A well designed, maintained and operated eCommerce platform (website) can be a really valuable addition to your sales channels.

Online Shopping Baskets

These types of websites provide the opportunity to market your products to a far wider audience than traditional bricks and mortar stores can achieve. They are also often easier to update, change and renew thanks to the use of website design features such as banners, gallery pages and icons so you can constantly keep your brand image and products fresh and interesting.

Now is an ideal time to embark on your eCommerce project if you haven’t already because the industry is continue to grow after an impressive 10 year rise to hundreds and thousands of online stores and that growth is showing no sign of slowing down. So here is a quick whistle stop tour through some of the aspects you need to consider and get right in order to achieve a successful eCommerce website.

Do Your Research

Do your Rsearch

Who – You need to understand who your target audience are before you begin designing and building your eCommerce platform to ensure you know what they are looking for and more importantly that they can find what they are looking for -  and for the best results, they need to do that within just three clicks. The more information you can access about your target market the more you will be able to tailor your site design to suit them. This includes considering any special features you may need to incorporate into your eCommerce platform for example: if you are selling clothes you may need to include a size guide.

What – Once you understand who will visit your website you need to understand what that website needs to do, to successfully drive those site visitors through your sales funnel. This means you need to sell your product using compelling information to drive sales. Things to consider here are the eCommerce platform you are intending to use and what limitations you may encounter.  When it comes to eCommerce platforms there are a number of options available so you can find the best one to suit your needs. As for limitations, these could be things like your budget, technical issues or even technology so it’s important to fully understand the needs of your website and whether you can handle it in house or require outsourcing.

How – There are various tools you can use to build your eCommerce platform depending on how much you handle in house and how much you out source. Things you need to consider are graphic editing, web development tools, online store management software, domain name and web hosting. A good digital agency like Cloudspotting can help address and handle all of these aspects of an eCommerce site and even offer bespoke builds if you require.

Things to Address

things to address

Safety – Without providing a safe platform for handling online payments you cannot hope to run a successful eCommerce platform, this means you must address security issues on your site first and foremost. Falling victim to cyber-crime can drastically damage your reputation if you do not protect your customers.

Customer Rights – When building an eCommerce platform you must adhere to the legal obligations that apply to you. This includes things like providing your full company name and address to customers before they purchase, which is a requirement of the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000.You are also obliged to send confirmation emails after purchases which can be automatically programmed for you, and to offer a cooling off period for cancelling purchases.

Simplicity – Your online shop should be easy to use, navigate and click through; this is where the three click rule helps and where good design earns its value. You should endeavor to have a website that is professional, informative and clear, which is where a digital agency like Cloudspotting can really help you.  The more professional your website looks, the more likely customers are to trust it and therefore use it.

Returns Policy – A good returns policy builds trust and unless you are selling personalized goods, there’s really no excuse not to have one. It also encourages people to shop with you if they know you are flexible.

Online and Offline Integration – If you run a physical store/stores as well as an online site, you need to ensure there is consistency across the whole. In particular this means you must be consistent on price, policies and services. Essentially your online store and physical stores need to work hand in hand to provide the best customer experiences. Great ways to connect the two are to embrace technology such as tracking for your products in store offline as well as online.Be sure to monitor your website and make sure it is continually up to date and contemporary with what’s happening in store.

Promotion – Be sure to include contact details on your website, a customer services phone line is an excellent way to ensure customers can get through and speak with a recall person if they encounter problems. Other great options are live chat streams so you can answer customer queries on demand. This is all part of promoting your business by offering your best services but you can also do search engine optimisation, paid search and social media marketing to really broadcast you brand, website and products.  This can be really time consuming and at times, rather technical and often this is the point at which companies decide to get agencies on board.

Orders Tracking Software – One of the best ways to ensure customer satisfaction through an eCommerce platform is to provide order tracking services. This can be as simple as sending an email when the order id received followed by another when it is dispatched. Or, you can use more complex, yet accurate systems which allow customers to check the precise progress of their order online.

Design – An eCommerce site should have a good, strong design because this indicates that there is a good, solid company behind it.

We have worked on a number of eCommerce sites for both B2B and B2C companies, for example, we handled the transition of Fruity Pots from a trade product into a retail brand, with the introduction of their brand advocate Nell McAndrew. Some other examples of our work for eCommerce businesses are:

www.modernherbals.com  www.speckyfoureyes.com   www.catererschoice.co.uk

References

Planning your E-Commerce Website- Jun 24 2010 by Kyle Prior
How to Do E-commerce Right – Kevin Gibbons
Setting up an e-commerce site? Here’s everything you need to know to do it right BY Melissa Campanelli | March 27, 2006|

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