Looking to start an online business, but don’t know where to start? Feeling impatient and want to get going ASAP? Great! Whoever said patience is a virtue must have had too much time on their hands…
Here is my fast and furious guide, I share six basic tips to help you have your e-commerce site up and running before the weekend.
No Shopping Around
You’ve got the drive, you’ve got the idea, your home office is set up, and you’re raring to go, so let’s get this e-commerce site online!
Cool your engines. Aren’t online shops known for having… Products?
Maybe you’ve got a friend who knows a guy, who knows a guy who could get you some wholesale office supplies. Perhaps you can bang out a couple of handmade accessories a day… If you work for 18 hours and take no bathroom breaks.
All great options. However, sourcing your products cheaply online is a much easier way to start your eCommerce business. (And your customers may not know any different).
Using sites like AliExpress is the simplest way to source, import, and ship products, and you can even pass off the shipping and handling to someone else. The technique is called drop shipping and means that you, the trader, can supply your customers with hundreds of different products without having to own a single one, or store them in a warehouse. This means you don’t need to invest in inventory, and that you can offer a more comprehensive product range using a highly scalable model.
What’s not to love?
Word of warning — you’ll still need to figure out a way to add value to your products though. Look at different ways in which branding or content can help you do that.
DIY Your Brand
An integral part of having a successful business in the 21st century is having a clear and recognizable brand. So before you launch your online shop have a think: who is your company? And what about it is going to drive customers to your door?
A few things to consider:
- What is your unique selling point?
- Who are your customers?
- Who are your competitors?
- What problem do we solve?
When you have a clear idea of who you are as a company, then you can start to add the creative details we know and recognize about the brands we love.
- Create a consistent tone of voice that you will use in your onsite copy and your social media campaigns — the quirkier, the better
- Create a logo that reflects your brand, catches the eye, and is recognizable & unique.
- Choose your brand colors — go for ones which compliment your products and help create a positive customer experience.
Build Your E-commerce Site in Seconds
Whether you’re a coding pro or don’t know your HTML from your BLT, building a site from scratch is a laborious, complicated task. Of course, if you have the skills and fancy flexing some coding muscles, a bespoke site may be the right choice for you.
But, as this is the fast and furious guide to e-commerce, we like things quick, simple, and now, now, now. WooCommerce is an easy to use (free!) WordPress plugin that quickly transforms any WordPress site into a store. You’ve got thousands of beautiful themes to choose from, and the learning curve isn’t steep at all.
Dealing with everything from coding, listing products, pricing, shipping, and data analytics, you’ll get a one-stop shop for your eCommerce business.
This tutorial covers it all:
If you want to explore other e-commerce options, then e-commerce CMS Shopify allows you to sell through your WordPress site, which could be a good option for people looking for an integrated solution (Shopify works well with Amazon and social platforms).
Embrace Search Engine Optimization
There are thousands of ways to implement proper SEO on your e-commerce site.
Google looks at as many as 10,000 different signals with every search. Meaning everything from user location, site speed, images and URL can have an impact on your site’s SEO performance.
Just to get you started, remember these key things:
- Your site should be user focused. Streamline your processes and your design and make sure your customer has no trouble navigating your site.
- Use keywords. Clearly, label your products, and include detailed and useful descriptions.
- Google favors fresh quality content, so consider starting a blog. Your blog could be about your products, a day in the life of an e-commerce entrepreneur, or anything you think your audience would enjoy reading.
- Be mobile ready. Google’s switch to favoring mobile devices is imminent, so be sure your site is mobile friendly and encourages users to buy on their phones.
Fast Integrations for Faster Checkouts
With 53% of mobile users abandoning sites that take longer than 3 seconds to load, we know we’re not the only ones who like things quick.
If you plan to have a mobile site, and I strongly suggest you do, it’s integral your shop is fast… and just a little furious.
Site speed can be affected by anything from image size to piled up data and can be improved by compressing and cutting images and unnecessary detail. There’s a great article on improving your site speed in 10 easy steps on Crazyegg.
But to connect with your customer’s impatient side and protect that basket from being abandoned, you’ll want to implement integration wherever possible.
Online integration refers to stitching together multiple programs to create a streamlined structure that functions as one. The data involved in each process becomes part of a much larger system. For example, if your site requires a sign in, why not offer the opportunity to sign in via Facebook? Or, for really speedy checkout add PayPal payments to your online shop, allowing your customers to buy at the click of a button. Get social
You’ve found your products, designed your brand, launched your site, and injected it with great integrations. Your site is off the ground and the customers are actually coming in, hooray!
You’re an online entrepreneur, time for a cigar and a lie-down!
Oh no, you don’t.
A) Smoking in bed is a recipe for disaster
B) You’re not quite done yet.
Now you’ve got some customers it’s time to make sure you’re communicating with them, building your audience, and finding out new smarter ways to sell to them.
- Utilize social media. Keeping in touch with your audience is simple thanks to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Use these platforms to inform your customers of sales, discounts, new stock, and seasonal events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. To really make the most of social media for e-commerce encourage user-generated content to up your social proof stakes.
- Use email. When running your e-commerce shop you’ll be able to collect customer information such as email addresses. Don’t let this precious data go to waste: use effective email marketing campaigns and encourage your users to buy more of your products through e-shots and retargeting.
Part of what makes working in the vast big world of digital content so exciting is its ability to evolve constantly. What may work for you today, may not work tomorrow, and what is gospel now, may be absolute garbage in a year’s time.
As an online entrepreneur, it’s up to you to keep track of all the ways to improve your business and keep up to speed with emerging trends. However, this guide gives you the essential tools to get you a head start on your eCommerce venture.
So, don’t waste any more time…3…2…1…GO!
Victoria Greene: Writer & Ecommerce Entrepreneur
When I’m not running my own successful online businesses, I’m at home doodling in my notepad or playing with my new puppy. I live for everything digital and love sharing my knowledge with other entrepreneurs.