The influence of the internet pervades all aspects of our lives, impacting socialization, entertainment, work, and research. Shopping, too, has become an integral part of our online activities.
In the present era, there exists a demographic of adults who have never experienced a world without the internet. As this generation, and those that follow, contribute to the growing expenditure, the field of ecommerce is set to expand. Currently, 43% of shoppers utilize the internet and social networks for product research before making a purchase. Projections indicate that by 2024, ecommerce revenue in the U.S. will amount to a substantial $476 billion.
For retailers, staying offline is not a viable option if they wish to connect with customers effectively. Ecommerce platforms provide businesses with the means to access new markets and establish resilience, especially in times of store closures. For budding entrepreneurs, launching an ecommerce site offers a global market and brand exposure even before establishing a physical store.
Initiating a dedicated ecommerce website allows for complete control over the customer experience, from branding to shipping and customer service. If opting for self-building or hiring a developer, understanding the process is crucial for informed decision-making, ensuring the creation of an optimized website geared toward product sales.
Ecommerce Sales Statistics:
- Ecommerce is anticipated to constitute 22% of global retail sales by 2023, a significant increase from 14.1% in 2019. This growth is attributed not only to the creation of more ecommerce sites but also to a shift in consumer shopping behaviors.
- Ecommerce sales during the first quarter of 2020 made up 11.5% of total sales. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the trend of online shopping, presenting an opportunity for businesses to showcase excellent online services and build customer loyalty for the post-COVID-19 landscape.
Reasons to Create an Ecommerce Website:
Apart from the evident financial benefits, there are compelling reasons for businesses to venture into ecommerce:
- New Market Acquisitions: For small businesses and startups, reaching new customers can be challenging with just a physical storefront. Ecommerce opens avenues to connect with online customers who might be inaccessible through traditional retail.
- Unique Shopping Experiences: Online businesses have the flexibility to shape the customer journey through videos, stories, and personalized services. These experiences extend beyond the checkout, allowing businesses to engage with customers through email marketing and social media.
- Brand Strengthening: Building an ecommerce site ensures control over product presentation and brand representation. Unlike online marketplaces, where products may be listed generically, a dedicated ecommerce site ensures that customers remember the brand associated with the products.
How to Build an Ecommerce Website Step-by-Step:
Constructing an ecommerce site may seem daunting, but with available solutions and careful planning, the process becomes manageable. Here’s a step-by-step guide:
- Select Your Perfect Ecommerce Platform
- Purchase a Domain Name
- Find a Developer
- Pick Your Ecommerce Theme
- Customize Your Ecommerce Template
- Add Your Products
- Set Up Payment Options
- Sort Out Your Shipping Settings
- Preview, Test, and Publish Your Online Store
Choosing the Right Ecommerce Platform:
The choice of an ecommerce platform is pivotal in determining the success of an online store. Three main types of platforms exist:
- Open Source: Offers free source code but requires advanced coding knowledge and dedicated security maintenance.
- SaaS (Software as a Service): Subscription-based platforms designed for ease of use, scalability, and robust security.
- Headless Commerce: Separates the shopping cart and display layer, providing creative control, quick market entry, and increased security.
Ecommerce web hosting, whether cloud or on-premise, impacts security and costs. Cloud hosting, often associated with SaaS or headless commerce, manages updates and security. On-premise hosting, typically found with open source solutions, involves business-owned servers, necessitating space and maintenance.
Considerations When Choosing an Ecommerce Solution:
Ensure optimal performance in areas like website performance, traffic capacity, mobile optimization, and secure payments and data.
Ecommerce Website Builders to Use:
Several ecommerce website builders cater to diverse needs. Some noteworthy options include BigCommerce, Shopify, Magento, and WooCommerce, each with its own features and suitability for different business sizes.
Purchase a Domain Name:
Selecting a domain name is a critical step. Follow best practices, avoid creative spellings, opt for brandable names, and keep it short (6-14 characters) for better memorability and marketing.
Find a Developer:
Even for bootstrapped businesses, a developer can expedite the setup process. Assess their timeline, portfolio, and references to ensure alignment with your vision and budget.
Pick Your Templates: Find a Theme that Matches Your Ecommerce Website Vision:
Templates, or themes, play a crucial role in site aesthetics. Consider factors like customer navigation, homepage style, and customization options when selecting a template.
Add Your Products:
Product pages are pivotal in showcasing what you offer. Optimize product descriptions, use high-quality images, and organize products into categories for a seamless shopping experience.
Set Up Payment Methods:
Choose a payment gateway that aligns with your business needs and customer preferences. Evaluate ease of integration, customer reviews, fees, and PCI compliance for a secure payment process.
Sort Out Your Shipping Settings:
Define your shipping policy, including fees and carriers. Select a shipping solution based on whether you handle packing or employ drop shipping, ensuring timely product delivery.
Preview and Publish Your Online Store:
Before launching, thoroughly test your site for functionality, checkout processes, mobile compatibility, and browser performance. Set up store settings, including language, time zone, and contact details, to ensure a smooth customer experience.
A successful ecommerce site transcends being a mere sales platform; it becomes a space for creating brand experiences, attracting new customers, and converting casual shoppers into loyal advocates. Selecting the right ecommerce platform and implementing a robust marketing strategy are crucial for establishing a successful online store and gaining a competitive edge in the ecommerce landscape.