10 Things to Consider When Setting Up an E-Commerce Website
Thanks to their ease of use and rapidly growing user-base, e-commerce websites are well and truly taking off in South Africa. Are you a solopreneur, small business owner or large corporation hungry for a slice of the e-commerce pie? Expand your business operations into the online space by keeping these 10 things in mind.
From increasing your odds of being found by members of your target market to successfully converting them into paying customers - the value of sufficient, great quality content cannot be overemphasized for online stores. In addition to the all-important home and information pages, special attention needs to be given to all product pages. Because customers can’t physically inspect the product before making a purchase, you will need to give them a wealth of product information to go off of so as to assist them with making an informed purchase.
In a visually-influenced society, it’s vital to consider the aesthetics of your website to ensure that it’s visually appealing to visitors. The important design elements to deliver on include webpage layout, colour scheme, fonts, imagery and use of multimedia. Ultimately, your online store should have a look and feel that is synonymous with your business’s branding and products on offer.
When your website is responsive, every visitor can enjoy the full experience of your online store no matter which device they’re accessing it from. Because more and more people are using their mobile devices to access websites, it’s especially important that your online store is optimized for mobile; thereby allowing all visitors to browse, shop and pay on their device of choice.
Ease of Use
Online stores should not only look super, but visitors should be able to navigate around them easily, too! A few key areas to pay attention to include the functionality of your search, shopping cart and checkout areas. Right from the moment a visitor enters your site to the moment they settle payment, you want to make it as easy for them as possible. This includes helping them to find what they’re looking for (by using search filters for example); making it easy for them to add or remove selected items from their shopping cart; and taking them through a simple checkout process.
Even if you’ve arranged the abovementioned elements down to the tee, your online store’s shipping policy can still make or break the sale. Furthermore, inaccurate shipping calculations can end up costing you or your customer more than it should - in which case the customer may view the total cost of the order as being too expensive. You can safeguard against this to an extent by partnering with a courier that best meets your business’s needs and a website developer who has sound knowledge of shipping processes and freight industry API’s.
In addition to shipping, it’s important to establish which payment options you’re going to offer your online customers. While one of the perks of online shopping is the ease by which one can pay by credit card, be sure to also offer additional payment options such as mobicred, SnapScan or EFT so as not to exclude any customers based on their payment preference.
E-commerce websites can be susceptible to a vast number of security risks which, if not protected against, can have grave consequences for both your business and its customers who volunteer their valuable private information. Your website therefore needs to be as secure as possible (by way of an SSL certificate for example) so as to gain your customers’ trust and protect their address, contact and credit card details.
One of e-commerce’s biggest selling points is how much time it saves the buyer. Prospective customers expect your website to be quick and easy to navigate and, if it isn’t, you can be sure to see a corresponding negative effect on conversions. It’s therefore vital to ensure that your website is working at its optimum so as to prevent any barriers to sale as a result of sluggish load times. There are many ways to bring your website load speed down – from minimizing image size and using browser caching to avoiding redirects and broken links.
In a competitive online space, marketing is crucial to the success of your online store. If you have a brick and mortar premises, mobilise your in-house staff and sales team to create awareness of your online counterpart and invest in traditional and/or online advertising to spread the word. Online stores can also benefit significantly from Google AdWords / Pay-Per-Click campaigns where you can specify budget and targeting parameters, and will only be charged once someone clicks through to your online store.
Ensure that you’re on the right track with your online store by setting up Google Analytics. By gaining detailed information on your visitors, where they came from and how they moved around your site, you can discover what does and doesn’t work – so that you can continue to focus your efforts where you get the most return on investment. Google Analytics also provides crucial statistics on the performance of your online store – including site and page speed.
With so much to consider before launching an online store, it’s reassuring to know that there are professionals to help you every step of the way. At Online Innovations, our team of e-commerce specialists can provide you with a wealth of expertise to efficiently and professionally establish your business online.