How to build an ecommerce website
Setting up an ecommerce website is a great way to make your products available to a wider audience – and it doesn’t have to be a difficult task.
If you already have an online store but you’re not making many sales, the following advice will help you improve your site to make it more user-friendly, which should convert into more completed purchases.
There are plenty of things to take into account when building your online store. We’ll go over some of them to make your website the best it can be.
In this article, you’ll learn:
The essential components of an online store
How to make your website user-friendly
Which information to include on your website
First impressions are everything
Make a beautiful, simple landing page
Your landing page is usually the first thing visitors to your website will see. It’s important that it’s aesthetically pleasing and easy to use. It might be tempting to use a bunch of different graphics or HTML effects, but it’s better to keep it as uncluttered as possible.
If a customer visits your website and it’s a total mess, making it difficult to find what they want, they’re going to log off and look elsewhere. So start by making sure the navigation and search bar are in an obvious position.
Use an online store builder
No matter which platform you decide to build your online store with, there are likely to be some free website templates to choose from. They’re usually easy to edit and rearrange, so you don’t have to be a pro coder to get your website looking sleek and professional.
Make sure your logo is visible
It should be clear to visitors that the website belongs to you by using a recognisable logo and consistent branding. If you have a physical store, you should stick with the same logo on your website. That way, your existing customers will know they’re in the right place.
Write an About Us page
Let your customers know who you are and what you’re about. If a customer has never shopped with you before, being upfront about your business ideals and what kind of products your store provides is a good way to build trust.
You should make sure to write it in a tone that's consistent with the rest of your branding.
Make your shipping costs known
Nobody likes to be hit with unexpected costs. If your shipping fees can’t be found until a customer is checking out, they might think twice about completing the purchase – so make a page outlining your shipping costs and returns policy.
Create an FAQ page
FAQ pages list the answers to questions regularly asked by customers. Doing this saves everyone time, as you won’t have to worry about responding to as many messages, and your customers won’t have to wait for the information that's stopping them from completing their purchase.
An easy-to-use shopping cart
Make it visible
Your customer has found something they’d like to purchase from you and added the items to their shopping cart. You want to make sure the shopping cart is easily accessible from any page on your website, so that the purchase process is as smooth as possible.
State your payment methods
Chances are that you’ve been on plenty of ecommerce websites. There’s one thing most of them have in common when it comes to payment – plenty of options.
Customers don’t want to jump through hoops to pay on your website. If you don’t accept their usual method of payment, they're likely to abandon the purchase.
That’s why you should choose a payment system that accepts a wide range of cards and other online payment methods.
Use a template
Sure, you could build your ecommerce website yourself, but that takes time and coding knowledge you might not have. Luckily, there are lots of free or low-cost website template options. Here's what you need to check for when selecting a template.
Is this simple enough?
Less really is more. The simpler the website, the easier it is for users to navigate. Sure, it’s tempting to always add more visually, but think quality over quantity. You don’t want to distract from your products or your store’s purpose, which is selling. Find a balance of style and substance.
Can people navigate my page?
Most people visit websites through their mobile devices. While this may be widely known, a lot of ecommerce websites don't reflect this. Take a look at the template design you’re going for and see how it looks on mobile.
Am I getting the information I need from this?
Put yourself in your customer's shoes. Does your template have the space for you to give them all the information they need to understand your product and make a purchase?
It may not be the most fun part of building an ecommerce store, but we need to get technical. Your store needs to be functional as well as attractive. That’s why we’re going to quickly walk you through 3 things:
SEO (search engine optimisation)
Plugins, apps and extensions
CTAs (Calls to action)
When people think about designing a website, they think pictures and fonts. But your website also needs to be SEO friendly. You can have the most informative, visually stimulating website in the world, but if you don’t have the right keywords or layout, your page won’t rank on Google and people won’t visit it.
SEO seems like a daunting topic but with a little bit of research, you’ll get the hang of things quickly. Make sure you pick a template design with SEO features.
Plugins, apps and extensions
If you’re tech-savvy, you may go for a template design that needs a bit of tinkering. This means customising the site with plugins, apps and extensions. If this is something you want to do, picking a template design will be easier.
If, like a lot of people, you want to keep things simple, find a template that doesn’t require all the extra work.
Some templates allow you to add CTA buttons. If you don’t know what these are, a CTA is a call to action. It’s the button you see that says “Apply now” or “Add to cart.” It’s essentially what turns a browser into a customer.
Make sure you’re choosing a template that allows you to add CTA buttons, banners and anything else that will help to keep people’s attention on your page.
Eye-catching product photos
You want to show your products in their best light – it could be the difference between making a sale and someone deciding not to purchase something.
If you have bad photos of your products, you’re not only less likely to make a sale, but also likely to have a higher return rate. Your customer might feel like they didn’t get what they paid for if your products look totally different in real life.
Here are some tips for taking nice photos of your products.
Use a decent camera
If you can get your hands on a good-quality digital camera, that’s great. But in the age of smartphones, there’s no excuse to have grainy photos on your website. Most recently released smartphones come equipped with cameras that are perfectly capable of snapping some amazing shots of your products.
Find good lighting
If you take photos of your products in a dimly lit place, they probably won’t come out so well. If sunlight or photography lights aren’t an option, try to use a brightly lit room. Using flash in a dark space could make a rose-coloured blouse look more like magenta.
Use a simple background
You want your product to be the centre of attention. Try to use a neutral background colour, without too much else going on, otherwise it will take the focus away from the thing you want to sell.
As you can see, there's a lot to consider when you're designing an ecommerce website. From the landing page to the checkout page, you want things as streamlined and simple for the customer as possible. A clear, visually appealing website is invaluable in getting your customers to come back for more; and luckily, you don't have to do it on your own.
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