when building so it should be relatively straightforward. Once you have added the product most builders will ask if there are any variants (like size or colour) that need to be added, add as needed.
CRO or conversion rate optimization is the next step. Now that you have your website setup, products ready to be sold, it’s time to optimize! CRO is the process of creating hypotheses of why something should happen (or not happen) and testing if that theory is true or not, the goal is to get as many happy users as possible.
A website can be set up but if it’s hard to use and find things then it doesn’t matter how good your marketing is or how good your product is, your website may fail.
How does one do CRO
The first thing you need to do is ask yourself “what do you want your customer to see and do when they visit your website, what buttons or links do you want them to “journey” through and what goals do you want to accomplish from your users.
Example. John arrives at the homepage of your website, he then clicks on the “mountain bikes category” and clicks on several options before deciding to add to cart and checkout.
This is a customer journey and a prime example of CRO scenario. Obviously this is a good scenario where the customer buys something :), but other objectives can be had as well.
Example. Dana arrives at the home page and isn’t quite sure about which bike she wants to buy, she clicks around at different options but still can’t make the decision, fortunately you have a contact us form on your website and she fills it out, you now have her contact information.
This customer journey doesn’t put cash in the till immediately but having an interested person who leaves their contact information is still very valuable and a completely valid customer journey objective.
Once you have mapped out the goals from each type of customer, it’s important to see when those goals fail. For example, 1000 people come to your site, and 800 of them never get past the home page, that’s 80% not accomplishing any of the goals you set out for them (and probably cost you some marketing coin to achieve that visitor volume) you need to look at the home page and figure out what is causing them to leave
HotJar is a program that helps you see what the customer sees and their journey, by numbers, a highly recommended tool to install on your website.
The best (or perhaps hardest) part is CRO never ends. Every week or month (depending on how long you are running each test) gives you an opportunity to reflect back on what is working and what is struggling and make changes to it.
For example, even the colour of a button on a site can make that much of a difference if someone will click or tap it or not. Take care to notice the little things on the page and the more you optimize the better off your site will be.
Another big one is getting feedback from your customers of what they liked (and more importantly, disliked) from your website to know what to look out for and fix up.