Launching a brick-and-mortar store involves rigorous efforts at pre-launch, launch, and post-launch stages. The same goes true for the modern eCommerce storefront launch.
In a broad sense, an online storefront owner or a company has to pass through the following phases and answer the respective questions on each stage before starting an e-commerce business.
Table of contents:Initial Research & Market Strategies: Building E-commerce: 1. Selection of Products/Services 2. Target Audience Research/Know Your Consumers 3. Credit Card Processing 4. How Much To Sell / How Much to Invest 5. Who Competitors Are? What Are They Doing? 6. Where to Stock – Inventory Management/Stock Tracking 7. How to Take Order / Order Tracking 8. How to Ship –Shipping Management 9. How to Manage Returns 10. Monetization –What is Price/Profit/Budget 11. E-commerce Development 12. Selection of Domain Name & Business Registrant 13. Selection of E-commerce Technologies 14. Selection of Development Team 15. Selection of Marketing Team and Strategies 16. eCommerce Website Design 17. Programming 18. Selection of Good Content 19. Testing 20. Deployment 21. Compatibility 22. Support/Maintenance/Upgrades 23. Security 24. Customer Relationship Management 25. Future Growth Conclusion
Initial Research & Market Strategies:
- What to sell?-Selection of products/services
- Whom to sell? Target Audience Research
- How much to sell? / How much to invest
- Who are competitors and what they do
- Where to stock – inventory management/stock tracking
- How to take orders – order tracking
- How to ship –shipping management
- How to manage returns
- What is the price/Profit/Budget? – Monetization
- Selection of domain name
- Selection of eCommerce technologies
- Selection of development team
- Selection of marketing team and strategies
- Selection of good content
Consider WooCommerce for building an eCommerce website. Why? There are many reasons. First, it is one of the most rapidly growing eCommerce platforms. Second, it is a part of well-known CMS – WordPress. Last but not least, there are around 4 million websites using the WooCommerce plugin. (BuiltWith)
Here are few statistics about WooCommerce that you need to know (HostingTribunal):
- Around 28.19% of online stores are built with it.
- There are 22% WooCommerce websites among the top 1 million eCommerce websites.
- WooCommerce has 980 plugins and 1267 themes.
- Also, 93% of the WordPress websites use the WooCommerce plugin.
So, if you are planning to go with WooCommerce for your eCommerce website go for the custom WordPress development services to get the desired online store built.
Let’s have a look at things to know before starting an eCommerce business for broader knowledge.
1. Selection of Products/Services
When we look at the selling figures of other eCommerce stores obtained by our private circles, we tempt to mimic the same business with similar products or services in our geography or another.
In fact, it is fatal to go that way. Instead, we have to run thorough research to find out actual needs in the market for unique products or services. If you already have a brick business with products/services, you simply go online with it.
For instance, we take an example business of supplying flowers as gifts (Gift Shop) in your town, by taking online orders from the relatives or friends of recipients. You can do it at a charge and with doorstep supply and appropriate presentations according to the occasion.
This one seems to be a unique idea and a likely one.
2. Target Audience Research/Know Your Consumers
Once you find out what you want to sell, you should have in mind, to whom do you want to sell it. You should know,
- Which computing devices they use
- What are their buying preferences?
- What is their demography?
- What is geography?
- What is culture?
Once you have all the answers, you can plan your eCommerce business strategies accordingly. In our example business, the target audience would be outside relatives or friends of the citizens living in your town. Their demography and geography may vary according to the occasion.
3. Credit Card Processing
One of the costs of running an online business is that of credit card processing. Fortunately, over the past years, collecting money online has become easier than before. Apple Pay, PayPal, Stripe, Amazon Pay, Square, and other e-commerce platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce makes it practically seamless to include credit card processing and an “add to cart” button to your online store.
4. How Much To Sell / How Much to Invest
Once you have decided on the products or services to offer online and you know your target audience, you have to estimate the buying capacities of your prospective customers/visitors. If it is a regionally targeted business, you can compute it easily with local data available on trade centers or other industry sources.
However, it becomes challenging when you think of globally or in untraversed territories. Therefore, you should run a competitor survey using various eCommerce tools as well as use confidential resources to know how much they sell and how much we need to invest in an eCommerce business.
Thus, you can arrange financial resources accordingly as well as register your business based on investment and future expansion planning. For instance, you can register as a Sole Proprietor, Partnership, LLC, or Corporation.
5. Who Competitors Are? What Are They Doing?
As mentioned before, competitor surveys are highly beneficial to know market realities. Based on thorough competitor analysis, you can formulate your business strategies for business processes, production/purchase, marketing/selling, and financial planning.
