Online sales are on the rise. Surveys indicate that by 2015, e-commerce sales will total almost $279 billion per year. For small businesses looking to increase their bottom line, launching an e-commerce website is a critical step. Your success depends on doing it right from the beginning, and to that end it’s important to find a customized web design solution.
Here’s what you need to know so you can use custom e-commerce web design in your favor.
1. Make a Plan
Just like with any business, you need a business plan before you start building your online store. Define your offering and your target customer: what are you going to sell and to whom? Be as specific as possible. Does your product respond to the needs of your audience? Actually, to be successful, your product should do more than that: it should provide a superior solution to the problem of your target audience to overcome your competition.
2. Set up Your Business
If you’re planning to launch your business together with your online store, you need you think about their name, and other legal procedures, such as type of company and finances. Create a business bank account and keep your personal account separate. Make sure the name of your online store is easy to spell and remember.
3. Define the Policies of Your Online Store
You need to think thoroughly about this part and make sure every detail involved in users’ shopping experience is clear, from the moment they initiate purchase on your e-commerce website to checkout, shipping, and delivery. The policies of your online store are essential because they show customers you are transparent about how you plan to do business and also cover various situations that might occur.
Think carefully about what you want to say in your store policies and make sure you can deliver on your promise. There are several fundamental aspects that your e-store policies need to cover. These include: commitment, shipping methods and costs, returns, guarantees, customer service, packaging, and custom orders (if you have the resources to do that).
4. Choose between Self-Hosting and Custom E-Commerce Web Design
You can buy a domain and host your online store yourself, or you can entrust this job to a web-hosting provider specializing in e-commerce web design. If you decide to ride solo, you need to be prepared to handle technical problems and learn on the go about how to improve your online presence. On the other hand, if your website is hosted by a platform specializing in e-commerce, you will have access to a customized solution that is tailored to your needs, as well as personalized assistance. The choice is yours to make.
5. Mobile Functionality
This is vital for a successful e-commerce store, therefore you need to optimize your website by ensuring full functionality on mobile devices. You can incorporate customizable themes for mobile devices in your e-commerce solution to make sure your customers can easily access your e-store both on desktop and on smart phones or tablets. Using an e-commerce platform that is optimized for mobile online shopping also allows you to track all critical information about your e-store, such as products, statistics, orders, as well as customer data.
6. Flexibility and Security
By using a customized e-commerce solution, you can have total control of your online store and you won’t need expert knowledge to build and manage your own online store. The intuitive interface will enable you to edit your content, modify or add new pages. The built-in CMS will allow you to add and organize products, track inventory, payments, and order status, as well as use keyword tags to make search easier. Most importantly, you will have access to multiple payment processors and the opportunity to outsource shipping should you want to.
However, to make sure you’re in safe hands, before you consider your e-commerce design options answer these questions first:
- Will the online store they host and help you build respond to your needs?
- Who will handle updates and maintenance?
- Will you be able to get professional support in case you need it once your online store is set up?
- What’s it like to be a user? On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate your user experience on your own e-commerce website?
- Does your online store look professional?
- To what extent do you want to use customization?
Once you get the answers to these questions, relate them to the 6 key elements above, and you’ll significantly increase your chances of building a successful e-commerce store.