10 Things You Need to Know before Opening an Online Store
Opening an online store can be done with just a few clicks, but this doesn’t mean it will be successful.
Any business comes with its own challenges, but, when it comes to competition, ecommerce is in a league of its own. With online sales expected to reach $4 trillion by 2020, it’s no wonder everyone wants a piece of the pie.
This doesn’t mean you should abandon your dream. After all, there are thousands of niches your online store could be in. However, before opening your online store, read the 10 must-know things about this business:
1. Choosing the Right Ecommerce Platform Can Be Tricky
Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce, Volution, and BigCommerce are just five of the ecommerce platforms that you can choose from. Before making the choice, you will need to take into account things like:
- SEO score — each platform has a different score, so, if SEO is important to you (and it should be!), you need to focus on the one with the best score or make additional investments to help you rank higher.
- User-friendliness – how computer-savvy will the employees using it be? If not all of them are technically-inclined, you should opt for the platform that’s easiest to use.
- Scalability – all businesses start small, but eventually grow. You need to make sure that the platform you choose is easily scalable and you do not have to re-think your whole website architecture (and spend a lot of money on it) when your business grows.
2. Personalization is Always Required
No matter how easy to install and use your ecommerce platform may seem, you will always need a specialist to create a few tweaks in order to improve it or make it feel “your own”. Our advice: budget this ahead of time and hire UX/UI specialists even before you make your choice. Experienced people can not only make your online shop look great, but they can also advise you on what the best choice is.
3. Homepage Wireframe
This is perhaps the most important part of your shop. Many new businesses make the mistake of putting all their products on the home page – don’t do that! You should only add your featured products, along with copy that is SEO-relevant. Think about your goals before opening your online store and you will know exactly what needs to go here.
4. Primary Navigation
Again, SEO is crucial here. Do your research and find out what needs to spot in your primary navigation and what should stay out of it. Most websites have a secondary navigation – if yours does, too, this is where all the things that are not as relevant for SEO or for your customers should be.
5. Who Is Your Competition?
This is where thorough research is needed. Make sure you know all the online shops in your niche and that you spend some time evaluating what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong. After all, the smartest people learn from others’ mistakes; they don’t wait to make their own. Bonus tip: unless you’re planning on opening a huge online store from the very beginning, don’t count Amazon among your direct competitors!
6. Who Is Your Buyer Persona?
If you want to have a successful online store, you need to learn everything there is to know about your target audience. Sure, they like/want your products, but what else do they like? Are they outdoorsy people? Where do they spend most of their time? What social networks do they prefer? Answer these questions and you will know where to find them.
7. Payment Options
Make sure you have at least three different payment options as today’s clients are quite picky about the way they store their money. PayPal, debit cards, credit cards, and payment upon receipt are all valid options. Before you commit to them, be sure to check the taxes they entail.
8. Shipping Options
Did you know that most online shopping carts are abandoned because of steep shipping fees or because of too few shipping options. In the age of speed, people practice a lot of impulse shopping, so they want their products delivered quickly and cheaply! If you can’t strike a good deal with a courier company, at least try to offer the “self pick-up” option, especially if your online shop is a local one. Your customers will appreciate you saving them some money!
9. You Need Quality Content
Aside from the obvious (high resolution photos and videos of your product), every bit of content on your website needs to be carefully planned and executed. Before you open an online shop, think about the perfect headlines, the perfect calls-to- action, as well as the perfect product descriptions that entice people to push the “Buy” button. One more thing: consumer preferences change very often and your online shop should keep up with them, so be prepared to revise your content quite often.
10. Don’t Forget about the Legal Aspects