6. Where to Stock – Inventory Management/Stock Tracking
If you have digital goods or services that hardly require anything to store, you are free from the warehouse, inventory storage, inventory management, and stock tracking worries or exercises.
There are third-party software and several inbuilt features in leading eCommerce platforms to do inventory management efficiently so think of it to integrate it into your eCommerce portal.
Stock tracking may help you to save your shoppers from frustrations when they realize that the product is out of stock at the end of the checkout process.
7. How to Take Order / Order Tracking
Just like inventory management, order tracking software is trendy in the eCommerce landscape. Your customers can track the status of their orders once it is fixed. They can cancel or modify orders at certain stages of shipping.
For an eCommerce business, there is software available to handle orders and relevant procedures like shooting emails accordingly and automatically. If you integrate order tracking with shipping management, you can save spending on human resources to do several things manually and can provide real-time order status as well as shipping status in your eCommerce modules.
Several products need special packaging for specific orders also based on the geographies of the recipients.
8. How to Ship –Shipping Management
E-commerce vendors have to tie with various shipping services regionally and internationally to meet the diverse needs of shipping according to the products/goods to deliver.
Most of the eCommerce platform offers shipping calculators or developers can integrate the best one to confer the shipping rates before producing a final invoice for payment. Thus, online shoppers can know the real price of the product when it arrives at doorsteps.
With the integration of order tracking software, you can track shipping status and prospective dates of arrivals.
9. How to Manage Returns
The biggest hindrance of eCommerce is it is devoid of real product touch so you cannot find out whether it is perfect for you or not and it happens when it arrives actually at your door after payment.
Therefore, reputed eCommerce vendors always offer return options with the required flexibility and precautions. Thus, honest customers can return unwanted goods immediately and get either replacements or a money return if a replacement is not possible.
You have to introduce return policies and create modules during the eCommerce designing and programming process.
10. Monetization –What is Price/Profit/Budget
Once you set up the entire planning of eCommerce, you need to count the price tags for your products or services based on the investment, ongoing expenditure, eCommerce site development cost, maintenance of the site, and your profit to sustain the further growth of the business.
Frequent changes in prices, as well as mimicking price slots of your competitors, may not give your eCommerce the required boost, in the long run, so it is best to come down with your own pricing policies.
11. E-commerce Development
Once you have planned the e-Commerce concept and the entire process mechanism, it is time to think of an eCommerce website or web portal to take action on the planning and efforts you have made in the form of a live and interactive eCommerce storefront running on the web.
In due course, you will have to pass through the following steps of eCommerce development and running the site on the Internet.
12. Selection of Domain Name & Business Registrant
Each business has a unique identity as its name so your eCommerce business should have a name that reflects its purpose and offers branding opportunities. Of course, registration of the business name is essential by following the laws of the land.
Based on the unique business name, you can register a domain name for online identity. If you are only with an online business without any brick-and-mortar identity, you must select a unique domain name as you do with real-world business.
Just like a real-world business, you must go to obtain EIN (Employer Identification Number) to open a business bank account and fill up taxation requirements by securing social security numbers like things.
It is an essential step when the verification process goes for payment gateway integration and international currency exchanges.
13. Selection of E-commerce Technologies
You may not able to select an appropriate eCommerce platform without the help of experts, so it is better to carry this procedure after the next phase of selection of your eCommerce website design company.
For the sake of information, today myriads of eCommerce platforms are running on the web to solve different purposes for various businesses. Among them, PHP open source with CMS capabilities are trendier, and Magento is ranking on the top beside WooCommerce, VirtueMart, and Ubercart.
The selection of technology may decide hosting requirements, hence the choice of hosting services.
14. Selection of Development Team
The topmost aspect determines the success of eCommerce. The right talent, expertise, and skill have a distinguished role in the right product development. Therefore, you must carefully select the eCommerce team of designers, programmers, QA professionals, UX designers, and marketers by applying appropriate filters.
Check portfolio, testimonials, cross-references, social media, and reviews on the Internet to determine the capable team for you. Rates are afterthoughts because quality never comes with the cheapest so you must be ready to pay worth the quality you receive at the end.
15. Selection of Marketing Team and Strategies
If you have a decent online storefront with awesome products, but nobody has any idea of it, who will buy it all? In this age of competition, you should apply all possible Internet marketing techniques and tweaks in cost-effective ways.
You need to create a pre-launch landing page with a Coming Soon message to start the buzz, keep its updates continue. Extend reach on social media. Declare marketing incentives such as freebies, gifts, vouchers, discounts, daily deals, location-based offering, and use Beacon technology in your brick store and integrate your online campaign.
