Planning Your Store
Many small businesses make the mistake of creating an ecommerce website with no real planning so they can start selling as quickly as possible.
It’s important to understand what your customers want before building your website.
What Makes a Good Ecommerce Website?
The best ecommerce sites are simple to use and allow visitors to easily find what they want and pay for it with no hassle.
As an ecommerce website owner you need to make sure you know what your customers want.
Many small businesses contact a web development company who help them through the technical process of creating an ecommerce website.
Now that ecommerce has been around for such a long time, there is no longer the need for retailers to be tied to an expensive web development company. Ecommerce shopping cart providers such as Big Commerce offer completely hosted shopping cart solutions along with support. Whether you are starting an online floral shop or a London taxi insurance services website, this guide will help you.
Read the Ecommerce Cart Software page to find out which are the best shopping carts.
Amazon and Ebay are two of the most popular ecommerce shopping websites on the planet. They are partly successful because of their simple layouts and non fussy product pages. Many business owners go over the top with design and forget about the basic usability of the website.
When you are creating your ecommerce website start with a simple design and use software packages such as Google Analytics and ClickTale to view visitor behaviour so that you can design the site around your visitors. I guarantee you that your sales conversion will go through the roof if you use this method.
Use these free ecommerce templates to help get you started.
If you use ‘best of breed’ shopping cart solutions such as Magento and Big Commerce you get basic design templates included.
Tried and Tested Methods – Ecommerce for Beginners
Running an Ecommerce website is not just about the technical side, that’s just the start. The time tested methods of product ranging and positioning still apply.
I’m sure you have been shopping at your local supermarket to find that your favourite product has been moved from it’s usual place to a different aisle.
This isn’t a mistake, supermarkets regularly move whole product ranges into different aisles as it makes their customers walk to different parts of the store. While looking for their usual purchases they see other products that they hadn’t noticed before, which results in more sales.
You can do this on your ecommerce website much more easily than a supermarket using the built in features of shopping carts such as Magento Go.
Product Grouping – Ecommerce for Beginners
As with real world stores, ecommerce shopping cart software allows you to group similar products into the same place. This makes it easy for customers to find and compare products. The better software also allows extra categorisation using product attributes such as colour and price range.
Product Demand – Ecommerce for Beginners
The quickest way to find out if a product is in demand is to find popular keyword searches for that product using a service such as the Google Keyword Tool. It’s easy to use and shows you how many times a particular word or phrase is being searched for on the Google search engine.
You can use the information you find with this tool to help create categories and products on your ecommerce website.
Get Competitor Sales Data for FREE!
Do you want to know how many sales your competitors make of a particular product? There is a completely free way to get this information using Ebay, called an ‘Ebay Completed Listing Search’.
To ensure your success follow my ecommerce for beginners plan.
Ecommerce for Beginners Plan
- Decide on the features you require for your website, if you’re not sure then visit some of your potential competitors by searching for the product you want to sell on Google and then make a list of the features that you like about their websites. A good place to start is Amazon.com.
- Use the Ecommerce Cart Software page to research the best shopping cart software that will best match your list of features.
- If you don’t already have one, research the domain name that you want to use for your website using a Domain Registrar such as Go Daddy. Make sure that it makes sense to your target market (the people who you expect to buy from your website).
- Setup your ecommerce website software – hosted shopping cart solutions are easiest to setup and manage.
- Create categories for your website based on your product ranges.
- Use a spreadsheet containing your products and product information and upload to your ecommmerce website.
Ecommerce for Beginners – Places to sell online to test the water
While you’re planning your new ecommerce website if you haven’t already got them why not setup Ebay and Amazon seller accounts. They can be a good way to test the market with your products before committing to a full blown ecommerce platform.
These websites are great sales channels as all you have to do is add the product and set the price, all of the marketing is done for you.
Managing your Amazon and Ebay sales through your ecommerce shopping cart
When researching your new ecommerce store it’s important that you take some time to decide how you will deal with your product inventory and sales on Ebay/Amazon.
Many businesses who plan to sell on Ebay don’t take this into account and then find that dealing with their website stock inventory and Ebay orders becomes a nightmare, with products selling on Ebay at the same time as selling on your own website.
This creates the problem that items can be sold through your website even after they have sold out via Ebay as you don’t have a way of connecting your website and Ebay together.
Managing your Ecommerce inventory – Ecommerce for Beginners
The clued up ecommerce shopping cart providers are the ones who realise that you are going to sell in various other places including Ebay and Amazon.
These companies have included Ebay stock management within their ecommerce software.
A good example of this is Big Commerce who have an Ebay and Amazon module that automatically updates inventory no matter where it was sold, meaning that you can never sell an item that sold a few minutes before on another sales channel.
Other options for managing Ebay inventory include the M2E plugin for Magento Commerce. Magento is a Big Commerce competitor that was bought by Ebay in 2011. I’ve been an avid Magento user since it was first released and can honestly say that it’s an excellent ecommerce platform.