It’s no secret that the rise of online shopping in recent years has been meteoric. People spend more money online these days than ever before, which makes now the perfect time to build an e-commerce store.
However, if you’re new to online sales, it can be hard to know where to begin. In this article, we’re going to walk you through the fundamentals of building an e-commerce store and show you 5 things that every effective e-commerce store must-have.
1. An effective domain
You can’t have any website without first having a domain, which is why the first step is to choose and secure your website domain.
Your domain is the URL of your e-commerce store and is typically representative of your retail brand name. It’s important to give a lot of thought to this first step and to get it right.
Return customers will probably make up a big chunk of your online sales, so your domain name has to be memorable enough that these customers can find their way back. It should be short, catchy, and ideally include a broad ‘keyword’ that you’re targeting.
A great idea is to start with the keyword and then add a catchy brand term. For example, if you’re selling sneakers, your domain could be something like ‘sneakercity.com’ or ‘sneakerhouse.com’.
You should also aim for a ‘.com’ domain extension if at all possible. Some reports suggest that .com domains have extra ‘ranking power’, so it could help with your SEO efforts. It’s also more universal, compared to regional domains like .co.uk and .au
2. A good, fast hosting provider
When you’re running an e-commerce store, your business is always open – you’re always making sales. As such, website downtime can be expensive. Every second your website is down is potentially another missed sale.
That’s why it’s so important to have a solid web hosting provider. Your web host is responsible for keeping your website server online so that your customers can access it. There are lots of hosts to choose from, and some are better than others.
Bluehost is widely regarded as the ‘best’ hosting provider, but there are many others, like Hostgator and GoDaddy. Choose the one that seems like the best fit for you.
The quality of your hosting provider can also impact the loading speed of your website – another crucial part of building an effective e-commerce store. Site speed is an important SEO ranking factor, which means having a fast, responsive site is very important.
3. A good e-commerce platform
Your e-commerce platform is the software that you use to actually build your e-commerce website and put it all together. It allows you to design your storefront and manage all aspects of your online business marketing, sales, and operations.
There are lots of different e-commerce solutions out there, such as Magento, OpenCart, and Shopify, but the most popular platform is WooCommerce, which integrates with WordPress.
Do your research to find out which platform is right for you and use it to build your website
4. Security certificates and badges
A major part of running a successful e-commerce store is building trust with your customers. Shopping online is notoriously unreliable and customers are super aware of what makes a site worth trusting.
If you want to build trust with your shoppers your e-commerce store should have an SSL certificate and safe checkout guarantees and badges. All of these elements will give your visitors the confidence to purchase items from your store, even if they no nothing about your business or brand.
5. A clear returns policy
One of the main things that can put customers off shopping at your online store is a policy of ‘no returns’. When building your e-commerce store, it’s important to develop an actionable returns policy. Try to make things as easy as possible for customers, and make sure that the policy is visible at all stages of the purchase path.
Your customers shouldn’t have to struggle to find your returns policy – it should be visible whenever they want to find it. This means showcasing it in places like your page headers, footers, and on individual product pages.
Your user interface should also be set up in such a way that it’s easy for your users to navigate directly to the return procedure interface, whatever that may be.
6. Email opt-in features
Email marketing is one of the most effective marketing channels for ecommerce stores. You can use email to remarket your products to existing customers, send out promotional offers and deals, and drive sales. That’s why capturing email addresses and building your email list is essential, and to do that, you need an email opt-in page. You can use a plugin like Mailchimp to create sign-up forms, capture pages, and exit popups, and include them on your website.