You can go for natural SEO as a long-term strategy, but apply paid search on search engines and social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. for an initial boost.
These all require the assistance of seasoned online marketers and Perception System has a talented and experienced team to do eCommerce marketing.
16. eCommerce Website Design
Each eCommerce website demands unique designing approaches because each product is unique. Therefore, you and your designing team should run a thorough search on the web to find the best examples to follow or apply your creativity from the scratch solutions.
Your prior research and a deep interest in interactive prototyping may yield expected outcomes in the end.
The best coding practices and following high programming standards can give birth to a high-quality eCommerce portal, where UX and usability are at their best.
Seamless integration of external services and third-party software is a priority for eCommerce programmers. You should focus on SEO, performance optimization, and conversion optimization while creating a functional eCommerce storefront.
Regional and international payment gateway integration with a hassle-free checkout process is the demand of the day. Advanced search features and personalization technologies are trendy and contribute significantly to the success of most eCommerce sites.
Therefore, you need an excellent team of programmers with advanced eCommerce technologies, tools, and techniques knowledge as well as experiences. Perhaps the Perception System can give you a perfect answer by its excellent team of eCommerce programmers.
18. Selection of Good Content
Using different channels will help you deliver suitable content to every audience you have in your mind and engage everyone your company deals with. Your competitors most likely sell a similar product as you, which means your customers need to know what makes your product better or different.
This is where content works. To prove why you’re worth buying from, you should demonstrate why you’re worth listening to.
Testing begins with the beginning of the eCommerce development process, and each step needs some sort of testing and quality assurance procedure. Therefore, you need to have highly qualified and experienced testers and QA professionals to decide and implement the right testing strategies and QA techniques.
A bug-free product is the first condition for excellent UX. So check whether your testing team has all the required arsenal handy like simulators and real computing devices including smartphones and tablets of all mobile platforms with different OS versions.
Touch gestures require special testing efforts with real users in UX testing so create and furnish the right environment.
For a high-performance eCommerce store, the selection of right hosting is crucial. If you have scores of transactions involved in the operation of your online store, and your database has to accumulate or exchange sensitive, and private info, dedicated hosting or private cloud hosting are preferable options.
The use of encryption technologies and certificates may create trust among the shoppers so ask your hosting provider for competitive rates.
Compatibility is very important because your eCommerce store is accessible to the audience through many browsers, including Firefox, Internet Explorer, opera, safari, and probably the most popular browser – Google Chrome. Being compatible on platforms like – Mac, PC, PDA, Mobile phone, iPad, etc. also helps increase traffic to the store. World Wide Web Consortium is the leading international standards organization for the www, making the sites more compatible as it allows them to be searched on more browsers.
To build a good rapport and efficient branding, excellent support, maintenance, and updates are certain factors. Your reputation-building processes on the web and social media only can respond when you have comprehensive and pleasing support services for the website experiences and products/services related experiences.
If you sign up for regular maintenance contracts with the right providers and follow regular software updates, product updates, and technology upgrades, you shall surely win the battle of online business.
Because you manage your customer’s financial and personal information, you need to implement appropriate cybersecurity measures on your site. According to Hackmageddon, e-commerce sites were targeted more frequently by hackers in 2015 than by any other industry. Hackers see small e-commerce sites as a low-hanging fruit due to their weak security measures, preferring to focus on them instead of their larger counterparts.
24. Customer Relationship Management
How do you manage your store’s relationships with customers? Some eCommerce platforms come with streamlined, integrated customer relationship management (CRM) solutions. Even if your CMS does not have a unified CRM, you should choose a third-party solution.
Using CRM, you’ll gain insight into your customers’ behavior, allowing you to automate follow-up emails, handle customer inquiries, use customer information, and feed customers through the sales cycle.
25. Future Growth
You need to consider future growth when planning your e-commerce store, which measures the success of any business. As your store grows and attracts more visitors, it will become more profitable and fruitful.
E-commerce stores typically experience both short-term and long-term growth. Long-term development takes place over many years, during which more customers use the site. The short-term gain is usually temporary and occurs during the holidays and on select dates associated with the store’s structure.
Starting an eCommerce business does not differ from the brick store launch process. You have to pass through all steps just keeping online mode in your mind. When a startup or a brick store owner thinks of selling online, he/she has to take care of each aspect of the business before going for website development.
Careful planning for excellent user experience, usability, site performance, and site optimization can yield great rewards in the long run. Of course, the help of expert eCommerce developers can make big difference in the quality as well as the cost of the development.
Therefore, leading brands and reputed businesses prefer the WordPress Development Company – Perception System and its eCommerce development team as their online store development partner.